QUESTION 66. What is the reason annexed to the Fifth Commandment?
ANSWER: 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.
Q. 1. Does the promise annexed to this commandment, respect temporal or spiritual good?
A. It respects temporal good, to show that "godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come," 1 Tim. 4:8.
Q. 2. What is the temporal good here promised?
A. It is long life; in these words, "That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Q. 3. Is it long life merely that is promised, without anything else?
A. No; it is long life and prosperity, or the blessings and comforts of life; without which, long life would be a grievous burden, Rev. 9:6.
Q. 4. Has not this promise a particular reference to obedient children among the Jews, their living long in the land of Judea, which God gave to them?
A. Any reference it had to them, is not exclusive of a reference or relation to children that shall honour their parents, in any other part of the earth, to the end of the world; for so the apostle explains it, Eph. 6:2, 3 -- "Honour thy father and thy mother -- that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth."
Q. 5. What is the difference between the promise of long life in this commandment, and the promise of mercy in the second?
A. The promise of showing mercy in the Second Commandment extends to all such as love God, and keep his commandments in general; but the promise of long life here, extends only to the keepers of this commandment in particular.
Q. 6. Has this promise always a literal accomplishment; or, do godly and obedient children always live long on earth?
A. If any of them are removed by death, in their younger years, it is either to take them "away from the evil to come," Isa. 57:1; or to transplant them so much sooner "to a better country, that is, a heavenly," Heb. 11:16.
Q. 7. What are the things which tend to make a long life a happy and comfortable one?
A. They are these three, among others; growth in grace and holiness, in proportion to our advancing in years, Psalm 92:13, 14; retaining the entire exercise of reason, and some vigour of body, in old age, Deut. 34:7; and continuing useful to others, in our generation, to the end, Josh. 24:25, compared with ver. 29.
Q. 8. Why is the Fifth Commandment called the First Commandment with promise? Eph. 6:2.
A. Because it is the First Commandment of the second table, and the only commandment in it, that has an express promise annexed to it.
Q. 9. Why is there a special and express promise annexed to this commandment, when it is so strongly enforced by the light of nature?
A. To show the great regard that God has to the lawful authority of parents, Deut. 21:18-22; and to engage children to behave dutifully and obsequiously towards them, Prov. 4:10.
Q. 10. Is the promise of long life, in this commandment, absolute or limited?
A. It is limited, and that in the most comfortable manner.
Q. 11. What is the comfortable limitation?
A. Long life, with prosperity, is promised as far as it shall serve for God's glory and their own good.
Q. 12. Could any wish for long life and prosperity upon other terms?
A. No child of God will desire any temporal blessing, but as it is for God's glory and their good, Prov. 30:8.
Q. 13. What advantage have the godly, with respect to temporal blessings, above the wicked?
A. They are warranted by promise, which the wicked are not, to expect as many temporal good things, as are needful and necessary for them, Psalm 34:10; Isa. 33:16; and God's blessing upon what they enjoy, however small their portion of temporal comforts may be, Psalm 37:16 -- "A little that a righteous man hath, is better than the riches of many wicked."