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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to Himself; in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.

1. It has been said of Edward the Black Prince, that he never fought a battle which he did not win; and of the great Duke of Marlborough, that he never besieged a city which he did not take. Shall that be said of men, which we deny concerning the Most High God? Is He less successful than Some human generals? Shall these invincibly prevail, and grace be liable to defeat? Impossible! The former of these, having conquered and taken prisoner King John of France, nobly condescended to wait on his royal captive the same night at supper. Christ, having first subdued His people by His grace, waits on them afterwards to the end of their lives.

2. One day, when the Emperor Napoleon was reviewing his troops, the bridle of his horse slipped from his hand and his horse galloped off. A common soldier ran, and holding the bridle brought back the horse to the Emperor's hand, when he addressed him and said, 'Well done, Captain.' The soldier immediately inquired, 'Of what regiment, Sir?' 'Of the Guards,' answered Napoleon, pleased with the instant belief in his word. The Emperor rode off, the soldier threw down his musket and though he had no epaulets on his shoulders, no sword by his side, nor any other mark of his advancement than the word of the Emperor, he ran and joined the staff of commanding officers. They laughed at him, thinking him to be out of his senses, and said, 'What have you to do here?' He replied, 'I am Captain of the Guards.' They were amazed, but he said, 'The Emperor has said so and therefore I am.' In like manner we are to take Christ at His word! 'Where the word of a king is, there is power' (Eceles. 8.4.).

3. The Roman Emperor Julian, a determined enemy of Christianity, was mortally wounded in a war with the Persians. In this condition, we are told that he filled his hand with blood, and casting it into the air, said, 'O Galilean! Thou hast conquered.' During this expedition, one of Julian's followers asked a Christian of Antioch, 'what the carpenter's son was doing?' 'The Maker of the world,' replied the Christian, 'whom you call the carpenter's son, is employed in making a coffin for the emperor.' A few days after, news came to Antioch of Julian's death.

4. The day before John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, was burned at the stake, in front of his cathedral, in the days of Mary Tudor, a well-wisher came to him in prison and urged him to change from his Protestant beliefs and accept the Romish doctrine which was being enforced by the Queen and Parliament. 'Consult your safety,' he said, 'life is sweet and death is bitter, and your life hereafter may do good.' Said the good bishop, 'I thank you for your friendly counsel. True it is that death is bitter and life is sweet, but consider that the death to come is more bitter and the life to come u more sweet. Therefore, for the desire and love I have to the one, and the terror and fear I have of the other, I do not so much regard this death nor esteem this life; but have settled myself, through the strength of God's Holy Spirit, patiently to pass through the torments and extremities of the fire now prepared for me, rather than to deny the truth of His Word.'

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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