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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism

John Whitecross

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?

A. 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.

1. 'Sitting lately,' says one, 'in a public room at Brighton, where an infidel was haranguing the company upon the absurdities of the Christian religion, I could not but be pleased to see how easily his reasoning pride was put to shame. He quoted such passages as, "I and my Father are one;" and "I in them, and Thou in me". Finding his hearers not disposed to applaud his blasphemy, he turned to one gentleman, and said with an oath, "Do you believe such nonsense?" The gentleman replied, 'Tell me how that candle burns?" "Why," answered he, "the tallow, the cotton, and the atmospheric air, produce the light." "Then they make one light, do they not?" "Yes." "Will you tell me how they are one in the other, and yet but one light?" "No, I cannot." "But you believe it?" He could not say he did not. The company, smiling at his folly, instantly made the application; upon which the conversation was changed. This may remind the young and inexperienced, that if they believe only what they can explain, they may as well part with their senses, being surrounded by the wonderful works of God, "whose ways are past finding out."'

2. Two gentlemen were once disputing on the divinity of Christ. One of them who argued against it, said, 'If it were true, it certainly would have been expressed in more clear and unequivocal terms.' 'Well', said the other, 'admitting that you believed it, were authorized to teach it, and allowed to use your own language, how would you express the doctrine to make it indubitable?' 'I would say,' replied he, 'that Jesus Christ is the true God.' 'You are very happy,' replied the other, 'in your choice of words; for you have happened to hit upon the very words of inspiration. John, speaking of the Son, says, "This is the true God, and eternal life"' (1 John 5.20).

3. Dr Sewall, in a tour in Europe, in company with a Unitarian clergy-man from New England, paid a visit to the justly-celebrated writer of the History of the Reformation, Merle d'Aubigne'. Soon after their introduction, d'Aubigne' inquired of the clergyman to what denomination of Christians he belonged. With some little hesitancy he replied that he was a Unitarian. A cloud of grief passed over the face of the pious historian, but again all was as before. The hour passed pleasantly, and the moment of parting came. D'Aubigne' took thehand of the Unitarian, and fixing a look of great earnestness upon him, said: 'I am sorry for your error. Go to your Bible, study it, pray over it, and light will be given you. "God WAS manifest in the flesh."'

4. Robert Hall, of Bristol, in the early part of his ministry, doubted the distinct personality of the Holy Spirit; but, increasing in the spirituality of his mind, and becoming more ardently attached to secret devotion, he found that, whenever in private prayer he was in the most deeply devotional frame, most overwhelmed with the sense that he was nothing, and God was all in all, he always felt himself inclined to adopt a Trinitarian doxology. This circumstance occurring frequently, and being more frequently meditated upon in a tone of honest and anxious inquiry, issued at length in a persuasion that the Holy Spirit is really and truly God, and not an emanation.

This material is taken from THE SHORTER CATECHISM ILLUSTRATED by John Whitecross revised and republished by the Banner of Truth Trust edition 1968 and reproduced with their permission.

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