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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?

A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by His Holy Spirit.

1. When Bishop Butler lay on his death bed, he called for his chaplain, and said, 'Though I have endeavoured to avoid sin, and to please God to the utmost of my power, yet, from the consciousness of perpetual infirmities, I am still afraid to die.' 'My lord,' said the chaplain, 'you have forgotten that Jesus Christ is a Saviour.' 'True,' was the answer; 'but how shall I know that He is a Saviour for me?' 'My lord, it is written, "Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out."' 'True' said the bishop, 'and I am surprised that, though I have read that Scripture a thousand times over, I never felt its virtue till this moment; and now I die happy.'

2. Several learned men tried to persuade a great scholar to believe in Christianity, but all their labour was in vain. A plain honest person, however, managed the argument in a different manner, by referring not so much to logical reasoning, as to the work of the Divine Spirit, so that at last the scholar exclaimed: 'When I heard no more than human reason, I opposed it with human reason; but when I heard the Spirit, I was obliged to surrender.' Thus it is, the wisest trusting to their own wisdom, are lost; while those who are taught of the Spirit, know the way of God in truth.

3. Mr Guthrie, an eminent minister in Scotland, was one evening travelling home very late. Having lost his way in a moor, he laid the reins on the neck of his horse, and committed himself to the direction of Providence. After long travelling over ditches and fields, the horse brought him to a farmer's house, into which he went, and requested permission to sit by the fire till morning, which was granted. A popish priest was administering extreme unction to the mistress of the house, who was dying. Guthrie said nothing till the priest had retired; he then went forward to the dying woman, and asked her if she enjoyed peace in the prospect of death, in consequence of what the priest had said and done to her. She answered, that she did not; on which he spoke to her of salvation through the atoning blood of the Redeemer. The Lord taught her to understand, and enabled her to believe the message of mercy, and she died triumphing in Jesus Christ her Saviour. After witnessing this astonishing scene the minister mounted his horse, and rode home. On his arrival, he told Mrs Guthrie he had seen a great wonder during the night. 'I came,' said he, 'to a farm-house, where I found a woman in a state of nature; I saw her in a state of grace; and I left her in a state of glory.'

4. John Flavel, in the preface to his Treatise on the Soul of Man, speaking of his inattention to his spiritual interests, says, 'I studied to know many other things, but I knew not myself It was with me, as with a servant to whom the master committed two things: the child, and the child's clothes. The servant is very careful of the clothes; brushes and washes, starches and irons them, and keeps them safe and clean; but the child is forgotten and lost. My body which is but the garment of my soul, I kept and nourished with excessive care; but my soul was long forgotten, and had been lost for ever, as others daily are, had not God roused it by the convictions of His Spirit, out of that deep oblivion and deadly slumber.'

5. An intelligent sceptic, hearing that some devoted Christians were meeting together to offer special prayer for the influences of the Holy Spirit, resolved to go, in order, as he expressed it, to see what these foolish people were about, and to ascertain, if possible, the idea which they attached to such a service. He went; and, while he was listening to their supplications, wakened up as if from a long and dreary dream. Then, for the first time in his life, did he apprehend the plan of human redemption. The very doctrine which he had long regarded as the offspring of the wildest enthusiasm, in one instant approved itself to his understanding, his conscience, and his heart. Forthwith, he himself became a man of prayer; and throughout his subsequent course, he regarded that memorable season as the hour of his conversion.

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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