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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

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

by
Thomas Vincent


LXVIII. Ques. What is required in the sixth commandment?
Ans.
The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

Q. 1. What doth the sixth commandment respect?
A. The sixth commandment doth respect our own and others' life.

Q. 2. What doth the sixth commandment require, in reference to our own life?
A. The sixth commandment doth require, in reference unto our own life, all lawful endeavours for the preservation of it.

Q. 3. May we not deny Christ and his truths for the preservation of our life, if we should certainly lose our life for owning and acknowledging them?
A. The denial of Christ and his truths is an unlawful mean for the preservation of our life, and therefore not to be used; and saving our life this way, is the way to lose our life and our souls for ever. "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven ." Matt. 10:33. "Whosoever will save his life, shall lose it. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?" Matt. 16:25, 26.

Q. 4. May we not in any case endeavour the saving of our life by a lie, as Isaac did at Gera; when he said his wife was his sister, lest the men of the place should kill him for his wife's sake? Gen. 26:7.
A. The apostle doth answer this case. "We be slanderously reported, that we say, Let us do evil, that good may come; whose damnation is just." Rom. 3: 8. Therefore the lie of Isaac, for preservation of his life, was his sin, and offensive to God; and no more to be approved than the adultery of David, which the Scripture doth record, not for imitation, but for caution.

Q. 5. May we not defend our life against an enemy that doth assault us on the Sabbath-day, though we intermit the duties of God's worship thereby?
A. Though sins ought never to be committed, whatever good might come thereby, negative precepts binding to all times; yet positive precepts binding always, but not at all times, duties may be intermitted at some time without sin; and God doth dispense with his worship on his day, when it is necessary we should be employed otherwise in the defence of our life against a public enemy.

Q. 6. What are the lawful endeavours which we ought to use for the preservation of our life?
A. The lawful endeavours which we ought to use for the preservation of our life are 1. Defence of ourselves with arms and weapons, against the violence of thieves and cut-throats that seek to murder us. "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36. 2. Defence of ourselves with clothes, and in houses, against the violence of the weather and cold. "She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet." Prov. 21:21. 3. The nourishing and refreshing our bodies in a sober and moderate use of meat, drink, and sleep. "For no man hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Eph. 5:29. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities." Tim. 5:23. "If he sleep he shall do well." John 11:12. 4. The exercising of our bodies with labour and moderate recreations. The sleep of a labouring man is sweet." Eccles. 5:12. " To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Eccles. 3:14. 5. The use of physic for the removal of sickness and the recovery of health. "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Matt. 9:12. 6. Patience, peaceableness, contentment, cheerfulness, and the moderate exhilarating our spirits with God's gifts, especially rejoicing in the Giver, and using all good means to get and keep our mind and heart in a good temper, which doth much tend to the preservation of our health, and a good temper also in our body. "A merry heart doth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Prov. 27:22.

Q. 7. What doth the sixth commandment require, in reference unto the life of others?
A. The sixth commandment doth require, in reference unto the life of others, all lawful endeavours to preserve others' life.

Q. 8. May no lie be made use of to preserve the life of others, especially if they be God's people, and their life be unjustly sought by God's enemies; as Rahab by a lie, saved the lives of the Israelites in her house, for which she is recorded with commendation, and herself and house were saved, when all the city beside were destroyed?
A. 1. No lie must be used upon this or any account, the loss of the lives of the most righteous not being so evil as the least evil of sin. 2. Rahab was commended and spared for her faith, and because of the promise which the Israelites had made unto her, not because of her lie, which was her sin; which sin, without pardon, would have been punished in hell. "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace." Heb. 11:31.

Q. 9. How may and ought we to endeavour the preservation of others' lives?
A. 1. Such as are magistrates, judges, and have power in their hand, ought to defend the innocent when oppressed, wronged, and in danger of losing their livelihood, especially when in danger of death. "Defend the poor and fatherless. Deliver the poor and needy; rid them out of the hand of the wicked." Ps. 82:3, 4. "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works ?" Prov. 24:11, 12. 2. All ought to distribute necessaries of life according to their ability, unto such as are poor and in want. "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in pence, be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit ?" James 2:15, 16. 3. All ought to forbear all wrongs, and doing any injury unto any per-son, and to forgive such injuries as are done unto us, returning good for evil. "Be blameless and harmless, the children of God, without rebuke." Phil. 2:15. "Forgive one another, if any man have a quarrel against any." Col. 3:13. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom. 12:21.

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