Edited Larger Catechism Questions 144-145

Typically in recent FV controversies, we are treated to an edited version of the Larger Catechism Questions 144-145. It will look something like this:

Q 144 What are the duties required in the ninth commandment? A The duties required in the ninth Commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbour as well as our own…a charitable esteem of our neighbours; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging their gifts and graces; defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report concerning them; discouraging tale-bearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love, and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth, keeping of lawfull promises, studying and practising of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.

Q 145. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth Commandment? A. The sins forbidden in the ninth Commandment, are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours as well as our own, especially in public judicature, giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses…passing unjust sentence…forgery…speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning…speaking untruth, lying, slandering, back-biting, detracting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring, misconstruing intentions, words and actions, flattering, vain-glorious boasting; thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of our selves or others, denying the gifts and graces of God, aggravating smaller faults…unnecessary discovering of infirmities, raising false rumours, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense, evil suspicion, envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy…fond admiration…neglecting such things as are of good report…

You’ll notice in both questions several deletions. These deletions are important for the critics of the FV. What we find is that the quotations of the ninth commandment questions are rather selective. Here is what is often left out (I only provide here what was left out in the above):

Q 144…appearing, and standing for, and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever… Q 145 wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and over-bearing the truth…calling evil good, and good evil, rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked…concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from our selves, or complaint to others…hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession…scornful contempt…breach of lawfull promises…and practising or not avoiding our selves, or not hindering, what we can, in others, such things as procure an ill name.

If folks wanted to do so, both sides can play the “edited version” quotation of the WLC. The point I wish to bring up here is that the parts that are usually edited out qualify the parts that are usually quoted. This means that the ninth commandment cannot simply be thrown in the face of the critics, as is usually done. The question is raised: are the critics simply trying to do what the edited parts direct us to do, and if so, does that make them innocent of breaking the other parts of the ninth commandment, the parts that are usually quoted? I would argue simply yes.



  1. Phil Derksen said,

    August 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for this post, pastor. I’ve been trying to point out this very thing to certain people for months now!

  2. Cris D. said,

    August 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Typo Alert: 1st section of the full text of 144 should be “appearing and standing for the truth;” Typo aside, a point well taken. There’s much good exposition of the 10 commandments in the Westminster Catechisms and the Heidelberg Catechism. The Larger Catechism is often the unappreciated older sibling to the Shorter. I’m going to go look into “out-facing and overbearing the truth”, to see more instances of those phrases. Where’s my OED?

  3. greenbaggins said,

    August 19, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Actually, Cris, my critical edition of the text (published by John Bower), has the text precisely as above, although I’ve modified some of the spellings to fit more familiar spelling conventions.

  4. August 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Bower, whose text is a comparison/study. of the MS and first two published editions is correct (and thus Lane by extension). My text of the MS has critical notes on later editions. On WLC 144, this is what I have:

    “214. b. Dunlop (1719) inserted “the Truth”. The Reformed Presbyterian collection, and Lumisden & Robertson editions, all picked up the insertion, and from them it passed into the traditional and American texts. Dr. Carruthers tartly notes this was done “probably by someone whose mental agility was not equal to a long clause (‘True Text,’ 218), which perhaps he would not have written if he had traced the change to the William Dunlop edition.”

    Here is Carruthers’ note (his “True Text” of the LC is given in an appendix): “In Q. 144, an insertion has been made, probably by someone whose mental agility was not equal to a long clause. The clause, in its original form, is much more searching and comprehensive than as it now stands. It was as follows: —’Appearing and standing for, and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever.’”

    The Larger Catechism Of The Westminster Assembly A Transcription of the Surviving Manuscripts With Notes (Westminster Letter Press, 2009), pp. 96, 139–140
    Chris Coldwell
    Naphtali Press http://www.naphtali.com
    The Confessional Presbyterian journal http://www.cpjournal.com
    Westminster Letter Press http://www.westminsterletterpress.com

  5. August 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Lane – Excellent post and very timely. I’ve been out of the loop on the Net due to heavy taskings. I’m struggling to put together a few posts that require significant effort.

    Chris – Thanks for that outstanding resource. I enjoy my copy very much.

  6. Cris D. said,

    August 20, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    The things one learns via the interwebs! I’m just waiting for the WTS library to resume regular hours (evenings & Saturdays). Having a real job gets in the way of day-time only library hours.

    Thanks for the corrections to my naive corrections!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: