On the Law of God and the Commandments.
485. What means have we to know good works from bad?
The inward law of God, or the witness of our conscience, and the outward law of God, or God’s commandments.
486. Does holy Scripture speak of the inward law of God?
The Apostle Paul says of the heathen: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. Rom. ii. 15.
487. If there is in man’s heart an inward law, why was the outward given?
It was given because men obeyed not the inward law, but led carnal and sinful lives, and stifled within themselves the voice of the spiritual law, so that it was necessary to put them in mind of it outwardly through the Commandments. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions.. Gal. iii. 19.
488. When and how was God’s outward law given to men?
When the Hebrew people, descended from Abraham, had been miraculously delivered from bondage in Egypt, on their way to the promised land, in the desert, on Mount Sinai, God manifested his presence in fire and clouds, and gave them the law, by the hand of Moses, their leader.
489. Which are the chief and general commandments of this law?
The following ten, which were written on two tables of stone:
1. I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt have none other gods beside me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth: thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord thy God.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long upon the earth.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his land, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any of his cattle, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s. Exod. xx. 1-17; Deut. v. 6-21.
490. You said that these Commandments were given to the people of Israel: must we, then, also walk by them?
We must: for they are in substance the same law which, in the words of St. Paul, has been written in the hearts of all men, that all should walk by it.
491. Did Jesus Christ teach men to walk by the Ten Commandments?
On the Division of the Commandments into Two Tables.
492. What means the division of the Ten Commandments into two tables?
This: that they contain two kinds of love–love to God, and love to our neighbor; and prescribe two corresponding kinds of duties.
493. Has not Jesus Christ said something of this?
When asked, Which is the great commandment in the law? he replied: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matt. xxii. 36-40.
494. Are all men our neighbors?
Yes, all; because all are the creation of one God, and have come from one man: but our neighbors in faith are doubly neighbors to us, as being children of one heavenly Father by faith in Jesus Christ.
495. But why is there no commandment of love to ourselves?
Because we love ourselves naturally, and without any commandment. No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it. Eph. v. 29.
496. What relative order should there be in our love to God, our neighbor, and ourselves?
We should love ourselves not for our own, but for God’s sake, and partly also for the sake of our neighbors; we should love our neighbor for the sake of God; but we should love God for himself, and above all. Love of self should be sacrificed to the love of our neighbor; but both should be sacrificed to the love of God.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John xv. 13.
He that loveth father or mother more than me, saith Jesus Christ, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. Matt. x. 37.
497. If the whole law is contained in two commandments, why are they divided into ten?
In order the more clearly to set forth our duties towards God, and towards our neighbor.
498. In which of the Ten Commandments are we taught our duties towards God?
In the first four.
499. What are these duties?
In the first commandment we are taught to know and worship the true God.
In the second, to abstain from false worship.
In the third, not to sin against God’s worship even by word.
In the fourth, to keep a certain order in the time and acts of God’s worship.
500. In which of the Ten Commandments are we taught our duties towards our neighbor?
In the last six.
501. What are these duties?
In the fifth commandment we are taught to love and honor those of our neighbors who are nearest to us, beginning with our parents. In the sixth, not to hurt the life of our neighbor. In the seventh, not to hurt the purity of his morals. In the eighth, not to hurt his property. In the ninth, not to hurt him by word. In the tenth, not to wish to hurt him.
502. Do not the Ten Commandments include also our duties towards ourselves?
Yes; these duties are implied in the commandments of the second table relating to our neighbors; for our duty is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
On the First Commandment.
503. What mean these words, I am the Lord thy God?
By these words God, as it were, points himself out to man, and so commands him to know the Lord his God.
504. What particular duties may we deduce from the commandment to know God?
1. We must seek to learn the knowledge of God, as being the most essential of all knowledge.
2. We must listen attentively to instructions on God and on his works in church, and to religious conversations on the same at home.
3. We must read or hear read books of instruction in the knowledge of God; and in the first place,holy Scripture; secondly, the writings of the holy Fathers.
505. What are we taught in the words, Thou shalt have none other gods but me?
We are taught to turn and cleave to the one true God, or, in other words, devoutly to worshiphim.
506. What duties are there which refer to the inward worship of God?
1. To believe in God.
2. To walk before God; that is, to be ever mindful of him, and in all things to walk circumspectly, because he seeth not only our actions, but even our most secret thoughts.
3. To fear God, or stand in awe of him; that is, to think the anger of our heavenly Father the greatest ill that can befall us, and therefore strive not to offend him.
4. To trust in God.
5. To love God.
6. To obey God; that is, to be ever ready to do what he commands, and not to murmur when he deals with us otherwise than we could desire.
7. To adore God, as the Supreme Being.
8. To glorify God, as being all-perfect.
9. To give thanks to God, as our Creator, Provident Sustainer, and Saviour.
10. To call upon God, as our all-good and almighty helper, in every good work which we undertake.
507. What duties are there which refer to the outward worship of God?
1. To confess God; that is, to acknowledge that he is our God, and not deny him, although for confessing him we may have to suffer, or even die.
2. To take part in the public divine service enjoined by God and appointed by the Orthodox Church.
508. In order the more exactly to understand and keep the first commandment, we must know farther what sins there may be against it.
1. Atheism; when men, whom the Psalmist justly calls fools, wishing to rid themselves of the fear of God’s judgment, say in their heart, There is no God. Psalm xiv. 1.
2. Polytheism; when, instead of the one true God, men acknowledge a number of false deities.
3. Infidelity; when men, who admit the existence of God, disbelieve his providence and his revelation.
4. Heresy; when people mix with the doctrine of the faith opinions contrary to divine truth.
5. Schism; that is, willful departure from the unity of divine worship, and from the Orthodox Catholic Church of God.
6. Apostasy; when any deny the true faith from fear of man, or for worldly advantage.
7. Despair; when men give up all hope of obtaining from God grace and salvation.
8. Sorcery; when men, leaving faith in the power of God, put their trust in secret and, for the most part, evil powers of creatures, especially of evil spirits, and seek to work by their means.
9. Superstition; when men put faith in any common thing as if it had divine power, and trust in it instead of trusting in God, or fear it instead of fearing God; as, for instance, when they put faith in an old book, and think they can be saved by none other, and must not use a new one, though the new book contain the very same doctrine, and the very same form of divine service.
10. Sloth, in respect of learning religion, or in respect of prayer, and the public service of God.
11. Love of the creature more than of God.
12. Men-pleasing; when they seek to please men, so as for this to be careless of pleasing God.
13. Trusting in man; when any one trusts in his own means and strength, or in the means and strength of others, and not in the mercy and help of God,
509. Why must we think that men-pleasing and trusting in man are against the first commandment?
Because the man, whom we please, or in whom we trust, so as to forget God, is in some sort to us another god, in place of the true God.
510. How does holy Scripture speak of men-pleasing?
The Apostle Paul says: For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Gal. i. 10.
511. How does holy Scripture speak of trusting in man?
Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Jer. xvii. 5.
512. In order to succeed the better in fulfilling his duties to God, how must a man act by himself?
He must deny himself.
Whosoever will come after me, says Jesus Christ, let him deny himself. Mark viii. 34.
513. What is it to deny one’s self?
Basil the Great explains it thus: He denies himself who puts off the old man with his deeds, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts; who renounces also all worldly affections, which can hinder his intention of godliness. Perfect self-denial consists in this, that he cease to have any affection even for life itself, and bear the judgment of death in himself, that he may not trust in himself. (Can. Long. Resp. 8.)
514. What consolation is there for him who, by denying himself, loses many natural gratifications?
The consolation of grace: a divine consolation, which even sufferings themselves can not impair.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 2 Cor. i. 5.
515. If the first commandment teaches us to worship religiously God alone, how does it agree with this commandment to honor angels and holy men?
To pay them due and rightful honor is altogether agreeable to this commandment; because in them we honor the grace of God, which dwells and works in them, and through them seek help from God.
On the Second Commandment.
516. What is a graven image, as spoken of in the second commandment?
The commandment itself explains that a graven image, or idol, is the likeness of some creature in heaven, or earth, or in the waters, which men bow down to and serve instead of God their Maker.
517. What is forbidden, then, by the second commandment?
We are forbidden to bow down to graven images or idols, as to supposed deities, or as to likenesses of false gods.
518. Are we not hereby forbidden to have any sacred representations whatever?
By no means. This very plainly appears from hence, that the same Moses through whom God gave the commandment against graven images, received at the same time from God an order to place in the tabernacle, or movable temple of the Israelites, sacred representations of Cherubim in gold, and to place them, too, in that inner part of the temple to which the people turned for the worship of God.
519. Why is this example worthy of remark for the Orthodox Christian Church?
Because it illustrates her use of holy icons.
520. What is an icon?
The word is Greek, and means, an image or representation. In the Orthodox Church this name designates sacred representations of our Lord Jesus Christ, God incarnate, his immaculate Mother, and his saints.
521. Is the use of holy icons agreeable to the second commandment?
It would then, and then only, be otherwise, if any one were to make gods of them; but it is not in the least contrary to this commandment to honor icons as sacred representations, and to use them for the religious remembrance of God’s works and of his saints; for when thus used icons are books, written with the forms of persons and things instead of letters. (See Greg. Magn. lib. ix. Ep. 9, ad Seren. Episc.)
522. What disposition of mind should we have when we reverence the icons?
While we look on them with our eyes, we should mentally look to God and to the saints, who are represented on them.
523. What general name is there for sin against the second commandment?
524. Are there not also other sins against this commandment? Besides gross idolatry there is yet another sort more subtle, to which belong–
2. Belly-service or sensuality, gluttony, and drunkenness.
3. Pride, to which belongs likewise vanity.
525. Why is covetousness referred to idolatry?
The Apostle Paul expressly says that covetousness is idolatry (Col. iii. 5); because the covetous man serves riches rather than God.
526. If the second commandment forbid the love of gain, what contrary duties does it thereby necessarily enjoin?
Those of contentedness and liberality.
527. Why is belly-service referred to idolatry?
Because belly-servers set sensual gratification above every thing, and therefore the Apostle Paul says that their god is their belly; or, in other words, that the belly is their idol. Phil. iii. 19.
528. If the second commandment forbid belly-service, what contrary duties does it thereby enjoin?
Those of temperance and fasting.
529. Why are pride and vanity referred to idolatry?
Because the proud man values above every thing his own abilities and excellences, and so they are his idol; the vain man wishes further that others also should worship the same idol. These proud and vain dispositions were exemplified even sensibly in Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who first set up for himself a golden idol, and then ordered all to worship it. Dan. iii.
530. Is there not still another vice which is near to idolatry?
Such a vice is hypocrisy; when a man uses the outward acts of religion, as fasting, and the strict observance of ceremonies, in order to obtain respect from the people, without thinking of the inward amendment of his heart. Matt. vi. 5, 6, 7.
531. If the second commandment forbid pride, vanity, and hypocrisy, what contrary duties does it thereby enjoin?
Those of humility, and doing good in secret.
On the Third Commandment.
532. When is God’s name taken in vain?
It is taken or uttered in vain when it is uttered in vain and unprofitable talk, and still more so when it is uttered lyingly or irreverently.
533. What sins are forbidden by the third commandment?
1. Blasphemy, or daring words against God.
2. Murmuring, or complaining against God’s providence.
3. Profaneness; when holy things are jested on, or insulted.
4. Inattention in prayer.
5. Perjury; when men affirm with an oath what is false.
6. Oath-breaking; when men keep not just and lawful oaths.
7. Breach of vows made to God.
8. Common swearing, or thoughtless oaths in common talk.
534. Are not such oaths specially forbidden in holy Scripture?
The Saviour says: I say unto you, Swear not at all, but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Matt. v. 34, 37.
535. Does not this go to forbid all oaths in civil matters?
The Apostle Paul says: Men swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. Heb. vi. 16, 17. Hence we must conclude, that if God himself for an immutable assurance used an oath, much more may we on grave and necessary occasions, when required by lawful authority, take an oath or vow religiously, with the firm intention of not breaking it.
On the Fourth Commandment.
536. Why is it commanded to keep the seventh, rather than any other day, holy to God?
Because God in six days made the world, and on the seventh day rested from the work of creation.
537. Is the Sabbath kept in the Christian Church?
It is not kept, strictly speaking, as a holy day; but still in memory of the creation of the world, and in continuation of its original observance, it is distinguished from the other days of the week by a relaxation of the rule for fasting.
538. How, then, does the Christian Church obey the fourth commandment?
She still to every six days keeps a seventh, only not the last of the seven days, which is the Sabbath, but the first day in every week, which is the Day of the Resurrection, or lord’s Day.
539. Since when do we keep the Day of the Resurrection?
From the very time of Christ’s resurrection.
540. Is there any mention in holy Scripture of keeping the day of the Resurrection?
In the book of the Acts of the Apostles it is mentioned that the disciples–that is, the Christians–came together on the first day after the Sabbath, which was the first day of the week, or Day of the Resurrection, for the breaking of bread, that is to say, for the celebration of the Sacrament of the Communion. Acts xx. 7. The Apostle and Evangelist John also in the Apocalypse mentions theLord’s Day, or the Day of the Resurrection.
541. Is there not yet something more to be understood under the name of the seventh day, or Sabbath?
As in the Church of the Old Testament the name Sabbath was understood to include divers other days appointed like the Sabbath for festivals or fasts, as the festival of the Passover, and the day of Atonement, so likewise are we now in the Christian Church bound to keep, besides the Lord’s Day, certain others also, which have been appointed as festivals to the glory of God and the honor of the Blessed Virgin and other saints, or as days of fasting. (See Orthod. Confess. Pt. III. Q. 60; Pt. I. Q. 88.)
542. Which are the chief festivals?
Those appointed in memory of the chief events relating to the Incarnation of the Son of God for our salvation, and to the Manifestation of the Godhead; after these, those appointed in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God, as the instrument of the mystery of the Incarnation. Such, in the order of the events, are the following:
1. The day of the birth of the Most Holy Mother of God.
2. The day of her being brought to the Temple to be dedicated to God.
3. The day of the Annunciation; that is, when the angel announced to the Most Holy Virgin the Incarnation of the Son of God.
4. The day of the birth of Jesus Christ.
5. The day of the baptism of our Lord, and the Epiphany, or Manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity.
6. The day of our Lord’s being met in the Temple by Simeon.
7. The day of our Lord’s Transfiguration.
8. The day of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem.
9. Pasch, or Easter: the feast of feasts, the anticipation of the everlasting feast of everlasting blessedness.
10. The day of our Lord’s Ascension into heaven.
11. The feast of Pentecost; in memory of the Descent of the Holy Ghost, and in honor of the Most Holy Trinity.
12. The day of the Elevation of the Cross of our Lord, discovered by the Empress Helena.
543. What is the chief fast?
The great fast; that is, Lent, or Quadragesima.
544. Why is it called Quadragesima?
Because it continues forty days, besides the week of Christ’s Passion.
545. Why has it been appointed that the great fast should continue forty days?
After the example of Jesus Christ himself, who fasted forty days. Matt. iv. 2.
546. Why has it been appointed to fast on the Wednesday and the Friday?
On Wednesday, in memory of the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ to suffer; and on Friday, in memory of his actual suffering and death.
547. For what cause are the fasts before the Nativity, the Rest of the Blessed Virgin and the Day of the Holy Apostles?
The first two as preparatory exercises of abstinence, the better to honor the ensuing feasts of the Nativity, and of the Rest of the Mother of God; the last not only for like reason, but also in imitation of the Apostles, who fasted to prepare themselves for the work of preaching the Gospel.Acts xiii. 3.
548. How should we spend our time on Sundays, and the other greater holy days, in order to keep the fourth commandment?
First, on these days we should not labor, or do worldly and temporal business; secondly, we should keep them holy, that is, use them for holy and spiritual works, to the glory of God.
549. Why are we forbidden to work on holy days?
That we may with the less hindrance employ them in holy and godly works.
550. What particular things is it fit to do on holy days?
First, to go to church, for the public worship, and for instruction in the Word of God; secondly, when at home, to give ourselves to prayer and reading, or edifying conversation; thirdly, to dedicate to God a portion of our means, expending it on the necessities of the Church and her ministers, and in alms to the poor, to visit the sick and prisoners, and to do other works of Christian charity.
551. But should we not do such things on work-days also?
It is well, if any can; but he whom business prevents should at any rate devote holy days to such works. But as regards prayer, it is certainly our bounden duty to use it every day, morning and evening, before and after both dinner and supper, and, as far as possible, at the beginning and ending of every work.
552. What are we to think of those who on holy days allow themselves to indulge in indecent plays and shows, vulgar songs, and intemperance in meat and drink?
Such people greatly desecrate holy days For if even works innocent and useful for this present life are unfit for holy days, much more such as these, which are unprofitable, carnal, and vicious.
553. When the fourth commandment speaks of working six days, does it not thereby condemn those who do nothing?
Without doubt it condemns all who on common days do not give themselves to works befitting their calling, but spend their time in idleness and dissipation.
On the Fifth Commandment.
554. What special duties are prescribed by the fifth commandment in regard to parents, under the general phrase of honoring them?
1. To behave respectfully to them.
2. To obey them.
3. To support and comfort them in sickness and age.
4. After their death, as well as during their lives, to pray for the salvation of their souls; and faithfully to fulfill their last wills, so far as they are not contrary to law, divine or civil. See 2 Macc. xii. 43, 44; Jer. xxxv. 18, 19. (J. Damasc. Serm. de Mort.)
555. What degree of sin is there in undutifulness to parents?
In proportion as it is easy and natural to love and honor parents, to whom we owe our being, the more grievous is the sin of undutifulness towards them: for this cause in the law of Moses he that cursed father or mother was to be put to death. Exod. xxi. 17.
556. Why has this particular commandment to honor parents a promise added to it of prosperity and long life?
That men by a visible reward might be the more moved to fulfill a commandment on which the good order first of families and afterwards of all social life depends.
557. How is this promise fulfilled?
The examples of the old Patriarchs or Fathers show that God gives special force to the blessing of parents. Gen. xxvii. The blessing of the father establisheth the houses of the children. Ecclus. iii. 9. God of his wise and just providence specially protects the life and promotes the prosperity of such as honor their parents upon earth; but for the perfect reward of the perfect virtue he gives everlasting life and blessedness in the heavenly country.
558. Why in those commandments which teach love to our neighbors is mention made first of all of parents?
Because parents are naturally nearer to us than all others.
559. Are there not others also to be understood in the fifth commandment under the name of parents?
Yes; all who in different relations stand to us in the place of parents.
560. Who stand to us in the place of parents?
1. Our sovereign and our country; for an empire is a great family, in which the sovereign is father, and the subjects children of the sovereign and their country.
2. Our spiritual pastors and teachers; for they by their doctrine and by the Sacraments beget us to spiritual life, and nurture us up in it.
3. Our elders in age.
4. Our benefactors.
5. Our governors, or superiors, in different relations.
561. How does holy Scripture speak of the honor due to the sovereign?
Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.Rom. xiii. 1, 2.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. Rom. xiii. 5.
My son, fear God and the king, and oppose neither of them. Prov xxiv. 21.
Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. Matt. xxii. 21.
Fear God; honor the king. 1 Pet. ii. 17.
562. How far should love to our sovereign and country go?
So far as to make us ready to lay down our life for them. John xv. 13.
563. How does holy Scripture speak of the duty of honoring spiritual pastors and teachers?
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Heb. xiii. 17.
564. Is there in holy Scripture any particular injunction to honor elders in age as parents?
The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy thus: Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; younger men as brethren; elder women as mothers. 1 Tim. v. 1,2.
Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear the Lord thy God. Lev. xix. 32.
565. How may we be assured that we ought to honor benefactors as parents?
By the example of Jesus Christ himself, who was subject to Joseph; although Joseph was not his father, but only his guardian. Luke ii. 51.
566. Besides these, who are our superiors, whom we must honor after parents, and like them?
They who in place of parents take care of our education, as governors in schools, and masters;they who preserve us from irregularities and disorders in society, as civil magistrates; they who protect us from wrong by the power of the law, as judges; they to whom the sovereign intrusts the guardianship and defense of the public safety against enemies, as military commanders; and, lastly, masters, so far as relates to those who serve them, or belong to them.
567. What does holy Scripture prescribe as to our duty with respect to authorities generally?
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Rom. xiii. 7.
568. How does holy Scripture speak of the obedience due from servants and serfs to their masters?
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 eye-service as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Eph. vi. 5, 6.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, out also to the froward. 1 Peter ii. 18.
569. If holy Scripture prescribe duties towards parents, does it not likewise prescribe duties towards children?
Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph. vi. 4.
570. How does holy Scripture speak of the duty of pastors towards their spiritual flock?
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly, and according to God; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.. 1 Pet. v. 2, 3.
571. How does holy Scripture speak of the duty of them that are in authority, and of masters?
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Coloss. iv. 1.
572. How ought we to act, if it fall out that our parents or governors require of ns any thing contrary to the faith or to the law of God?
In that case we should say to them, as the Apostles said to the rulers of the Jews: Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; and we should be ready, for the sake of the faith and the law of God, to endure the consequences, whatever they may be. Acts iv. 19.
573. What is the general name for that quality or virtue which is required by the fifth commandment?
On the Sixth Commandment.
574. What is forbidden by the sixth commandment?
Murder; that is, taking away the life of our neighbor in any manner whatever.
575. Is it in all cases murder, and against this commandment, to kill?
No. It is not murder, nor against this commandment, when life is taken in the execution of duty; as, when a criminal is punished with death, by just judgment; nor, again, when an enemy is killedin war, in defense of our sovereign and country.
576. What is to be thought of involuntary homicide, when a man is killed accidentally and unintentionally?
The man who is guilty of involuntary homicide can not be reckoned blameless, unless he took all proper precautions against the accident; at any rate, he needs to have his conscience cleansed according to the Canons of the Church.
577. What cases must be reckoned as murder, and as breaches of this commandment?
Besides direct murder, by whatever means, the same sin may be committed in the following, and in similar cases:
1. When a judge condemns a prisoner whom he knows to be innocent.
2. When any one conceals or sets free a murderer, and so gives him opportunity for fresh crime.
3. When any one can save his neighbor from death, but does not save him; as, when a rich man suffers a poor man to die of hunger.
4. When any one by excessive burdens and cruel punishments wears out those under him, and so hastens their death.
5. When any one, through intemperance or other vices, shortens his own life.
578. What are we to think of suicide?
That it is the most criminal of all murders. For if it be contrary to nature to kill another man like unto ourselves, much more is it, contrary to nature to kill our own selves. Our life is not our own, but God’s who gave it.
579. What are we to think of duels, to decide private quarrels?
Since the decision of private quarrels belongs to government, while the duelist, instead of having recourse to law, willfully determines on an act which involves manifest danger of death both to himself and his opponent, it is evident that a duel implies three dreadful crimes– rebellion, murder, and suicide.
580. Besides murder of the body, is there not such a thing as spiritual murder?
A kind of spiritual murder is the causing of offense: when any one causes his neighbor to fall into infidelity or into sin, and so subjects his soul to spiritual death.
The Saviour says: Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matt. xviii. 6.
581. Are there not still some more subtle forms of murder?
To this sin are more or less referable all acts and words against charity; all which unjustly affect the peace and security of our neighbor; and, lastly, all inward malice against him, even though it be not shown openly.
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. 1 John iii. 15.
582. When we are forbidden to hurt the life of our neighbor, what positive duty is thereby enjoined?
That of doing all we can to secure his life and well-being.
583. What duties follow from hence?
Those of 1. Helping the poor; 2. Ministering to the sick; 3. Comforting the afflicted; 4. Alleviating the distress of the unfortunate; 5. Behaving in a gentle, affectionate, and edifying manner to all; 6. Reconciling ourselves with those that are angry; 7. Forgiving injuries, and doing good to our enemies.
On the Seventh Commandment.
584. What is forbidden by the seventh commandment? Adultery.
585. What forms of sin are forbidden under the name of adultery?
The Apostle Paul would have Christians not even to speak of such impurities. Eph. v. 3. It is only of necessity, to forewarn people against such sins, that we shall here name some of them. Such are–
1. Fornication; or irregular carnal love between unmarried persons. 2. Adultery; when married persons unlawfully give that love which they owe each other to strangers. 3. Incest; when near relations enter into a union like that of matrimony.
586. What does our Saviour teach us to think of adultery?
He has said that Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matt. v. 28.
587. What should we do in order to guard against falling into this subtle inward adultery?
We should avoid every thing that may excite impure feelings in the heart; as wanton songs and dances, lewd conversation, immodest games and jokes, immodest sights, and the reading of books which contain descriptions of impure love. We should strive, according to the Gospel, not even to look on that which may cause us to fall.
If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should he cast into hell. Matt. v. 29.
588. Must we, then, literally pluck out the offending eye?
We must pluck it out, not with the hand, but with the will. He who has firmly resolved not even to look upon that which causes him to offend hath already plucked out the offending eye.
589. When the sin of adultery is forbidden, what contrary virtues are thereby enjoined?
Those of conjugal love and fidelity; and, for such as can receive it, perfect purity and chastity.
590. How does holy Scripture speak of the duties of man and wife?
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it. Eph. v. 25. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and he is the Saviour of the body. Eph. v. 22, 23.
591. What motives does holy Scripture set before us to make us flee fornication and live chastely?
It bids us keep our bodies in purity, because they are the members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Ghost; while, on the other hand, he who committeth fornication sinneth against his own body; that is, corrupts it, infects it with diseases, and, further, hurts his mental faculties, such as imagination and memory. See 1 Cor. vi. 15, 18, 19.
On the Eighth Commandment.
592. What is forbidden by the eighth commandment?
To steal, or in any way appropriate to ourselves that which belongs to another.
593. What particular sins are forbidden thereby?
The chief are–
1. Robbery, or the taking of any thing that belongs to another openly, by force.
2. Theft, or taking what belongs to another privily.
3. Fraud, or appropriating to ourselves any thing that is another’s by artifice; as when men pass off counterfeit money for true, or bad wares for good; or use false weights and measures, to give less than they have sold; or conceal their effects to avoid paying their debts; or do not honestly fulfill contracts, or execute wills; when they screen others guilty of dishonesty, and so defraud the injured of justice.
4. Sacrilege, or appropriating to ourselves what has been dedicated to God, or belongs to the Church.
6. Bribery; when men receive a bribe from those under them in office or jurisdiction, and for gain promote the unworthy, acquit the guilty, or oppress the innocent.
7. Eating the bread of idleness; when men receive salary for duty, or pay for work, which they neglect, and so in fact steal both their pay and that profit which society, or he whom they served, should have had of their labor; in like manner when they who are able to support themselves by work, instead of so doing live upon alms.
8. Extortion; when, under the show of some right, but really against equity and humanity, men make their own advantage of the property, the labors, or even the misfortunes of others; as when creditors oppress their debtors by usury; when masters wear out their dependents by excessive imposts or tasks; when in time of famine men sell bread at an exorbitant price.
594. When these sins are forbidden, what contrary virtues are thereby enjoined?
Those of–1. Disinterestedness; 2. Good faith in performing engagements; 3. Justice; 4. Mercy to the poor.
595. Does he, then, who is not merciful to the poor sin against the eighth commandment?
Certainly he does, if he have the means of assisting them; for all that we have belongs properly to God, and our abundance is given us by his Providence for the assistance of the poor; wherefore, if we do not impart to them of our abundance, we do in fact thereby rob and defraud them of their right, and the gift of God.
596. Is there not yet a higher virtue contrary to sins against the eighth commandment?
Such a virtue is absolute poverty, or the renunciation of all property; which is proposed by the Gospel not as a duty for all, but as a counsel for them that would be perfect.
If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor; and thou shalt hare treasure in heaven. Matt. xix. 21.
On the Ninth Commandment.
597. What is forbidden by the ninth commandment?
False witness against our neighbor, and all lying.
598. What is forbidden under the words false witness?
1. False witness in a court of justice; when men bear witness, inform, or complain falsely against any one.
2. False witness out of court, when men slander any one behind his back, or blame him to his face unjustly.
599. But is it allowable to censure others when they are really to blame?
No; the Gospel does not allow us to judge even of the real vices or faults of our neighbors, unless we are called by any special office to do so, for their punishment or amendment.
Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matt. vii. 1.
600. Are not such lies allowable as involve no purpose of hurting our neighbor?
No; for they are inconsistent with love and respect for our neighbor, and unworthy of a man, much more of a Christian, who has been created for truth and love.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another. Eph. iv. 25.
601. If we would avoid sins against the ninth commandment, what rule must we follow?
We must bridle our tongue. He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak, no guile. 1 Pet. iii. 10. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.James i. 26.
On the Tenth Commandment.
602. What is forbidden by the tenth commandment?
All wishes inconsistent with charity to our neighbor, and thoughts which are inseparable from such wishes.
603. Why are we forbidden not only evil deeds, but also evil wishes and thoughts?
First, because when the soul entertains any evil wishes or thoughts, it is already impure in God’s sight, and unworthy of him; as Solomon says: The unjust thought is an abomination to the Lord.Prov. xv. 26. And therefore we must needs cleanse ourselves also from these inward impurities also, as the Apostle teaches: Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. 2 Cor. vii. 1.
Secondly, because, to prevent sinful acts, it is necessary to crush sinful wishes and thoughts, from which, as from seeds, such actions spring; as it is said: For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. Matt. xv. 19. Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James i. 14, 15.
604. When we are forbidden to desire any thing of our neighbor’s, what passion is thereby
605. What is forbidden by the words, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife?
All lustful thoughts and wishes, or inward adultery.
606. What is forbidden by the words, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his land, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any of his cattle, nor any thing that is his?
All thoughts of avarice and ambition.
607. What positive duties, corresponding to these prohibitions, are prescribed by the tenth commandment?
First, to keep purity of heart; and, secondly, to be content with our lot.
608. What is indispensable for the cleansing of the heart?
The frequent and earnest invocation of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.