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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?

A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

1. Thomas Doolittle, at one time having finished prayer, looked round upon the congregation, and observing a young man who had just been put into one of the pews, very uneasy indeed, adopted the following singular expedient to detain him: Turning to one of the members of his church, who sat in the gallery, he asked him this question aloud, 'Brother, do you repent of coming to Christ?' 'No, sir,' he replied, 'I never was happy till I came; I only repent that I did not come to Him sooner.' The minister then turned to the opposite gallery, and addressed himself to an aged member in the same manner: 'Brother, do you repent of coming to Christ?' 'No, sir,' said he, 'I have known the Lord from my youth upwards.' He then looked down upon the young man, whose attention was fully engaged, and fixing his eyes upon him, said 'Young man, are you willing to come to Christ?' This unexpected address from the pulpit, drawing the observation of all the people, so affected him, that he sat down and concealed his face. The person who sat next him encouraged him to rise and answer the question. The minister repeated, 'Young man, are you willing to come to Christ?' With a tremulous voice he replied, 'Yes, sir.' 'But when, sir?' added the minister, in a solemn and loud tone. He mildly answered, 'Now, sir.' 'Then stay,' said he, 'and learn the word of God, which you will find in 2 Corinthians 6.2, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation." By this sermon he was greatly affected, and came into the vestry after the service, bathed in tears. His earlier reluctance to remain was occasioned, he said, by the strict injunctions of his father, who threatened that if he went to hear the fanatics, he would turn him out of doors. Having now heard the gospel, and being unable to conceal the feelings of his mind, he was afraid to meet his father. The minister sat down and wrote an affectionate letter to him, which had so good an effect, that both father and mother came to hear for themselves. They were both brought to a knowledge of the truth; and, together with their son, were joyfully received into Christian communion.

2. Matthew Henry, a little before his death, said to a friend, 'You have been accustomed to take notice of the sayings of dying men: this is mine, That a life spent in the service of God, and in communion with Him, is the most comfortable and pleasant life that any one can live in this world.'

3. The presence of God renders believers truly happy, even in this world, so that they can say with David, 'Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased' (Ps. 4.7). A godly minister in Scotland, being asked by a friend, during his last illness, whether he thought himself dying, answered, 'Really, friend, I care not, whether I am or not; if I die, I shall be with God, and if I live, God will be with me.

4. 'The devil,' says Thomas Brooks, 'tempting Bonaventure, suggested to him that he was a reprobate, and persuaded him to drink in the pleasures of this life, because he was excluded from the future joys with God in heaven. Bonaventure's graces being active, he answered, "No, not so, Satan; if I must not enjoy God after this life, let me enjoy Him as much as I can in this life."

5. A man who worked in Rowland Hill's garden at Wotton under Edge (Glos.) and was supposed to have forsaken a life of sin, under the influence of religion, was at length discovered to have been the perpetrator of several burglaries, and other daring robberies in the neighbourhood, though, till caught in the act, he had never been suspected. He was tried at Gloucester, condemned, and executed. During Hill's interviews with him there, he confessed the many crimes of which he had been guilty. 'How was it, William,' he inquired, 'that you never robbed me when you have had such abundant opportunity?' 'Sir,' replied he, 'do you recollect the juniper bush on the border against the dining room? — I have many times hid under it at night, intending, which I could easily have done, to get into the house and plunder it; but, sir, I was afraid; something said to me, he is a man of God, it is a house of prayer, if I break in there I shall surely be found out; so I never could pluck up courage to attempt it.' In another conversation, he told him, 'Sir, I well knew that old Mr Rigg (a member of Hill's congregation), was in the habit of carrying a deal of money in his pocket; times and times have I hid behind the hedge of the lane leading to his house. He has passed within a yard of me, when going home from the prayer meeting, again, and again. I could not stir. I durst not touch so holy a man. I was afraid. I always began trembling as soon as he came near me, and gave up the thought altogether, for I knew he was a holy man.'

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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