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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

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

by
Thomas Vincent


VI. Ques. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
Ans. There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Q. 1. What is meant by the Godhead?
A. By the Godhead is meant the divine nature or essence.

Q. 2. Are there three divine natures or essences, or are there three Gods?
A. No; for though the three persons be God, the Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, yet they are rot three Gods, but one God. The essence of God is the same in all the three persons. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [that is, the Son], and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one."— 1 John 5:7.

Q. 3 What is meant by the three persons in the Godhead?
A. By the three persons in the Godhead, we are to. understand the same nature of God with three ways of subsisting, each person having its distinct personal properties.

Q. 4. What is the personal property of the Father?
A. The personal property of the Father is to beget the Son, and that from all eternity. "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever."— Heb. 1:5, 8.

Q. 5. What is the personal property of the Son?
A. The personal property of the Son is to be begotten of the Father. "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father."— John 1:14.

Q. 6. What is the personal property of the Holy Ghost?
A. The personal property of the Holy Ghost is to proceed from the Father and the Son. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."— John 15:26.

Q. 7. How doth it appear that the Father is God?
A. Because the Father is the original of the other persons, and of every thing else, and because divine attributes and worship are ascribed to him.

Q. 8. How doth it appear that the Son is God?
A. 1. Because he is called God in the Scriptures. "And the Word was God."— John 1:1. "Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever."— Rom. 9:5. 2. Because the attributes of God are ascribed unto him. Eternity. "Before Abraham was, I am."— John 8:58. Omniscience. "Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."— John 21:17. Omnipresence. "Where two or three are gathered together in my liame, there am I in the midst of them."— Matt. 18:20. Divine power. "He uphoideth all things by the word of his power."— Heb. 1:3.3. Because the honour and worship which is due only to God, do belong to him. In him we must believe. "Believe also in me."— John 14:1. In his name we must be baptized. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. "— Matt. 28:19. Upon his name we must call. "With all that call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."— 1 Cor. 1:2. Because if the Son were not God, he could not have been a fit Mediator.

Q. 9. How doth it appear that the Holy Ghost is God?
A. 1. Because the Holy Ghost is called God. "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost! Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God "— Acts 5:3-4. 2. Because the attributes of God are ascribed unto him. Omnipresence. "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit I"— Ps. 139:7. Especially, he is present in the hearts of all believers. "He dwelleth in you, and shall be in you." — John 14:17. Omniscience. "The Spirit searcheth all things."— 1 Cor. 2:10. 3. Because of the powerful works of the Spirit, which none but God can effect: such as— Regeneration. "Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."— John 3:5. Guiding believers into all truth. "Howbeit, when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you jute all truth."— John 16:13. Sanctification. "That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."— Rom. 15:16. Comfort, called therefore the Comforter. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."— John 15:26. Communion. "The communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all"— 2 Cor. 13:14. 4. Because the honour and worship due only to God, do belong unto the Spirit, we must believe in him. This is an article of the creed (commonly called the Apostles' Creed), "I believe in the Holy Ghost." We must be baptized in his name. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."— Matt. 28:19.

Q. 10. How doth it appear that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, being one God, are three distinct persons?
A. 1. The Father begetting, is called a person in the Scripture.— Heb. 1:3. Christ is said to be the express image of his person; and by the same reason, the Son begotten of the Father, is a person, and the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son is a person. 2. That the Father and the Son are distinct persons, is evident from John 18:16-18 "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself; and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." 3. That the Holy Ghost is a distinct person from the Father and the Son, appeareth from John 14:16-17. "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth," &c. 4. That the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three distinct persons, in one essence, may be gathered from 1 John 5:7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. These three are either three substances, or three manifestations, or three persons, or something else besides persons; but— (l.) They are not three substances, because in the same verse they are called one. (2.) They are not three manifestations, because all the attributes of God are manifestations, and so there would be more than three or thirteen; and then one manifestation would be said to beget and send another, which is absurd. (3.) They are not something else besides persons; therefore, they are three distinct persons, distinguished by their relations and distinct personal properties.

Q. 11. What should we Judge of them that deny that there are three distinct persons in one Godhead?
A. 1. We ought to judge them to be blasphemers, because they speak against the ever-glorious God, who hath Set forth himself in this distinction in the Scripture. 2. To be damnable heretics; this doctrine of the distinction of persons in the unity of essence being a fundamental truth, denied of old by the Sabellians, Arians, Photineans and of late by the Socinians, who were against the Godhead of Christ the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; amongst whom the Quakers are also to be numbered, who deny this distinction.

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