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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

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

Thomas Vincent

LXIV. Ques. What is required in fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honour and performing the duties belonging to every one, in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.

Q. 1. What is the subject of this fifth commandment, or who are the persons of whom the duties of this commandment are required?
A. The subject of the fifth commandment, or the persons of whom the duties of this commandment are required, are relations, especially children and all inferiors, in reference to their parents and superiors, and inclusively superiors in reference to their inferiors, and equals also in reference one to another.

Q. 2. Whom are we to understand by inferiors?
A. By inferiors we are to understand, not only children, but also wives, servants, people, subjects, the younger, and the weaker in gifts or graces.

Q. 3. Whom are we to understand by superiors?
A. By superiors, under the name of father and mother, we are to understand, not only parents, but also husbands, masters, ministers, magistrates, the aged, and stronger in gifts or graces.

Q. 4. Whom are we to understand by equals?
A. By equals we may understand brethren, sisters, kindred, friends, and any acquaintance between whom there is no great distance or difference in regard of age, estate, place, or dignity.

Q. 5. What are the duties of children to their parents?
A. The duties of children to their parents, comprehended in the general precept, "Honour thy father and thy mother," are — 1. Inward honour, reverence, and estimation. "A son honoureth his father."— Mal. 1:6. "Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father; I am the Lord your God."— Lev. 19:3. 2. Outward reverent carriage and behaviour. "Her children rise up, and call her blessed."— Prov. 31:28. "The king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right band."— 1 Kings 2:19. 3. Diligent hearkening to their instructions. "Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding."— Prov. 4:1. "My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow tl'ine ear to my understanding."— Prov. 5:1. 4. Willing obedience unto all their lawful commands. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right." — Eph. 6:1. Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing to the Lord."— Col. 3:20. 5. Meek and patient, bearing their reproofs and corrections, with amendment of the faults they are reproved and corrected for. "We have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and ye gave them reverence."— Heb. 12:9. "He that heareth reproof getteth understanding."— Prov. 15:32. 6. Ready following their reasonable counsel, in reference to their calling, station, marriage, and any great affairs of their lives. "So Moses hearkened unto the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said."— Exod. 18:24. "And he came to his father and mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath; get her for me to wife." Judg. 14:2. 7., Grateful kindness to them, in nourishing them, providing for them, and bearing with their infirmities, when aged, and fallen into want and poverty. "He shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age."— Ruth 4:15. "And Joseph nourished his father with bread."— Gen. 47:12. "Despise not thy mother when she is old."— Prov. 23:22.

Q. 6. What are the duties of parents to their children?
A. The duties of parents to their children, are — l. Tender love and care of them, especially when infants and helpless; particularly, mothers ought to give suck to their children, if they are able. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?"— Isa. 49:15. 2. Training them up in the knowledge of the Scriptures, and pnnciples of religion, and giving them good instructions in the laws and ways of the Lord, so soon as they are capable of receiving them. "And ye fathers, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord "— Eph. 6:4. "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it."— Prov. 22:6. "From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures."— 2 Tim. 3:15. 3. Prayer for them, and giving good examples of holiness, temperance. and righteousness unto them. "Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all."— Job 1:5. "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes." — Ps. 101:2, 3. 4. Keeping them under subjection whilst young, yet requiring nothing of them but what is agreeable to the law of the Lord. "And he went down with them, and was subject unto them."— Luke 2:51. As children must obey, so parents must command in the Lord.— Eph. 6:1, 4. 5. Encouragement of them by kind looks and speeches, and rewards in well-doing, together with discountenance, reproot; and loving and seasonable correction of them for evil-doing. "And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong, and of good courage," &c. — l Chron. 28:20. "Chasten thy son whilst there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."— Prov. 19:18. "The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight to thy soul." — Prov. 29:15, 17. 6. Provision for them of what is needful for the present; as also laying up for them, according to the proportion of what they have, for the future. "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."— 1 Tim. 5:8. "For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children."— 2 Cor. 12:14. 7. Disposal of them to trades, callings, and in marriage, when grown up, as may be most for their good; therein using no force, but consulting and considering their capacity and inclination. "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bare Cain. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground."— Gen. 4:1, 2. "But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely towards his virgin, if slie pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not; let them marry.— So then, he that giveth her in marriage doth well."— 1 Cor. 7:36, 38.

Q. 7. What are the duties of wives to their husbands?
A. The duties of wives to their husbands are— 1. Love of them above all other persons in the world. "That they teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children "— Tit. 2:4. 2. Loyalty and faithfulness, in reference unto the bed and estate, and any secrets intrusted with them. "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled."— Heb. 13:4. "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things."— 1 Tim. 3:11. 3. Reverence and fear of offending them. "Let the wife see that she reverence her husband."— Eph. 5:33. 4. Subjection unto them in all things lawful under Christ. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."— Eph. 5:22, 24. 5. Care to please them, srnting themselves to their disposition, and all things to their liking. "She that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may plense her husband." — 1 Cor. 7:34. 6. Helping them to bear their burdens, and in making provision for their families. "And the Lord said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."— Gen. 2:18. "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."— Prov. 31:27. 7. Giving ear to, and complying with, the counsels of their husbands, if good, for their souls' welfare; and endeavouring, with meekness and wisdom, with kindness and loving admonitions, and a chaste, sweet conversation, to win their husbands over to the ways of God, when they are wicked. "Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may, without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives, while they be-hold your chaste conversation, coupled with fear."— 1 Pet. 3:1, 2.

Q. 8. What are the duties of hushands to their wives?
A. The duties of husbands to their wives, are— 1. Most endeared love to them, like unto the love of Christ to his Church. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it."— Eph. 5:25. 2. Dwelling with them, and, according to knowledge, honouring them, and delighting in their company. "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife."— Eph. 5:31. "Husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel."— 1 Pet. 3:7. "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe: let her breasts satisfy thee at all times, and be thou ravished always with her love." — Prov. 5:18, 19. 3., Tenderness towards them, and careful provision of food and raiment, and all things necessary for them, as for their own bodies. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies: he that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherislieth it."— Eph. 5:28, 29. 4. Fidelity to them in keeping the marriage covenant, so as to forbear the use of any other besides them. selves. "Thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee."— Hos. 3:3. 5. Protection of them from injuries, and covering of their infirmities with the wings of love. "And David rescued his two wives." — 1 Sam. 30:18. "For charity [or love] shall cover a multitude of sins."— 1 Pet. 4:8. 6. Care to please them in all things lawful and fit, and praise of them when they do well. "He that is married, careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife."— 1 Cor. 7:33. 7. Prayer with them and for them, counsel and admonition of them, and every way helping them, especially in reference to their souls, walking with them in the ways and ordinances of the Lord. "Ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered."— 1 Pet.3:7. "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."— Luke 1:6.

Q. 9. What are the duties of servants to their masters?
A. The duties of servants to their masters are — 1. Honour of their masters in their heart, speech, and behaviour. "A servant honoureth his master."— Mal. 1:6. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour."— 1 Tim. 6:1. 2.,Service of them with diligence, willingness, fear, and out of obedience unto Christ. "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men."-Fph. vi. 5-7. 3.~~aithfulness to them in their estate, and any trust committed to them, with endeavours to please them well in all things. "Exhort servants to please their own masters well in all things; showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." — Tit. 2:9, 10 4 Meekness and patience under reproof and strokes, and that not only when they do deserve them, but also when they are innocent. "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently I but if; when ye do well, and suffer for it. ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."— 1 Pet 2:18-20.

Q. 10. What are the duties of masters to their servants?
A. The duties of masters to their servants are — 1. Wisdom and gentleness in their guidance and government of their servants, and acceptance of their diligence and willingness in their service not threatening for every fault, remembering that they also are servants to Christ, and have many faults to be covered. "And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing [or moderating] threatening; knowing that your Master also is in heaven; and there is no respect of persons with him."— Eph. 6:9. 2. Provision of convenient and sufficient food for them. "Thou shalt have enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maidens."— Prov. 27:27. 3. Payment of their wages in full, and at the promised time. "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal."— Col 4:1. "Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant. At his day thou shalt give him his hire; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it; lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee."— Dent. 24:14, 15. 4. Reproof of them for sin, and correction of them with more than words for some faults. "A servant will not be corrected with words; for though he understand, he will not answer." — Prov. 29:19. 5. Instruction of them in the ways of God; worshipping God with them; allowance of time every day for worshipping God by themselves; restraining them as much as they can from every sin, especially from external breach of the Sabbath; exhortation and persuasion of them unto the obedience and service of the Lord, and therein to be both examples unto, and companions with them. "I know him, that he will command his household, and they shall keep the ways of God."— Gen. 18:19. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."— Josh. 24:15. "A devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house."— Acts 10:2.

Q. 11. What are the duties of the people to their ministers?
A. The duties of people to their ministers are— 1. High estimation of them, and endeared love to them, for their work's sake. "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord; and to esteem them very highly, in love for their work's sake."— 1 Thess. 5:12, 13. "Ye received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. For I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me."— Gal. 4:14, 15. 2. Diligent attendance upon the word preached, and other ordinances administered by them. "He that heareth you, heareth me."— Luke 10:16. 3 Meek and patient suffering the word of reproof, and ready obedience unto the word of command, which ministers shall, from the Scriptures, make known unto them, together with submission unto the discipline intrusted with them by the Lord. "Receive with meekness the ingrafted word," &c. James 1:21. "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls."— Heb. 13:17. 4. Communicating to them of their temporals. "The Lord hath ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."— 1 Cor. 9:14. "Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."— Gal. 6:6. 5. Prayer for them. "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me."— Rom. 15:30. "Brethren, pray for us."— 1 Thess. 5:25. 6. Shutting their ear against reproaches and slanders, believing nothing without proof; and standing up in their defence against an ungodly world, and many false brethren, and rotten-hearted hypocrites, who are made use of by the devil to cast dirt upon them, that thereby people receiving prejudices against them, might be kept either from hearing them, or receiving benefit by their doctrine, and so be either drawn to ways of error, or hardened in ways of profaneness. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses."— Tim. 5:19.

Q. 12. What are the duties of ministers to their people?
A. The duties of ministers to their people are — 1. Dear and tender love to their souls. "We were gentle among you, as a nurse cherisheth her children: being so affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us."— 1 Thess. 2:7, 8. 2. Diligent, sincere, and frequent preaching of the word unto them, with administration of all ordinances. "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor in guile; but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."— 1 Thess. 2:3, 4. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine."— 2 Tim. 4:2. 3. Watchfulness over them, with willingness and cheerfulness. "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind."— 1 Pet. 5:2. 4. Prayer for them, and praise for the grace of God which is in them. "Wherefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers." — Eph. 1:15, 16. 5. Showing themselves an example of holiness and good works unto them. "In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works."— Tit. 2:7. "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."— 1 Tim. 4:12.

Q. 13. What are the duties of subjects to their magistrates?
A. The duties of subjects to their magistrates, are— 1. High estimation and honour of them. "Fear God; honour the king."— 1 Pet. 2:17. 2. Subjection to them, and obedience unto their laws, so far as they are not contrary to the laws of Christ. " Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers."— Rom. 13:1. 3. Ready payment of their dues. " Render unto all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom."— Rom. 13:7. 4. Defence of them in danger. "Wherefore hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came in one to destroy the king thy lord."— 1 Sam. 26:15. 5. Prayer and thanksgiving for them. "I exhort that prayers and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."— 1 Tim. 2:1, 2.

Q. 14. What are the duties of magistrates to their subjects?
A. The duties of magistrates to their subject are — 1. Government of their subjects under Christ, with wisdom, justice, and clemency, endeavouring above all things to promote the interest of religion among them. "Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people."— 2 Chron. 1:10. " And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the Lord, and an house for his kingdom."— 2 Chron. 2:1. 2. Making good laws for the benefit of their subjects, and appointing faithful officers, with charge of due execution of them. "And he set judges in the land, and said, Take heed what ye do; for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord; for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts."— 2 Chron. 19:5-7. 3. Care of the common safety of their subjects. "And Jehoshaphat reigned in his stead; and he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah."— 2 Chron. 17:1, 2. 4. Encouragement of them that do well, by their example, countenance, and reward, together with discouragement and punishment of evildoers. "Governors are for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."— 1 Pet 2:14.

Q.15. What are the duties of the younger and inferior in gifts and graces. to the aged and superior?
A. The duties of the younger and inferior in gifts and graces, to the elder and superior, are — 1. To rise up before them, and give place to them, with reverence and respect. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God."— Lev. 19:32. 2. Humble submission to them, so as to follow their wise counsels. "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder."— 1 Pet. 5:5. 3. Imitation of them in their graces and holy conversation. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."— 1 Cor. 11:1.

Q.16. What are the duties of the aged and superior in gifts and graces unto the younger and inferior?
A. The duties of the aged and superior in gifts and graces, unto the younger and inferior, are— To adorn their old age, and show forth the power of their grace in a holy and exemplary conversation. "That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience: the aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, teachers of good things." — Tit. 2:2, 3.

Q. 17. What are the duties of equals one to another?
A. The duties of equals one to another, are — 1. To live in peace with, and sincere love to one another, preferring each other in honour. "Be at peace among yourselves." — 1 Thess. 5:13. "Let love be without dissimulation. Be kindly-affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another." — Rom. 12:9, 10. 2. To be pitiful, courteous and affable, and ready to promote one another's good, and to rejoice therein. "— Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous." — 1 Pet. 3: 8. "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." — 1 Cor. 10:24. Rejoice with them that do rejoice." Rom. 12:15.

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