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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?

A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to His revealed will.

1. A person who had been at public worship, having returned home, perhaps somewhat sooner than usual, was asked by another of the family, who had not been there, 'Is all done?' 'No,' replied he, 'all is said, but all is not done.'

2. Antonio Guevara used to say, 'That heaven would be filled with such as had done good works, and hell with such as intended to do them.' A very suitable hint to those who put off their convictions to what they think will be a more convenient season.

3. 'I remember,' says Dr Cotton Mather, 'what Calvin said when the order of his banishment from ungrateful Geneva was brought to him: "Most assuredly, if I had merely served man, this would have been a poor recompense; but it is my happiness that I have served Him who never fails to reward His servants to the full extent of His promises."

4. 'When you see a dog following two men,' says Ralph Erskine, in one of his sermons, 'you know not to which of them he belongs while they walk together; but let them come to a parting road, and one go one way, and the other another way, then you will know which is the dog's master. So at times, religion and the world go hand in hand. While a man may have the world and a religious profession too, we cannot tell which is the man's master, God or the world; but stay till the man come to a parting road: God calls him this way, and the world calls him that way. Well, if God be his master, he follows religion, and lets the world go; but if the world be his master, then he follows the world and the lust thereof and lets God, and conscience, and religion go.'

5. When a gentleman once presented a Bible to a prisoner under sentence of death, he exclaimed, 'Oh, sir, if I had had this book, and studied it, I should never have committed the crime of which I am convicted.' So it is said of a native Irishman, when he read for the first time in his life a New Testament which a gentleman had put into his hands, he said, 'If I believe this, it is impossible for me to remain a rebel.'

6. In 1817, about a month before the death of Princess Charlotte, granddaughter of George III, as she was walking with her husband, Prince Leopold (later King of the Belgians), in the pleasure-grounds at Claremont (Surrey), she addressed the gardener; and among many other questions, asked him if he could read. 'Yes, Madam,' was the reply (for she never suffered her domestics to address her with any higher title); 'Have you a Bible?' 'No, Madam.' 'Then,' said the Princess, 'I'll give you one.' She immediately went to the house, and returned with a Bible, which she presented to the poor fellow, having written his name in it, with these words, 'From his Friend, Charlotte.'

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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