Van Horn

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by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn.

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.

Scripture References: Ephesians 6:2-3; I Peter 3:10.


1. What type of “good” is this commandment speaking of, temporal or spiritual?

This commandment is speaking of temporal good, with a stipulation.

2. What is this stipulation?

The stipulation is that it must be to the glory of God. For the believer in Christ, whatever is good must be used for His glory.

3. What kind of temporal good is promised here?

The good promised here is long life and prosperity.

4. What is this “long life”?

It is not simply a matter of living long upon this earth but it is a long life of living for a reason-the glory of God. It is real living, living with a purpose and a blessing.

5. What kind of prosperity is promised?

The prosperity promised is a prosperity that must be seen within the framework of the glory of God. Sometimes it will be hard for the believer to understand how his lot might be called prosperity, but if through it God is glorified, it is for the believer’s own good and some day he will understand why God took him through what the world would never label “prosperity.”

6. Does this mean that all believers in Christ will have long life and prosperity?

No, only those believers who do not break this fifth commandment. They might find themselves in the position of the superior, or the inferior, or the equal. But whatever their position they must fulfill it as they should if they would receive the rewards spoken of here.

7. Why is the fifth commandment the first commandment with promise?

It is called this because it is the first commandment of the second table, and the only commandment in it that has a promise attached to it.


We are living In the midst of an age where trouble seems to be the order of the day. We hear of wars, arguments, riots, evils being practiced on fellow men and we should be asking ourselves the question: What can I do as a Christian? The answer to what we can do must be based on principles. We must act but we must act according to the teaching of The Blessed Book. In the midst of this age, what does The Word say?

Our Question from the Catechism has a lot to say regarding this age in which we live. Yet we are forgetting this important teaching, we are forgetting that there are such things as superiors and inferiors and both have responsibilities. We are forgetting that we can not, dare not. bypass the teaching of Scripture in any realm. In I Peter 2 and 3 we find many instructions regarding this matter of honoring our father and mother—or, as has been expressed in the foregoing, our relationships to others whether we are superiors or inferiors or equals—and it would do well for us to take heed to what Peter says. We should remember that Peter is God’s spokesman and such that should end the matter. We should remember that the instructions given by Peter are pertinent for today in spite of our likes and dislikes.

Peter concludes his counsel by stating: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another …. ” He tells us that we should show love, we should be pitiful and courteous. He tells us we should not fight back. He tells us that we should be careful that our tongues do not speak evil. He tells us that we should seek and pursue after peace. Why does he tell us these things? Why is it necessary for us to know them? It comes to us in The Word because Peter, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was being consistent with the rest of Scripture. The Holy Spirit is always trying to teach us that we have responsibilities in this world. some of us as superiors and some of us as inferiors. But our responsibilities toward one another are ever present and we can never bypass them. This is true of those who are not saved but it is even more true of those who have called upon Christ as Saviour and Lord of their lives.

In the midst of these days of trouble, we are called by God to peace and concord. We must, by His grace, be willing to follow the teaching of The Word in all areas—that is if we would love life and see good days.
(I Pet. 3:10).

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC., Memphis, Tennessee.
Vol. 4 No. 60 December, 1965.  Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.


by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 63 Which is the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Q. 64 What is required in the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to everyone in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.

Scripture References: Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 5:21-22; 6:1, 5, 9; Romans 12:10; 13:1.


What is meant by “father and mother” in this commandment?

The terms “father and mother” mean not only the natural parents of a person, but also those in authority over him in age and in gifts.

2. Does that mean there are superiors and inferiors and equals in the sight of God?

Yes, the terms “father and mother” indicate those who are superior in their gifts from God whether it be in the realm of age or ability. The term “inferiors” indicates there are those who must subject themselves to the authority of others. The term “equals” indicates there are those brethren that are equal in ability, age, place or dignity.

3. Do the things taught in this commandment extend to other realms?

Yes, not only does it mean parents and children but it extends to husbands and wives, to masters and servants, to rulers and their subjects, to ministers and congregations, to older and younger. Although the commandment speaks specificially our answers following are primarily concerning the parent-child relationship, its requirements are applicable in other relationships as well.

4. What are the duties of the inferiors to their superiors?

The duties of inferiors toward superiors are to honor them, inwardly and outwardly; to listen to their instructions; to obey their commands; to meekly accept their reproofs; to love them; to care for them when necessary.

What are the duties of superiors towards inferiors?

The duties of superiors toward inferiors are: To love and care for them; to train them in the knowledge of the Scriptures; to pray for them; to keep them under subjection; to encourage them by kindness and reproof; to prepare them for the future.

A cardinal rule that ought to regulate society: authority involves responsibility! The greater the authority, the greater the responsibility. It makes no difference whether the authority is exercised in the realm of the family or the realm of the church or the realm of the state. The responsibility goes with it and it is a heavy burden. God, in His wisdom, and for His own reasons, hands out to certain of His people the mandate to be the “superiors”. These people have been given by God certain abilities, certain gifts that put them over their fellow men. With these abilities, these gifts, naturally comes authority. This is something that must be present in our society whether it be in the family or church or state. With this authority there is the ever-present responsibility to use these abilities, these gifts, all to the glory of God.

It is sufficient to say here that there are certain basic responsibilities. There the responsibility of the superior to have an attitude of love, backed up by constant prayer, toward those under him. There must be a real interest in them. There can never be the attitude of detachment.

There is the responsibility of training, teaching that the person in authority always has. He must “instruct, counsel and admonish them” at all times. This includes the warning of those under him of evil. Especially in the church today there is too little of this being done. The people are being taken down roads plainly marked “Disaster” and very few seem to be raising a cry of warning.

There is the responsibility of the superior to recognize well doing on the part of the people under him. This comes under the area of encouragement, a very necessary part of the ablllty of a person to go on in this life.

There is the responsibility of correction no matter what it might cost the superior in the way of friendship, economic advancement, success. The superior must be fair in his correction but he must correct. This again is sadly lacking today in our land.

In I Samuel 12 :23 God teaches those in authority of their responsibility before Him and before those with whom they have to do.

Published By: The Shield and Sword, Inc., Memphis, Tennessee.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 4 No. 58 (October, 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Hom, Editor


by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn.

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.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Exodus 31:15-16; Leviticus 23:3; Exodus 31:17; Genesis 2:3.


1. How many reasons are there annexed to this commandment?

There are four reasons annexed to this commandment and this is more than for any of the other commandments. God knew men would be prone to break this commandment.

What is the first reason?

The first reason is, God’s allowing us six days for our own employment. God has been very liberal with us in this area and we should certainly grant Him one day out of the seven. In addition, in modern times very few people work on Saturday afternoon, which is another reason for giving Him one day.

What is the second reason?

The second reason is, God’s challenging a special propriety in the seventh day. This is God’s claiming the day as His own. He does not claim it as His own without granting us anything from it, for as we use it in the right way He will grant us the greatest joy in communion with Him.

What is the third reason?

The third reason is, God’s own example in resting Himself from His works of creation on the seventh day. Here there is a spiritual blessing from resting one day by His command. In addition, there is a physical motivation in that He knew it would be good for our bodies for us to rest one day. His example should be followed, all to His glory.

What is the fourth reason?

The fourth reason is, God’s blessing of the Sabbath. Our Lord consecrates the day to His holy use. The right use of the day will result in blessings for us, “showers of blessings” will fall upon us. The wrong use of the day will result in miseries and woes. (Nehemiah 13:18).


It is hard for us today, in the midst of the blatant desecration of the Sabbath, to hold to the authority of God and the commands we find in the Decalogue. On every hand we find that the opposition is strong. The day starts with the weighty Sunday newspaper. Sporting events are the order of the day. The armed services have decided that the Lord’s Day is a day of training. Wherever we turn we are faced with the pressures of the world to deny what many of us have been told from childhood, that the holy calm of a Sabbath morn should be kept throughout the day.

Certainly as believers in Christ, we know what we should do. The commands in the Scripture are plain. Six questions in our Shorter Catechism are given to this important question of Christian living. But when we attempt to meet our adversaries with these arguments it means nothing to them. They care not for Holy Writ and win not listen. But there are arguments that they might listen to, and these same arguments would be good for us to take into our hearts and ponder them, all to the glory of God. Mark 2:27 indeed teaches us: “The Sabbath was made for man.” Our Lord knew that we need this Day.

We need it because of our physical nature. He made us in such a way that we need to rest one day out of the seven. It is interesting to note that the Deists in France long ago, those who had left Roman Catholicism but had not become Protestants, admitted that they could not get along without the Sabbath. Their bodies craved it.

We need it as a day when the family can be together. God put a great emphasis on the family, and the Scripture is filled with admonitions that should be followed by the family. When are they going to be followed? Could not the Sabbath be used in this important area? Prayer, teaching of the Word, communication—these are all important in the family unit.

We need it for the teaching we can obtain from the House of God. The preaching of the Word is the primary means of Grace, and we should use every opportunity we have to fill our minds with those things that will keep us from sinning against Him. He knew that a day must be set aside for instruction in righteousness, and we must make use of it.

Let us be faithful to Him, and to ourselves in this matter. Let us once again return to the “old fashioned” Sabbath before it is too late. We are in danger of losing what we have in our freedom of worship unless we have some convictions about it.

Published By: The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 4 No. 57, September, 1965.


Van Horn Index

An Index to Dr. Leonard T. Van Horn’s Commentary
on the Westminster Shorter Catechism,
as presented on This Day in Presbyterian History.


Mr. Craig McCluskey wrote recently, suggesting an index or guide to our Sunday posts of Dr. Van Horn’s commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
That seemed like an excellent idea and so we have prepared the following Index. We trust it will be of real help to many.

Clicking the link embedded in a question below will take you to the respective post on This Day in Presbyterian History.
Clicking the “PDF” link after a question will take you to an image scan of the bulletin insert that was originally prepared for that question.

Obviously, we are still working on this Index. Please check back later as we are working to update it.

01/04/15 — Q. 1 — What is the chief end of man?  PDF
01/11/15 — Q. 2 — What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?  PDF
01/25/15 — Q. 3 — What do the Scriptures principally teach?  PDF
02/01/15 — Q. 4 — What is God?  PDF
02/08/15 — Q. 5 — Are there more Gods than one?  PDF
02/15/15 — Q. 6 — How many persons are there in the Godhead?  PDF
02/22/15 — Q. 7 — What are the decrees of God?  PDF
03/01/15 — Q. 8 — How doth God execute His decrees?  PDF
03/08/15 — Q. 9 — What is the work of creation?  PDF
03/15/15 — Q. 10 — How did God create man?  PDF
03/22/15 — Q. 11 — What are God’s works of providence?  PDF
03/29/15 — Q. 12. — What special act of providence did God exercise towards man, in the estate wherein he was created?  PDF
04/05/15 — Q. 13. — Did your first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?  PDF
04/12/15 — Q. 14 — What is sin?  PDF
04/19/15 — Q. 15 — What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?  PDF
04/26/15 — Q. 16 — Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?  PDF
05/03/15 — Q. 17 — Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?  PDF
05/10/15 — Q. 18 — Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?  PDF
05/17/15 — Q. 19 — What is the misery of the estate whereinto man fell?  PDF
05/24/15 — Q. 20 — Did god leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?  PDF
05/31/15 — Q. 21 — Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?  PDF
06/07/15 — Q. 22 — How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?  PDF
06/14/15 — Q. 23 — What offices doth both Christ execute as our Redeemer?  PDF
06/21/15 — Q. 24 — How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?  PDF
06/28/15 — Q. 25 — How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?  PDF
07/05/15 — Q. 26 — How doth Christ execute the office of a king?  PDF
07/12/15 — Q. 27 — Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?  PDF
07/19/15 — Q. 28 — Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?  PDF
07/26/15 — Q. 29 — How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?  PDF
08/02/15 — Q. 30 — How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?  PDF
08/09/15 — Q. 31 — What is effectual calling?  PDF
08/16/15 — Q. 32 — What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of this life?  PDF
08/23/15 — Q. 33 — What is justification?  PDF
08/30/15 — Q. 34 — What is adoption?  PDF
09/06/15 — Q. 35 — What is sanctification? — PDF

[Missing:] — Q. 36 —
09/13/15 — Q. 37 — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?  PDF
09/20/15 — Q. 38 — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?  PDF
09/27/15 — Q. 39 — What is the duty which God requireth of man?  PDF
10/04/15 — Q. 40 — What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?  PDF
10/11/15 — Q. 41 — Wherein is the moral law summarily comprehended?  PDF
10/18/15 — Q. 42 — What is the sum of the ten commandments?  PDF
10/25/15 — Q. 43 — What is the preface to the ten commandments? & 44 — What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?  PDF
11/01/15 — Q. 45 — Which is the first commandment? & 46 — What is required in the first commandment?  PDF
11/08/15 — Q. 47 — What is forbidden in the first commandment?  PDF
11/15/15 — Q. 48 — What are we especially taught by these words, “before me,” in the first commandment?  PDF
11/22/15 — Q. 49. — Which is the second commandment? & Q.50 — What is required in the second commandment? PDF
11/29/15 — Q. 51 — What is forbidden in the second commandment? — PDF
12/06/15 — Q. 52 — What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?  PDF
12/13/15 — Q. 53 — Which is the third commandment? & 54 — What is required in the third commandment?  PDF
12/20/15 — Q. 55 — What is forbidden in the third commandment?  PDF
12/27/15 — Q. 56 — What is the reason annexed to the third commandment? — PDF
01/03/16 — Q. 57 — Which is the fourth commandment? & Q. 58 — What is required in the fourth commandment?  PDF
01/10/15 — Q. 59. — Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?  PDF
01/17/16 — Q. 60 — How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?  PDF
01/24/16 — Q. 61 — What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?  PDF
01/31/16 — Q. 62 — What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?  PDF
02/07/16 — Q. 63 — Which is the fifth commandment? & Q. 64  What is required in the fifth commandment? PDF
02/14/16 — Q. 65 — What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?  PDF
02/21/16 — Q. 66 — What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?  PDF
02/28/16 — Q. 67 — Which is the sixth commandment? & Q. 68 — What is required in the sixth commandment?  PDF
03/06/16 — Q. 69 — What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?  PDF
03/13/16 — Q. 70 — Which is the seventh commandment? & Q. 71 — What is required in the seventh commandment?  PDF
03/20/16 — Q. 72 — What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?  PDF
03/27/16 — Q. 73 — Which is the eighth commandment? & Q. 74 — What is required in the eighth commandment?  PDF
04/03/16 — Q. 75 — What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?  PDF
04/10/16 — Q. 76 — Which is the ninth commandment? & Q. 77 — What is required in the ninth commandment?  PDF
04/17/16 — Q. 78 — What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?  PDF
04/24/16 — Q. 79 — Which is the tenth commandment? & Q. 80 — What is required in the tenth commandment?  PDF
05/01/16 — Q. 81 — What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?  PDF
05/08/16 — Q. 82 — Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?  PDF
05/15/16 — Q. 83 — Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?  PDF
05/22/16 — Q. 84 — What doth every sin deserve?  PDF
05/29/16 — Q. 85 — What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?  PDF
06/05/16 — Q. 86 — What is faith in Jesus Christ?  PDF
06/12/16 — Q. 87 — What is repentance unto life?  PDF
06/19/16 — Q. 88 — What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?  PDF
06/26/16 — Q. 89 — How is the word made effectual to salvation?  PDF
07/03/16 — Q. 90 — How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?  PDF
07/10/16 — Q. 91 — How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation? PDF
07/17/16 — Q. 92 — What is a sacrament? PDF
07/24/16 — Q. 93 — Which are the sacraments of the New Testament PDF
07/31/16 — Q. 94 — What is baptism? PDF
08/07/16 — Q. 95 — To whom is baptism to be administered? PDF
08/14/16 — Q. 96 — What is the Lord’s supper? PDF
08/21/16 — Q. 97 — What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper? PDF
08/28/16 — Q. 98 — What is prayer? PDF
09/04/16 — Q. 99 — What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer? PDF
09/11/16 — Q. 100 — What doth the preface of the Lord’s prayer teach us? PDF
09/18/16 — Q. 101 — What do we pray for in the first petition? PDF
09/25/16 — Q. 102 — What do we pray for in the second petition? PDF
10/02/16 — Q. 103 — What do we pray for in the third petition? PDF
10/09/16 — Q. 104 — What do we pray for in the fourth petition? PDF
10/16/16 — Q. 105 — What do we pray for in the fifth petition? PDF
10/23/16 — Q. 106 — What do we pray for in the sixth petition? PDF
10/30/16 — Q. 107 — What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us? PDF

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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.
Scripture References: Ezek. 22:26; Mal. 1:13; Amos 8:5; Isa. 58:13; Jer. 17:24, 27.


1. What are the two types of sins forbidden in this fourth commandment?

The two types of sins forbidden are the sin of omission and the sin of commission.

2. What are the sins of omission mentioned in this question?

The sins of omission mentioned are: (1) The omission of the duties of the Sabbath. These duties would be such things as the neglect of private or public worship, and the neglect of duties of love and mercy that should be performed on the Sabbath.

3. Would it be possible for us to sin even in the performance of duties of love and mercy on the Sabbath?

Yes, it would be possible for us to sin in the performance of these duties if we performed them in the wrong manner. We could go about them in a weary way, wishing that we did not have to perform them, failing to realize that in the performance of these duties we may also be serving our Lord. (Matt. 25:31-46)

4. How could we best defend ourselves against such attitudes?

We can best defend ourselves by fixing our hearts on God (Ps. 57:7), by claiming by faith our place “in the heavenlies” at the start of the day, asking God to keep us faithful in all things.

5. What are the sins of commission mentioned in this question?

The sins of commission mentioned are the following: (1) Profaning the Sabbath Day by idleness. (2) Profaning the day by doing things which are sinful in the eyes of God on His day. (3) Profaning the day by unnecessary thoughts and words and acts regarding worldly matters, by pleasures and recreations that are contrary to all the Word teaches for the lawful performance on the Sabbath.

6. Why is it so important to keep this day as unto the Lord?

It is important because God has commanded us to do so and it is important because it is impossible to be holy without the keeping of His commandments.


The question is asked by many believers today: “Why has it become such a common thing to break the Sabbath?” That it is a common thing can’t be denied. It is a rare church today where any attempt is made to keep the Sabbath Day holy in the Lord. Did you ever ask a minister, who says nothing about this in his church, why he does not?
Did you ever pin him down to giving a reason for it? You might be surprised at his answer.

Many of them will answer with words like these: “Well, I fail to see why this has too much importance to the church of today. After all, this was a ceremonial law and ceremonial laws are no longer binding on the Christian. Besides, you can’t expect too much of the people. We should be thankful if they attend church on the Lord’s Day.”

There are two glaring errors in such an answer. The first error is that the keeping of the Sabbath was a ceremonial law. The observing of the Sabbath was instituted a long time before God gave His people the ceremonial laws through His servant Moses. The keeping of the Sabbath is one of the moral laws handed down by God and is just as binding as the other nine commandments. Did you ever notice that in our Shorter Catechism there are more questions devoted to the keeping of the Sabbath than in any other of the commandments?

The second error in the hypothetical answer by the minister is that of not expecting too much of the people. This is a common error today of ministers and one that is practiced by many ministers in their work. In the area of Sabbath keeping the average minister of today has simply given up. He keeps quiet; but he is commissioned by God to preach the whole counsel of God and the keeping of the Sabbath must be submitted to the Lordship of Christ just as much as anything else. He should remember that Christ did not eliminate the keeping of the Sabbath. Christ simply placed it where it belonged. He secured It. He placed it under His Lordship. (Matt. 12:7, 8).

As a born-again believer, ‘What are you doing about the Sabbath? Do you recognize the Lordship of Christ in this area of your Christian life? Would you be willing to submit every part of your life to this commandment? May God help all of us to do so, all to His glory.

The Shield and Sword, Inc.
MemphIs, Tennessee 38117.
Vol. 4 No. 56
Rev. Leonard T. Van Hom, Editor
August, 1965.

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