A Wesleyan Catechism: A Teaching on the 10 Commandments, the Methodist Articles of Religion, and the Lord’s Prayer Using Wesley’s Words. Compiled and
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3 Section 1 : The 10 Commandments s Law best be expressed? A. Through the 10 Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai Q. 2. What are these Commandments? A. God spoke all these Words: The First Commandment I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2 – 3 The Second Commandment You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or wors hip them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exo dus 20:4 – 6 The Third Commandment You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7 The Fourth Commandment Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall l abor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six da ys the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8 – 11 The Fifth Commandment Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
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4 The Sixth Commandment You shall not murder . Exodus 20:13 The Seventh Commandment You shall not commit adultery . Exodus 20:14 The Eighth Commandment You shall not steal. Exo dus 20:15 The Ninth Commandment You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 The Tenth Commandment his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17 A. God spo ke al l these words – The law of the Ten C ommandments is a law of God’s making; a law of his own speaking. God has many ways of speaking to the children of men by his spirit, conscience, providences; his voice in all which we ought carefull y to attend to: but he never spo ke at any tim e upon any occasion so as he spo ke the Ten C ommandments, which therefore we ought to hear with t he more earnest heed. This law God had given to man before, it was written in his heart by nature; but sin had so defaced that writing, that it was necessary to revive the knowledge of it. (Wesley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20) Q. 4. How many tables have we in the Ten Commandments? A. We have two tables of Commandments within the Ten Commandments. (Wesley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20) Q. 5. With what do these two tables deal?
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5 A. The four first commandments, co ncern our duty to G od (commonly called the first table.) It was fit those should be put first, because man had a Maker to love before he had a neighbour to love, and justice and charity are then only acceptable to God when they flow from the principles of piety. T he second table, as they are commonly called; the six last commandments which concern our duty to ourselves, and one another, and are a comment upon the second great commandment, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. As religion towards God is, an essential branch of universal righteousness, so righteousness towards men is an essential branch of true religion: godliness and honesty must go together. (Wesley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20) Q. 6. What is mea nt by the First Commandment? A. I am the Lord thy God – Herein, God asserts his own authority to enact this law; and proposeth himself as the sole object of that religious worship which is enjoined in the four first commandments. They are here bound to obedi ence. 1. Because God is the Lord, Jehovah, self – existent, independent, eternal, and the fountain of all being and power; therefore he has an incontestable right to command us. 2. He was their God; a God in covenant with them; their God by their own consent. 3. He had brought them out of the land of Egypt – Therefore they were bound in gratitude to obey him, because he had brought them out of a grievous slavery into a glorious liberty. By redeeming them, he acquired a farther right to rule them; they owed their ser vice to him, to whom they owed their freedom. And thus, Christ, having rescued us out of the bondage of sin, is entitled to the best service we can do him. The first commandment is concerning the object of our worship, Jehovah, and him only, Thou shalt hav e no other gods before me. This law was pre – fixed because of that transgression; and Jehovah being the God of Israel, they must entirely cleave to him, and no other, either of their own invention, or borrowed from their neighbours. The sin against this c ommandment, which we are most in danger of, is giving that glory to any creature which is due to God only. Pride makes a God of ourselves, covetousness makes a God of money, sensuality makes a God of the belly. Whatever is loved, feared, delighted in, or d epended on, more than God, that we make a god of. This prohibition includes a precept which is the foundation of the whole law, that we take the Lord for our God, accept him for ours, adore him with humble reverence, and set our affections entirely upon hi m. There is a reason intimated in the last words before me . It intimates, 4. That we cannot have any other god but he will know it.
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6 5. That it is a sin that dares him to his face, which he cannot, will not, overlook. ( W esley E xplanatory Notes on the Whole Bib le Exodus 20 ) Q. 7. What is meant by the Second Commandment? A. The second commandment is concerning the ordinances of worship, or the way in which God will be worshipped, which it is fit himself should appoint. Here is, [1.] The prohibition; we are f orbidden to worship even the true God by images, Exodus 20:4 – 5. First, The Jews (at least after the captivity) thought themselves forbidden by this to make any image or picture whatsoever. It is certain it forbids making any image of God , for to whom can we liken him? Isaiah 40:18 , 25. It also forbids us to make images of God in our fancies, as if he were a man as we are. Our religious worship must be governed by the power of faith, not by the power of imagination. Secondly, They must not bow down to them – Sho w any sign of honour to them, much less serve them by sacrifice, or any other act of religious worship. When they paid their devotion to the true God, they must not have any image before them for the directing, exciting, or assisting their devotion. T hough the worship was designed to terminate in God, it would not please him if it came to him through an image. For I the Lord Jehovah, thy God, am a jealous God, especially in things of this nature. It intimates the care he has of his own institutions, hi s displeasure against idola ters, and that he resents every thing in his worship that looks like, or leads to, idolatry: visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation – Severely punishing. Nor is it an unrighteou s thing with God if the parents died in their iniquity, and the children tread in their steps, when God comes, by his judgments, to reckon with them, to bring into the account the idolatries their fathers were guilty of. Keeping mercy for thousands of pers ons, thousands of generations, of them that love me and keep my commandments – This intimates, that the second commandment, though in the letter of it is only a prohibition of false worship, yet includes a precept of worshipping God in all those ordinances which he hath instituted. As the first commandment requires the inward worship of love, desire, joy, hope, so this the outward worship of prayer and praise, and solemn attendance on his word. This mercy shall extend to thousands, much further than the wra th threatened to those that hate him, for that reaches but to the third or fourth generation. ( W esley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20 ) Q. 8. What is meant by the T hird Commandment? A. The third commandment is concerning the manner of our worship; Where we have,
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8 Thirdly. W ho must observe it? Thou and thy son and thy daughter The wife is not mentioned, because she is supposed to be one with the husband, and present wi th him , and if he sanctify the S abbath, it is taken for granted she will join with him; but the rest o f the family is instanced in it; children and servants must keep it according to their age and capacity. In this, as in other instances of religion, it is expec ted that masters of families should take care, not only to serve the Lord themselves, but that their houses also should serve him. Even the proselyted strangers must observe a difference between this day and other days, which, if it laid some restraint upo n them then, yet proved a happy indication of God’s gracious design, to bring the Gentiles into the church . By the sanctification of the S abbath, the Jews declared that they worshipped the God that made the world, and so distinguished themselves from all o ther nations, who worshipped gods which they themselves made. God has given us an example of rest after six days work; he rested the seventh day – Took a complacency in himself, and rejoiced in the work of his hand, to teach us on that day, to take a compl acency in him, and to give h im the glory of his works. The S abbath begun in the finishing of the work of cre ation; so will the everlasting S abbath in the finishing of the work of providence and redempt ion; and we observe the weekly S abbath in expectation o f that, as well as in remembrance of the former, in both conforming ourselves to him we worshi p. He hath himself blessed the S abbath day and sanctified it. He hath put an honour upon it; it is holy to the Lord, and honourable; and he hath put blessings int o it which he hath encouraged us to expect from him in the religious observation of that day. Let us not profane, dishonour, and level that with common time, which God’s blessing hath thus dignified and distinguished. (Wesley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20 ) Q. 10. What is meant by the F ifth Commandment? A. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. The fifth commandment is concerning the duties we owe to our re lations; that of children to their parents is only instanced in, honour thy father and thy mother, which includes, 1. A n inward esteem of them, outwardly expressed upon all occasions in our carriage towards them; fear them, Leviticus 19:3, give them reverenc e, Hebrews 12:9. The contrary to this is mo cking at them or despising them. 2. Obedience to their lawful commands; so it is expounded, Ephesians 6:1 – 3. Children obey your parents; come when they call you, go where they send you, do what they bid you, do not what they forbid you; and this chearfully, and from a principle of love. Though you have said you will not, yet afterwards repent and obey. 3. Submission to their rebukes, instructions and corrections, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
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9 4. Disposing of themselves with the advice, direction and consent of parents, not alienating their property, but with their approbation. 5. Endeavouring in every thing to be the comfort of their parents, and to make their old age easy to them; maintaining them i f they stand in need of support. That thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee – This promise, (which is often literally fulfilled) is expounded in a more general sense Ephesians 6:3. That it may be well with thee, and thou mays t live long on the earth – Those that in conscience towards God keep this and other of God’s commandments, may be sure it shall be well with them, and they shall live as long on the earth a s infinite wisdom sees good for them, and what they may seem to be cut short of on earth, shall be abundantly made up in eternal life, the heavenly Canaan which God will give them. (Wesley Explanatory Notes On The Whole Bible Exodus 20) Q. 11. What is meant by the S ixth Commandment? A. You shall not murder . Thou shalt not do any thing hurtful to the health, or life of thy own body, or any other’s. This doth not forbid our own necessary defence, or the magistrates putting offenders to death; but it forbids all malice and hatred to any, for he that hateth his brother is a murderer, and all revenge arising there from; likewise anger and hurt said or done, or aimed to be done in a passion; of this our Saviour expounds this commandment, Matthew 5:22. ( Wesley Explan atory Notes on t he Whole Bible Exodus 20 ) Q. 12. Wha t is meant by the S eventh Commandment? A. Thou shalt not commit adultery. This commandment forbids all acts of uncleanness, with all those desires, which produce those acts and war against the soul. (Wesley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20 ) Q. 13. What is meant by the E ighth Commandment? A. Thou shalt not steal. This command forbids us to rob ourselves of what we have, by sinful spending, or of the use and comfort of it by sinful sparing; and to rob others by invading our neighbour’ s rights, taking his goods, or house, or field, forcibly o r clandestinely, over reaching in bargains, not restoring wh at is borrowed or found, with holding just debts, rents or wages; and,
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10 which is worst of all, to rob the public in the coin or revenue, or t hat which is dedicated to the service of religion . (Wesley Explantory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20 ) Q. 14. What is meant by the N inth Commandment? A. Thou shalt not bear false witness – This forbids, 1. Speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbour. 2. Speaking unjustly against our neighbour, to the prejudice of his reputation; And 3. Bearing false witness against him, laying to his charge things that he knows not, either up on oath, by which the third commandment, the sixth or eighth, as well as this, are broken, or in common converse, slandering, backbiting, tale bearing, aggravating what is done amiss, and any way endeavouring to raise our own reputation upon the ruin of ou r neighbor’s (which is the highest offence of both these kinds put together) . (Wesley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20 ) Q. 15. What is meant by the T enth Commandment? A. Thou shalt not covet – The foregoing commands implici tly forbid all desire of doing that which will b e an injury to our neighbor; this forbids all inordinate desire of having that which will be a gratification to ourselves. O that such a man’s house were mine! Such a man’s wife mine! S uch a man’s estate mine ! This is certainly the language of discontent at our own lot, and envy at our neighbour’s, and these are the sins principally forbidden here. God give us all to see our face in the glass of this law, and to lay our hearts under the government of it! (We sley Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible Exodus 20 )
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11 Section 2: The Articles of Religion [Biographical Note: The Articles of Religion are here reprinted from the Discipline of 1808 (when the first Restrictive Rule took effect), collated against Wes The Sunday Service of the Methodists (1784.] ( The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008 paragraph 103 Section 3) Q. 1. What is the First Article of Religion? A. Article I Of Faith in the Holy Trinity There is b ut one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and e ternity the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Q. 2. How does Wesley understand the First Article? A. By affirming the triune teaching of the Athanasian Creed which states: We worship one God in Trinity, and trinity in Unity; Neither confounding t he Persons; nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co – eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son et ernal: and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensible, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise, the Father is Almighty, the Son is Almi ghty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet there are not three Almighties: but one Almighty. Vol 1. 220)
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