March 22: School & Family Catechist, WSC Q. 90

The School & Family Catechist
by Rev. William Smith (1834)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q.90. How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?

A. That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer, receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practise it in our lives.


Become effectual. –See Explic. Q. 88.

Attend thereunto with diligence. –To make the reading and hearing of the word the chief business of our lives, so that we may never engage in these important duties in a slothful and careless manner.

Attend thereunto with preparation. –To have our minds in a right frame, that is, to have our thoughts collected, and properly fixed, so as to shut out, if possible, every earthly object, and worldly concern, when we read God’s word, or hear it preached. In preparing ourselves for these duties, we ought also to consider that God’s own authority is stamped upon his word, -that it is He himself who speaks to us therein, -that it is an ordinance appointed by Him to be a mean of salvation, -and therefore that it should not be received by us, in the same manner, as the word of man.

Attend thereunto with prayer. –That is, we ought, before reading or hearing the word of God to pray for his blessing on what we may read or hear, so that we may profit thereby.

Receive it with faith. –To believe it with our whole hearts.

Receive it with love. –To fix our affections upon the glorious objects which God reveals in his word, so as to think them far better than the greatest earthly possessions: and to consider the favor of the Lord is more necessary for us than even our daily food.

Lay it up in our hearts. –To commit it accurately to memory, that we may be able always to remember it.

Practice it in our lives. –Always to conduct ourselves in a manner agreeable to the will of God, as revealed in his word, that is, to do what he commands, and avoid, or shun, what he forbids.


The information here received may be divided into seven parts :

1. That, to make the word an effectual mean of salvation, we must attend to it with diligence. –Prov. viii. 34. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my door.

2. That we must also attend to the word with preparation. -1 Pet. ii. 1, 2. Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and all hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. Luke viii. 18. Take heed, therefore, how ye hear.

3. That we must likewise attend to it with prayer. –Psal. cxix. 18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

4. That we must receive the word with faith. –Heb. iv. 2. The word preached did not profit them; not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

5. That we must also receive it with love. -2 Thess. ii. 10. They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

6. That we must lay the word up in our hearts. –Psal. cxix. 11. Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. 1 Cor. xv. 1, 2. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel, -by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you.

7. That we must practise it in our lives. –James i. 22. Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.


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