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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 59. Which day of the week hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath: and the first day of the week, ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.

1. Philip Henry used to call the Lord's-day the queen of days, the pearl of the week, and observed it accordingly. His common salutation of his family or friends on the Lord's-Day in the morning, was that of the primitive Christians—'The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed—' making it his chief business, on that day, to celebrate the memory of Christ's resurrection; and he would say sometimes, 'Every Lord's-day is a true Christian's Easter day.'

2. John Knox, a little before his death, rose out of his bed; and being asked why he rose, being so sick, he answered, 'That he had had in the night sweet meditations on the resurrection of Jesus Christ; and now he would go into the pulpit, and impart to others the comforts he felt in his soul.'

3. When King George III was having his palace at Kew repaired, one of the workmen was particularly noticed by the King, and he often held conversations with him of some length upon serious subjects. On a certain Monday morning, His Majesty went as usual to watch the progress of the work, and not seeing this man in his customary place, he inquired the reason for his absence. He was informed that, not having been able to complete a particular job on the Saturday night, the workmen had returned to finish it on the Sabbath morning. This one man had refused to comply, because he considered it a violation of the Christian Sabbath and a matter of conscience; accordingly he had been dismissed from his employment for obstinacy. 'Call him back immediately,' said the King; the man who refuses to do his ordinary work on the Lord's Day is the man for me. Let him be sent for.' The man was accordingly brought back and the King ever after showed him particular favour.

4. A godly minister was one day preaching, and earnestly pressing the sanctification of the Sabbath. In his sermon, he had occasion to make mention of that man, who, by the special commandment of God, was stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day. A person in the congregation wickedly rose up and laughed, and made all the haste he could out of the church, and went and gathered sticks, though he had no need of them. But when the people were coming home from church, they found him lying dead, with the bundle of sticks in his arms. These instances of divine vengeance, inflicted on profaners of the Lord's-day, may contribute very much to confirm us in the belief of the divine institution of this holy day; and likewise may serve to warn all ranks and degrees of persons to guard against the contempt and violation of the Lord's-day. The Lord indeed exerciseth great long-suffering and patience towards many notorious Sabbath-breakers, to show us that there is a judgment-day to come. But nevertheless He makes monuments of some, to let us know that verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.

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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