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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Seventh commandment.

Q. 70. Which is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is, [Thou shalt not commit adultery.]

Q. 71. What is required in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbour’s chastity in heart, speech, and behaviour.

Q. 72. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions.


Q. 1. What is the duty required in this commandment?
A. The first duty required in this commandment is, the preservation of our own chastity in heart, lip, and life; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour. And Ephesians 4:29. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, &c.

Q. 2. Why must we preserve our own chastity?
A. Because our bodies are, or ought to be the temples of the Holy Ghost; 1 Corinthians 6:15-19. Know ye not, that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? And it is the express charge of God that they be kept pure and clean; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. That every one of you should know bow to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.

Q. 3. What is the second reason?
A. The second reason is, because of the evil of it to ourselves: As, (1.) It injures the body; 1 Corinthians 6:18. He that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. (2.) It levels us with the Heathen; Ephesians 4:17, 19. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord9 that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, who being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (3.) Dishonours our names; Proverbs 6:32-33. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman, a wound and dishonour shall he get, &c. (4.) Scatters our estates; Proverbs 5:10. Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth, and thy labours be in the house of strangers. (5.) Destroyeth the soul; Proverbs 6:32. He that doth it, destroyeth his own soul.

Q. 4. What age is most incident to this sin?
A. The youthful age is most apt to be drawn into this sin; Proverbs 7:7. And behold among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding. And 2 Timothy 2:22. Flee also youthful lusts, &c.

Q. 5. How far doth this command extend itself?
A. It extends itself to the heart, mind, and fancy, as well as to the body, and external actions; Matthew 5:28. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Q. 6. What are the usual inducements to this sin?
A. The usual inducements to this sin are, (1.) Idleness and fulness of the creatures; Ezekiel 16:49-50. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her, and in her daughters, &c. (2.) Wanton gestures; Isaiah 3:16. Moreover, the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks, and wanton eyes, walking, and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet. (3.) Filthy communication; Ephesians 5:4. Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient.

Q. 7. What is the first remedy against this sin?
A. The first remedy, and the most effectual, is, to get the Spirit of God within us, to sanctify and rule us; Galatians 5:l6. Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.

Q. 8. What is the second remedy?
A. The keeping of a strict watch over the heart; Proverbs 4:23. Keep thy heart with all diligence, &c. And over the external senses; Job 31:1. I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

Q. 9. What is the third remedy against it?
A. Deep and serious consideration of the danger of this sin, and what God threatens against adulterers; Hebrews 13:4. Whore mongers and adulterers God will judge. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And how he describes them, Proverbs 22:14. The mouth of a strange woman is a deep pit; he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.

Q. 10. What is the fourth remedy against it?
A. Prayer; Psalm 119:37. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, &c. And, to evidence our sincerity in prayer, we must study to shun all occasions of this sin; Psalm 18:23. I was also upright before him; and I kept myself from mine iniquity.

Q. 11. What is the first inference from hence?
A. What cause those have to bless God, that have been kept from this sin; though the best ought to be humbled for their heart-pollutions.

Q. 12. What is the second inference from hence?
A. Let it warn parents to do what in them lies to prevent the ruin of their children by this sin, (1.) By filling their heads and hands with lawful business. (2.) By serious admonitions and prayers for them. (3.) By keeping them from vain and tempting company. (4.) By disposing them seasonably in suitable marriage.

Q. 13. What is the third inference from hence?
A. Let those that are defiled with this sin repent seriously of it as David did; Psalm 51:8. Make me to bear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. And apply the blood of Christ by faith; for in so doing it may be pardoned; 1 Corinthians 6:11. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, hut ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.

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