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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
Illustrated

by
John Whitecross


Q. 97. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord's Supper?

A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord's Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord's body, of their faith to feed upon Him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.


1. The three questions which Philip Henry advised people to put to themselves in self-examination before the sacrament were, What am I? What have I done? and What do I want?

2. Joseph Woodward was a nonconformist minister in England settled at Dursley in Gloucestershire. He found it needful to set about the reform of many disorders of discipline and manners that existed among the people to whom he ministered. In particular, he declared his resolve to admit none to the Lord's save those who, besides the usual marks of conversion, had a competent knowledge of divine things. A certain man obstinately said that he would not submit to examination and that if the minister would not give him the sacrament he would take it! In pursuance of this impious resolution, this man attended the church on sacrament day, but had scarcely set foot in the building before he fell dead, the Lord thus making clear to all the church members that the solemn admonitions addressed to the Church of the Corinthians by the apostle in the first Christian century were ageless in their solemn application.

3. During the ministry of Andrew Gray at Glasgow, William Guthrie of Fenwick on one occasion assisted him at the dispensation of the Lord's Supper. Some of Cromwell's officers, then in Glasgow, acting on the principle of promiscuous admission to the Lord's table, were coming irregularly without having acquainted the minister, or giving evidence that they were prepared for the observance of that holy ordinance. Guthrie addressed them when leaving their pews to come to the table, with such gravity, resolution, and zeal, that they were quite confounded, and sat down again, without causing any further disturbance.

4. In a speech in the House of Lords in 1719, Lord Lansdowne said, 'The receiving of the Lord's Supper was never intended to be as a qualification for an office, but as an open declaration of one's being and remaining a sincere member of the Church of Christ. Whoever presumes to receive it with any other view, profanes it, and may be said to seek his promotion in this world, by eating and drinking his own damnation in the next.'

5. In the capacity of envoy from the Augustinians of Germany, Luther was invited to several assemblies of distinguished ecclesiastics. One day in particular, he happened to be at table along with several prelates; the latter showed themselves to him without reserve in their accustomed buffoonery of manners and impiety of conversation, and did not hesitate to play off a thousand jests in his presence, thinking him, no doubt, a man of their own stamp. Amongst other things, they told the monk with laughter and boasting, how, when reading mass at the altar, instead of the sacramental words that were to 'convert' the bread and wine into the Saviour's flesh and blood, they pronounced these derisive words over them, 'Bread thou art, and bread thou shalt remain; wine thou art, and wine thou shalt remain.' 'Then,' they continued, 'we elevate it, and all the people adore.' The jocularity of Rome was shocking to him. 'I was,' he says, 'a young and pious monk; words like these gave me acute pain. If they speak thus in Rome at table, freely and openly, I thought to myself what would be the consequence if their actions corresponded to their words, and if pope, cardinal, courtiers, and all, said mass in this fashion. Me, too, who have heard them read so many times with such devotion, how they would have deceived me!'

6. At an ordination of elders, Robert Murray M'Cheyne of Dundee made the following statement. 'When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great and almost only work was to pray and preach. I saw your souls to be so precious, and the time so short, that I devoted all my time and care and strength, to labour in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence. It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether. But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline. I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God—that two keys are committed to us by Christ, the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible, the other the key of discipline, by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith. Both are Christ's gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin.'


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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