THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 79. Which is the Tenth Commandment?

ANSWER: The Tenth Commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.


QUESTION 80. What is required in the Tenth Commandment?

ANSWER: The Tenth Commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his.


Q. 1. What is the practice of the Papists with reference to the Tenth Commandment?

A. They have; (in some of their formularies,) erased the Second Commandment, because contrary to their image worship; therefore, in order to keep up the number TEN, they split THIS into two, making these words, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house," to be the ninth; and, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife," &c. to be the tenth.

Q. 2. How are they confuted?

A. By the words of this commandment (as they are here inserted from Ex. 20:17,) being transposed into a different order in Deut. 5:21; where desiring our neighbour's wife is put before coveting of his house; which is a plain evidence, that what the Papists make two is but one undivided precept; otherwise what, according to them, is the ninth in the one place, will be the tenth in the other.

Q. 3. What is the general duty required in this commandment?

A. It is an inward disposition and inclination of the whole soul, to perform all the duties contained in the law, particularly in the second table, which this commandment more immediately respects; and that out of love to God, and a desire to please him, Psalm 119:5, 47.

Q. 4. How do you prove this to be the general duty required?

A. From the general sin forbidden; namely, COVETOUSNESS, which includes the motion or stirring of corruption against all the commands of the law, because of their holiness and contrariety to depraved nature, Rom. 7:7, 8.

Q. 5. What inward disposition of soul does this commandment require with reference to ourselves in particular?

A. It requires, with reference to ourselves, full contentment with our own condition, 1 Tim. 6:6.

Q. 6. What do you understand by full contentment with our own condition?

A. A cheerful acquiescence in the lot which God, in his holy and wise providence, is pleased to carve out for us in this world, Heb. 13:5 -- " Be content with such things as ye have."

Q. 7. Is full contentment with our own condition attainable in this life?

A. Though the perfection of no grace is attainable in this life, yet a great measure, and eminent degrees of grace, particularly this of contentment, may be, and has been, attained by the saints in this world, Phil. 4:11 -- "I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content."

Q. 8. Is contentment, in a prosperous condition, an easy attainment?

A. No; without grace it cannot be attained; because, naturally, our ambitious and covetous desires increase in proportion to our riches; as is evident in the instance of Ahab, whom a kingdom could not satisfy without Naboth's vineyard, 1 Kings 21:4.

Q. 9. How is true contentment attained under prosperous circumstances?

A. By looking above all the enjoyments of time as transitory and vain, to God himself, as our chief good and eternal inheritance, Ps. 62:10, and 16:5, 6.

Q. 10. Is contentment likewise required under cross dispensations of providence; such as, poverty, reproach, bodily afflictions, and loss of near relations?

A. Though it be a grievous sin to be stupidly insensible and unconcerned under these or the like circumstances, Hos. 7:9; yet a contentment of submission, or such as is without repining and murmuring, is, undoubtedly, required under the severest troubles that can befall us in this life, Lam. 3:39 -- "Wherefore doth a living man complain?"

Q. 11. What ground of contentment have we under outward poverty and want?

A. That, though we be the poor of this world, yet we may be "rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom," James 2:5.

Q. 12. Why should we bear reproach without murmuring?

A. Because whatever reproach is cast upon us for Christ's sake, he will wipe it clean off at his second appearing, Luke 22:28, 29; Matt. 25:34.

Q. 13. What reason for contentment have we under bodily afflictions?

A. That they are only of short duration, 2 Cor. 4:17; mixed with mercy, Lam. 3:32; consistent with love, John 11:3; and designed for "our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness," Heb. 12:10.

Q. 14. What should content and comfort us under the loss of near and dear relations?

A. That the Lord Jesus, who stands in every amiable relation to us, is always at hand, being "the same yesterday, today, and for ever," Heb. 13:8.

Q. 15. Are we required to be content under divine desertion, or the want of the sense of the love of God?

A. Though we have no reason to quarrel with God, for withdrawing the light of his countenance, which we never deserved; yet it is impossible for any gracious soul to be easy and content under the hidings of his face, but it must needs earnestly long for, and ardently breathe after the returns of his love; as is evident from the example and practice of the saints, in the following texts, Job 23:3, and 29:2, 3; Psalm 13:1, 42:1, 2, and 84:2.

Q. 16. What inward frame or disposition of soul does the Tenth Commandment require with reference to our neighbour?

A. It requires a right and charitable frame of spirit toward him, and all that is his, Rom. 12:16.

Q. 17. When may we be said to have this right and charitable frame of spirit here required?

A. When our inward motions and affections are influenced by grace, to sway and determine us to promote and rejoice in the welfare of our neighbour, both as to his spiritual and temporal concerns, 1 Cor. 13:4-8.

Q. 18. When may it be evident to ourselves, that we have a right and charitable frame of spirit towards those who excel us in gifts and graces?

A. When, under an humbling sense of our own defects, we are thankful for the honour that is brought to God, by the shining of his gifts or graces in others, Gal. 1:23, 24.

Q. 19. What should induce us to a right and charitable frame of spirit towards those that are in more prosperous circumstances than ourselves; or whose condition in the world is better than our own?

A. The considering that a flourishing condition in the world is not always the best, Psalm 38:16; that if we enjoy communion with God, it is infinitely preferable to all outward prosperity without it, Psalm 16:5, 6.

Q. 20. How may such a right and charitable frame of spirit be attained?

A. Only by the implantation of faith, as the root of this and all other motions of the soul that are acceptable to God, Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23.


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