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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of the Properties, Signs, and Means of Faith.

Q. 1. What is the first property of faith?
A. It is a most precious grace; 2 Peter 1:1. To them that have obtained like precious faith with us, &c. And must needs be so, seeing it is the bond of our union with Christ; Ephesians 3:17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye being rooted and grounded in love. That by which we are justified; Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, &c. And that by which our souls do live; Hebrews 2:4. The just shall live by faith.

Q. 2. What is the second property of saving faith?
A The second property of faith is this, that it is the most useful grace in this world to a believer, it being the soulís eye; Hebrews 11:27. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: For he endured, as seeing him who is invisible, &c. It is hard to apprehend Christ; Philippians 3:12. That I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. It is a cordial in a fainting season; Psalm 27:3. I had fainted unless I had believed, &c.

Q. 3. What are the foundations that support faith?
A. The first foundation or prop of faith, is the power of God; Romans 4:20-21. He staggered not at the promise through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. And being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Hebrews 7:25. He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, &c.

Q. 4. What is the second property of faith?
A. The truth and faithfulness of God in his promises; Hebrews 10:23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faithful that hath promised. Hebrews 6:18. That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.

Q. 5. What encourages the faith of the saints?
A. The manifold, sweet, and sensible experiences of others; Psalm 74:14. Thou breakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat for the people inhabiting the wilderness. And especially their own experiences; Joshua 23:14. Ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

Q. 6. What is e first sign of a weak faith?
A Staggerings in our assent to divine truths, argue the weakness of faith Romans 4:10. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, &c.

Q. 7. What is the second sign of a weak faith?
A. Inability to trust God in time of danger, evidenced by sinful haste to avoid it; Isaiah 28:16. He that believeth, shall not make haste.

Q. 8. What is the third sign of a weak faith?
A. When we cannot live purely by faith, except we have some sensible encouragement; John 20:25. Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Q. 9. What is the fourth sign of a weak faith?
A. When a new temptation makes us easily let go our former confidence; Luke 24:21. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: And besides all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done.

Q. 10. What is the fifth sign of a weak faith?
A. The prevalence of carnal fears, in times of trouble, argues weak faith; Matthew 8:26. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? &c.

Q. 11. What is the sixth sign of a weak faith?
A. Too much carefulness and anxiety about the things of this life; Matthew 6:30. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Q. 12. What is the first benefit of a strong faith?
A. A strong faith gives much glory to God; Romans 4:19-20. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarahís womb. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.

Q. 13. What is the second benefit of a strong faith?
A. It gives the soul the ravishing foresight and foretastes of heaven upon earth; 1 Peter 1:8. Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

Q. 14. What is the last office faith doth for a believer in this world?
A. It supports and encourages him at death by the promises, when all other comforts fail; Hebrews 11:13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

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