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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

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

Thomas Vincent

LXXV. Ques. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbour's wealth or outward estate.

Q. 1. What doth the eighth commandment forbid, as a hindrance of our own wealth and outward estate?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth, as a hindrance of our own wealth and outward estate 1. Prodigality and lavish spending of our substance, in gluttony, drunkenness, lewd company, gaming, and the like. "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living." Luke 16:13. "The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty." Prov. 23:21. "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich." Prov. 20:17. "He that loweth after vain persons shall have poverty enough." Prov. 28:19. 2. Imprudence in venturing out all upon great uncertainties, rash engaging in suretiship; or anywise indiscreet management of our callings, to our detriment. "He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him." Prov. 28:22. "Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?" Prov. 22:26, 27. 3. Idleness and slothful neglect of the duties of our particular callings. "Drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags." Prov. 23:21. "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the bands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." Prov. 24:30-34.

Q. 2. What doth the eighth commandment forbid in the excess in reference unto our own wealth and outward estate?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth in the excess, in reference unto our own wealth and outward estate 1. Covetousness, in getting an estate with carking cares, inordinate desires to be rich, or with immoderate labour, so as to waste the body, and to exclude time for religious duty. "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have." Heb. 13:5. "I would have ye without carefulness." 1 Cor. 7:32. "Take heed, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life." Luke 21:34. "They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition; for the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Tim. 6:9, 10. "There is one alone, and not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches, neither saith he, For whom do I labour and bereave myself of good?" Eceles. 4:8. 2. Covetousness, in keeping what we have gotten of the good things of the world, without an heart to make use of them. "There is an evil under the sun; and it is common among men; a man to whom God hath given riches and wealth, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul, of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and an evil disease." Eccles. 6:1, 2. 3. Unlawful contracts, such as simony in the sale of holy things, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, pardons of sin, and dispensations unto it, church-livings, and the charge of souls. "Thy money perish with thee, because that thou bast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." Acts 8:20. 4. Bribery in the sale of public justice. "Aud thou shalt take no gift; for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous." Exod. 23:8. "Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards; they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them." Isa. 1:23. 5. Unlawful arts, fortune telling, figure casting, and making use of any unwarrantable ways for the getting of money. "Thou hast trusted in thy wickedness. Let now the astrologers, the star-gazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee." Isa. 47:10, 13. "Many also of them which used curious arts, brought their books together, and burnt them before all men. A certain man named Demetrius, a silver-smith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen." Acts 19:19, 24.

Q. 3. What doth the eighth commandment forbid in reference unto others which are in want?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth, in reference unto others which are in want, a withholding relief from them, and stopping the ear against their cry. "Whose stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he shall cry himself; but shall not be heard." Prov. 21:13. "If there be a poor man of thy brethren, thou shalt not harden thine heart. nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother." Deut. 15:7.

Q. 4. What doth the eighth commandment forbid in reference unto all men?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth, in reference unto all men, any kind of injustice and unrighteousness, in any of our dealings with them; such as 1. Defrauding others in our buying, when we discommend that which we know to be good, or take an advantage of others' ignorance of the worth of their commodities, or their necessity of selling them, so as to give a great under-rate for them. "It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer; but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth." Prov. 20:14. "If thou buyest ought of thy neighbour, ye shall not oppress." Lev. 25:14. 2. Defrauding others in selling, when we praise that which we sell, and against our consciences say, It is excellent good, though we know it to be stark naught; and when we take an unreasonable price for our commodities; or when we cozen them, in the sale of goods, by false weights and measures. "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter; because the Lord is the avenger of all such." 1 Thess. 4:6. "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and a just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have." Deut. 25:13, 15. "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord; but a just weight is his delight." Prov. 11:1. "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 ?" Micah 6:10, 11. 3. Especially, the eighth commandment doth directly forbid stealing one from another " Thou shalt not steal." "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another." Lev. 19:11.

Q. 5. What stealing doth the eighth commandment forbid?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth all stealing, either within the family or without the family.

Q. 6. What stealing within the family doth the eighth commandment forbid?
A. The eighth commandment doth forbid within the family 1. Servants stealing and purloining, as also anywise wasting and wronging their masters, in their goods or estates. "Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity." Titus 2:9, 10. "A certain rich man had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods." Luke 16:1. 2. Children stealing and robbing their parents. "Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression, the same is the companion of a destroyer." Prov. 28:24. "He that wasteth his father, is a son that causeth shame." Prov. 19:26.

Q. 7. What stealing without the family doth the eighth commandment forbid?
A. The eighth commandment doth forbid without the family, all theft, both public and private.

Q. 8. What is the public theft which the eighth commandment doth forbid?
A. The public theft which the eighth commandment doth forbid, is 1. Sacrilege, which is, when any do either violently or fraudulently take away or alienate any thing that hath been dedicated to sacred uses; or when sacred persons, without just cause, are taken off from their employment. "Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ?" Rom. 2:22. "It is a snare to a man to devour that which is holy." Prov. 20:25. "Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me: but ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." Mal. 3:8, 9. 2. Robbing public treasuries, or any way wronging and defrauding the common-wealth, by taking away its just liberties and privileges, or by doing a public detriment for private advantage's sake; amongst which public robberies may be numbered inclosures, engrossings, forestallings, monopolies, and the like.

Q. 9. What is the private theft which the eighth commandment doth forbid without the family?
A. The private theft which the eighth commandment doth forbid without the family, is 1. Man-stealing, or woman.stealing, or stealing of children, that they may be sent or sold for slaves. "The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for murderers, for man-slayers, for whoremongers; for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons." 1 Tim. 1:9, 10. "He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, shall surely be put to death." Exod. 21:16. 2. Robbery, either by land or sea, either of money, cattle, or any goods. "And the men of Shechem set liers in wait in the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them." Judg. 9:25. Now, Barabbas was a robber." John 18:40. "The robber swalloweth up their substance." Job 5:5.

Q. 10. What further is inclusively forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. There is further inclusively forbidden in the eighth commandment 1. All partaking with thieves in receiving stolen goods, or otherwise. "Cast in thy lot among us, let us all have one purse." Prov. 1:14. "Whoso is partaker with a thief, hateth his own soul." Prov. 29:24. "When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst with him." Ps. 50:18. 2. Detaining that which is strayed or lost. "Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them; thou shalt in any case bring them again to thy brother. In like manner shalt thou do with his raiment, and with all lost things of thy brother's which thou hast found." Deut. 22:1, 3. 3. Falsehood and unfaithfulness in our promises, and in regard of any thing committed to our trust. "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." John 12:6. 4. Rigorous requiring what is owed to us, without compassion or forbearance. "But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence; and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt." Matt. 18:28-30. 5. Cruel keeping the pledge when it is the means of our neighbour's living. "If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: for that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep I And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious." Exod. 22:26, 27. 6. All withholding that which is due, especially the wages and hire of servants and labourers. "The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again." Ps. 37:21. "The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning." Lev. 19:13. 7. Removing the ancient land-marks, or any otherwise seeking to defraud others of the just title which they have to their estates. "Remove not the ancient land-mark which thy fathers have set." Prov. 22:28. 8. Extortion and all oppression, especially of the poor and afflicted. "Rob not the poor, because he is poor; neither oppress the afflicted in the gate; for the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them." Prov. 22:22, 23. "Hear this, 0 ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail; falsifying the balances by deceit, to buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and sell the refuse of the wheat, The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works." Amos 8:4-7. 9. Usury and taking increase merely for loan, "If thou lend money to any of thy people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury." Exod. 22:25. "He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hatli taken any increase." Ezek. 18:8.

Q. 11. Why should we forbear all manner of theft, and endeavours to enrich ourselves by the wronging of others?
A. We ought to forbear all manner of theft, and endeavours to enrich ourselves by the wronging of others, because it is the express prohibition of God written in the Word, and most agreeable to the law of nature written upon the heart; as also, because that riches got by theft and wrong are accompanied with God's curse; and if not here, be sure God's vengeance will overtake such persons as are guilty of theft and unrighteousness, in the other world. "This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth; for every one that stealeth, shall be cut off on this side: and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and shall consume it, with the timber thereof, and the stones thereof." Zech. 5:3, 4. "As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool." Jer. 17:11. "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you I ye have heaped treasure together for the last days." James 5:1, 3.

Q. 12. How may we be kept from the sins forbidden in this eighth commandment?
A. We may be kept from the sins forbidden in this eighth commandment, by mortified affections to the world through Christ's death and Spirit, by raised affections to the things above, by a love of justice, by prayer, by faith in God's promises and special providence, in making all needful provision without this sin for his.

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