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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


V. Ques. Are there more Gods than one?
Ans. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. 1. Why is God said to be one only?
A. In opposition to many gods. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."— Deut.4:4. "We know that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), but to us there is but one God."— 1 Cor. 8:4-6.

Q. 2. Why is God said to be the living God?
A. In opposition to dead idols. "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not;' &c.— Ps. 115:4-6. "Ye turned from idols, to serve the living God."— 1 Thess. 1:9.

Q. 3. Why is God said to be the true God?
A. In opposition to all false gods. "The Lord is the true God. The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. They are vanity, and the work of errors." — Jer. 10:11, 15.

Q. 4. How doth it appear that God is one only?
A. Because God is infinite, and there cannot be more than one infinite Being, forasmuch as one infinite Being doth set bounds and limits unto all other beings, and nothing that is bounded and limited can be infinite.

Q. 5. How doth it appear that God is living?
A. 1. Because God giveth to and preserveth life in all his creatures. "I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things."— 1 Tim. 6:13. "In him we live, and move, and have our being."— Acts 17:28. 2. Because God reigneth for ever. "The Lord is a living God, and an everlasting King."— Jer. 10:10.

Q. 6. How doth it appear that God is true, that he hath a true being, or that there is a God indeed?
A. By several arguments, sufficient to convince all the Atheists in the world, if they would hearken to their own reason.

Q. 7. What is the first argument to prove that there is a God?
A. The first argument to prove that there is a God may be drawn from the being of all things. 1. The being of the heavens, the bighest storeys which are there erected, the glorious lights which are there placed, the glittering stars which there move. 2. The being of the earth, whose foundations are sure, and unmoved by storms and tempests, though it hang like a ball in the midst of the air. 3. The being of the vast sea, where there is such abundance of waters, as some think, higher than the earth, which are yet bounded and restrained from overflowing and drowning the land and its inhabitants, as once they did, when thefr limits were for a while removed. 4. The being of such various creatures above and below, especially of those which have motion and life in themselves. 5. And chiefly, the being of man, the curious workmanship of his body in the womb, especially the being of man's soul, which is immaterial, invisible, rational, Immortal, and which cannot arise from the power of the matter (as the sensitive soul of brutes), neither doth depend on the body in some of its operations. These, and all the works which our eye doth see, or mind doth apprehend, do prove that there is a God, who hath given a being to them, and continueth them therein.

Q. 8. Wherein lieth the force of this argument, to prove, from the being of all things, that there is a God?
A. All things that have a being must either— 1. Have their being from eternity; or, 2. Must give a being to themselves; or, 3. They must have their being from God. But, (1.) They could not have their being from eternity, for then they would be infinite in duration, and so capable of no measure by time; they would be necessary, and so capable of no alteration or destruction; but both reason and experience do evidence the contrary: therefore they are not eternal. (2.) Things cannot give a being to themselves, for that which giveth a being to a thing must be before it; and hence it would follow that things should be and not be at the same time, which is a contradiction, and absurd. Therefore, (3.) It must necessarily follow that there is a God, who is a necessary, infinite, and eternal being, who is omnipotent, and hath given a being to all creatures.

Q. 9. What is the second argument to prove that there is a God?
A. The second argument to prove that there is a God may be drawn from the government of all things. 1. The beantiful order and constant motlen of the heavenly bodies, shedding down light and heat and sweet influence upon the earth; without which all living creatures below would quickly languish and die. 2. The bottling up of waters in the clouds, and sprinkling of rain from thence upon the dry and parched ground; without which it would yield no fruit. 3. The cleansing of the air, and fanning of the earth with the wings of the wind; without which, in some hotter climates, the inhabitants could not live. 4. The subjection of many strong and fierce creatures unto weak and timorous man. 5. The subserviency of irrational and inanimate creatures one to another, and the guiding them, without their own desigument, unto their ends. 6. Notwithstanding the various, innumerable, and seeming contrary particular ends which the many nreatures in the world have, the directing them, without confusion, unto one common end, in which they do all agree; this doth undeniably prove that there is an infinitely powerful and wise God, who is the supreme Lord and Governor of the world.

Q. 10. What is the third argument to prove that there is a God?
A. The third argument to prove that there is a God, may be drawn from the impressions of a Deity upon the consciences of all men, in all ages and nations; which could not be so deep and universal, were it a fancy only, and groundless conceit. 1. The hellish gripes and lashes, the horrible dreads and tremblings, of guilty consciences upon the commission of some more notorious crimes, which they do not fear punishment for from men, is a witness of a Deity to them, whose future vengeance they are afraid of. 2. The worship which heathens generally give unto false gods, is an evidence that there is a true God,though they be ignorant of him.

Q. 11. What is the fourth argument to prove that there is a God?
A. The fourth argument to prove that there is a God, may be drawn from the revelation of the Scriptures. The majesty, high mysteries, efficiency, and like arguments, which prove that the Scriptures could have no other author but God alone, do more abundantly prove that there is a God, who hath more clearly revealed himself and his will in that book than in the book of his creatures.

Q. 12. What is the fifth argument to prove that there is a God?
A. The fifth argument to prove that there is a God, may be drawn from the image of God on his people — the stamp of holiness upon God's people, which maketh them to differ from all others, and from what themselves were before conversion, doth show (as a picture the man) that there is a God, whose image they bear, and who, by the almighty power of his Spirit, hath thus formed them after his own likeness.

Q. 13. If it be so certain that there is a God, whence is it that there be so many Atheists, who believe there is no God?
A. 1. There are many that live as if there were no God, and wish there were no God, who yet secretly believe that there is a God, and carry a dread of him in their consciences. 2. I hardly think that any who have most of all blotted out the impressions of God, and do endeavour to persuade themselves and others that there is no God, are constantly of that mind, but sometimes, in great dangers, they are under convictions of a Deity. 3. There are none that have wrought up themselves to any measure of persuasion that there is no God, but such whose interest doth sway them, and blind them therein; because, they being so vicious, they know, if there be a God, he will surely take vengeance upon them. 4. The thing is certain that there is a God, whether some believe it or no; as the sun doth shine, though some men be blind, and do not discern its light.

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