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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 72. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?

A. The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions.

1. A lady of suspected chastity, and who was tinctured with infidel principles, conversing with a minister of the gospel, objected to the Scriptures on account of their obscurity, and the great difficulty of understanding them. The minister wisely and pertinently replied, 'why, madam, what can be easier to understand than the seventh commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery?'

2. Anthony William Boehm, a German divine, once preached from Exod. 20.14: 'Thou shalt not commit adultery.' A knight, who was one of his hearers, felt himelf so much offended and insulted, that he challenged Boehm to fight a duel, because he thought his sermon was designed entirely to offend him. Boehm accepted the challenge, and appeared in his robes, but instead of a pistol, he had the Bible in his hand, and spoke to him in the following manner: 'I am sorry you were so much offended when I preached against that destructive vice; at the time I did not even think of you; here I appear with the sword of the Spirit, and if your conscience condemns you, I beseech you, for your own salvation, to repent of your sins, and lead a new life. If you will, then fire at me immdiately; for I would willingly lose my life, if that might be the means of saving your soul.' The knight was so struck with this language, that he embraced him, and solicited his friendship.

3. It is said that Henry IV of France took much pleasure in conversing with an honest and religious man of a low situation in life, who used great freedom with his majesty. One day he said to the king, 'Sire, I always take your part when I hear any man speaking evil of you; I know that you excel injustice and generosity, and that many worthy things have been done by you. But you have one vice for which God will condemn you if you do not repent, I mean the unlawful love of women.' The king, it is said, was too magnanimous to resent this reproof but he long felt it like an arrow in his bosom. He sometimes said that the most eloquent discourses of the doctors of the Sorbonne, had never made such an impression on his soul as this honest reproof from his humble friend.

4. Grace Bennet was the subject of early religious impressions, which continued till she was sent to a dancing school, which proved a great snare to her, and in a considerable measure destroyed her taste for religion. Having a fine flow of spirits, and being esteemed a good dancer, she became an object of admiration, and her company was much solicited in circles of gaiety and amusement. 'Dancing,' she observes, 'was my darling sin, and I had thereby nearly lost my life; but God was merciful, and spared the sinner.' Her sense of the danger and evil of this practice was such, that she could never once be prevailed on, after she became truly religious, to join in the most private circle in such amusement; nor did she approve of Christian parents sending their children to dancing schools, though no one had a higher sense of the propriety of instructing them in all the rules of good behaviour.

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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