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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?

A. In the sixth petition (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil), we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

1. A plain countryman, who was effectually called by divine grace under a sermon from Zech. 3.2, was some time afterwards accosted by a onetime companion of his drunken fits, and strongly solicited to accompany him to the alehouse. But the good man strongly resisted all his arguments, saying, 'I am a brand plucked out of the fire.' His old companion not understanding this, he explained it thus: 'Look ye,' said he, 'there is a great difference between a brand and a green stick; if a spark flies upon a brand that has been partly burned, it will soon catch fire again; but it is not so with a green stick. I tell you, I am that brand plucked out of the fire, and I dare not venture into the way of temptation, for fear of being set on fire.'

2. 'I once went to a friend,' says Richard Cecil, 'for the express purpose of calling him out into the world; I said to him, "It is your duty to accept the loan of ten thousand pounds, and to push yourself forward into an ampler sphere." But he was a rare character, and his case was rare. His employers had said, "We are ashamed you should remain so long a servant in our house, with the whole weight of affairs upon you. We wish you to enter as a principal with us, and will advance you ten thousand pounds. It is the custom of the city—it is your due—we are dissatisfied to see you in your present sphere." I assured him that it appeared to me to be his duty to accede to the proposal. But I did not prevail. He said, "Sir, I have often heard from you that it is no easy thing to get to heaven. I have often heard from you that it is no easy thing to master the world. I have everything I wish. More would encumber me—increase my difficulties—and endanger me."

3. Dr Pendleton and Lawrence Saunders, meeting together in the beginning of Queen Mary's reign, talked of the persecution which would likely arise; with regard to which Saunders showed much weakness and fear. Pendleton, on the other hand, boasted of his resolution, that he would endure the severest treatment, rather than forsake Jesus Christ, and the truth which he had professed. Yet not long after, the feeble, faint-hearted Saunders, through the goodness of God, sealed the truth with his blood, while proud Pendleton played the apostate, and turned papist.

4. The following anecdote may perhaps illustrate the promise, 'As thy days so shall thy strength be.'—Under the reign of paganism, a Christian, notwithstanding her pregnancy, was condemned to die for her profession. The day before her execution, she fell into labour, and crying out in her pangs, the jailor insulted her, saying, 'If you make a noise to-day, how will you endure a violent death to-morrow?' To this she replied, 'To-day I suffer what is ordinary, and have only ordinary assistance; to-morrow I am to suffer what is more than ordinary, and shall hope for more than ordinary assistance.' O, woman! great was thy faith.

5. One night, John Newton found a notice put up at the church of St Mary Woolnoth upon which he commented a great deal when he came to preach. The notice was to this effect: 'A young man, having come to the possession of a very considerable fortune, desires the prayers of the congregation, that he may be preserved from the snares to which it exposes him.' 'Now, if the man,' said Newton, 'had lost a fortune, the world would not have wondered to have seen him put up a notice; but this man has been better taught.'

6. Legh Richmond was once conversing with a brother clergyman, on the case of a poor man who had acted inconsistently with his religious profession. After some angry and severe remarks on the conduct of such persons, the gentleman with whom he was discussing the case, concluded by saying, 'I have no notion of such pretences; I will have nothing to do with him.' 'Nay, brother,' replied Richmond, 'Let us be humble and moderate. Remember who has said, "Making a difference." With opportunity on the one hand, and Satan on the other, and the grace of God at neither, where should you and I be!'

7. A lady who moved in high society introduced herself to Samuel Kilpin, a gospel minister, with the apology that she thought it her duty to inform him, that some years before, she was passing along the street as a stranger, on the Sabbath, when seeing many persons enter a passage, she followed them, and found herself within his chapel. Every object was new; but she listened, and was interested in the sermon. Immediately after, she left England, and, with some young friends, became the inmate of a convent in France, to finish her education. While there, every argument was employed to convert them to the Roman Catholic religion. Her English associates were overcome by these persuasions. 'Your discourse, sir,' said she, 'which I could never get from my mind, has been my preservation, from that period to the present, though I have been beset with every snare from family connections.' Mr Kilpin recommended suitable books to her attention, and devoutly committed her to the God of heaven, while she knelt with him bathed in tears.

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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