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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 101. What do we pray for in the first petition?

A. In the first petition (which is Hallowed be Thy name), we pray that God would enable us and others to glorify Him in all that whereby He maketh Himself known; and that He would dispose all things to His own glory.

1. Robert Boyle, one of the greatest scientists of the seventeenth century, had such a veneration of God, and such a sense of His presence, that he never mentioned the name of God without a pause, and a visible stop in his discourse.

2. In the life of William Wyndham, (Lord Grenville) prefixed to his Speeches in Parliament, it is remarked, that nothing so highly offended him as any careless or irreverent use of the name of the Creator. 'I remember,' says his biographer, 'that, on reading a letter addressed to him, in which the words, "My God," had been made use of on a light occasion, he hastily snatched a pen, and before he could finish reading the letter, blotted out the misplaced exclamation.'

3. When Thomas Scott was speaking to John Newton about a call to God's service which seemed to conflict with a man's personal interests, Newton told him the story of a nobleman who was selected as ambassador by his queen, but excused himself on the grounds of his family, and urgent concerns at home; but was answered, 'You must go; only do you mind my concerns heartily, and I will take care of yours.' 'Thus,' says Newton, 'God, as it were, says to you.'

4. One day when James Durham and Andrew Gray were to preach in the same town, as they were walking together, Durham, observing multitudes thronging into the church where Gray was to preach, and but one here and there dropping into the one he was to preach in, said to Gray, 'Brother, I perceive you are like to have a thronged church to-day.' To which Gray answered, 'Truly, brother, they are fools to leave you and come to me.' To which Durham nobly replied, 'Not so, dear brother, for a minister can receive no such honour and success in the ministry, except it be given him from Heaven. I rejoice that Christ is preached, and that His honour and esteem do increase, though my esteem in people's hearts should decrease, and be diminished; for I am content to be anything, so that Christ may be all in all.'

5. Terentius, captain to the Emperor Adrian, presented a petition to that monarch, praying that the Christians might have a temple by themselves, to worship God apart from the Arians. The emperor tore up his petition, and threw it away, desiring him to ask something for himself and it should be granted; but he modestly gathered up the pieces of his petition again, and told him, 'If he could not be heard in God's cause, he would never ask anything for himself.'

6. Edward Gibbon, who, in his celebrated History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, has left an imperishable memorial of his enmity to the gospel, resided many years in Switzerland, where with the profits of his works, he purchased a considerable estate. This property descended to a gentleman, who out of his rents, expended a large sum annually in the promulgation of that very gospel which his predecessor insidiously tried to undermine, not having the courage openly to assail it.

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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