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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?

A. The work of creation is God's making all things of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

1. Sir Isaac Newton said, a little before his death, 'I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting himself in now and then finding a smoother pebble, or a prettier shell than ordinary, while a great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.'

2. A native of Griqualand West in South Africa, stated that the first thing which led him to think of religion, was observing the Hottentots, who belonged to Zak river mission, giving thanks when eating. 'I went,' said he, 'afterwards to that settlement, where I heard many things, but felt no interest in them. But one day, when alone in the fields, I looked very seriously at a mountain, as the work of that God of whom I had heard; then I looked to my two hands, and for the first time noticed, that there was the same number of fingers on each. I asked why there are not five on this hand, and three on that?: it must be God that made them so. Then I examined my feet, and wondered to find my soles both fiat; not one flat and the other round. God must have done this, said I. In this way I considered my whole body, which made a deep impression on my mind, and disposed me to hear the Word of God with more interest till I was brought to trust that Jesus died for my sins.'

3. Dr Beattie of Aberdeen, wishing to impress on the mind of his son, a little boy about six years of age, the important truth that God made him, used the following method: 'In the corner of a little garden,' says the doctor, 'without informing any person of the circumstance, I wrote in the mould, with my finger, the three initial letters of his name, and sowing garden cress in the furrows, covered up the seed, and smoothed the ground. Ten days after this, he came running to me; and, with astonishment in his countenance, told me that his name was growing in the garden. I laughed at the report, and seemed inclined to disregard it, but he insisted on my going to see what had happened. "Yes," said I, carelessly, on coming to the place, "I see it is so: but what is there in this worth notice? is it not mere chance?" and I went away. He followed me, and taking hold of my coat, said with some earnestness, "It cannot have happened by chance—somebody must have contrived matters so as to produce it." "So you think," said I, "that what appears as the letters of your name, cannot be by chance?" "Yes," said he with firmness, "I think so." "Look at yourself," I replied, "and consider your hands and fingers, your legs and feet, and other limbs; are they not regular in their appearance, and useful to you?" He said they were. "Came you then hither," said I, "by chance?" "No," he answered, "that cannot be; something must have made me." "And who is that something?" I asked. He said, "I do not know." I had now gained the point I aimed at, and saw that his reason taught him (though he could not express it) that what begins to be must have a cause; and that what is formed with regularity must have an intelligent cause. I therefore told him the name of the Great Being who made him, and all the world; concerning whose adorable nature, I gave him such information as I thought he could in some measure comprehend. The lesson affected him greatly, and he never forgot either it or the circumstance that introduced it.'

4. A gentleman being invited by an honourable personage to see a stately building erected by Sir Christopher Hatton, he desired to be excused, and to sit still, looking on a flower, which he held in his hand: 'For,' said he, 'I see more of God in this flower, than in all the beautiful edifices in the world.'

This material is taken from THE SHORTER CATECHISM ILLUSTRATED by John Whitecross revised and republished by the Banner of Truth Trust edition 1968 and reproduced with their permission.

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