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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
Illustrated

by
John Whitecross


Q. 60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercise of God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.


1. It is the universal practice of the Christian natives of the South Sea Islands, to prepare their Sabbath-day's food on the Saturday. Not a fire is lighted, neither flesh nor fruit is baked, not a tree is climbed, nor a canoe seen on the water, nor a journey by land performed, on God's holy day; religion—religion alone—is the business and delight of these simple-minded people on the Sabbath.

2. The Rev. Dr Benedict, once minister of Sluinfield, gave a writer in the Connecticut Observer the following account, a few years before his death: Soon after he left college, he had occasion to travel southward, as far as the State of North Carolina. Being unacquainted with the way, he was desirous to find some one to accompany him. A man who had frequently travelled that road, in the business of a pedlar, was about to commence the journey, and informed him that it would give him pleasure to be his companion and guide. They accordingly set out together. At the close of the week, Dr Benedict remarked to his companion, that the journey thus far had been pleasant to him; but he added, 'I know not how I shall do next week, provided you intend to continue your journey on the Sabbath. I cannot proceed till Monday; and if you leave me, I shall probably lose my way.' The man replied, 'I have not travelled upon the Sabbath for several years, though my business leads me to take long journeys. I formerly did, but I always lost more than I gained by the practice. Some hindrance or accident would occur the following week, which convinced me that it is for my interest to rest on the Sabbath.'

3. John Kilpin, long a deacon in the meeting-house at Bedford (where John Bunyan was once minister,) kept a general retail shop, as an iron-monger. A nobleman in the neighbourhood was among his best customers. One Sabbath morning, the steward came to the house, and said, with an insolent sneer, 'Are you afraid of the devil, Mr Kilpin?' 'No,' replied the good man, 'I am not.' 'Will you then sell me some articles to-day?' 'No, I will not; it is the Sabbath-day; and the God of the Sabbath I love and fear. To-morrow I shall feel much obliged by executing his lordship's orders.' 'Very well, if you will not serve me to-day, you shall not to-morrow, or any other day.' The steward then retired in a violent rage; but it is pleasing to be able to add, that the nobleman increased his favours when told of the circumstance.

4. A little boy in London, who attended a Sabbath school, having occasion every Lord's-day to go through a certain court, observed a shop always open for the sale of goods. Shocked at such a profanation, he considered whether it was possible for him to do any thing to prevent it. He determined to leave a tract, on the 'Lord's~day,' as he passed the shop in the course of the week. He did so; and on the following Sabbath observed that the shop was shut up. Surprised at this, he stopped, and considered whether it would be the effect of the tract he had left. He ventured to knock gently at the door; when a woman within, thinking it was a customer, answered aloud, 'You cannot have any thing, we don't sell on the Sunday!' Encouraged by what he had heard, the little boy still begged for admittance; when the woman recollecting his voice, said, 'Come in, my dear little fellow; it was you that left the tract here, against Sabbath-breaking; and it alarmed me so, that I did not dare to keep my shop open any longer; and I am determined never to do so again while I live.'

5. A young man accustomed to attend divine worship, and, from a child, well acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, was solicited to join in an excursion on the Thames on the Sabbath-day. Conscience remonstrated; but the love of pleasure, and the temptation of entertaining society, silenced the monitor. The day was agreed upon—the weather was unusually fine, and the party, about twelve in number, assembled on the bank to proceed to Richmond. Among the party was this young man. Just as he was stepping into the boat, the happy remembrance of the Word of God spoke powerfully, 'Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.' Conscience instantly added, 'How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?' He could proceed no farther; he retired from the company amid their jeers and ridicule. But what were his feelings when the sad tidings came, that as the party returned from their unhallowed amusement, in the neighbour-hood of Putney, the boat ran foul of a barge laden with coal; the party, half intoxicated, saw but could not clear the impending danger. The screams of the females were heard on the shore, but, alas! to no effect. Seven of the number perished.

6. A woman who always used to attend public worship with great punctuality, and took care always to be in time, was asked how it was that she could always come so early; she answered very wisely, 'That it was part of her religion not to disturb the religion of others.'

7. The attention of a servant-maid in Edinburgh to the spiritual interests of a little girl committed to her charge, and who died when nine years old, was peculiarly owned of God. The servant was accustomed to attend on the ministry of a certain Mr Pattison, and the child was permitted to accompany her. By degrees, the attention of her young charge was so drawn out to the sermons she heard, that the account she gave of many of the precious truths which fell from the lips of that worthy minister of Christ far exceeded what might have been expected from her tender years. Happening one day, in the course of his family visits, to call at the house where the child and her maid were to be found, Mr Pattison entered into conversation with her, and from her punctual attendance on public ordinances, took occasion to ask her if she recollected his preaching on Isaiah 40. 11, 'He shall feed His flock like a shepherd, He shall gather the lambs with his arm.' 'Yes,' replied the child, 'I remember it very well; for all the time you were preaching, I was wishing with all my heart, that I were one of Christ's lambs.' 'Ah, my dear,' said the good man, not a little affected, 'what a happy day would it have been in Bristo Street, had all my hearers been employed in a similar manner!'

8. One Lord's-day, as a man was passing through Haworth, Yorkshire, on horseback, his horse lost a shoe; he applied to a blacksmith, who told him, 'That he could not shoe a horse on the Lord's-day, without the minister's permission.' They went together to William Grimshaw, the minister of the place, and the man satisfying him that he was really in haste, going for a midwife, Grimshaw permitted the blacksmith to shoe the horse, which otherwise he would not have done for double pay.


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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