Owen, Two Catechisms.doc 
John Owen, Two short Catechisms. 
Two  short  Catechisms: wherein the Principles of  the  Doctrine  of 
Christ, are unfolded and explained. 
Proper  fort  all  persons to learn before they de admitted  to  the 
sacrament  of  the Lord's supper; and composed for the  use  of  all 
congregations in general. 
"Come, ye children, hearken to me; I will teach you the fear of  the 
Lord," Ps. 34: 11 
Prefatory Note. 
The first edition of these Catechisms issued from the press in 1645. 
Dr  Owen  had  at that time the charge of the parish of  Fordham  in 
Essex,  and  laboured diligently for the instruction and benefit  of 
his  flock, by catechising from house to house. The catechisms  were 
prepared  in  order that he might accomplish these parochial  duties 
with  greater  efficiency  and success. "The  Lesser  Catechism"  is 
designed for the instruction of children; - "The Greater,"  for  the 
examination  of  persons more advanced in years.  They  are  chiefly 
doctrinal.  It  was the intention of Owen to have followed  up  this 
little  work  by  another Catechism on the Lord's  Prayer,  the  Ten 
Commandments,  and  some  articles of  the  Creed.  This  intention, 
however, was never fulfilled. These Catechisms on "the Principles of 
the  Doctrine  of  Christ"  are included in  this  volume,  -  which 
embodies  all the treatises of Owen directly relating to the  second 
Person  of  the Trinity, - inasmuch as, according to a statement  of 
the  author in the preface, they were intended to remind his  people 
of  what  he  had  publicly taught them, "especially concerning  the 
person  and  offices of Christ." They were among the firsts  as  the 
other  treatises in this volume are among the last, of our  author's 
publications;  and  we  are thus enabled  to  mark  the  undeviating 
consistency with which, during all the ministrations of  his  public 
course, Owen held fast by the great doctrines of the Gospel,  -  the 
unsearchable riches of Christ." - Ed. 
To my Loving Neighbours and Christian Friends. 
    My  heart's desire and request unto God for you is, that you may 
be  saved.  I say the truth in Christ also, I lie not, my conscience 
bearing  me  witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness, 
and  continual sorrow in my heart, for them amongst you who, as yet, 
walk  disorderly, and not as beseemeth the Gospel, little  labouring 
to acquaint themselves with the mystery of godliness; for many walk, 
of  whom I have told you often weeping, and now tell you again  with 
sorrow, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose  end 
is destruction, whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things. 
    You  know,  brethren, how I have been amongst you, and  in  what 
manner,  for these few years past, and how I have kept back  nothing 
(to  the  utmost  of  the  dispensation to me  committed)  that  was 
profitable  unto you; but have showed you, and taught  you  publicly 
and  from house to house, testifying to all repentance towards  God, 
and  faith  towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, with what  sincerity 
this  has been by me performed, with what issue and success  by  you 
received,  God the righteous Judge will one day declare; for  before 
him  must  both  you  and  I  appear, to  give  an  account  of  the 
dispensation of the glorious Gospel amongst us; - in the  meanwhile, 
the  desire of my heart is, to be servant to the least of you in the 
work of the Lord; and that in any way which I can concede profitable 
unto you, - either in your persons or your families. 
    Now, amongst my endeavours in this kind, after the ordinance  of 
public  preaching  the  Word, there is not,  I  conceive,  any  more 
needful  (as all will grant that know the estate of this place,  how 
taught  of  late  days, how full of grossly ignorant  persons)  than 
catechising;  which has caused me to set aside some  hours  for  the 
compiling  of  these  following, which also I have  procured  to  be 
printed,  merely because the least part of the parish  are  able  to 
read  it  in writing; - my intention in them being, principally,  to 
hold  out  those  necessary  truths wherein  you  have  been  in  my 
preaching  more fully instructed. As they are, the  use  of  them  I 
shall briefly present unto you: - 
    1.  The Lesser Catechism may be so learned of the younger  sort, 
that they may be ready to answer to every question thereof. 
    2.  The  Greater will call to mind much of what has been  taught 
you in public, especially concerning the Person and Offices of Jesus 
    3.  Out  of that you may have help to instruct your families  in 
the  Lesser, being so framed, for the most part, that a  chapter  of 
the one is spent in unfolding a question of the other. 
    4.  The  texts of Scripture quoted are diligently to  be  sought 
out  and pondered, that you may know indeed whether these things are 
    5.  In reading the Word, you may have light into the meaning  of 
many places, by considering what they are produced to confirm. 
    6.  I  have  been  sparing in the doctrine  of  the  Sacraments, 
because I have already been so frequent in examinations about them. 
    7.  The handling of moral duties I have wholly omitted, because, 
by  God's  assistance, I intend for you a brief explication  of  the 
Lord's  Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, with some articles of  the 
Creed,  not unfolded in these, by themselves, by the way of question 
and answer. 
    Now,  in  all this, as the pains has been mine, so I  pray  that 
the benefit may be yours, and the praise His, to whom alone any good 
that is in this or any thing else is to be ascribed. Now, the God of 
heaven  continue  that  peace, love, and amity,  amongst  ourselves, 
which  hitherto has been unshaken, in these divided times, and grant 
that  the  sceptre and kingdom of his Son may be gloriously advanced 
in  your hearts, that the things which concern your peace may not be 
hidden from your eyes in this your day; Which is the daily prayer of 
    Your servant in the work of the Lord, 
From my Study, 
September the last, [1645]. 
The Lesser Catechism. 
Ques.  Whence  is  all  truth concerning God  and  ourselves  to  be 
Ans.  From the holy Scripture, the Word of God. - Chapter 1  of  the 
Greater Catechism. 
Q. What do the Scriptures teach that God is? 
A.  An  eternal,  infinite, most holy Spirit, giving  being  to  all 
things, and doing with them whatsoever he pleaseth. - Chap. 2. 
Q. Is there but one God? 
A.  One only, in respect of his essence and being, but one in  three 
distinct persons, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. - Chap. 3. 
Q. What else is held forth in the Word concerning God, that we ought 
to know.? 
A. His decrees, and his works. - Chap. 4. 
Q. What are the decrees of God concerning us? 
A.  His  eternal purposes, of saving some by Jesus Christ,  for  the 
praise  of  his  glory, and of condemning others for their  sins.  - 
Chap. 5. 
Q. What are the works of God? 
A. Acts or doings of his power, whereby he createth, sustaineth, and 
governeth all things. - Chap. 6. 
Q. What is required from us towards Almighty God? 
A.  Holy and spiritual obedience, according to his law given unto us 
- Chap. 7. 
Q. Are we able to do this of ourselves? 
A. No, in no wise, being by nature unto every good work reprobate. - 
Chap. 7. 
Q.  How came we into this estate, being at the first created in  the 
image of God, in righteousness and innocency? 
A.  By the fall of our first parents, breaking the covenant of  God, 
losing his grace, and deserving his curse. - Chap. 8. 
Q. By what way may we be delivered from this miserable estate? 
A. Only by Jesus Christ. - Chap. 9. 
Q. What is Jesus Christ? 
A.  God  and man united in one person, to be a mediator between  God 
and man. - Chap 10. 
Q. What is he unto us? 
A. A King, a Priest, and a Prophet. - Chap. 11. 
Q. Wherein does he exercise his kingly power towards us? 
A.  In  converting us unto God by his Spirit, subduing us  unto  his 
obedience, and ruling in us by his grace. - Chap. 12. 
Q.  In  what does the exercise of his priestly office for us chiefly 
A.  In offering up himself an acceptable sacrifice on the cross,  so 
satisfying the justice of God for our sins, removing his curse  from 
our persons, and bringing us unto him. - Chap. 13. 
Q. Wherein does Christ exercise his prophetical office towards us? 
A. In revealing to our hearts, from the bosom of his Father, the way 
and truth whereby we must come unto him. - Chap. 13. 
Q. In what condition does Jesus Christ exercise these offices? 
A.  He  did in a low estate of humiliation on earth, but  now  in  a 
glorious estate of exaltation in heaven. - Chap. 14. 
Q. For whose sake does Christ perform all these? 
A. Only for his elect. - Chap. 15. 
Q. What is the church of Christ? 
A.  The universal company of God's elect, called to the adoption  of 
children. - Chap. 16. 
Q. How come we to be members of this church? 
A. By a lively faith. - Chap. 17. 
Q. What is a lively faith? 
A.  An  assured resting of the soul upon God's promises of mercy  in 
Jesus  Christ, for pardon of sins here and glory hereafter. -  Chap. 
Q. How come we to have this faith? 
A.  By  the  effectual working of the Spirit of God in  our  hearts, 
freely calling us from the state of nature to the state of grace.  - 
Chap. 18. 
Q. Are we accounted righteous for our faith? 
A. No, but only for the righteousness of Christ, freely imputed unto 
us, and laid hold of by faith. - Chap. 19. 
Q. 1. Is there no more required of us but faith only? 
A. Yes; repentance also, and holiness. - Chap. 20. 
Q. 2. What is repentance? 
A.  A  forsaking  of all sin, with godly sorrow  for  what  we  have 
committed. - Chap. 20. 
Q. 3. What is that holiness which is required of us? 
A.  Universal obedience to the will of God revealed unto us. - Chap. 
Q. What are the privileges of believers? 
A.  First,  union  with  Christ;  secondly,  adoption  of  children; 
thirdly,  communion of saints; fourthly, right to the seals  of  the 
new  covenant; fifthly, Christian liberty; sixthly, resurrection  of 
the body to life eternal. - Chap. 21. 
Q. 1. What are the sacraments, or seals, of the new covenant? 
A.  Visible seals of God's spiritual promises, made unto us  in  the 
blood of Jesus Christ. - Chap. 22. 
Q. 2. Which be they? 
A. Baptism and the Lord's supper. 
Q. What is baptism? 
A.  A  holy ordinance, whereby, being sprinkled with water according 
to  Christ's institution, we are by his grace made children of  God, 
and have the promises of the covenant sealed unto us. - Chap. 23. 
Q. What is the Lord's supper? 
A.  A  holy  ordinance  of  Christ, appointed  to  communicate  unto 
believers his body and blood spiritually, being represented by bread 
and wine, blessed, broken, poured out, and received of them. - Chap. 
Q. Who have a right unto this sacrament? 
A.  They only who have an interest in Jesus Christ by faith. - Chap. 
Q. What is the communion of saints? 
A.  A  holy conjunction between all God's people, partakers  of  the 
same Spirit, and members of the same mystical body. - Chap. 25. 
Q. What is the end of all this dispensation? 
A. The glory of God in our salvation. 
Glory be to God on high!

John Owen, Two Short Catechisms
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