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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of Love to God and Man.

Q. 42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourselves.


Q. 1. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. To love the Lord our God with a supreme love, and men with a sincere love, in and for him; Matthew 22:37-38. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment: The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Q. 2. What is the first thing contained in our supreme love to God?
A. It implies the loving of God purely and absolutely for himself. The excellencies that are in him; Canticles 1:3. Thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore the virgins love thee. And the benefits we receive from him; Psalm 116:1. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplication.

Q. 3. What is the second property of this supreme love?
A. Supreme love denotes the whole man to God and Christ: So that in life and death that man designs the glory of God as his main end; Romans 14:7-8. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; for whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lordís.

Q. 4. What is the third property of supreme love?
A. It causes the soul to depreciate and slight all other things in comparison of Godís glory, and an interest in Christ; Acts 20:24. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy; Philippians 3:8. I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.

Q. 5. What is the fourth property of supreme love?
A. It centers the soul in God as its only rest; Psalm 116:7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. And cannot be satisfied till it come to the full enjoyment of him; 2 Thessalonians 3:5. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Q. 6. Why must we love God with a supreme love?
A. Because such a love only suits the transcendent excellency of God; commands all we are and have for God; and is the only love that will continue to the end; Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Q. 7. What is it to love our neighbour as ourselves?
A. It is the exact observation and practice of the golden rule of Christ; Matthew 7:12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Q. 8. Are all men to be loved alike, and with the same degree of love?
A. No; though we must love all men with the love of benevolence, yet the saints only with the love of complacency; Psalm 16:3. But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight. Psalm 15:4. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. And to such we must especially do good; Galatians 6:10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Q. 9. What is the first instruction from hence?
A. Hence we learn the excellency of divine love. Moses expresses the whole duty of man in ten commandments: Christ hangs the whole law upon these two, love to God and our neighbour; Mark 12:30-31. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: There is none other commandment greater than these. And the apostle reduces these two into one; Galatians 5:14. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Q. 10. What is the second inference from hence?
A. It convinces the holiest of men how far short they come in their obedience to the rule of duty, and therein the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, Galatians 3:24.

Q. 11. What is the third inference from hence?
A. It discovers the excellency and perfection of the law of God; Psalm 19:7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: And that we are highly to honour and magnify it as a rule of duty, though we must utterly renounce it as the way of our justification.

Q. 12. What is the last inference from hence?
A. That there is nothing too dear for a Christian in this world, but he must give it up by self-denial, when it conies in competition with his supreme love to God; Luke 14:26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and

brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple; i. e. Love them less than me.

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