Fisher's Catechism on Distinction Between the Special and General Kingdoms

James Fisher published a widely-read (and oft-reprinted) Exposition of the Shorter Catechism (1753). Ebenezer Erskine and other of the “Marrow Men,” i.e., those who were the gospel-men in 18th-century Scotland (as opposed to the moralists of the time) were also associated with it. (HT: Allan Bledsoe) It’s interesting to see him using Ursinus’ distinction between the kingdom considered “generally” and “specially” 200 years later.

QUESTION 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?

ANSWER: In the second petition, which is, “Thy kingdom come,” we pray, That Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Q. 1. How many fold is God’s kingdom in this world?

A. TWOFOLD; namely, his general, essential, or providential kingdom; and his special kingdom.

Q. 2. What is his general kingdom?

A. It is the absolute power and sovereignty which he exercises over all things in heaven, earth, and hell, for the purposes of his own glory, Psalm 103:19 — “His kingdom ruleth over all.”

Q. 3. What is his special kingdom?

A. It is the government and care which he exercises in and over his church and people, as a society distinct from the rest of the world, Psalm 59:13 — “God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth.”

Q. 12. Whether is it the coming of God’s general or special kingdom that is chiefly intended in the answer?

A. It is the coming of his special kingdom of grace here, and of glory hereafter.

Q. 14. How may the kingdom of grace in this world be viewed?

A. Either as to outward dispensation, or inward operation.

Q. 15. What is it as to outward dispensation?

A. It is just the preaching of the gospel, Mark 1:14 — “Jesus came, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.”

Q. 16. What is it as to inward operation?

A. It is the work of saving grace in the soul, Luke 17:21 — “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Q. 31. When may the kingdom of grace be said to be advanced?

A. When ourselves and others are brought into it, and kept in it.

Q. 34. For what should we pray, as the means of bringing into this kingdom?

A. We should pray, “that the gospel may be propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins.”

Q. 35. For what should we pray as means of being kept in it?

A. That the same ordinances may be effectual to the “confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted.

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Sorry Prof. Scott, but are James Fisher and Edward Fisher two different people?

Comments are closed.