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Communion Catechism

John Craig

I. Of Our Miserable Bondage Through Adam

Q. 1. What are we by nature?
A. The children of God's wrath, Eph. 2:3.

Q. 2. Were we thus created of God?
A. No, for he made us to his own image, Gen. 1:26.

Q. 3. How came we to this misery?
A. Through the fall of Adam from God, Gen. 3.

Q. 4. What things came to us by that fall?
A. Original sin, and natural corruption, Rom. 5:12, 18, 19.

Q. 5. What power have we to turn to God?
A. None at all, for we are all dead in sin, Eph.2:1.

Q. 6. What is the punishment of our sin?
A. Death eternal, both in body and soul, Rom. 6:23.

II. Of Our Redemption by Christ

Q. 7. Who may deliver us from this bondage?
A. God only who bringeth life out of death.

Q. 8. How know we that he will do it?
A. By the promise and sending of his Son Christ Jesus in our flesh, John 3:16, 17.

Q. 9. What kind of person is Christ?
A. Perfect God and perfect man, without sin, Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31.

Q. 10. What needed this wonderful union?
A. That he might be a meet Mediator.

Q. 11. How did he redeem us?
A. Through his obedience to the law, and death of the cross, Phil. 2:8.

Q. 12. Suffered he only natural death?
A. No, but he suffered also the curse of God, in body and soul, Gal. 3:13.

Q. 13. How know we that his death brought life to us?
A. By his glorious resurrection and ascension.

Q. 14. Wherefore that?
A. For if he hath not satisfied for all our sins perfectly, he hath not risen, nor we by him, 1 Cor. 15:14, 17.

Q. 15. Is it needful that we believe these mysteries?
A. No doubt, but yet that is not enough, Jam. 2:17, 20.

Q. 16. What more is required?
A. That we be made partakers of Christ and his merits, John 15:4-7.

III. Of Our Participation with Christ

Q. 17. How is that wrought?
A. Through his continual intercession for us in heaven, Heb. 7:25.

Q. 18. Declare how that is done?
A. Hereby the Holy Spirit is sent, John 14:16, 26.

Q. 19. What doth the Spirit in this work?
A. He offereth Christ and his graces to us, and moveth us to receive him.

Q. 20. How doth he offer Christ to us?
A. By the preaching of the evangel, Rom. 10:13-15.

Q. 21. How doth he move us to receive him?
A. Through printing in our hearts true faith in Christ, Acts 16:14.

Q. 22. What thing is faith in Christ?
A. A sure persuasion that he is the only Saviour of the world, but ours in special, who believe in him, John 6.

Q. 23. What doth this fruit work?
A. Our inseparable union with Christ and his graces, Eph. 3:16-19.

Q. 24. What is the first fruit of this union?
A. A remission of our sins, and imputation of justice, Rom. 5:19.

Q. 25. Which is the next fruit of our union with him?
A. Our sanctification and regeneration to the image of God, John 3:3, 5.

Q. 26. Who doth this, and how?
A. The Holy Spirit through our union with Christ, in his death, burial, and resurrection, Rom. 6.

Q. 27. What are the chief parts of our regeneration?
A. Mortification of sin, and rising to righteousness, Rom. 6.

Q. 28. How know we sin and righteousness?
A. By the just and perfect law of God, Rom. 7.

IV. Of the Word

Q. 29. Where shall we find the word of God?
A. Only in the holy scriptures, Rom. 15:4.

Q. 30. Are the scriptures sufficient for our instruction?
A. No doubt, as the apostles do testify, John 20:31; Gal. 1:8; 2 Tim. 3:16.

Q. 7. How should we receive and use the word ?
A. We should read it privately and publicly with all reverence, Deut. 7:12.

Q. 32. Is this sufficient for our instruction?
A. No, if public teaching may be had, Eph. 4:11, 12.

Q. 33. Wherefore that?
A. For as God raiseth public teachers and pastors, so he hath commanded us to hear them, Mal. 2:7.

Q. 34. How long should we continue in this school?
A. All the days of our lives, seeing we are ignorant, forgetful, and easy to be deceived, Col. 3:16.

Q. 35. What then serve the sacraments?
A. They are added for our further comfort and admonition as a visible Word, Gen. 17:9-11; Ex. 12.

V. Of Our Liberty to Serve God

Q. 36. What good things may we do now being thus regenerated ?
A. We may serve our God freely and uprightly, Rom. 12.

Q. 37. May we do it perfectly according to the law?
A. No, truly, for our regeneration is not perfect, Gal. 5:17, Eccl. 7:22.

Q. 38. What followeth upon that?
A. A certain rebellion of the flesh against the Spirit, Rom. 7:15-25.

Q. 39. Is not this rebellion cursed by the law?
A. Yea, truly, but yet it is not imputed to us,
2 Cor. 5:19.

Q. 40. Wherefore that, seeing it is sin, and the root of all our sins?
A. Because Christ satisfied all the points of the law for us, Rom. 3:21, etc.

Q. 41. What are we then who believe in Christ?
A. Just in him, but sinners in ourselves, Rom. 8.

Q. 42. What craveth this confession of us?
A. A constant faith in Christ, and continual repentance.

Q. 43. What then is our only joy in life and death?
A. That all our sins bypast, present and to come, are buried; and Christ only is made our wisdom, justifi cation, sanctification, and redemption, 1Cor. 1:30.

Q. 44. What fruit cometh of this faith?
A. A peace of conscience, and joy in the Spirit, in all our troubles within and without, Rom. 5:2; 2 Cor. 6:4.

Q. 45. What shall we gather of this whole discourse?
A. How miserable we are through Adam, and how blessed through Christ, Phil. 3:8.

Q. 46. When should we remember of this doctrine?
A. At all times, but chiefly when we are touched with a proud opinion of our own worthiness, or are troubled in conscience for sin, Luke 18:19.

Q. 47. Then this meditation serveth for a prepara tion to the holy sacraments?
A. Yea truly, if they be rightly considered.

VI. Of the Sacraments

Q. 48. Declare that in baptism.
A. We see there the seal of our spiritual filthiness through our communion with Adam, and our purgation by our communion with Christ.

Q. 49. Declare the same in the supper.
A. We see, feel, and taste there also, the seal of our spiritual wants, and death through Adam; and likewise of our spiritual treasures and life through Christ only.

Q. 50. How contract we our spiritual filthiness from Adam?
A. Through our natural communion with him, Rom. 5:12, etc.

Q. 51. How came we to our spiritual purgation, and life by Christ?
A. Through our spiritual communion with our second Adam, Head, and Spouse, Eph. 5:30.

Q. 52. Do the word and the sacraments work this communion?
A. No, for it is the work of the Spirit only, Eph. 3:16.

Q. 53. Whereunto do the word and sacraments lead us?
A. Directly to the cross and death of Christ, 1 Cor. 1:17, 18, 23, 24.

Q. 54. Wherefore that?
A. Because through his cross and death the wrath of God was quenched, and all his blessings made ours, Gal. 3:13, 14.

Q. 55. Why was this high mystery represented by these weak and common elements?
A. Because they express most lively our spiritual purging and feeding, which we have by Christ, John 6:32, etc.

Q. 56. When doth he these things to us in very deed?
A. When he is so joined with us, and we with him, that he abideth in us, and we in him spiritually, John 15:4, 5.

Q. 57. How is this union and abiding expressed here?
A. By natural washing, eating, drinking, digesting, feeding, and abiding in us.

Q. 58. How may we feel and know this spiritual abiding in us?
A. By the testimony of the Spirit in us, and
external actions agreeable to Christ in us, Matt.7:16; Rom. 8:16.

Q. 59. Then Christ is not an idle guest in us?
A. No truly, for he came not only with water and blood, but also with the Spirit, to assure us, in some measure, of his presence in us, 1 John 5:6.

VII. Of Baptism

Q. 60. What signifieth baptism unto us?
A. That we are filthy by nature, and are purged by the blood of Christ, Titus 3:5.

Q. 61. What meaneth this our union with the water?
A. Our spiritual union with Jesus Christ, Rom. 6:3, 8; Gal. 3:27.

Q. 62. What followeth upon this our union with him?
A. Remission of sins and regeneration, Rom. 6:4, 18, 22.

Q. 63. From whence cometh our regeneration?
A. From the communion with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, Rom. 6:4, 5, 8.

Q. 64. How long, and by what way doth baptism work in us?
A. All the days of our life, through faith and repentance, 1 Cor. 6:19, 20.

Q. 65. How then are infants baptized?
A. Upon the promise made to the faithful and their seed, Gen. 17:7, 10.

Q. 66. How doth baptism differ from the supper?
A. In the elements, action, rites, signification and use.

Q. 67. Wherefore is baptism but once ministred?
A. It is enough to be received once in the house of God, Rom. 8:16.

Q. 68. Declare the cause of that.
A. For they are never casten out, who are once truly received in his society, John 6:37.

Q. 69. Why is the supper so oft ministred?
A. We have need to be fed continually, John 6:55.

Q. 70. Why is not the supper to be ministred to infants?
A. Because they cannot examine themselves, 1 Cor. 11:28.

VIII. Of the Supper

Q. 71. What signifieth the action of the supper?
A. That our souls are fed spiritually, by the body and blood of Jesus Christ, John 6:54.

Q. 72. When is this done?
A. When we feel the efficacy of his death in our conscience by the Spirit of faith, John 6:63.

Q. 73. Why is this sacrament given in meat and drink?
A. To seal up our near conjunction with Christ.

Q. 74. Wherefore is both meat and drink given?
A. To testify that Christ is the whole food of our souls, John 6.

Q. 75. Is Christ's body in the elements?
A. No, but it is in heaven, Acts 1:11.

Q. 76. Why then is the element called his body?
A. Because it is a sure seal of his body given to our souls.

Q. 77. To whom should this sacrament be given?
A. To the faithful only, who can examine themselves.

Q. 78. Wherein should they examine themselves?
A. In faith and repentance, with their fruits.

Q. 79. What should the pastors do when men are negligent, and abuse the sacraments?
A. They should use the order of discipline established in the word.

IX. Of Discipline

Q. 80. Who should use this discipline?
A. The pastors and elders by their mutual consent and judgment.

Q. 81. What is the office of the eldership?
A. To watch upon their flock, and exercise the discipline.

Q. 82. How is this done?
A. By private and public admonition, and other censures of the kirk, as need requireth.

Q. 83. Who ought to be excluded from the sacraments?
A. All infidels, and public slanderers.

Q. 84. Wherefore are these excluded?
A. Lest they should hurt themselves, slander the kirk, and dishonour God.

X. Of the Magistrate

Q. 85. What is the office of the Christian magistrate in the kirk?
A. He should defend the true religion and
discipline, and punish all troublers and contemners of the same.

XI. Of the Table in Special

Q. 86. Why use we a table here, and not an altar as the fathers did at God's commandment?
A. Because we convene, not to offer a sacrifice for sin, but to eat and drink of that sacrifice, which Christ once offered upon the cross for us, Heb. 7:23, 24, 27, and 10:11, 12, 14, 18.

Q. 87. What protest we when we come to the table?
A. That we are dead in ourselves, and seek our life only in Christ.

Q. 88. Shall this confession of our unworthiness be a stay to come to the communion?
A. No, truly, but rather a preparation to the same, if faith and repentance be with it, Mark 2:17.

Q. 89. Wherefore is there mention made here of Christ's body and blood severally?
A. To testify his death, by the which only he was made our spiritual meat and drink, John 6:51, 55.

Q. 90. For what cause is this action called the communion?
A. Because it is the true cause of our mutual society with Christ in all things, good and evil.

Q. 91. Declare how that is performed.
A. Hereby he removeth all evil things from us, which we have by nature, and we receive of him all good things, which we want by nature.

Q. 92. Declare these things more plainly.
A. The wrath of God and sin is removed, which we have by nature, and the favour of God, and adoption, with the joy of heaven, is restored to us, the which things we have not by nature, Rom. 8.

Q. 93. What thing may the faithful soul say?
A. Now live I; not I, but Christ liveth in me; it is God that justifieth, who shall condemn?

Q. 94. Let us therefore give thanks, and pass to this holy action, every one of us, saying and singing in his heart, The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup; thou shalt maintain my lot; the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a fair heritage, Ps. 16:5-6.
A. Let it be done so, with heart and mouth, to the confusion of all idolaters, and glory of our God.

XII. The End of Our Redemption

Q. 95. To what end are we thus redeemed, and brought in hope of that endless joy to come?
A. To move us effectually to deny all ungodliness, worldly lusts, and unrighteousness, and so live godly, soberly, and righteously in this present world, looking for the coming of Christ, for our full redemption, Tit. 2:11-13.

Q. 96. What shall be the final end of all these graces?
A. God shall be glorified for ever in mercy, and we shall enjoy that endless life with Christ our Head, to whom with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory for ever. Amen.

About the Text

The text of this edition is based upon An Form of Examination before the Communion, as published in volume 2 of William Dunlop's Collection of Confessions of Faith, Catechisms, Directories, Books of Discipline, etc. (Edinburgh: James Watson, 1722). Spelling and punctuation have been revised to reflect contemporary usage.

Copyright © 1996 by Presbyterian Heritage Publications
P.O. Box 180922, Dallas, Texas 75218, U.S.A.

The electronic version of this document has been provided as a convenience for our readers. No part of this publication may be transmitted or distributed in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical photocopying, or otherwise) without prior permission of the publisher.

About the Author

John Craig (1512-1600) was a Scottish reformer. Previously a Dominican Friar, Craig was converted to the Protestant Faith. The Roman Inquisition condemned Craig to death, yet he escaped and returned to Scotland. In 1560, Craig became co-pastor with John Knox in Edinburgh. Later, Craig became a chaplain to James VI. At the direction of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Craig composed this catechism, which was subsequently approved by the Assembly in 1592.

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