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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?

A. Christ's humiliation consisted in His being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.

1. As a poor but godly man was sitting by his fire, one cold evening, with his wife and children, he said to them, 'I have been thinking a great deal to-day about that part of Scripture: "The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." (Matt. 8.20). How wonderful it is, that we who are so sinful, unworthy, and helpless, should be more favoured than He was!' 'It is wonderful, indeed, father,' said the eldest girl; 'for though our house is mean, and our victuals scanty, compared with the houses and way of living of great folks, yet it seems that Jesus Christ was not so well provided for as we are.' 'I am right glad to hear you speak in that way, Sarah,' said the wife. 'How happy we all are in our little dwelling this cold night, and as soon as we wish, we have beds to rest ourselves upon; there, sharp and piercing as the frost is, and bleak and stormy as the wind blows, we shall be comfortable and warm; and yet the Son of Man, as your father has just told us, "had not where to lay His head." O that this thought may make us thankful for our many mercies!' 'Tommy,' said the father, 'reach that hymn which our minister gave you last Sabbath at the Sabbath School; and, as our hearts are in a good frame, let us try to keep them so by singing it.' The whole company, father, mother, and children, then, with a glow of sacred ardour and pleasure, sang the hymn, entitled, "The Son of Man had not where to lay His head."

2. A little boy, between four and five years old, was one day reading to his mother in the New Testament; and, when he came to these words, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head,' His eyes filled with tears, his breast heaved, and at last he sobbed aloud. His mother inquired what was the matter; but for some time he could not answer her. At length, as well as his sobs would let him, he said, 'I am sure, mother, if I had been there, I would have given Him my pillow.'

3. A poor, but pious man in a workhouse, said to a visitor, 'I am as full of pain as my poor body can bear, but I find the truth of the promise, "As thy days are, so shall thy strength be."' (Deut. 33.25). Then pointing to an orange which was near his bed, he said, 'I, a poor man, have an orange to refresh me, while my Saviour had only vinegar mixed with gall to quench His thirst.'

4. The first wife of a certain Dr Grosvenor was a most devout and amiable woman. The Sabbath after her death, the doctor expressed himself from the pulpit in the following manner: 'I have had an irreparable loss; and no man can feel a loss of this consequence more sensibly than myself; but the cross of a dying Jesus is my support; I fly from one death for refuge to another.' How much superior was the comfort of the Christian minister to that of the heathen philosopher, Pliny the younger, who says that, in a similar distress, study was his only relief!

5. Louis II of France died of vexation, occasioned by the revolt of his son, Louis of Bavaria. The broken-hearted father said, as he expired, 'I forgive Louis; but let him know he has been the cause of my death.' The sins of God's elect were the cause of the Messiah's death; yet in dying, He declared, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'

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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