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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Preface to the Commandments.

Q. 43. What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Q. 44. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.


Q. 1. Why doth God use arguments and inducements to win men to the obedience of his laws?
A. Because he loves to work on man as a rational creature, according to the principles of his nature; Hosea 11:4. 1 drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: And because he delights in none but free and cheerful obedience; Psalm 110:3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.

Q. 2. What is the first argument in this preface?
A. It is the sovereignty of the Lawgiver, [I am the Lord,] which should awe the heart of every man to obedience; James 4:12. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.

Q. 3. What is the second argument to obedience?
A. Our propriety in God by covenant, [I am the Lord thy God;] this obligeth to obedience, and aggravateth disobedience; Psalm 50:7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee; I am God, even thy God. Hosea 9:1. For thou hast gone a whoring from thy God.

Q. 4. What is the third argument unto obedience?
A. The benefits of redemption that they receive from God. Benefits persuade to duty; and the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance, Romans 2:4.

Q. 5. How can deliverance out of Egypt be an argument to them that never were in Egypt?
A. As that deliverance was a type of our deliverance, so it is an argument to us, and an argument from the less to the greater; for it obligeth us more than them; Luke 1:74-75. That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

Q. 6. What is that deliverance we have? and how doth it oblige us to obedience?
A. Our deliverance is not from Egypt, but from hell; Colossians 1:13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. And our persons are bought by the Redeemer to glorify God; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. What know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you? For ye are bought with a price: Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Godís.

Q. 7. Is it not mercenary to serve God upon the account of benefits received, or to be received?
A. He that maketh religious duties mediums to attain carnal advantages only, is of a worse than mercenary spirit; Hosea 7:14. And they have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds: They assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. But to be quickened by mercy to duty is not mercenary, but evangelical; Hosea 3:5. They shall fear the Lord, and his goodness.

Q. 8. What is the first inference from hence?
A. That great is the condescension of God to man, that he will use arguments to induce him to obedience, who might exact it only by his sovereignty, and justly damn us for our disobedience; 2 Corinthians 5:20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: We pray you in Christís stead, be ye reconciled to God.

Q. 9. What is the second inference front hence?
A. That the more mercy any receive from God, the more obligations are laid on them to obey him; Psalm 116:1-2. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice, and my supplications: Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

Q. 10. What is the third inference from hence?
A. The more mercies and favours any man sins against, the greater is that man's sin, and the sorer will be his punishment; Amos 3:2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.

Q. 11. What is the fourth inference from hence?
A. That Godís expectations are greater, where his mercies and favours have been so; Isaiah 5:4. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not (lone in it? Wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes.

Q. 12. What is the last inference from hence?
A. That memorials of Godís mercies are to be kept by us, to provoke us to constant and cheerful duties of obedience; Exodus 17:14. And the Lord said unto Moses, write this for a memorial in a hook, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua. Psalm 103:2-3. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

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