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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by His word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

1. The comfortable influence of the precious truths of the Bible at a dying hour was manifested in the ease of a soldier who was mortally wounded at the battle of Waterloo. His companion conveyed him to some distance, and laid him down under a tree. Before he left him, the dying soldier entreated him to open his knapsack, and take out his pocket Bible, and read to him a small portion of it before he died. When asked what passages he should read, he desired him to read John 14.27: 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.' 'Now,' said he, 'I die happy. I desire to have peace with God, and I possess the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.' A little while after, one of his officers passed him, and seeing him in such an exhausted state, asked him how he did. He said, 'I die happy, for I enjoy the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,' and then expired. The officer left him, and went into the battle, where he was soon after mortally wounded. When surrounded by his brother officers, full of anguish and dismay, he cried out, 'Oh! I would give ten thousand worlds, if I had them, that I possessed that peace which gladdened the heart of a dying soldier, whom I saw lying under a tree; for he declared that he possessed the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. I know nothing of that peace! I die miserable! for I die in despair.'

2. Robert Aitken, a bookseller in Philadelphia, was the first person who printed a Bible in that city. He was a Scotch Seceder, and a very godly man. While he kept a book store, a person called on him, and inquired if he had Tom Paine's Age of Reason for sale. He told him he had not; but having entered into conversation with him, and found he was an infidel, he told him he had a better book than Paine's Age if Reason, which he usually sold for a dollar, but would lend it to him, if he promised to read it; and if, after he had actually read it, he did not think it worth a dollar, he would take it again. The man consented, and Aitken put a Bible into his hands. He smiled when he found what book he had engaged to read; but he said he would perform his engagement. He did so; and when he had finished the perusal, he came back to the bookseller, and expressed the deepest gratitude for his recommendation of the book, saying it had made him what he was not before — a happy man; for he had found in it a Saviour, and the way of salvation. Aitken rejoiced in the event, and had the satisfaction of knowing that this reader of the Bible, from that day onwards lived a consistent Christian life, and died with a hope full of immortality.

3. 'Give me' says Lactantius, 'a man of a passionate, abusive, headstrong temper. With a few only of the words of God, I will make him as gentle as a lamb. Give me a greedy, covetous, selfish wretch, and I will teach him to distribute his riches with a liberal and unsparing hand. Give me a cruel and blood-thirsty monster, and all his rage will be changed into love. Give me a man guilty of injustice, full of ignorance, and lost in wickedness; he shall soon become just, prudent, and holy. In the single laver of regeneration he shall be cleansed from all his malignity.'

4. Dr John Owen, when a young man, having been for a considerable time in distress of mind, went one Lord's day, with a cousin of his, to hear Edmund Calamy, a celebrated preacher in London. From some occurrence, Mr Calamy was prevented from preaching that day. Being uncertain whether there would be any sermon at all, Dr Owen was solicited by his relation to go and hear another eminent minister. Being indisposed to go farther, however, he kept his seat, resolving, if no minister came, to return to his lodgings. After he had waited some time, a country minister came up to the pulpit, a stranger not only to Dr Owen, but to the congregation. Having prayed earnestly, he took for his text these words, 'Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?' (Matt. 8.26). The very reading of the words surprised Dr. Owen; on which he secretly put up a prayer, that God would be pleased by the minister to speak to his case. His prayer was heard; for in that sermon the minister was directed to answer those very objections which he had commonly formed against himself; and though he had formerly given the same answers to himself without effect, yet now the time was come when God designed to speak peace to his soul; and the sermon (though otherwise a plain familiar discourse) was blessed for the removing of all his doubts, and laid the foundation of that solid peace and comfort, which he afterwards enjoyed as long as he lived.

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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