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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?

A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Q. 46. What is required in the first commandment?

A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify Him accordingly.

1. A poor Arabian of the desert was one day asked how he came to be assured that there was a God? 'In the same way,' he replied, 'that I am able to tell by the print impressed on the sand, whether it was a man or a beast that passed that way.'

2. James Hervey, for some years before his death, visited very few of the principal persons in his neighbourhood. Being once asked why he so seldom went to see the neighbouring gentleman, who yet showed him all possible esteem and respect, he answered, 'I can hardly name a polite family where the conversation ever turns upon the things of God. I hear much frothy and worldly chitchat, but not a word of Christ; and I am determined not to visit those companies where there is not room for my Master as well as myself.'

3. Anthony Collins, the deist, met one day with a plain countryman going to church. He inquired where he was going. 'To church, sir.' 'What to do there?' 'To worship God.' 'Pray, whether is your God a great or a little God?' 'He is both, sir.' 'How can He be both?' 'He is so great, sir, that the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him: and so little that He can dwell in my heart.' Collins declared, that the simple answer by the countryman had more effect upon his mind, than all the volumes which the learned doctors had written against him.

4. An atheist being asked by a professor of Christianity, 'how he could quiet his conscience in so desperate a state' replied, 'As much as I am astonished at yourself, who, believing the Christian religion to be true, can quiet your conscience in living so much like the world. Did I believe what you profess, I should think no care, no diligence, no zeal enough.' Alas! that there should still be so much cause given by Christians, for the astonishment of atheists!

5. On the evening of the day on which his father died, the Rev. Dr Balmer (later, Professor of Theology to the United Secession Church), then about ten years of age, brought the books for family worship, as he had been used to do when his father was alive, and quietly placed them before his mother. This occasioned an irrepressible burst of sorrow. Robert, on seeing his mother so overcome, reminded her that God, who had taken away his father, would be a father to them, and had promised to hear their prayers: 'And,' said he, 'we must not go to bed to night without worshipping Him.' His mother then took the books, and conducted the worship of the family, and from that time continued to do so, till Robert, a few years afterwards, took her place in this exercise.

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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