THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 63. Which is the Fifth Commandment?

ANSWER: The Fifth Commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.


QUESTION 64. What is required in the Fifth Commandment?

ANSWER: The Fifth Commandment requireth the preserving the honour, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.


Q. 1. "Who are meant by father and mother in the Fifth Commandment?"

A. "Not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God's ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth."[76]

Q. 2. "Why are superiors styled father and mother?"

A. "To teach them in all duties towards their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them according to their several relations; and to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness, in performing their duties to their superiors, as to their parents."[77]

Q. 3. "What is the general scope of the Fifth Commandment?"

A. It "is the performance of those duties we mutually owe in our several relations."[78]

Q. 4. What are the RELATIONS in which we stand to each other?

A. All mankind stand related to each other, either as superiors, inferiors, or equals.

Q. 5. Who are our superiors?

A. All that are above us in office, place, or dignity.

Q. 6. Who are meant by inferiors?

A. Such as are subject to others, or below them in station or gifts.

Q. 7. Whom do you understand by equals?

A. Such as are of like age and condition in the world.

Q. 8. What is the general duty required in this commandment?

A. It is HONOUR: Honour thy father and thy mother.

Q. 9. What is meant by the honour here required?

A. All inward regard and esteem, manifested by outward tokens of respect, Rom. 12:10, reverence, chap. 13:7, and obedience, Heb. 13:17.

Q. 10. What is the rule and measure of that obedience and submission, which is due from inferiors to their superiors?

A. The law of God; for, when any thing is enjoined contrary to it, the fixed rule is, "to obey God rather than men," Acts 4:19, and 5:29.

Q. 11. What is it that procures honour from one person to another?

A. It is something of eminence, excellency, or worth, that is discernible in them, Acts 10:25.

Q. 12. Are there not different degrees of external honour due to some beyond others?

A. Yes; according to the different office and stations in which God places them in the world, 1 Tim. 5:1, 2.

Q. 13. What is that degree of honour which the meanest and lowest part of mankind are entitled to from the greatest and highest?

A. It is to be esteemed and regarded by them, in proportion as they are necessary and useful, Eph. 6:9.

Q. 14. Why are we commanded to honour all men? 1 Pet. 2:17.

A. Because there are few or none, in whom we may not observe some gift or other in which they are superior to us, if we were to judge ourselves humbly and impartially, Phil. 2:3.

Q. 15. Are men to be honoured according to their riches.

A. No; but according as they employ their riches, in some measure, for the good of others, either in the church or commonwealth, 1 Tim. 6:17, 18.

Q. 16. What are the several relations in which duties are mutually to be performed, according to this commandment?

A. They are such as subsist between parents and children; magistrates and subjects; ministers and people; husbands and wives; masters and servants; and likewise between those who have a greater or less degree of gifts and graces.

Q. 17. Who are they that have the first and natural right to honour and respect

A. N ATURAL P ARENTS; fathers and mothers.

Q. 18. Is equal honour and regard due from children to their mother as to their father?

A. Yes, surely; and therefore, to prevent any difference, in respect of esteem, reverence, and obedience, she is named before the father, in Lev. 19:3 -- "Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father."

Q. 19. What are the duties of parents to their children?

A. To train them up for God, Prov. 22:6, in the knowledge and profession of the true religion, Deut. 6:7; to teach them by example as well as precept Psalm 101:2, 3; to be careful in applying suitable and seasonable correction to their faults, Prov. 13:24, and 19:18, and 23:13, 14; to provide for them according to their ability, 2 Cor. 12:14; and to be earnest in prayer to God for a blessing upon them, Gen. 48:15, 16.

Q. 20. What are the duties of children to their parents?

A. To love them dearly, Gen. 46:29; to esteem and think highly of them in their minds, Lev. 19:3; Mal. 1:6; to hearken to their counsels; Prov. 4:1, and obey their lawful commands, Eph. 6:1; to submit patiently to their corrections, Heb. 12:9; and to succour and relieve them in case of poverty and want, Gen. 47:12, especially in old age, Ruth 4:15.

Q. 21. May children dispose of themselves in marriage without the knowledge or consent of their parents?

A. No; as appears from the charge given by Abraham, concerning his son Isaac, Gen. 24:3, 4, and that of Isaac to Jacob, chap. 28:1, 2; but if children should dispose of themselves without the knowledge and consent of their parents, they act contrary to the honour, deference, and gratitude they owe to them, as Esau did, Gen. 26:34, 35.

Q. 22. What are the duties of magistrates towards their subjects?

A. To establish good laws, 2 Kings 18:4, and see them impartially executed, Rom. 13:3, 4; to protect their subjects in their religion, lives, and liberties, 1 Pet. 2:14; and to be nursing fathers to the church, Isa. 49:23.

Q. 23. What is the duty of the magistrate with reference to the church of Christ?

A. Although he "may not assume to himself the administration of word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, yet he hath authority, and it is his duty to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the church, -- that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, -- that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, -- all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented and reformed, -- and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed."[79]

Q. 24. What are the duties of subjects towards their magistrates?

A. To honour and reverence them, 2 Sam. 9:6; to obey their just laws, Eccl. 8:2; to pay them the tribute that is due to them, Rom. 13:7; to pray for them, 1 Tim. 2:1, 2; and to support and defend their persons and authority, 1 Sam. 26:15, 16; Esth. 6:2.

Q. 25. Are subjects bound to be obsequious to the lawful commands of magistrates, who are of a different religion from them?

A. "Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to him."[80]

Q. 26. What are the duties of ministers to their people?

A. Diligently to study, 1 Tim. 4:15; and faithfully to preach the gospel, 2 Tim. 4:2; not shunning to declare to them all the counsel of God, Acts 20:27; to evidence their own belief of their doctrine, by a holy and exemplary walk, 1 Tim. 4:12; to watch for their souls as they that must give account, Heb. 13:17; and to pray much for them, Rom. 1:9. All which duties require their ordinary residence among them, 1 Pet. 5:2.

Q. 27. What are the duties of people to their ministers?

A. To "esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake," 1 Thess. 5:13; to "strive together" in their prayers to God for them, Rom. 15:30, that they may be enabled to "give them their portion of meat in due season," Luke 12:42; to attend diligently upon the ordinances dispensed by them, Heb. 10:25; to defend their character and doctrine against unjust calumnies and reproaches, 1 Tim. 5:19; and to make a competent and comfortable provision for them, Gal. 6:6.

Q. 28. What are the duties mutually incumbent upon husband and wife.

A. The most tender and affectionate love, on both sides, Eph. 5:28-33; the strictest fidelity to the marriage-bed and covenant, Matt. 5:28; and the promoting the temporal and spiritual welfare of each other, 1 Tim. 5:8; 1 Pet. 3:7. .

Q. 29. What are the duties of masters to their servants?

A. To be meek and gentle towards them, forbearing threatening, Eph. 6:9; to instruct them in the principles of religion, Gen. 18:19; to see to their external observance of the Sabbath, Ex. 20:10; and to pay them punctually their wages, Deut. 24:15.

Q. 30. What are the duties of servants to their masters?

A. To be diligent and faithful in their master's work, "not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but -- with good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men," Eph. 6:6, 7; to "obey in all things their masters according to the flesh," Col. 3:22; and to "please them well in all things, not answering again," Tit. 2:9.

Q. 31. Are masters and servants on earth, subject to one common Lord and Master in heaven?

A. Yes; and therefore they ought to behave towards one another, as in his sight; for there is "no respect of persons with him," Eph. 6:9.

Q. 32. What are the duties of those who have a larger measure of gifts and graces conferred upon them, towards such as have a less share of the same?

A. To be exemplary in humility and self-denial, Gen. 32:10, as having nothing but what they have received, 1 Cor. 4:7; to be communicative of what the Lord has freely given them, Matt. 10:8; and improve their talents for the benefit of themselves and others, chap. 25:16.

Q. 33. What are the duties of suchA. As being committed against the saints, ias are weaker in gifts and graces, towards those that are stronger?

A. To be followers of them in so far as they are of Christ, 1 Cor. 11:1; to be willing to learn from their experiences, Heb. 6:12; and to "covet earnestly the best gifts," 1 Cor. 12:31.

Q. 34. What is the duty of the younger towards the aged?

A. To honour and respect them, especially if the hoary head be found in the way of righteousness, Prov. 16:31; "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man," Lev. 19:32.

Q. 35. What are the duties of equals to one another?

A. To provoke each other "unto love and good works," Heb. 10:24; to "be kindly affectioned one to another, in honour preferring one another," Rom. 12:10.

Q. 36. What is the fruit and consequence of the conscientious performance of these relative duties?

A. Hereby outward peace and concord will be better maintained between man and man, 1 Pet. 3:10, 11; and likewise the members of Christ's body will be knit more closely to one another in love, 1 John 4:7.


[76] Larger Catechism, Question 124.

[77] Ibid., Q. 125.

[78] Ibid., Q. 126.

[79] Confession of Faith, chapter 23 § 3, with the Scriptures there quoted.

[80] Confession of Faith, chapter 23 § 4, with the Scriptures quoted to prove this article.


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