For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Harmony Index


Harmony of the Westminster Standards
Index
The reference point and alignment is to the Shorter Catechism.
Doctrinal Headings and statements are taking from Thomas Boston’s commentary on the Shorter Catechism.



Doctrinal Heading


Of Man's Chief End and Happiness
KNOWLEDGE is a necessary foundation of faith and holiness; and where ignorance reigns in the mind, there is confusion in the heart and life. We have the word of truth in our hands, and many methodical systems of divine truths, amongst which the Shorter Catechism, composed by the Reverend Assembly of divines at Westminster, in pursuance of the solemn league and covenant, as a part of the then intended uniformity between the three nations, is deservedly reckon the chief. -TB

WSC Q#1
What is the chief end of man?

WLC Q#1
What is the chief and highest end of man






Doctrinal Heading
The Doctrine of Holy Scripture
The Divine Authority of the Scriptures 
THE next head which falls to be touched is the holy scripture, the rule which God has given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. We are poor blind creatures, that know not our way, neither how we should glorify God, nor how we may come to the enjoyment of him. Therefore God hath given us the revelation of his mind in that great point. The connection between this and the preceding question is abundantly obvious; the one points out the end for which we were made, the other the rule to direct us how to attain to that end. And in this text we have two things.  
1. The divine authority of the scriptures asserted.
2. The use and end of the scriptures.      -TB

WSC Q#2
What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?

WLC Q#3
What is the Word of God?

WLC Q#4
How doth it appear that the Scriptures are of the Word of God?

WCF I.II-III
Of the Holy Scripture






WSC Q#3
What do the Scriptures principally teach?

WLC Q#5
What do the Scriptures principally teach?

WCF I.IV-X
Of the Holy Scripture.






Doctrinal Heading
The Being, Attributes and Persons of the Godhead
Of God and His Perfections 
SIMONIDES, a heathen poet, being asked by Riero king of Syracuse, What is God? desired a day to think upon it; and when that day was at an end, he desired two days; and when these were past, he desired four days. Thus he continued to double the number of days in which he desired to think of God, ere he would give an answer. Upon which the king expressing his surprise at his behavior, asked him, What he meant by this? To which the poet answered, 'The more I think of God, he is still the more dark and unknown to me. Indeed no wonder that he made such an answer; for he that would tell what God is in a measure suitable to his excellency and glory, had need to know God even as he is known of him, which is not competent to any man upon earth. Agur puzzles the whole creation with that sublime question, What is his name? Prov. 30:4. But though it is impossible in our present state to know God perfectly, seeing he is incomprehensible; yet so much of him is revealed in the scriptures as is necessary for us to know in order to our salvation. -TB

WSC Q#4
What is God?

WLC Q#2
How doth it appear that there is a God?

WLC Q#6
What do the Scriptures make known of God?

WLC Q#7
What is God?

WCF I.I
Of the Holy Scripture.

WCF II:I-I!
Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.




WSC Q#5
Are there more gods than one?

WLC Q#8
Are there more gods than one?




WSC Q#6
How many persons are there in the Godhead?

WLC Q#9
How many persons are there in the Godhead?

WLC Q#10
What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?

WLC Q#11
How doth it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?

WCF II.III
Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.




Doctrinal Heading
The Decrees, or the Eternal Purpose of God
The Decrees, or the Eternal Purposes of God
ACCORDING to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. (Ephesians 1:11)
The apostle here gives an instance of the sovereign freedom of divine grace through Jesus Christ in the believing Jews.
1. There is here the high privilege they were advanced to, a right to the heavenly inheritance, which had been forfeited by the sin of man.
2. Through whom they had obtained it, in him; by virtue of the merits, the obedience and satisfaction of Christ.
3. Why they obtained it, while others had not. Not that they were more worthy than others, but because they were predestinated, elected, or foreordained to salvation, and all the means of it.
4. There is the certainty of the efficacy of predestination. It is according to his purpose; that is, his firm purpose and peremptory decree to bring such things to pass. And this certainly in particular is evinced by a general truth, Who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.  -TB

WSC Q#7
What are the decrees of God?

WLC Q#12
What are the decrees of God?

WLC Q#13
What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?

WCF III
Of God's Eternal Decree.




WSC Q#8
How doth God execute his decrees?

WLC Q#14
How doth God execute his decrees?




Doctrinal Heading
Creation and Providence
Creation and Providence
HAVING discoursed to you of the decrees of God, whereby he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, I come now to treat of the execution of these decrees. That question, 'How doth God execute his decrees?' being only an introduction to what follows, it is needless to insist on it. Only you must know, that for God to execute his decrees, is to bring to pass what he has decreed. Now, what God from all eternity decreed is brought to pass in the works of creation and providence. Nothing falls out in either of these but what was decreed; nor does it fall out in any other way than as it was decreed. The decrees of God are as it were the scheme, draught and pattern of the house; and the works of creation and providence are the house, built in every point conformable to the draught. -TB

WSC Q#9
What is the work of creation?

WLC Q#15
What is the work of creation?

WLC Q#16
How did God create angels?

WCF IV.I
Of Creation




WSC Q#10
How did God create man?

WLC Q#17
How did God create man?

WCF IV.II
Of Creation




WSC Q#11
What are God's works of providence?

WLC Q#18
What are God's works of providence?

WLC Q#19
What is God's providence toward the angels?

WCF V.I-VII
Providence




Doctrinal Heading
Of God's Covenant with Man
The Covenant of Works , or of Life
Gen. 2:16-17
HAVING already shown, that God from all eternity decreed whatsoever comes to pass; that he executes his decrees in works of creation and providence; that he made all things of nothing by the word of his power; that he made man upright, adorned with his moral image, consisting in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; and that his providence, extends to all his creatures and all their actions: that which now falls to be considered is the special act of providence which God exercised towards man, in the estate wherein he was created, namely, the covenant of works which God made with Adam. This covenant is sometimes called the covenant of works, because works, or obedience, was the condition of it; and sometimes the covenant of life, because life was promised therein as the reward of obedience.  -TB

WSC Q#12
What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?

WLC Q#20
What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?

WCF VII.II-II
Of God's Covenant with Man




WSC Q#13
Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

WLC Q#21
Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?

WCF VI.I
Of Creation. .




WSC Q#9
What is the work of creation?

WLC Q#15
What is the work of creation?

WLC Q#16
How did God create angels?

WCF IV.I
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof




Doctrinal Heading
Estate of Sin & Misery
Original Sin
1John 3:4
IN these words we have an answer to that question, “What is sin?”  It is a transgression of the law: for “where no law is, there is no transgression,” Rom. 5:15. But because the word transgression seems to import something positive and actual, therefore it is added in the Catechism, it is a “want of conformity unto the law,” which is a more general definition: and this meaning the word in the original most properly bears. Hence both a want of conformity unto the law of God, and a transgression of it, are taken into the description; and in effect they are both one thing.   -TB


WSC Q#14
What is sin?

WLC Q#24
What is sin?




WSC Q#15
What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?

WCF VI.II
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof




WSC Q#16
Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?

WLC Q#22
Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?

WCF VI.III
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof




WSC Q#17
Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?

WLC Q#23
Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?




WSC Q#18
Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

WLC Q#25
Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

WLC Q#26
How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?

WCF VI.IV-V
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof




WSC Q#19
What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

WLC Q#27
What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?

WLC Q#28
What are the punishments of sin in this world?

WLC Q#29
What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?

WCF VI.VI
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof




Doctrinal Heading
Of God's Covenant with Man.
The Covenant of Grace
1Cor. 15:45
IN these words we have an answer to that question, “What is sin?”  It is a Go made man upright, and entered into a covenant with him, forbidding him to eat of a certain tree in the garden of Eden, on pain of death, natural, spiritual, and eternal, and promising him, in case of continued obedience, life in its utmost extent. But, alas! Man being in honour did not continue a night, but foully revolted from obedience and allegiance he owed to his mighty Creator and bountiful Sovereign. Thus his misery was originally owing to the breaking of the covenant of works; and in that dismal state he and all his descendants had remained for ever, if God, in the wonderful depths of his amazing love and grace, had not from all eternity devised a method of recovery, by entering into a covenant with his own Son as second Adam, head and representative of those destinated by sovereign pleasure to be heirs of salvation. Thus fallen man's recovery, from the first to the last step thereof, is entirely owing to the fulfilling of that covenant entered into betwixt the Father and the Son from eternal ages, and in it the whole mystery of our salvation lies.  -TB

WSC Q#20
Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

WLC Q#30
Doth God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

WLC Q#31
With whom was the covenant of grace made?

WLC Q#32
How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

WLC Q#33
Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?

WLC Q#34
How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament?

WLC Q#35
How is the covenant of grace administered under the New Testament?

WCF VII.I-VI
Of God's Covenant with Man.




Doctrinal Heading
Mediator God/Man

The Person of Jesus Christ the Mediator
Gal. 4:4,5 -When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
WE are now to speak of the Mediator of the new covenant, Jesus Christ, and to consider our Redeemer in his person, offices, and states. As to the first of these, it is plainly taught in the text.
In the former chapter, and in the first part of this, the apostle insists upon the church's freedom from the Mosaic dispensation, which was a very toilsome and burdensome service. This he illustrates by the similitude of a pupil and his tutors, ver. 1, 2,. and then he applies it in the following verse, (1.) To the church's bondage under the Old Testament dispensation, when she was in her infant state, kept in subjection under that rigid and strict administration, which served for a rudiment, whereby she was instructed for the most part by resemblances taken from earthly things. (2.) To her freedom from that bondage under the New Testament, in the words of our text. Where we have,
1. The season in which this freedom or redemption was brought about: When the fullness of the time was come, says the apostle.
2. We have the means of this deliverance, namely Christ's incarnation, and manifestation in the flesh; God sent forth his own Son, made of a woman.
3. We have the condition in which Christ came: made under the law.
4. The freedom and deliverance itself: God sent forth his Son to redeem them that were under the law.  -TB

WSC Q#21
Who is the Redeemer of God's elect?

WLC Q#36
Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace?

WLC Q#38
Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?

WLC Q#39
Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be man?

WLC Q#40
Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?

WCF VIII.II, III, VII
Of Christ the Mediator.


WSC Q#22
How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

WLC Q#37
How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?




Doctrinal Heading
Offices of Jesus Christ

The Offices of the Mediator: The Prophetic
Zech. vi. 13. - Even he shall build the temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be a Priest upon his throne.
HAVING shewn that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer of elect sinners, and that it was necessary he should be God and man in one person, to qualify him for his Mediatory undertaking, I come now to speak of the offices which Christ executes as our Redeemer, from the text now read.
In the 11th verse of this chapter, there is a typical action crowning Joshua the high priest with two crowns, which is applied and explained in the following verses as representing Christ in his offices, who has on his head many crowns. In the 12th verse, there is a. prophecy of the incarnation of Christ, under the metaphor of a branch, as sprung from the family of David, and making but a mean appearance in the world, 'as a root out of a dry ground.' In the verse where our text lies, we have the offices which he was to execute as our Redeemer; which are three.
1. The office of a Prophet; He shall build the temple of the Lord; that is, his own church, whereof the temple was a. type, by the word of the gospel, which it is his work to promulgate as a Prophet.
2. The office of a Priest; namely to expiate the sins of his people to purchase peace for them, and to manage their cause with God.
3. That of a King; for he has a throne, which denotes his kingly office.   -TB

WSC Q#23
What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?

WLC Q#41
Why was our Mediator called Jesus?

WLC Q#42
Why was our Mediator called Christ?

WCF VIII.1
Of Christ the Mediator.


WSC Q#24
How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

WLC Q#43
How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?




Doctrinal Heading
Benefits Applied to the Elect
The Offices of the Mediator: The Priestly and the Kingly.
Hebrews 7:17- You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
It is evident from the context; that the apostle is speaking of Christ Priest, applying to him this passage taken from Psa. 110:4. Thou art a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.  Where two things are proposed; 1. That he is indeed a Priest, whose business it is to offer sacrifices. 2. That he is so after the order of Melchizedek; noting thereby the similitude betwixt the two, the one being a notable type of the other. This likeness consists not in an unbloody sacrifice, that of bread and wine, which Melchizedek brought forth to Abraham when he returned from the slaughter of the kings who had taken Sodom and Gomorrah; but, In the name, Christ being the true 'King of righteousness,' and ' King of peace,' in which respect Melchizedek was only a type of him, Heb. vii. 2.  -TB

WSC Q#25
How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

WLC Q#44
How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

WCF VIII.V
Of Christ the Mediator.


WSC Q#26
How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

WLC Q#45
How doth Christ execute the office of a king?




Doctrinal Heading
Humiliation and Exaltation
The Humiliation and Exaltation of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2:8- He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
HAVING discoursed of our Redeemer and his incarnation, the several offices he executed under that character, I come now to treat of his amazing humiliation and abasement, he willingly submitted, in order to accomplish the redemption of the elect sinners. 
The text holds forth his state of humiliation.
1.     The voluntariness of it.
2.     The Nature of it.
3.     The depth of it.
4.     The continuance of it.    -TB

WSC Q#27
Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?

WLC Q#46
What was the estate of Christ's humiliation?

WLC Q#47
How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?

WLC Q#48
How did Christ humble himself in his life?

WLC Q#49
How did Christ humble himself in his death?

WLC Q#50
Wherein consisted Christ's humiliation after his death?

WCF VIII.IV
Of Christ the Mediator.


WSC Q#28
Wherein consisteth Christ's exaltation?

WLC Q#51
What was the estate of Christ's exaltation?

WLC Q#52
How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?

WLC Q#53
How was Christ exalted in his ascension?

WLC Q#54
How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?

WLC Q#55
How doeth Christ make intercession?

WLC Q#56
How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?

WLC Q#57
What benefits hath Christ procured by his mediation?

WCF VIII.VI - VIII
Of Christ the Mediator.




Doctrinal Heading
Effectual Calling into Union with Christ
Redemption; Union with Christ; Effectual Calling
Titus 3:5- not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
HAVING taken a view of our glorious Redeemer, in his person, incarnation, offices, and his twofold state of humiliation and exaltation, let us now proceed to consider the application of that redemption which he purchased for us by his obedience and death.  - TB

WSC Q#29
How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?

WLC Q#58
How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured?







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