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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

Thomas Vincent

CV. Ques. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
In the fifth petition, (which is, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,") we pray, That God, for Ohrist's sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

Q. 1. What is meant by "our debts?"
A. By "our debts," is meant our sins against God, whereby we are indebted unto his justice, which we can no otherwise satisfy than by undergoing eternal punishment.

Q. 2. Have all need of forgiveness, and may any debt be forgiven?
A. All, being sinners, have need of forgiveness, and any sins (excepting the sin against the Holy Ghost) may be forgiven. "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." Ps. 130:3, 4.

Q. 3. May we pray unto God for the forgiveness of our sins upon the account of our own merits?
A. We have no merit, in the sight of God, of our own; and therefore we must pray that God would freely pardon all our sins, of his own mercy and loving-kindness. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions." Ps. 2:1.

Q. 4. May we hope by prayer to obtain forgiveness, of God's mercy, without any merits?
A. God being infinitely just, as well as merciful, we must bring merit before him, that we may obtain forgiveness of him; but because we have it not of our own, and he has provided it for us in his Son, we must pray for pardon for the merits' sake of Christ, who hatli purchased forgiveness for us with his blood. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." Eph. 1:7.

Q. 5. What may encourage us to ask forgiveness from God?
A. We may be encouraged to ask forgiveness from God, when, by his grace, we are enabled with our hearts to forgive others. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matt. 6:14.

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