Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. "
Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images [r], or any other way not appointed in his Word [s].
Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising [a], counselling [b], commanding [c], using [d], and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself [e]; tolerating a false religion [f]; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever [g]; all worshipping of it [h], or God in it or by it [i]; the making of any representation of feigned deities [k], and all worship of them, or service belonging to them [l],
all superstitious devices [m], corrupting the worship of God [n], adding to it, or taking from it [o], whether invented and taken up of ourselves [p], or received by tradition from others [q], though under the title of antiquity [r], custom [s], devotion [t], good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever [v]; simony [w]; sacrilege [x]; all neglect [y], contempt [z], hindering [a], and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed [b].
all superstitious devices [m],
[m] Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
Colossians 2:21-23 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Ver.22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Ver.23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
corrupting the worship of God [n],
[n] Malachi 1:7-8 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. Ver.8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. Ver.14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.
adding to it, or taking from it [o],
[o] Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
whether invented and taken up of ourselves [p],
[p] Psalm 106:39 Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.
or received by tradition from others [q],
[q] Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
though under the title of antiquity [r],
[r] 1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
[s] Jeremiah 44:17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.
[t] Isaiah 65:3-5 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Ver.4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Ver.5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.
Galatians 1:13-14 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: Ver.14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever [v];
[v] 1 Samuel 13:11-12 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Ver.12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
1 Samuel 15:21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
[w] Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
[x] Romans 2:22 thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
all neglect [y],
[y] Exodus 4:24-26 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Ver.25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. Ver.26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
[z] Matthew 22:5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
Malachi 1:7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. Ver.13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! 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.
[a] Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed [b].
[b] Acts 13:44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. Ver.45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Ver.16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
Q.110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments [c]; are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us [d], his fervent zeal for his own worship [e], and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom [f]; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations [g]; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations [h].
End of Lesson, Day 73
For Further Study:
- Francis R. Beattie's The Presbyterian Standards
- James Fisher's Catechism on the Catechism
- John Flavel's Exposition of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism (Questions 49 to 52 combined)
- Matthew Henry's A Scripture Catechism in the Method of the Assembly's
- Thomas Vincent's The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture
- Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity
- John Whitecross' The Shorter Catechism Illustrated