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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?

A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God's glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.

1. Frederic William III, a king of Prussia, having rung his bell one day, and nobody answering, opened the door, and found the page in waiting asleep on the sofa. He was just going to awake him, when he perceived the end of a paper out of his pocket, on which something was written. This excited his curiosity; he pulled it out, and found it to be a letter from the mother of the page, thanking him for having sent her part of his wages, which had proved a very timely assistance to her; and, in conclusion, beseeching God to bless him for his filial duty. The king stepped softly into his room, took a quantity of money and slipt it with the letter into the page's pocket. Returning to his apartment, he rang so violently, that the page awoke, opened the door, and entered. 'You have been asleep,' said the king. The page attempted to excuse himself; and, in his embarrassment, happening to put his hand into his pocket, felt with astonishment the money. He drew it out, turned pale, and looking at the king, burst into tears, without being able to speak a word. 'What is the matter?' said the king; 'what ails you?' 'Ah! sire,' said the young man, throwing himself at his Majesty's feet, 'somebody wishes to ruin me; I know not how I came by this money in my pocket." 'What God bestows,' resumed the king, 'He bestows in sleep; (A German proverb) send the money to your mother; salute her in my name, and assure her, that I shall take care of both her and you.'

2. A clergyman was once asked, when examined for orders by the bishop's chaplain, whether he had made divinity his study. He replied, that he had not particularly studied it; 'but,' said he, 'my mother taught me the Scriptures.' 'Ah!' said the chaplain, 'mothers can do great things.' The young man was examined with respect to the extent of his knowledge, was approved, ordained, and asked to preach before the bishop. The excellent mother alluded to, in writing to another of her sons, on the birth of his eldest child, says, 'Give him an education, that his life may be useful-teach him religion, that his death may be happy.'

3. Philip Henry, speaking once of a wicked son in the neighbourhood, who was very undutiful to his mother, charged some of his children to observe the providence of God concerning him: 'Perhaps,' said he, 'I may not live to see it, but, do you take notice, whether God do not come upon him with some remarkable judgment in this life, according to the threatening implied in the reason annexed to the fifth commandment;' but he himself lived to see it fulfilled not long after, in a very striking providence.

4. Thomas Scott has given us an account of a female servant, belonging to his congregation in London, who was taken ill. With the assistance of kind friends who knew her, he took care of her for many years. She was thus saved from the workhouse, and made comfortable to the day of her death. And who was this servant girl? She was one who in early life spent all her wages as a servant in support of her aged and distressed parents, who confidently believed that God would raise her up friends whenever she might need them; and who gave herself therefore to the duties which her Bible had commanded.

5. The eldest daughter of Dr Philip Doddridge was a most lovely and engaging child. As she was a great favourite with her family and friends, she often received invitations to different places at the same time. Her father once asked her, on such an occasion, what made everybody love her so well? She answered, 'Indeed, father, I cannot think, unless it be because I love every body.'

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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