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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
Illustrated

by
John Whitecross


Q. 22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to Hirnself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.


1. When a certain Mr Hunt was preaching one Sabbath morning at his meeting-house, Horsleydown (London), on 'The Mystery of Godliness,' he challenged the audience to explain how God assumed human nature; when a little boy in the gallery rose, and with much simplicity repeated the above answer from the Assembly's Catechism. Mr Hunt then inquired if he could give the Scripture proofs, which, after a short pause, he did correctly. The venerable minister was much affected, publicly thanked him, called him his young tutor, and invited him into the vestry after the service, where several persons handsomely rewarded his diligence.

2. A sick woman said to Richard Cecil, 'Sir I have no notion of God, I can form no notion of Him. You talk to me about Him, but I cannot get a single idea that seems to contain anything.' 'But you know how to conceive of Jesus Christ as a man.' replied Cecil; 'God comes down to you in Him, full of kindness and condescension.' 'Ah! sir, that gives me something to lay hold on. There I can rest. I understand God in His Son.' 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.' (2 Cor. 5.19).

3. John Brown of Haddington, in his last illness, having heard the bells ringing, and understanding it to be the King's birthday, said: 'O, blessed be God, however worthy our Sovereign be, we have a better King's birthday to celebrate. Unto us was born, in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord! On account of that event the gospel bells have been sounding for ages past, and they will ring louder and louder still. O the Saviour! the Son of God our Saviour! O His kindness, His kindness! A Saviour, a husband to sinners, to me!'

4. Henry Martyn the missionary, when at Dinapore in India, wrote thus: 'Upon showing the Moonshee the first part of John 3, he instantly caught at those words of our Lord, in which He first describes Himself as having come down from heaven, and then calls Himself "the Son of man which is in heaven." He said that this was what the philosophers called "nickal" (impossible) — even for God to make a thing to be in two different places at the same time. I explained to him, as soon as his heat was a little subsided, that the difficulty was not so much in conceiving how the Son of man could be, at the same time, in two different places, as in comprehending that union of the two natures in Him, which made this possible. I told him that I could not explain this union, but showed him the design and wisdom of God in effecting our redemption by this method. I was much at a loss for words, but I believe that he collected my meaning and received some information which he did not possess before.'

5. William Greenfleld was once in company, at the house of a friend, with a person of deistical principles, a stranger to him, who asked why Jesus Christ is called the Word? 'What is meant by the Word? It is a curious term.' Greenfield, ignorant of the sceptical motive of the inquirer, replied with the mild simplicity and decision by which his character was marked, 'I suppose, as words are the medium of communication between us, the term is used in the sacred Scriptures to demonstrate to us that Christ is the only medium between God and man; I know no other reason.' To this the deist could make no reply.


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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