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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

A. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in His once offering up of Himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.

1. Xenophon mentions an Armenian prince, taken captive, together with his queen, by Cyrus, King of Persia, who, on being asked if he desired the restoration of his liberty, his kingdom, and his queen, answered, 'As for my liberty and my kingdom, I value them not; but if my blood would redeem my wife, I would cheerfully give it.' Cyrus having generously restored him all, he asked his queen what she thought of Cyrus's person; she replied, 'I really did not observe him, my mind was so occupied with the man who offered to give his life for my ransom, that I could think of no other.' Jesus Christ has actually done what this prince offered to do, and has abundantly exceeded that generous action. May we feel a similar regard for Him, so as to overlook all other objects.

2. A poor girl, after having been educated in the Hibernian Female School in Sligo, was apprenticed to a dressmaker. A lady, who had formerly taken charge of her, and had been very kind to her, going one Sabbath into the chapel before service, found the girl sitting by herself, reading her Testament. The lady inquired where she was reading. She said, 'In the 5th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.' 'Why do you choose that chapter?' She replied, 'Oh! I delight in it much.' 'On what account?' 'It just meets my case: see, is not that delightful ?' — pointing to the 6th verse — 'For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly;' and then added, 'I am indeed a sinner, and without strength; but here is the blessed remedy, "Christ died for the ungodly."

3. Christmas Evans, a Welsh minister, preaching on the depravity of man by sin, and of his recovery by the death of Christ said — 'Brethren, if I should compare the natural state of man, I should conceive of an immense grave-yard, filled with yawning sepulchres and dying men. All around are lofty walls and massive iron gates. At the gate stands Mercy, sad spectatress of the melancholy scene. An angel flying through the midst of heaven, attracted by the awful sight, exclaims, "Mercy, why do you not enter, and apply to these objects of compassion the restoring balm?" Mercy replies, "Alas! I dare not enter; Justice bars the way." By her side a form appeared like unto the Son of Man. "Justice," He cried, "what are thy demands that Mercy may enter and stay the carnival of death?" "I demand," said Justice, "pain for their ease; degradation for their dignity; shame for their honour; death for their life." "I accept the terms: now, Mercy, enter." "What pledge do you give for the performance of these conditions?" "My word, my oath." "When will you fulfil them?" "Four thousand years hence, on the hill of Calvary." The bond was sealed in the presence of attendant angels, and committed to patriarchs and prophets. A long series of rites and ceremonies, sacrifices and oblations, was instituted to preserve the memory of that solemn deed; and at the close of the four thousandth year, behold at the foot of Calvary the incarnate Son of God! Justice too was there, presenting the dreadful bond to the Redeemer, and demanding the fulfilment of its awful terms. He accepted the deed, and together they ascended to the summit of the mount. Mercy was seen attendant at His side, and the weeping church followed in His train. When He had reached the top, what did He with the bond? Did He tear it in pieces, and scatter it to the winds of heaven? Oh! no, He nailed it to His cross. And when the wood was prepared, and the devoted willing sacrifice stretched on the tree, Justice sternly cried, "Holy fire, come down from heaven and burn this sacrifice." Holy fire replied, "I come, I come, and when I have consumed this sacrifice, I will burn the universe." The fire descended and rapidly consumed His humanity; but when it touched His Deity, expired! Then did the heavenly hosts break forth in rapturous strains, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

4. The price paid for the ransom of the soul shows its infinite worth. — A converted Jew pleading the cause of the Society through whose instrumentality he had been brought to a knowledge of Christianity, was opposed by a learned gentleman, who spoke very lightly of the objects of the Society, and of its effects, and said, 'I do not suppose they will convert more than a hundred altogether.' 'Be it so,' replied the Jew, 'you are a skilful calculator, — take your pen now, and calculate the worth of one hundred immortal souls!'

"Knowest thou the value of a soul immortal?
Behold the midnight glory; worlds on worlds!
Amazing pomp! redouble this amaze;
Ten thousand add, and twice ten thousand more,
Then weigh the whole, one soul outweighs them all!"

5. History informs us of two brothers, one of whom, for capital crimes, was condemned to die; but on the appearance of the other, who had lost an arm in the successful defence of his country, and on his presenting the remaining stump, the judges were so affected with a grateful recollection of past services, as fully, for his sake, to pardon the guilty brother. Thus the Redeemer, in interceding for His people, appears as a 'lamb that had been slain,' presenting the merits of His sufferings and death on their behalf nor does He thus appear in vain.

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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