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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 47. What is forbidden in the first commandment?

A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and glorifying the true God, as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other which is due to Him alone.

1. Lord Rochester was one day at an atheistical meeting in the house of a person of quality. He undertook to manage the discussion, and was the principal disputant against God and religion, and for his performance received the applause of the whole company: 'Upon which,' says he, 'my mind was terribly struck, and I immediately replied thus to myself; Good God! that a man that walks upright, that sees the wonderful works of God, and has the use of his senses and reason, should use them to the defying of his Creator!'

2. The famous German mathematician, Athanasius Kircher, having an acquaintance who denied the existence of the Supreme Being, took the following method to convince him of his error upon his own principles. Expecting him upon a visit, he procured a very handsome globe of the starry heavens, which being placed in a corner of the room in which it could not escape his friend's observation, the latter seized the first occasion to ask from whence it came, and to whom it belonged. 'Not to me,' said Kircher, 'nor was it ever made by any person, but came here by mere chance.' 'That,' replied his sceptical friend, 'is absolutely impossible; you surely jest.' Kircher, however, seriously persisting in his assertion, took occasion to reason with his friend upon his own atheistical principles. 'You will not,' said he, 'believe that this small body originated in mere chance; and yet you will contend that those heavenly bodies, of which it is only a faint and diminutive resemblance, came into existence without order and design.' Pursuing this chain of reasoning, his friend was at first confounded, in the next place convinced, and ultimately joined in a cordial acknowledgment of the absurdity of denying the existence of a God.

3. 'It is much to be feared,' says William Innes, 'that the language which Dr Johnson applied to Foote, the comedian, is too applicable to many. When Boswell asked him if Foote was not an infidel, he replied, "Foote was an infidel, sir, as a dog is an infidel; he never thought on the subject."'

4. Nichols, Potter, and Wilson of Westminster, preaching one after another before his Majesty George III, bedaubed the king, who, as Lord Mansfield told Bishop Warburton, expressed his offence publicly, by saying that he came to the chapel to hear the praises of God, and not his own.

5. A gentleman in England who had a chapel attached to his house, was visited by a person from London, to whom he showed the chapel. 'What a glorious kitchen this would make!' said the visitor. 'When I make a god of my belly,' replied the gentleman, 'I will make a kitchen of my chapel.'

6. One morning a little girl came, as usual, into her parent's room, to kneel down at her mother's knee and repeat her prayers. Before she could do so, her father held up the picture of a Hindoo god, and said, 'See, Mary, what a god the poor heathen pray to!' It was very ugly, and looked very ill-natured. She gave it but one look, which said, 'What an ugly god!' and immediately dropped on her knees at her mother's side, and began saying in a sweet voice, 'Our Father which art in heaven,' etc. Her parents wept for joy, because she evidently thought God lovely.

7. 'There lived at one time in Perugia, Italy, a man of the loosest morals and the worst conceivable disposition. He had given up all religion, he loathed God, and had arrived at such a desperate state of mind that he had conceived an affection for the devil and endeavoured to worship the evil one, desiring to be considered a devil himself. On one occasion when a Protestant missionary had been in Perugia preaching, a priest happened to say in this man's hearing that the city of Perugia was being defiled by heretics, and, said the priest, Protestants are those who have renounced Christ and who worship the devil. Such a lie answered far other ends than its author meant. 'Oh, then, I will go and meet with these Protestant heretics, for I am much of their mind,' said the man on hearing this, and away he went to the Protestant meeting in the hope of finding an assembly who propagated lawlessness and worshipped the devil. He there heard the gospel and was saved.

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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