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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


LXI. Ques. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
Ans.
The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful; or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Q. 1. What sort of sins are forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are either sins of omission or sins of commission.

Q. 2. What sins of omission are forbidden?
A. The sins of omission forbidden in the fourth commandment are— l. The omission of the duties of the Sabbath themselves, such as neglecting works of necessity and mercy, when called to them; but especially neglecting the public or private exercise of God's. worship, and that either in whole or in part; when we forsake the assemblies of God's people, or omit worshipping God in our families, or praying and seeking God in secret upon this day. 2. The omission of the careful performance of the duties of the Sabbath, when we are hypocritical, dull, dead, full of distractions, weariness, unwatchful, sleepy, and attend upon ordinances without any heart and life, and the Sabbath-day is the most burdensome of all other days of the week unto us. "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."— Matt. 15:7, 8. "Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell coral and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat" — Amos 8:5. "Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it I and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand! saith the Lord."— Mal. 1:13.

Q. 3. What sins of commission are forbidden in this fourth commandment?
A. The sills of commission forbidden in this fourth commandment are, the profaning the Sabbath-day— 1. By idleness, when we spend the day either in whole or in part idly, neither working in our callings, nor employing ourselves in the duties of God's worship, but loiter away that precious time in our houses or the fields, either in vain and idle thoughts, or in vain and idle discourse, or the like. 2. By doing that which is in itself more grossly sinful; as if, inst e&d of going to the house of God to worship, we should go to the tavern or ale-house, on the Sabbath-day, and be drunk, or go to a base house, or in any house to be wanton and unclean; or if' on the Sabbath-day, instead of hallowing and praising God's name, and praying to him, we should swear by his name in our ordinary discourse, or take his name in vain; if instead of worshipping God with his people, we should persecute God's people for worshipping him, or rail at them or scoff and deride them, because of the holiness which is in them. 3. By unnecessary thoughts and contrivances about worldly affairs, unnecessary words and discourses about earthly employments, unnecessary works in our particular callings, or by carnal pleasures and recreations, which are lawful on other days; thus thinking our own thoughts, speaking our own words, doing our own works, and finding our own pleasure, are forbidden, Isa. 58:13: "Not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words."

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