The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 65 & 66.
Q. 65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing any thing against the honor and duty which belongeth to every one, in their several places and relations.
Neglecting the honor. –Not giving, or not paying, to every one that degree of respect which is justly due.
Doing any thing against the honor and duty, &c. –Being guilty of those sins which are opposed to the duties required by the fifth commandment. The sins of superiors are, giving commands that are contrary to the law of God, encourageing evil, and discouraging good, by their orders, or by their example, &c. The sins of inferiors are, envying their superiors, despising them, and rising up in rebellion against their lawful commands, and just correction, &c. The sins of equals are, envying another’s gifts or talents, grieving at his prosperity, and assuming and improper pre-eminence, or superiority, one over another, &c.
The sins forbidden in the fifth commandment, are of two sorts:
- The neglecting of the honor and duty which belong to every one, in their several places and relations. –Rom. xiii. 8. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.
- The doing anything against this honor and duty. –Matt. xv. 4–6. God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother; and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death: but ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or mother, It is a gift, –and honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition.
Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity, (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good,) to all such as keep this commandment.
Prosperity. –Success in our lawful business, and the enjoyment of the blessings and the comforts of this life.
Serve for God’s glory. –Be the means of promoting God’s glorious designs and purposes.
Their own good. –Their spiritual and eternal happiness.
In this answer, we have two points of information:
- That those who keep the fifth commandment, shall have long life and prosperity. –Eph. vi. 2, 3. Honor thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth.
- That this promise is limited by the glory of God and their own good. Psal. xxxvii. 34. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.