The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 51-52.
Q.51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word.
The worshipping of God. –Praying to God, and praising him.
By images. –By resemblances or likenesses of any thing made, by engraving, painting, or carving, or casting in a mould, or by any other method.
The sins forbidden in the second commandment are of two kinds :
- The worshipping of God by images. –Deut. iv. 15, 16. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, (for ye saw no matter of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb –) lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image.
- The worshipping of him in any other way not appointed in his word. –Matt. xv. 9. In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Q.52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, are God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath for his own worship.
Annexed. –A smaller thing, joined or added to the end of a greater, is said to be annexed to it.
Sovereignty. –The highest authority or power.
Propriety. –Property or possession, or chief right to any thing, giving a particular interest in it.
Zeal. –Warm concern for any cause.
The reasons annexed, or added, to the second commandment, are three in number :
- God’s sovereignty over us, “I the Lord.” –Psal. xcv. 3, 6. For the Lord, is a great God, and a great King, above all gods. O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
- His propriety in us, “Thy God.” –Psalm xlv. 11. He is thy Lord, and worship thou him. Deut. xxxii. 9. The Lord’s portion is his people.
- The zeal he hath to his own worship, “I am a jealous God.” –Exod. xxiv. 14. [sic: ed.; Exod. xxxiv. 14.] Thou shalt worship no other God; for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.