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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 84. What doth every sin deserve?

A. Every sin deserveth God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.

1. 'Walking in the country (says William Jay of Bath), I went into a barn, where I found a thrasher at his work. I addressed him in the words of Solomon, "My friend, in all labour there is profit." But what was my surprise, when, leaning upon his flail, he answered, and with much energy, "No, sir; that is the truth, but there is one exception from it: I have long laboured in the service of sin, but I got no profit by my labour." "Then," answered I, "you know something of the apostle's meaning, when he asked, What fruit have ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?" "Thank God," he replied, "I do; and I also know, that now, being freed from sin, and having become a servant unto righteousness, I have my fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."'

2. A German prince travelling through France, visited the arsenal at Toulon, where the galleys were kept. The commandant, as a compliment to his rank, said he was welcome to set any one galley-slave at liberty, whom he should choose to select. The prince, willing to make the best use of his privilege, spoke to many of them in succession inquiring why they were condemned to the galleys. Injustice, oppression, false accusation, were the only causes they could assign; they were all innocent and ill-treated. At last he came to one, who, when he had asked the question, answered to this effect: 'My lord, I have no reason to complain. I have been a very desperate, wicked wretch; I have often deserved to be broken alive upon the wheel. I account it a great mercy that I am here.' The prince fixed his eyes upon him, gave him a gentle blow upon the head, and said, 'You wicked wretch, it is a pity you should be placed among so many honest men. By your own confession, you are bad enough to corrupt them all; but you shall not stay with them another day.' Then, turning to the officer, he said, 'This is the man, sir, whom I wish to be released.'

3. A venerable minister once preached a sermon on the subject of eternal punishment. On the next day, it was agreed among some thoughtless young men, that one of them should go to him, and endeavour to draw him into a dispute, with the design of making a jest of him and of his doctrine. The wag accordingly went, was introduced into the minister's study, and commenced the conversation, by saying, 'I believe there is a small dispute between you and me, sir, and I thought I would call this morning and try to settle it.' 'Ah,' said the clergyman, 'what is it?' 'Why', replied the wag, 'you say that the wicked will go into everlasting punishment, and I do not think that they will.' 'Oh, if that is all,' answered the minister, 'there is no dispute between you and me. If you turn to Matt. 25.46, you will find that the dispute is between you and the Lord Jesus Christ, and I advise you to go immediately and settle it with Him.'

4. Some time ago, a gentleman on Long Island, North America, was making too free with the Bible, and brought forward his strong argument against it, declaring in the face of all present, 'I am seventy years of age, and have never seen such a place as hell, after all that has been said about it.' His little grandson, of about seven years of age, who was all the while listening to the conversation, asked him, 'Grand-dad, have you ever been dead yet?'

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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