What is the Catechism? An epitome of all the great truths and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel. He who learns that, has the substance of the Old and New Testaments.
A few thoughts on the value of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, 15 October 1836, p. 166, columns 2-3:—
We have seldom heard a more eloquent eulogium on the Catechism, than was elicited in the discussion. All seemed ready and anxious to speak in its praise. We can give only a few disconnected sentences from our notes.
What is the Catechism? An epitome of all the great truths and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel. He who learns that, has the substance of the Old and New Testaments. No book, except the Bible, is so near perfection. Those who have done most to bless the world, have loved the doctrines just as they are taught in the Catechism. The Puritans came to these shores to cherish these doctrines. “But,” says one, “it is no use to teach children what they cannot understand.” All past experience shows that tis is not true. They must be taught things which they cannot understand. I owe more, said the speaker, to my knowledge of these doctrines, as taught in that manual, than to my three years’ study in the Theological Seminary. There is a great deal of thought in the Catechism; more than in some of our libraries.
I was once, said another speaker, taught the Catechism, and I never think of these truths without the tenderest recollection of my parents, now in heaven.
I have reason to bless the God of heaven, (said the moderator, probably the oldest Minister present) that I was taught that system of doctrine while I was almost in the arms of my mother. When I grew up so as to compare it with the Bible, I found there was a unison. My old Minister used to teach it at the close of the common school. Then we were called orthodox. That man is now sleeping with his fathers. A new set of Ministers have arisen, who have discarded the Catechism, and now but few can be found in that place, who hold the doctrines as there taught.
Words to Live By:
We have greater hope for the current generation than is expressed in those closing words. Still, we can never afford to rest in our labors. Each generation must be faithfully evangelized with the Gospel—the good news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And each generation must be taught the Word of God. The Catechism provides one of the most helpful summaries available, and to neglect its use is to do harm.