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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
Illustrated

by
John Whitecross


Q. 44. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?

A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all His commandments.


1. Cardinal Wolsey, a great minister of state under King Henry VIII, having fallen under the displeasure of that monarch, made the following sad reflection a little before his death: 'Had I hut served my God as diligently as I have served my king, he would not have forsaken me now in my grey hairs. But this is the just reward that I must receive for my indulgent pains and study, not regarding my service to God, but only to my prince.'

2. When Polycarp, the early Christian martyr, was exhorted to swear, and blaspheme Christ, in order to save his life, he replied, 'Fourscore years have I served Christ, and have ever found Him a good master, how then can I blaspheme my Lord and Saviour?' When he came to the stake at which he was to be burnt, he desired to stand untied, saying, 'Let me alone; for He that gave me strength to come to the fire, will give me patience to undergo the fire without your tying.'

3. Henry Venn, an evangelical and faithful minister of Christ, was one day addressed by a neighbouring clergyman, in nearly the following words: 'Mr. Venn, I don't know how it is, but I should really think your doctrines of grace and faith were calculated to make all your hearers live in sin, and yet I must own that there is an astonishing reformation wrought in your parish; whereas I don't believe I ever made one soul the better, though I have been telling them their duty for many years.' Venn smiled at the clergy-man's honest confession, and frankly told him, 'he would do well to burn all his old sermons, and try what preaching Christ would do.'

4. Isaac James, speaking of the nature of true religion, says, 'Until the mind is rightly affected towards God, there is no religion, because He is the direct and primary object of it. It is something perfectly independent, as to essence, of all the social relations. If a man was wrecked, like Alexander Selkirk, on an uninhabited island, where there would be no room, of course, for loyalty, honesty, kindness, mercy, justice, truth, or any of the relative virtues, the claims of piety would still follow him to this dreary and desolate abode; and even there, when he should never hear "the sweet music of speech," nor look on "the human face divine," he would still be under the obligations of piety; even there one voice would be heard breaking the silence around him, with the solemn injunction of Scripture, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." God, as He is revealed in His word, is the direct and primary object of all true piety; and the most exemplary discharge of the social duties can be no substitute for that reverence, and love, and gratitude, and obedience, which we owe to Him.'


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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