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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?

A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.

1. A follower of Pythagoras had bought a pair of shoes from a cobbler, for which he promised to pay him on a future day. On that day he took the money; but, finding the cobbler had died in the meanwhile, returned, secretly rejoicing that he could retain the money, and get a pair of shoes for nothing. His conscience, however, says Seneca, would allow him no rest, till, taking up the money, he went back to the cobbler's shop, and casting in the money, said, 'Go thy way, for though he is dead to all the world besides; yet he is alive to me.'

2. A clergyman once travelling in a stage coach, was asked by one of the passengers, if he thought that pious heathens would go to heaven. 'Sir,' answered the clergyman, 'I am not appointed judge of the world, and consequently cannot tell; but if ever you get to heaven, you shall either find them there, or a good reason why they are not.' A reply well fitted to answer an impertinent question, dictated by idle curiosity.

3. A certain preacher in the west of England, remarkable for his opposition to the moral law as a rule of life to believers, was preaching on a week-day evening at a village, in a cottage full of poor people; when, declaiming in his usual way against the law, and seemingly at a loss for expressions sufficient to degrade it, he said, 'The law is dead; it is fallen; it is done with.' Having just then occasion to use his handkerchief he spread it out, and holding a corner in each hand, said, 'The law, my friends, has fallen down before the believer like this handkerchief'; then letting it go from his hands, it unfortunately fell on the candles, and extinguished them, leaving the preacher and all his hearers in darkness; a very just, though accidental, representation of that mental and practical darkness which such preaching is likely to produce.

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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