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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Scripture Catechism
in the
Method of the Assembly's

by Matthew Henry

Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbids the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word.

1. Is it a sin to worship the true God by images? Yes: for it changes the truth of God into a lie, Rom.1:25. Are not images laymen's books? No: for an image is a teacher of lies, Hab. 2:18. Is it possible to make an image of God? No: we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device, Acts 17:29. Do we know what to represent God by? No: To whom then will ye liken God? Isa. 40:18. Do they that pretend to it put a great affront upon him? Yes: for they change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, Rom. 1:28.

2. May we worship Christ by an image? No: For though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more, 2 Cor. 5:16. Is it idolatry to worship the consecrated host? Yes: for it is bread which we break, 1 Cor. 10:16. Is it idolatry to pray to saints and angels? Yes: See thou do it not, but worship God, Rev. 19:10. and 22:9.

3. Must we be careful to avoid all appearances of idolatry? Yes: Take ye therefore good heed to yourselves, lest ye corrupt yourselves, Deut. 4:15. Should we choose to die rather than worship images? Yes: But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up, Dan. 3:18.

4. Is it a sin to worship God in any way not appointed in his word? Yes: In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men Matt. 15:9. May we ourselves invent ordinances of worship? No: They went a whoring with their own inventions, Ps. 106:39. Is it not enough if what we invent is not forbidden? No: They offered a strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not, Lev. 10:1. Is it a sin to despise any of God's ordinances? Yes: Ye said also Behold what a weariness is it! Mal. 1:13. Or to be careless in our attendance upon them? Yes: Cursed be the deceiver that hath in his flock a male, and vows and sacrifices to the Lord a corrupt thing, Mal. 1:14. Are they spiritual idolaters who make images of' God in their fancy? Yes: they are vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart is darkened, Rom. 1:21.

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