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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

1. A man in Scotland who had some years before buried his wife and several of his children, one day stood leaning over a low wall, intently gazing on the spot in the churchyard where their bodies lay. A person who observed his thoughtful attitude asked him what occupied his mind. 'I am looking,' he said, 'at the dust that lies there, and wondering at the indissoluble union betwixt it and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is in glory.'

2. A visit to a paper-mill suggested to a seventeenth-century writer in Germany the following thoughts. And so paper, that article so useful in human life, that repository of all arts and sciences, that minister of all Governments, that broker in all trade and commerce, that second memory of the human mind-takes its origin from vile rags! The rag dealer trudges on foot, or drives his cart through towns and villages, and his arrival is the signal for searching every corner and gathering every old and useless shred. These he takes to the mill, and there they are picked, washed, mashed, shaped and sized—in short, formed into a fabric beautiful enough to venture, unabashed, into the presence of monarchs and princes. This reminds me of the resurrection of the body. When deserted by the soul, I know not what better the body is than a worn and rejected rag. Accordingly it is buried in the earth and there gnawed by worms, reduced to dust and ashes. If however, man's art and device can produce so pure and white a fabric as paper from filthy rags, what should hinder God, by His mighty power, to raise from the dead this vile body of mine, and fashion and refine it like the glorious body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. It is related of Dr William Leechman of Glasgow, that upon his deathbed he thus addressed the son of a nobleman who had been under his care: 'You see, my young friend, the situation in which I now am. I have not many days to live, and am happy that you witness the tranquillity of my last moments; but it is not tranquillity alone, it is joy and triumph; nay, it is complete exultation.' His features brightened, and his voice rose in energy as he spoke. 'And whence,' said he, 'does this exultation spring? From that book, too much neglected indeed, but which contains invaluable treasures—treasures of bliss and rejoicing; for it makes us certain that this mortal shall put on immortality.'

4. 'I remember,' says the writer of John Janeway's Life, 'once there was a great talk that one had foretold that doomsday should be on such a day. Although he blamed their daring folly that could pretend to know that which was hid, yet, granting their suspicion to be true, "what then?" said he; "what if the day of judgment were come, as it will most certainly come shortly? If I were sure the day of judgment were to come within an hour, I should be glad with all my heart. If at this very instant, I should hear such thundering, and see such lightning, as Israel did at Mount Sinai, I am persuaded my very heart would leap for joy. But this I am confident of through infinite mercy, that the very meditation of that day hath even ravished my soul; and the thought of the certainty and nearness of it is more refreshing to me than the comforts of the whole world."

5. An infidel and profligate youth, who had formerly disregarded all the pious injunctions of his parents, on one occasion went with them to hear a popular minister, who had come to the town where they dwelt. The subject of discourse was, the heavenly state; and the minister describing, in glowing language, the nature of the happiness, employment, and company of the spirits of just men made perfect. On his return home, the youth expressed his admiration of the speaker's talents; 'but,' said he, turning to his mother, 'I am surprised, that while pleasure was visible in the faces of all around me, you and my father appeared gloomy and sad, and more than once were in tears. I am surprised,' continued the youth, 'because I thought, that if any could claim an interest in the subject, you were the happy persons.' 'Ah! my son,' replied the anxious mother, 'I did weep; but it was not because I feared my own personal interest in the subject, or that of your affectionate and godly father. I wept when I thought of you: it was the fear that you, the son of my womb, and the son of my vows, would be banished at last from the delights of the celestial paradise, which caused my bursting heart to seek vent in tears.' 'I supposed,' said the father, turning to his wife, 'those were your reflections. The thought of the spiritual condition of our son forcibly impressed my own heart, and made me weep too.' The pointed, yet cautious and tender admonition of the mother, wisely sanctioned by her husband, found its way to the youthful heart of her child, and terminated in his saving conversion to God.

6. A minister, in the early part of the 17th century was preaching before an assembly of his brethren; and in order to direct their attention to the great motive from which they should act, he represented to them something of the great day of judgment. Having spoken of Christ as seated on His throne, he described Him as speaking to His ministers; examining how they had preached, and with what views they had undertaken and discharged the duties of the ministry. 'What did you preach for?' 'I preached, Lord, that I might keep a good living that was left me by my father; which, if I had not entered the ministry, would have been wholly lost to me and my family.' Christ addresses him, 'Stand by, thou hast had thy reward.' The question is put to another, 'And what did you preach for?' 'Lord, I was applauded as a learned man, and I preached to keep up the reputation of an excellent orator, and an ingenious preacher.' The answer of Christ to him also is, 'Stand by, thou hast had thy reward.' The Judge puts the question to a third. 'And what did you preach for?' 'Lord,' saith he, 'I neither aimed at the great things of this world, though I was thankful for the conveniences of life which Thou gavest me; nor did I preach that I might gain the character of a wit, or of a man of parts, or of a fine scholar; but I preached in compassion to souls, and to please and honour Thee; my design, Lord, in preaching, was that I might win souls to Thy blessed Majesty.' The Judge was now described as calling out, 'Room, men; room, angels! let this man come and sit with me on my throne; he has owned and honoured me on earth, and I will own and honour him through all the ages of eternity.' The ministers went home much affected; resolving, that through the help of God, they would attend more diligently to the motives and work of the ministry than they had before done.

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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