November 17: School & Family Catechist – WSC Q. 61 & 62

by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism – Questions 61 & 62.

Q. 61.
What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.


Omission. –Passing over, neglecting, or not performing.

Careless performance. –Doing the duties of the Sabbath in a heedless and improper manner, as if they were a burden or a weariness to us.

Profaning the day. –Abusing, polluting, or spending the Sabbath in a sinful manner.


The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are of five sorts:

  1. The omission of the duties required. –Ezek. xxii. 26. Her priests have violated my law, –and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
  2. The careless performance of these duties. –Mal. i. 13. Ye said, 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 and offering: Should I accept this at your hands? saith the Lord.
  3. The profaning of the Sabbath by idleness. –Matt xii. 12. It is lawful to do well on sabbath-days.
  4. The doing of those things that are in themselves sinful. –Ezek. xxiii. 38. They have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.
  5. Unnecessary thoughts, words, or works about our worldly employments or recreations. –Isa. lviii 13. Turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable: and honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.

Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?

A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath-day.


Challenging a special propriety in the seventh. –Claiming the day as his own, above all the other days of the week.

His own example. –God’s resting on the seventh day, after he had finished the work of creation.

Blessing the sabbath day. –Appointing it to be a time when God would, in a particular manner, bestow spiritual blessings upon his people, or those who remember this day to keep it holy.


The reasons annexed or added, to the fourth commandment, are four in number:

  1. God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employment. –Exod. xxxi. 15. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest.
  2. His challenging a special propriety in the seventh day. –Lev. xxiii. 3. Ye shall do no work therein: It is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.
  3. God’s own example. Exod. xxxi. 17. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
  4. His blessing the sabbath-day. –Gen. ii. 3. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.


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