QUESTION 76. Which is the Ninth Commandment?
ANSWER: The Ninth Commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
QUESTION 77. What is required in the Ninth Commandment?
ANSWER: The Ninth Commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbour's good name, especially in witness-bearing.
Q. 1. In what does the Ninth Commandment differ from the three preceding ones?
A. The three commands immediately preceding, have a respect to the injuries that may be done to ourselves or others by deeds or actions; but the ninth has a reference to wrongs done by words.
Q. 2. What is the general duty required in this commandment?
A. It is the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man.
Q. 3. What is the TRUTH, between man and man, we are required to maintain and promote?
A. It is the strict veracity of our words or speeches, in whatever we assert or deny; whether in our ordinary conversation, or in our oaths, promises, bargains, and contracts, Zech. 8:16 -- "Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour."
Q. 4. In what consists the strict veracity that ought to be in our words and speeches?
A. In uttering things as they really are in themselves, according to our belief of them; that is, that there be an exact agreement and harmony between our thoughts, words, and the things themselves, Psalm 15:1, 2 -- "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that -- speaketh truth is his heart."
Q. 5. Why will God have nothing to be uttered but strict truth?
A. Because he is "a God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is he," Deut. 32:4.
Q. 6. Is it lawful at any time to conceal part of the truth?
A. Yes; when neither the glory of God, nor our own, or our neighbour's good requires that the whole of it be told; only no untruth must be uttered in concealing it, 1 Sam. 16:2, 5.
Q. 7. What is the chief end for which the tongue or gift of speech is conferred upon us?
A. That we may thus glorify God by praying to, Psalm 50:15, and praising him, verse 23; and by contending earnestly for, Jude verse 3, and confessing his truth, Rom. 10:10; hence is the tongue called our glory, Psalm 30:12 -- "To the end that my GLORY (that is, my tongue, as on the margin) may sing praise unto thee, and not be silent."
Q. 8. What is the subordinate end of it?
A. The edification and profit of our fellow-creatures, Eph. 4:29 -- "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying;" (margin, "to edify profitably,") in opposition to the insipid and vain talk which is in the mouths of most men.
Q. 9. What is the particular duty required in the Ninth Commandment?
A. That we maintain and promote our own and our neighbour's good name, especially in witness-bearing.
Q. 10. What is a good name?
A. It is the having of reputation and esteem, especially among the sober and religious, Psalm 16:3, and 101:6.
Q. 11. How may a good name be obtained?
A. By being useful in the world, in the several stations and relations in which adorable providence has placed us, Psalm 112:9.
Q. 12. Is self-commendation a fit mean to obtain a good name?
A. No; it is ordinarily the highway to procure scorn and contempt, 2 Cor. 10:12.
Q. 13. Does not the apostle commend himself, when he says, "In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles?" 2 Cor. 12:11.
A. He only magnifies and exalts his office, and at the same time lessens and disparages himself; for, although he says, "In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles," yet he immediately subjoins, "though I be nothing;" and 1 Cor. 15:9 -- "I am the least of the apostles, who am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
Q. 14. May we not commend the grace of God in us?
A. To be sure we may; for, whatever is spoken to the commendation of free grace, is for the abasement of self, 1 Cor. 15:10 -- "By the grace of God I am what I am."
Q. 15. How ought we to maintain and promote our own good name?
A. Not only by a blameless walk and conversation before the world, Phil, 2:15; but likewise by vindicating ourselves from the calumnies and aspersions that may be injuriously cast upon us, Acts 24:12, 13.
Q. 16. With what frame of spirit ought the lawful vindication of ourselves to be managed?
A. With moderation, meekness, and readiness to forgive those who have reproached and injured us, Col. 3:12, 13.
Q. 17. Who ought, in a special manner, to maintain and promote their own good name?
A. This is especially incumbent on professors of religion, Matt. 5:16; and such as are in places of public trust, Tit. 2:7, 8.
Q. 18. Why should professors be careful to maintain their good name?
A. Because the loss of it tends to reflect dishonour on religion, by which the enemies of it take occasion to blaspheme, 2 Sam. 12:14.
Q. 19. What is the advantage of a good name?
A. A good name procures mutual love to, and confidence in one another; and, consequently, tends to promote the interests both of sacred and civil society; on which account "a good name" is said to be "better than precious ointment," Eccl. 7:1; and "rather to be chosen than great riches," Prov. 22:1.
Q. 20. What does this command require in reference to our neighbour's good name?
A. The maintaining and promoting it, "as we would do our own," Phil. 2:4; and that both in his presence and in his absence.
Q. 21. How should we behave in the presence of our neighbour, for maintaining and promoting of his good name?
A. When we observe any thing faulty in him, which deserves present notice, we should reprove it with meekness and love, Lev. 19:17; and what is really commendable we should prudently encourage and applaud, Rom. 1:8.
Q. 22. How should we maintain and promote the good name of others in their absence?
A. By commending what is praise-worthy in them, 3 John ver. 12; vindicating their character when unjustly attacked, Prov. 25:23; and by covering their infirmities and blemishes, so far as can be done in a consistency with truth, and the credit of religion, 1 Pet. 4:8.
Q. 23. Why is the word ESPECIALLY subjoined to witness-bearing?
A. Because, as we should give testimony to truth on all occasions, so, in a special manner, when called by lawful authority to declare the matter of fact upon oath, Jer. 4:2.
Q. 24. What special obligation lies upon us, to declare the true matter of fact, between man and man, when called to do it upon oath?
A. In an oath, God is appealed to, that we will declare nothing but the truth, as we shall answer to him at the great day; and therefore, our doing otherwise, either out of hatred, or favour, is laying ourselves open to his immediate wrath and displeasure, according to Mal. 3:5 -- "I will be a swift witness -- against false swearers, -- saith the Lord of hosts."