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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 34. What is adoption?

A. Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

1. A Kaffir boy, twelve years old, was asked whether he did not repent having come to Guadenthall, the missionary settlement of the Moravian Brethren in South Africa. On his answering in the negative, the missionary observed, 'But in the Kaffir country you had meat in plenty, and excellent milk, and here you can get neither.' To this the boy replied, 'It is very true; but I wish to become a child of God; and I hear in this place how I may attain it, whilst in my own country I hear nothing of it. I rejoice, therefore, that I am come thither, and am satisfied with any thing.'

2. On the evening of December 9, 1710, while Thomas Boston was walking up and down in his study, in heaviness, his little daughter Jane, whom he had laid in bed, suddenly raising up herself, called to him, and thus expressed herself: "Mary Magdalene went to the sepulchre. She went back again with them to the sepulchre; but they would not believe that Christ was risen till Mary Magdalene met Him; and He said to her, "Tell my brethren, they are my brethren yet." ''This,' says Boston, 'she pronounced with a certain air of sweetness. It took me by the heart. "His brethren yet" (thought I), and may I think that Christ will own me as one of His brethren yet? It was to me as life from the dead.'

3. A popish priest in Ireland, who was making the Scriptures his daily study, and was an advocate for the schools in that country, which most of the priests opposed, met one of the scholars going to school, and asked him what book it was that he carried under his arm. 'It is a will, sir,' said the boy. 'What will?' rejoined the priest. 'The last will and Testament that Jesus Christ left to me, and to all who desire to claim a title in the property herein bequeathed,' replied the boy. 'What did Christ leave you in that will?' 'A kingdom, sir.' 'Where does the kingdom lie?' 'It is the kingdom of heaven, sir.' 'And do you expect to reign as a king there?' 'Yes, sir; as joint heir with Christ.' 'And will not every person get there as well as you?' 'No, sir; none can get there but those that claim their title to that kingdom upon the ground of the will.' The priest asked several other questions, to which the boy gave such satisfactory answers as quite astonished him. 'Indeed,' said he, 'you are a good little boy; take care of the book wherein God gives you such precious promises; believe what He has said, and you will be happy here and hereafter.'

4. John Flavel, the Puritan preacher of Dartmouth, tells us (quoting the old writer Plutarch) that when Titus Flamininus, a Roman general, proclaimed liberty to the Greeks after his defeat of the King of Macedon who had subjugated them, the people pressed so closely around the herald of the good news that he was in danger of losing his life at their hands. It took them some little time to apprehend the nature of the proclamation, but when they came to understand that deliverance from long bondage was being announced, they shouted for joy, crying, 'A saviour! a saviour!', so that the very heavens rang again with their acclamations, and the very birds fell down astonished. All that night the Grecians, with instruments of music and songs of praise, danced and sang about the general's tent, extolling him as the one who had brought them deliverance from oppression. 'Surely', said the preacher, 'you have more reason to be exalting the Author of your salvation who, at a dearer rate, has freed you from a more dreadful bondage. O ye that have escaped the eternal wrath of God by the humiliation of the Son of God, extol your great Redeemer, and for ever celebrate His praises.'

5. Robert Glover, one of the English martyrs in Mary Tudor's brief reign, a little before his death had lost the sense of God's favour. This occasioned him no little heaviness and grief. But when he came within sight of the stake at which he was to suffer, he experienced such abundant comfort and heavenly joy, that, clapping his hands together, he cried out, 'He is come, He is come,' and died in triumph.

6. A Polish prince was accustomed to carry the picture of his father always in his bosom; and on particular occasions used to take it out and view it, saying, 'Let me do nothing unbecoming so excellent a father.' A suitable reflection for a Christian!

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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