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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
Illustrated

by
John Whitecross


Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

A. God having, out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.


1. Lord Bolingbroke, the celebrated infidel, was one day reading Calvin's Institutes, when a clergyman of his acquaintance came on a visit to him. Bolingbroke said to hisu, 'You have caught me reading John Calvin; he was indeed a man of great parts, profound sense and vast learning. He handles the doctrines of grace in a very masterly manner.' 'Doctrines of grace!' replied the clergyman; 'the doctrines of grace have set all mankind together by the ears.' 'I am surprised to hear you say so,' was the reply, 'you who profess to believe and to preach Christianity. Those doctrines are certainly the doctrines of the Bible, and if I believe the Bible, I must believe them; and let me tell you seriously, that the greatest miracle in the world is the survival of Christianity, and its continued preservation as a religion, when the preaching of it is committed to the care of such unchristian wretches as you.'

2. A good man, who had been for a long time perplexed about the doctrine of election, as fcaring he was not among the number chosen, resolved one day to fall down upon his knees, and give thanks to Cod for having elected some to everlasting life, though he should be passed by. He did so, and the happy consequence was, that while thus engaged, he obtained assurance of his own personal election, and was freed from his perplexity.

3. When George Whitefield was in the zenith of his popularity, Lord Clare, who knew that his influence was considerable, applied to him by letter, requesting his influence at the ensuing general election at Bristol. Mr Whitefleld replied, that in general elections he never interfered, but he would earnestly entreat his lordship to use diligence to make his own particular calling and election sure.

4. The late John Newton, rector of St Mary Woolnoth, London, when his memory was nearly gone, used to say, that forget what he might, he never forgot two things—firstly, That he was a great sinner; secondly, That Jesus Christ was a great Saviour.

5. 'I remember, a few years ago,' says George Burder of London, in his sermon on the Value of the Soul, 'that a boy, who was sent upon some errand on a cold winter evening, was overtaken by a dreadful storm. The snow fell so thick, and drifted in such a manner, that he missed his way; and, continuing to wander up and down for several hours, was ready to perish. About midnight, a gentleman in the neighbourhood thought he heard a sound, but he could not imagine what it was, till opening his window, he distinguished a human voice, at a great distance, pronouncing in a piteous tone, "Lost! lost! lost!" Humanity induced the gentleman to send in search of the person from whom the voice proceeded, when the boy, at length, was found and preserved. Happy for him that he perceived his danger, that he cried for help, and that his cry was heard! So will it be happy for us, if; sensible of the value of our souls, and their danger of perishing in hell, we now cry out for mercy and help, to that dear and gracious Friend of sinners, that great and generous Deliverer, who "came to seek and to save that which was lost." But if this be neglected, the soul will be lost indeed, lost without remedy, lost for ever.'


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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