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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Eighth Commandment.

Q. 73. Which is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is, [Thou shalt not steal.]

Q. 74. What is required in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth, and outward estate of ourselves and others.

Q. 75. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth, or unjustly hinder our own, or our neighbourís wealth, or outward estate.


Q. 1. What is presupposed in this commandment?
A. It presupposeth that God hath given every man a propriety in his estate, and that no manís goods are common to others, except by his consent in times and cases extraordinary; Acts 2:44. And all that believed were together, and had all things common.

Q. 2. What is required in this commandment?
A. It requires of every man diligence in a lawful calling, to get and p reserve an estate for his own and otherís good; Proverbs 13:11. He that gathereth by labour, shall increase. Ephesians 4:28. But rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Q. 3. What else is required in this commandment?
A. It requires us not only to get and keep the things of the world in a lawful manner, but to distribute and communicate them to those that are in want, and not cast them into temptations of sin, or inevitable ruin; Isaiah 58:10. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul: Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon-day; 1 John 3:17. But whoso hath this worldís good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

Q. 4. What else is required in this commandment?
A. It requires in every man a public spirit to procure and promote the good and prosperity of others: 1 Corinthians 10:24. Let no man seek his own, but every man anotherís wealth.

Q. 5. What else is required in this command?
A. It requires restitution of all goods, unjustly gotten, or taken from others; Leviticus 6:4. Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, &c. And the restoring of pawns and pledges, when they are due; Ezekiel 18:7. And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, &c. Or things lost, if we can discover the true owners.

Q. 6. What is the first sin forbidden in this command?
A. It forbids all cozening and cheating of others in our dealings, and civil commerce with them; 1 Thessalonians 4:6. That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter, &c. Proverbs 26:28. A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it, and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

Q. 7. What is the second thing forbidden in this command?
A. It forbids all exaction and oppression of our neighbour, by going beyond them, or working on their necessities, or detaining their dues; Leviticus 25:14. And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbourís hand, ye shall not oppress one another; Proverbs 24:28-29. Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause: And deceive not with thy lips. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Q. 8. What is the third thing forbidden in this command?
A. It forbids all unlawful weights and measures, which is no better than theft in Godís account; Micah 6:10-11. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?

Q. 9. What is the fourth sin forbidden in this command?
A. It forbids all family frauds by children; Proverbs 28:24. Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, it is no transgression, the same is the companion of a destroyer. Or servants; Titus 2:9-10. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters; not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity, &c.

Q. 10. What is the fifth thing forbidden in this command?
A. It forbids all tempting of, or encouraging others to defraud those who have any trust committed to them; Psalm 50:18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him; Proverbs 24:24. Whosoever is partner with a thief, hateth his own soul, &c.

Q. 11. What is the sixth thing forbidden in this command?
A. It forbids the taking away of anotherís goods by open robbery by sea or land; Job 5:5. And the robber swalloweth up their substance. Or clandestinely and privately; 1 Peter 4:15. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, &c.

Q. 12. What is the danger of this sin?
A. It brings menís souls, bodies, and estates, under the curse of God; Zechariah 5:3-4. Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: For every one that stealeth shall be cut off, as on this side, according to it : I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief.

Q. 13. What is the first instruction hence?
A. Let all that are guilty of this sin repent, and restore, as they expect mercy from God; Ephesians 4:28. Let him that stole, steal no more, &c. Luke 19:8. And Zaccheus stood, and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken away any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Q 14. What is the last inference from hence?
A. To excite all, to whom God hath given a competency of the things of the world, that they bless God for keeping them from the temptations of this sin; Proverbs 30:8-9. Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

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