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The Westminster Larger Catechism

Authors' Bias: Interpretation: conservative

THE
LARGER CATECHISM
;

AGREED UPON BY THE ASSEMBLY OF DIVINES AT WESTMINSTER, WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF COMMISSIONERS FROM THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, AS A PART OF THE COVENANTED UNIFORMITY IN RELIGION BETWIXT THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN THE KINGDOMS OF SCOTLAND, ENGLAND, AND IRELAND.
AND
APPROVED ANNO 1648, BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, TO BE A DIRECTORY FOR CATECHISING SUCH AS HAVE MADE SOME PROFICIENCY IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GROUNDS OF RELIGION,
WITH
THE PROOFS FROM THE SCRIPTURE.

Assembly at EDINBURGH, July 2, 1648. Sess. 10.
Act approving the LARGER CATECHISM.

THE General Assembly having exactly examined and seriously considered the LARGER CATECHISM, agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminister, with assistance of Commissioners from this Kirk, copies thereof being printed, and sent to Presbyteries, for the more exact trial thereof; and publick intimation being frequently made in this Assembly, that every one that had any doubts or objections upon it might put them in; do find, upon due examination thereof, That the said Catechism is agreeable to the word of God, and in nothing contrary to the received doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Kirk; a necessary part of the intended uniformity in religion, and a rich treasure for increasing knowledge among the people of God: and therefore the Assembly, as they bless the Lord that so excellent a Catechism is prepared, so they approve the same, as a part of uniformity; agreeing, for their part, that it be a common Catechism for the three kingdoms, and a Directory for catechising such as have made some proficiency in the knowledge of the grounds of religion.

Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God (Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 10:31), and fully to enjoy him forever (Ps 73:24-28; John 17:21-23).

Q. 2. How doth it appear that there is a God?
A. The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God (Rom 1:19-20; Ps 19:1-3; Acts 17:28); but his word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation (1 Cor 2:9-10; 2 Tim 3:15-17; Isa 59:21).

Q. 3. What is the Word of God?
A. The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21), the only rule of faith and obedience (Eph 2:20; Rev 22:18-19; Isa 8:20; Luke 16:29-31; Gal 1:8-9; 2 Tim 3:15-16).

Q. 4. How doth it appear that the Scriptures are of the Word of God?
A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty (Hos 8:12; 1 Cor 2:6-7, 13; Ps 119:18, 129) and purity (Ps 12:6; Ps 119:140); by the consent of all the parts (Acts 10:43; Acts 26:22), and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God (Rom 3:19, 27); by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation (Acts 18:28; Heb 4:12; James 1:18; Ps 19:7-9; Rom 15:4; Acts 20:32): but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God (John 16:13-14; 1 John 2:20, 27; John 20;31).

Q. 5. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man (2 Tim 1:13).

WHAT MAN OUGHT TO BELIEVE CONCERNING GOD.

Q. 6. What do the Scriptures make known of God?
A. The Scriptures make known what God is (Heb 11:6), the persons in the Godhead (1 John 5:7), his decrees (Acts 15:14-15), and the execution of his decrees (Acts 4:27-28).

Q. 7. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit (John 4:24), in and of himself infinite in being (Ex 3:14; Job 11:7-9), glory (Acts 7:2), blessedness (1 Tim 6:15), and perfection (Matt 5:48); all-sufficient (Gen 17:1), eternal (Ps 90:2), unchangeable (Mal 3:6), incomprehensible (1 Kings 8:27), every where present (Ps 139:1-13), almighty (Rev 4:8), knowing all things (Heb 4:13; Ps 147:5), most wise (Rom 16:27), most holy (Isa 6:3; Rev 15:4), most just (Deut 32:4), most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth (Ex 34:6).

Q. 8. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God (Deut 6:4; 1 Cor 8:4, 6; Jer 10:10).

Q. 9. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their personal properties (1 John 5:7; Matt 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; John 10:30).

Q. 10. What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?
A. It is proper to the Father to beget the Son (Heb 1:5-6, 8), and to the Son to be begotten of the Father (John 1:14,18), and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity (John 15:26; Gal 4:6).

Q. 11. How doth it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?
A. The Scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto them such names (Isa 6:3, 5, 8; John 12:41; Acts 28:25; 1 John 5:20; Acts 5:3-4), attributes (John 1:1; Isa 9:6; John 2:24-25; 1 Cor 2:10-11), works (Col 1:16; Gen 1:2), and worship (Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 8:14), as are proper to God only.

Q. 12. What are the decrees of God?
A. God's decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11; Rom 11:33; 9:14-15, 18), whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time (Eph 1:4, 11; Rom 9:22-23; Ps 33:11), especially concerning angels and men.

Q. 13. What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?
A. God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory (1 Tim 5:21); and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof (Eph 1:4-6; 2 Thess 2:13-14): and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, (whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favor as he pleaseth,) hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice (Rom 9:17-18, 21-22; Matt 11:25-26; 2 Tim 2:20; Jude 4; 1 Pet 2:8).

Q. 14. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will (Eph 1:11).

Q. 15. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning, by the word of his power, make of nothing the world, and all things therein, for himself, within the space of six days, and all very good (Gen 1:1-31; Heb 11:3; Prov 16:4).

Q. 16. How did God create angels?
A. God created all the angels (Col 1:16) spirits (Ps 104:4), immortal (Matt 22:30), holy (Matt 25:31), excelling in knowledge (2 Sam 14:17; Matt 24:36), mighty in power (2 Thess 1:7), to execute his commandments, and to praise his name (Ps 103:20-21), yet subject to change (2 Pet 2:4).

Q. 17. How did God create man?
A. After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female (Gen 1:27); formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7), and the woman of the rib of the man (Gen 2:22), endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls (Gen 2:7; Job 35:11; Ecc 12:7; Matt 10:28; Luke 23:43); made them after his own image (Gen 1:27), in knowledge (Col 3:10), righteousness, and holiness (Eph 4:24); having the law of God written in their hearts (Rom 2:14-15), and power to fulfill it (Ecc 7:29), and dominion over the creatures (Gen 1:28); yet subject to fall (Gen 3:6).

Q. 18. What are God's works of providence?
A. God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps 145:17), wise (Ps 104:24; Isa 28:29), and powerful preserving (Heb 1:3) and governing (Ps 103:19) all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions (Matt 10:29-31; Gen 45:7), to his own glory (Rom 11:36; Isa 63:14).

Q. 19. What is God's providence towards the angels?
A. God by his providence permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation (Jude 6; 2 Pet 2:4; Heb 2:16; John 8:44), limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory (Job 1:12; Matt 8:31); and established the rest in holiness and happiness (1 Tim 5:21; Mark 8:38; Heb 12:22); employing them all (Ps 104:4), at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice (2 Kings 19:35; Heb 1:14).

Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth (Gen 2:8, 15-16); putting the creatures under his dominion (Gen 1:28), and ordaining marriage for his help (Gen 2:18); affording him communion with himself (Gen 1:26-29; 3:8); instituting the sabbath (Gen 2:3); entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience (Gal 3:12; Rom 10:5), of which the tree of life was a pledge (Gen 2:9); and forbidding to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death (Gen 2:17).

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created (Gen 3:6-8, 13; Ecc 7:29; 2 Cor 11:3).

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation (Acts 17:26), sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression (Gen 2:16-17; Rom 5:12-20; 1 Cor 15:21-22).

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery (Rom 5:12; 3:23).

Q. 24. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature (1 John 3:4; Gal 3:10,12).

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom 5:12, 19), the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually (Rom 3:10-19; Eph 2:1-3; Rom 8:7-8; Rom 5:6; Gen 6:5); which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions (James 1:14-15; Matt 15:19).

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin (Ps 51:5; Job 14:4; John 3:6).

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God (Gen 3:8, 10, 24), his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:2-3), bond slaves to Satan (2 Tim 2:26), and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come (Gen 2:17; Lam 3:39; Rom 6:23; Matt 25:41, 46; Jude 7).

Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?
A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind (Eph 4:18), a reprobate sense (Rom 1:28), strong delusions (2 Thess 2:11), hardness of heart (Rom 2:5), horror of conscience (Isa 33:14), and vile affections (Rom 1:26); or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures of our sakes (Gen 3:17), and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments (Deut 28:15-18); together with death itself (Rom 6:21, 23).

Q. 29. What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?
A. The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hell-fire forever (2 Thess 1:9; Mark 9:43-44; Luke 16:24).

Q. 30. Doth God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery (1 Thess 1:9; Mark 9:43-44, 46, 48; Luke 16:24), into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the covenant of works (Gal 3:10,12); but of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out of it, and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace (Tit 3:4-7; Gal 3:21; Rom 3:20-22).

Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made?
A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed (Gal 3:16; Rom 5:15-21; Isa 53:10-11).

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator (Gen 3:15; Isa 42:6; John 6:27), and life and salvation by him (1 John 5:11-12); and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him (John 3:16; John 1:12), promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit (Prov 1:23) to all his elect, to work in them that faith (2 Cor 4:13), with all other saving graces (Gal 5:22-23); and to enable them unto all holy obedience (Ezek 36:27), as the evidence of the truth of their faith (James 2:18, 22) and thankfulness to God (2 Cor 5:14-15), and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation (Eph 2:18).

Q. 33. Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?
A. The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner, but the administrations of it under the Old Testament were different from those under the New (2 Cor 3:6-9).

Q. 34. How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament?
A. The covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament, by promises (Rom 15:8), prophecies (Acts 3:20, 24), sacrifices (Heb 10:1), circumcision (Rom 4:11), the passover (1 Cor 5:7), and other types and ordinances, which did all fore-signify Christ then to come, and were for that time sufficient to build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah (Heb 8:1-13; Heb 9:1-28; Heb 10:1-39; Heb 11:13), by whom they then had full remission of sin, and eternal salvation (Gal 3:7-9, 14).

Q. 35. How is the covenant of grace administered under the New Testament?
A. Under the New Testament, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the same covenant of grace was and still is to be administered in the preaching of the Word (Mark 16:15), and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism (Matt 28:19-20) and the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:23-25); in which grace and salvation are held forth in more fulness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations (2 Cor 3:6-9; Heb 8:6, 10-11; Matt 28:19).

Q. 36. Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace?
A. The only Mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5), who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; Philip 2:6), in the fulness of time became man (Gal 4:4), and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, forever (Luke 1:35; Rom 9:5; Col 2:9; Heb 7:24-25).

Q. 37. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ the Son of God became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul (John 1:14; Matt 26:38), being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance, and born of her (Luke 1:27, 31, 35, 42; Gal 4:4), yet without sin (Heb 4:15; 7:26).

Q. 38. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?
A. It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death (Acts 2:24-25; Rom 1:4; 4:25; Heb 9:14), give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession (Acts 20:28; Heb 9:14; 7:25-28); and to satisfy God's justice (Rom 3:24-26), procure his favour (Eph 1:6; Matt 3:17), purchase a peculiar people (Tit 2:13-14), give his Spirit to them (Gal 4:6), conquer all their enemies (Luke 1:68-69, 71, 74), and bring them to everlasting salvation (Heb 5:8-9; 9:11-15).

Q. 39. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be man?
A. It was requisite that the Mediator should be man, that he might advance our nature (Heb 2:16), perform obedience to the law (Gal 4:4), suffer and make intercession for us in our nature (Heb 2:14; 7:24-25), have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15); that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal 4:5), and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).

Q. 40. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?
A. It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to reconcile God and man, should himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us (Matt 1:21, 23; 3:17; Heb 9:14), and relied on by us as the works of the whole person (1 Pet 2:6).

Q. 41. Why was our Mediator called Jesus?
A. Our Mediator was called Jesus, because he saveth his people from their sins (Matt 1:21).

Q. 42. Why was our Mediator called Christ?
A. Our Mediator was called Christ, because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure (John 3:34; Ps 45:7), and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability (John 6:27; Matt 28:18-20), to execute the offices of prophet (Acts 3:21-22; Luke 4:18, 21), priest (Heb 5:5-7; 4:14-15), and king of his church (Ps 2:6; Matt 21:5; Isa 9:6-7; Philip 2:8-11), in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation.

Q. 43. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in his revealing to the church (John 1:18), in all ages, by his Spirit and Word (1 Pet 1:10-12), in divers ways of administration (Heb 1:1-2), the whole will of God (John 15:15), in all things concerning their edification and salvation (Acts 20:23; Eph 4:11-13; John 20:31).

Q. 44. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice without spot to God (Heb 9:14, 28), to be reconciliation for the sins of his people (Heb 2:17); and in making continual intercession for them (Heb 7:25).

Q. 45. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself (Acts 15:14-16; Gen 49:10; Ps 110:3), and giving them officers (Eph 4:11-12; 1 Cor 12:28), laws (Isa 33:22), and censures, by which he visibly governs them (Matt 18:17-18; 1 Cor 5:4-5); in bestowing saving grace upon his elect (Acts 5:31), rewarding their obedience (Rev 22:12; 2:10), and correcting them for their sins (Rev 3:19), preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings (Isa 63:9), restraining and overcoming all their enemies (1 Cor 15:25; Ps 110:1-2), and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory (Rom 14:10-11), and their good (Rom 8:28); and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel (2 Thess 1:8-9; Ps 2:8-9).

Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ's humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection (Philip 2:6-8; Luke 1:31; 2 Cor 8:9; Acts 2:24).

Q. 47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fulness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement (John 1:14, 18; Gal 4:4; Luke 2:7).

Q. 48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law (Gal 4;4), which he perfectly fulfilled (Matt 5:17; Rom 5:19); and by conflicting with the indignities of the world (Ps 22:6; Heb 12:2-3), temptations of Satan (Matt 4:1-12; Luke 4:13), and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition (Heb 2:17-18; 4:15; Isa 52:13-14).

Q. 49. How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A. Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas (Matt 27:4), forsaken by his disciples (Matt 26:56), scorned and rejected by the world (Isa 53:2-3), condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors (Matt 27:26-50; John 19:34); having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God's wrath (Luke 22:44; Matt 27:46), he laid down his life an offering for sin (Isa 53:10), enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross (Philip 2:8; Heb 12:2; Gal 3:13).

Q. 50. Wherein consisted Christ's humiliation after his death?
A. Christ's humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried (1 Cor 15:3-4), and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day (Ps 16:10; Acts 2:24-27, 31; Rom 6:9; Matt 12:40); which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.



Continued: Q. 51. What was the estate of Christ’s exaltation?

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Make a ready defense with gentleness and reverence… A look at Systematic Theology (Mar)

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