Many persons will perhaps be ready to acknowledge that, while almost the whole of a sermon, or other discourse, has been forgotten, some striking incident related in it, besides making a peculiar impression at the moment, has been long afterwards remembered. In the course of reading New Testament Scripture in a family or school, the parent or teacher is furnished, in the present work, with an anecdote or two, under each chapter, by relating which, he may fix and enliven the attention of his children or pupils, and, at the same time, by agreeable associations, impress the passages illustrated more deeply on their youthful recollections. The publication, though chiefly intended for the benefit of the young, may not, however, be uninteresting to more advanced readers.
The author is sensible that the anecdotes are not all of equally direct bearing on ths passages to which they are applied. This in any case could not reasonably be expected, and more particularly as the compiler has been precluded from the use of upwards of five hundred anecdotes in the enlarged editions of his work illustrative of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, most of which would have suited this volume, but which it was deemed improper to admit." - John Whitecross, From the Preface
Matt. II, ver. 16.- Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
In 1641, Sir Phelim O'Neal, and other Papists, commenced an universal massacre of the Protestants in Ireland. " No age," says Hume," no sex, no condition, was spared. The wife, weeping for her butchered hushand, and embracing her helpless children, was pierced with them, and perished by the same stroke. In vain did flight save from the first assault. Destruction was everywhere let loose, aud met the hunted victims at every turn. They were stripped of their very clothes, and turned out naked and defenceless in all the rigors of winter. The feeble age of children, the tender sex of women, soon sunk under the multiplied rigors of cold and hunger. Here the hushand, bidding a final adieu to his expiring family, envied them that fate which he himself expected so soon to share! There the son, having long supported his aged parent, with reluctance obeyed his last command, and abandoning him in his uttermost distress, reserved himself to the hopes of avenging that death which all his efforts could not prevent or delay." 40,000 persons, according to the lowest computation, perished in these massacres!
Matt. III, ver. 7."But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, Oh generation of vipers! Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
An irreligious young man went to hear Mr. Whitefield, who took the above passage for his text: "Mr. Whitefield," said the young man,"described the Sadducean character; this did not touch me, I thought myself as good a Christian as any man in England. From this he went to that of the Pharisees. He described their exterior decency, but observed that the poison of the viper rankled in their hearts. This rather shook me. At length, in the course of his sermon, he abruptly broke off, paused for a few moments, then burst into a flood of tears; lifted up his hands and eyes, and exclaimed, 'Oh my hearers! The wrath to come! The wrath to come!' These words sunk deep into my heart, like lead in the waters. I wept, and, when the sermon was ended, retired alone. For days and weeks I could think of little else. Those awful words would follow me wherever I went, 'The wrath to come! The wrath to come!'" The result was, that the young man soon after made a public profession of religion, and in a short time became a very eminent preacher.
"John Whitecross's user-friendly 'Instructive Anecdotes Illustrative of the Old and New Testaments' is the best anecdotal volume for pulpit preparation that I have ever used. Most anecdotal volumes are packed with shallow theology, but this one contains great anecdotes that are dipped in the riches of Reformed theology. I recommend it wholeheartedly." --Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids