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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?

A. The sacraments of the New Testament are, Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

1. Matthew Henry, the author of the excellent commentary on the Bible, baptized one of his children himself. His friends thought this not so proper but he judged it as fit as it is for a minister to communicate in the Lord's Supper, which he himself administers.

2. 'In a recent journey,' says a minister, 'I said to a fellow-passenger, an apparently intelligent young woman, "Are you a Christian?" "Yes, sir," was the prompt reply. "How long have you been one?" was my next inquiry. "Ever since I was christened, sir!" And this was all she knew about the matter.'

3. The following anecdote is extracted from the Memoirs of Casanova an Italian adventurer of the eighteenth century: 'While at St Petersburg, I was present at a scene which much surprised me—I mean, the blessing of the waters of the river on the day of Epiphany, at a time when the ice on the Neva was five feet thick. They christened children by dipping them in a hole which they had cut in the ice. It happened on this occasion, that the bishop who performed the ceremony of baptizing, let a child fall out of his hands into the water; and it instantly disappeared. The bishop, without at all endeavouring to recover the child, turned coolly round, and desired the attendants to hand him another child. This was instantly done. What surprised me most, however, was the joy of the parents at their child's being drowned. I learned afterwards that the people here believe that a child drowned under such circumstances, is sure of going instantly into paradise.'

4. 'We can truly say,' observes a Moravian missionary, 'that among the very considerable number of Esquimaux who live with us, we know of few who are not seriously desirous to profit by what they hear, and to experience and enjoy for themselves that which they see their countrymen possess. Our communicants give us pleasure; for it is the wish of their very hearts to live unto the Lord, and their conduct affords proofs of the sincerity of their profession; thus, for example, Esquimaux sisters, who have no boat of their own, venture across bays some miles in breadth, sitting behind their husbands, on their narrow kayaks, in order to be present at the holy sacrament, though at the peril of their lives.' What a lesson is this for those who live near, and make any trilling thing an excuse!

5. Melancthon relates a story of a tragedy that was to be acted, of the death and passion of Christ. But he that personated the Redeemer on the cross, was wounded to death by one that should have thrust his sword into a bladder of blood; and he, by his fall, killed one that acted a woman's part, lamenting under the cross. The brother of him who was first killed, slew the person who stabbed him, for which he was apprehended and executed. So speedily was their daring impiety punished.

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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