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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 10. How did God create man?

A. God created man male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

1. When Galen, a celebrated Greek physician, but atheistically inclined, had anatomized the human body, and carefully surveyed the frame of it, viewed the fitness and usefulness of every part of it, and the many several intentions of every little vein, bone, and muscle, and the beauty of the whole, in a rapture of devotion he wrote a hymn to the honour of his Creator.

2. In the reign of Theodosius the Great, a Roman Emperor of the East, a violent sedition arose at Antioch, because he had exacted a new kind of tribute from the people. In the heat of the commotion, the populace broke down the statue of the deceased Empress Flacilla. The Emperor in a great rage, sent forces against the city to sack it. when the herald came and told this to the citizens, one Macedonius, a wise monk, sent to the herald an answer after this manner—'Tell the Emperor these words—that he is not only an emperor, but also a man, therefore let him look not only on his empire, but also on himself; for he, being a man, commands also those who are men; let him not, then, use men so barbarously, who were made in the image of God. He is angry, and that justly, because the brazen image of his wife has been contumeliously used; and shall not the King of heaven be angry to see His glorious image in man contumeliously handled? O what a difference there is betwixt the reasonable soul and the brazen image! We, for this image, are able to set up an hundred; but he is not able to set up a single hair of these men again, if he kill them.' These words being told the Emperor, he suppressed his anger, and drew back his forces.

3. The Rev. James Armstrong was once preaching in Indiana (United States of America), when a doctor of that State, a professed deist, or infidel, called on his associates to accompany him while he attacked the Methodists, as he said. At first, he asked Mr Armstrong :—' If he followed preaching to save souls?' He answered in the affirmative. He then asked Mr Armstrong—'If he ever saw a soul?' 'No.' 'If he ever heard a soul?' 'No.' 'If he ever tasted a soul?' 'No.' 'If he ever smelled a soul?' 'No.' 'If he ever felt a soul?' 'Yes, thank God,' said Mr Armstrong. 'Well,' said the doctor, 'there are four of the five senses against one that there is a soul.' Mr Armstrong then asked the gentleman if he was a doctor of medicine; and he also answered in the affirmative. He then asked the doctor—'If he ever saw a pain?' 'No.' 'If he ever heard a pain?' 'No.' 'If he ever tasted a pain?' 'No.' 'If he ever smelled a pain?' 'No.' 'If he ever felt a pain?' 'Yes.' Mr Armstrong then said—'There are also four senses against one to evidence that there is a pain; yet, sir, you know that there is a pain, and I know there is a soul.' The doctor appeared confounded, and walked off.

4. Some of the courtiers of the Emperor Sigismund (of the Holy Roman Empire) having no taste for learning, inquired why he so honoured and respected men of low birth on account of their science. The emperor replied—'In one day I can confer knighthood or nobility on many, in years I cannot bestow genius on one. Wise and learned men are created by God only. No advantage of education, no favourable combination of circumstances, can produce talents, where the Father of spirits has not dropt the seeds of them in the souls which He hath made.'

5. Isaac Watts, though in person below the ordinary stature, yet had a certain dignity in his countenance, and such a piercing expression in his eyes, as commanded attention and awe. Being once in a coffee-room with some friends, he overheard a gentleman asking, rather contemptuously: 'What? is that the great Dr Watts?' Turning round suddenly, and in good humour, he repeated a stanza from his Lyric Poems, which produced silent admiration:

Were I so tall to reach the pole,
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I must be measured by my soul;
The mind's the standard of the man.

6. A British officer in India, having once rambled into a jungle adjoining the military encampment, suddenly encountered a royal tiger; the rencontre appeared equally unexpected on both sides, and both parties made a dead halt, earnestly gazing on each other. The gentleman had no firearms, and was aware that a sword would be no effective defence in a struggle for life with such an antagonist. But he had heard that even the Bengal tiger might be sometimes checked by looking him firmly in the face. He did so: in a few minutes the tiger, which appeared preparing to take his fatal spring, grew disturbed, shrunk aside, and attempted to creep round upon him behind. The officer turned constantly upon the tiger, which still continued to shrink from his glance; but darting into a thicket, and again issuing forth at a different quarter, it persevered for above an hour in this attempt to catch him by surprise, till at last it fairly yielded the contest, and left the gentleman to pursue his walk, who, as may be easily believed, in all haste took a straight direction to the tent.

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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