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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

1. The celebrated Philip de Mornay, Huguenot statesman, and a most exemplary Christian, being asked a little before his death, if he still retained the same assured hope of future bliss which he had so comfortably enjoyed during his illness, made this memorable reply: 'I am,' said he, 'as confident of it, from the incontestible evidence of the Spirit of God, as ever I was of any mathematical truth from all the demonstrations of Euclid.'

2. Mr Kidd, when minister of Queensferry, a few miles from Edinburgh, was one day very much depressed and discouraged, for want of that comfort which is produced by the faith of the gospel alone. He sent a note to Mr L., minister of Culross, a few miles off, informing him of his distress of mind, and desired a visit as soon as possible. Mr L. told the servant, he was so busy that he could not wait upon his master, but desired him to tell Mr K. to remember Torwood! When the servant returned, he said to his master, 'Mr L. could not come, but desires me to tell you, to remember Torwood!' This answer imrnediately struck Mr K., and he cried out, 'Yes, Lord! I will remember Thee, from the hill Mizar, and from the Hermonites!' All his trouble and darkness vanished, upon the recollection of a day which he had formerly spent in prayer along with Mr L. in Torwood, where he had enjoyed eminent communion with God.

3. Dr Stonehouse, who attended James Hervey during his last illness, seeing the great difficulty and pain with which he spoke, and finding by his pulse that the pangs of death were then coming on, desired that he would spare himself and refrain from speaking. 'No,' said Hervey, 'Doctor, No: you tell me that I have but a few minutes to live, O let me spend them in adoring our great Redeemer. Though my heart and flesh fail me, yet God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.' After saying this, he enlarged in a most striking manner on the words of Paul: 'All things are yours, life and death, things present and things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.' 'Here,' said he, 'is the treasure of a Christian, and a noble treasure it is. Death is reckoned in this inventory; how thankful I am for it, as it is the passage through which I get to the Lord and Giver of eternal life, and as it frees me from all the misery you see me now endure, and which I am willing to endure as long as God sees fit; for I know He will by and by, in His good time, dismiss me from the body. These light afflictions are but for a moment, and then comes an eternal weight of glory. O welcome, welcome death! thou mayest well be reckoned among the treasures of the Christian. To live is Christ but to die is gain.'

4. John Flavel, the Puritan, at one time on a journey, set himself to improve his time by meditation. By degrees his mind grew intent, until at length he had such ravishing tastes of heavenly joy, and such full assurance of his interest in Christ, that he utterly lost the sight and sense of this world and all its concerns so that for a time he did not know where he was. At last, perceiving himself faint from a great loss of blood from his nose, he alighted from his horse and sat down at a spring where he washed and refreshed himself, earnestly desiring, if it were the will of God, that he might leave the world. His spirits reviving, he finished his journey in the same delightful frame of mind. He passed the following night without sleep, the joy of the Lord still overflowing him, so that he all but felt himself to be in a higher world. For many years he called that day one of the 'days of heaven', and professed he understood more of the life of heaven by it than by all the discourses he had heard, or the books he had ever read.

5. When Lord North, prime minister during the war of American Independence, sent to John Fletcher of Madeley (who had written on that unfortunate war, in a manner that had pleased the minister), to know what he wanted, he sent him word, that he wanted but one thing, which it was not in his lordship's power to give him, and that was more grace.

6. A person who suspected that a minister of his acquaintance was not truly a Calvinist, went to him and said, 'Sir, I am told that you are against the perseverance of the saints.' 'Not I, indeed,' answered he, 'it is the perseverance of sinners that I oppose.' 'But this is not a satisfactory answer, sir. Do you think that a child of God cannot fall very low, and yet be restored?' He replied, 'I think it will be very dangerous to make the experiment.'

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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