The Development Of The Traditional Form Of The Westminster Standards

By NaphtaliPress · Feb 18, 2017 · ·
  1. NaphtaliPress
    First published, “Antiquary: The Development of the “Traditional Form of The Westminster Standards, The Confessional Presbyterian 1 (2005): 168–177. Appendix C omitted (but see the old PBTJ here).

    The Westminster Confession of Faith was approved and adopted by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on August 27, 1647. Subsequently, the Confession was published for the first time with both the Larger and Shorter Catechisms in 1648, which catechisms had been approved respectively on July 2nd and July 28th of that year.1 Other items began to be published along with the three doctrinal standards beginning in 1649, though these did not always appear in later editions. After nearly eighty years, the traditional complement of documents making up “The Westminster Standards” was set and fixed by the Lumisden and Robertson edition of 1728 (Warfield, 627).

    While the form of the Standards was firmly established in 1728, its general layout and structure actually originated much earlier. The Edinburgh printing firm of Thomas Lumisden and John Robertson had published the 1725 rival to Dunlop’s Collection of Confessions (1719-21), the editing of which the Carruthers assigned to the Reformed Presbyterians.2
    {Several 18th and 19th century editions including the 2 volume edition edited by Dunlop.*}

    These were the Covenanters who had suffered through the persecution known as the “Killing Times” (1660-1688), and had remained outside the Church of Scotland after the 1690 Revolution Settlement. During the period of persecution, ministers such as Robert MacWard and John Brown of Wamphray were banished to Holland,3 and from there were published many works both directly and indirectly supportive of the Covenanter cause. It was presumably from somewhere in Holland in 1679, that the primogenitor of the traditional form of the Standards was issued, which set the preferred content and appearance later copied by Lumisden and Robertson, albeit with some minor variations.

    This 1679 edition is probably the one referred to in the Advertisement in the second volume of William Dunlop’s “Collections,” which, as noted by B. B. Warfield, is described by David Hay Fleming in The Presbyterian and Reformed Review for April, 1899 (x. 320-321): “The edition thus referred to as having been printed in Holland was probably that of 1679, which has neither printer’s name nor place of issue, but bears an unmistakable resemblance to those covenanting books which were printed in Holland during the persecution” (Warfield, 633). S. W. Carruthers confirmed this from an inscription in a copy of this edition, which he examined at Cambridge. He noted that this “is the first edition where the supplementary documents are given in the order ultimately followed by all modern editions” (Three Centuries, 56).

    This raises the possibility that the Reformed Presbyterians may also have been responsible for the preparation of the 1728 Lumisden & Robertson edition, or at least had some influence on its final form. They understandably would have been partial to the form of the 1679 edition. Also, while the text of the 1728 is generally dependent upon Dunlop’s ‘critical text,’ it is clear that variants traceable to the Reformed Presbyterian text of 1725 were incorporated, which points at least to the influence of that edition, if not to any direct involvement by the Reformed Presbyterians themselves.4

    What led to this rather large collection of documents, which became the traditional form of the Westminster Standards? B. B. Warfield in his article on the “Printing of the Westminster Confession,” rested the explanation for the progressive expansion of content over the later half of the seventeenth century, in the effort of printers to “supply as comprehensive a collection as possible” fueled by the dual desires for a volume that would function as an ecclesiastical manual, as well as a “richly furnished popular book of religion.”5 This impulse to expand the Standards produced two general forms: one Scottish and the other English.

    The Rothwell editions of 1658 set the English form, which included such things as the two epistles by Manton and forty-four Puritan divines, the ordinance calling the Westminster Assembly and the vow taken by its members, as well as a piece entitled A Grave And Serious Advice Of The Ministers Of Scotland, which is simply the Directory for Family Worship with a different title. Rothwell also introduced the emphasis in italic type of portions of the Scripture proof texts, which was dropped by Dunlop and Lumisden & Robinson, and not restored until 1855 by Johnstone and Hunter.6 These English editions did not include the Scottish Sum of Saving Knowledge by David Dickson and James Durham,7 or the Directory for Public Worship, but often included the Form of Church-Government. Meantime, the Scottish editions early included the Sum of Saving Knowledge and the Directory for Family Worship, as well as the Form of Church-Government.
    {The Johnstone & Hunter editions, form A, B & C (see Appendix B)*}

    The apex of the drive to include all the documents that had appeared in previous editions was reached when the English and Scottish forms were combined. This was apparently first done by James Watson with his edition of 1707/1708.8 The same mix of contents was included ten years later in the 1717 edition by Cruttenden & Cox.
    2017-02-13 18.19.05.jpg
    {The title page of the 1708 Watson edition.*}
    These editions differ from the 1728 Lumisden & Robertson: they lack some of the Acts approving various documents, and the material is ordered differently than that set by the 1679 edition. Some material is also included in duplicate! As already noted, the Directions for Secret and Family Worship had appeared in some English editions as A Grave and Serious Advice of the Ministers of the Kirk of Scotland. Both appear in these editions, the Directions toward the end following the Directory for Public Worship and the Serious Advice appearing in front sandwiched between the two customary epistles to the reader. Also, a Postscript, affixed to some editions in the Scottish tradition, concludes the volumes prior to the index.9 But the text is simply an extract from Manton’s epistle, which also appears at the front.
    {1728, 1736, 1744 Lumisden & Robertson editions; E. Robertson, 1756 with Watson's 1708 "Fourth" holding things up ; not published in the original article.*
    *Picture of the author's copies, February 13, 2017}

    This combination of features in both the Watson and Cox editions did not include numbering the questions in the two catechisms. The chapters and paragraphs of the Confession of Faith were numbered from the first editions, but the catechisms are not even numbered in the surviving manuscripts. The benefit of having the questions numbered is obvious, and one can find examples of early editions where they have been numbered by hand. Yet despite this, the only seventeenth century editions found that numbered the questions were the two printings by George Swintoun and Thomas Brown of 1671 (Wing C5769) and 1683 (Wing C5770B). Carruthers notes that the Robert Sanders edition of 1703 does not number the questions (Three Centuries, 58), and it is likely the earlier Sanders editions are unnumbered. The catechisms in the 1710 Watson edition are also unnumbered.

    The rules for rightly understanding the Ten Commandments in Larger Catechism 99 were numbered as early as the 1659 Latin edition by John Field, and presumably earlier in his 1656, of which the 1659 is a careful line for line setting (Three Centuries, 75). Rothwell ‘B’ of 1658 also numbers the rules (but ‘A’ does not), as does the Third of 1688 (Wing C5798), Glasgow Fourth (Sanders, 1675), and the two by Swintoun & Brown. The Covenanter 1679 edition was the earliest edition found that also numbers the aggravations of sin in Larger Catechism 151. Other editions that number the subdivisions of both questions are the anonymously published editions of 1688, 1694, and 1700.

    Happily, with the awareness of the need for a more critical approach having been raised by both the Dunlop and the Reformed Presbyterian Collections, the Lumisden & Robertson edition refined and brought to a more thoughtful completion, the merging of the English and Scottish forms, including the numbering of the catechisms, a feature found in both Collections. Thus while the traditional form of the Standards owes its general selection and order of documents to the Covenanter edition of 1679, it owes much as well to the subsequent merging of these two edition types, as well as to the critical work of the Collections of Dunlop, and of the Reformed Presbyterians in particular. This form of the Westminster Standards set by Lumisden and Robertson in 1728 is still kept in print by the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

    Appendix A: The Traditional Contents of The Westminster Standards

    The following list presents the traditional content of the Westminster Standards as set and ordered by the Lumisden & Robertson edition (L&R, 1728). The edition of first appearance with the Confession and Catechisms is given in parentheses, which often is noted by either Warfield or the Carruthers. Where this is not the case, dates marked by a dagger (†) indicate the earliest edition found by the author. Editions cited in this article are described in Appendix B.

    1. To the Christian Reader, Especially Heads of Families (Rothwell, 1658†).

    2. Mr. Manton’s Epistle to the Reader (Rothwell ‘B’, 1658†). Earlier variants of Rothwell lack this epistle to the Christian reader by Thomas Manton. Carruthers put the final tally of Rothwell variants at five, with one following what he styled as “Rothwell A”, and two following his “Rothwell B,” which is titled by the publisher as the “Second Edition” (Three Centuries, 55).

    3. Ordinance … for the calling of an Assembly of learned and godly Divines (Rothwell, 1658†). Commission of the General Assembly to some … to repair to the Kingdom of England (L&R, 1728†). The Promise and Vow taken by every member admitted to sit in the Assembly (Rothwell, 1658†). The Ordinance calling the Assembly and the Vow by its members first appear in Rothwell. The Ordinance gives a list of the individuals appointed to attend the Assembly, and the Vow lists those who actually attended and took the vow, including the Scottish Commissioners and the Scribes. The relationship of the two lists is explained in a statement printed in Rothwell, on its own separate page between the Ordinance and the Vow: “Many of the Persons who were called to attend the Assembly appeared not; Whereupon the whole Work lay on the hands of the Persons hereafter mentioned.” This was reduced to a simple paragraph between the two documents in later editions. In the RP Collection of 1725 the list in the Ordinance was deleted and replaced with the Commission of the General Assembly appointing the Scottish Commissioners to attend upon the Assembly of Divines, and the subsequent paragraph was modified to read: “Many of the persons who were called by the foresaid Ordinance of the Lords and Commons (in that broken state of the Church)10 to attend the Assembly appeared not; whereupon the whole work lay on the hands of the persons hereafter mentioned.” And except for the omission of a note in the 1725 Collection stating that the Scottish Assembly’s Commission was renewed in 1644, 1645, 1646, 1647 and 1648, this is the form the documents take in the L&R 1728. Dunlop simply gives the list of Divines from the Vow and omits the rest of the texts.

    4. Act of the Scottish General Assembly approving the Confession of Faith, August 27, 1647 (Gideon Lithgow, 1649†). The Act is also in the Luice Elsever [Gideon Lithgow] edition of 1649; and judging from the pagination given by the card catalog listing at the University of Chicago, the Evan Tyler of 1649 has this Act as well.

    5. Act by the Estates of Parliament in 1649 approving the Confession and Catechisms (L&R, 1728†). This appears to have been first printed in the Reformed Presbyterian Collection of 1725 and subsequently in the L&R 1728.

    6. The Act of 1690 ratifying the Confession (1842†). The 1690 Act is not present in editions of the Westminster Standards up through the Blair and Bruce editions (1803-1841), and only appears in standard editions beginning with the 1842 of Francis Orr & Sons. Understandably, the Reformed Presbyterian Collection of 1725 did not include the 1690 Act, and likewise neither did the L&R 1728. It had previously appeared in Dunlop’s Collection of 1719-21, and in the 1690 publication of the Act itself containing the text of the Confession of Faith.11

    7. Act approving the Larger Catechism by the Assembly at Edinburgh, July 2, 1648 (Lithgow, 1649†). The text of the Act less the date appears in the Luice Elsever [Gideon Lithgow] edition of 1649, but the Act approving the Shorter Catechism is not present. Both acts are in the 1650 Lithgow edition.

    8. Act approving the Shorter Catechism by the Assembly at Edinburgh, July 28, 1648 (Lithgow, 1649†). According to Carruthers this Act is also in the Tyler edition of 1649.

    9. The Sum of Saving Knowledge (Lithgow, 1650). According to Warfield, some editions have in place of the Sum, the Directions for Family Worship and the Solemn League and Covenant (Warfield, 626).

    10. Act ordaining … Subscription of the Confession of Faith and Covenant, by the Assembly at Edinburgh, August 30, 1639. And, Act anent the Ratification of the Covenant, at Edinburgh, June 11, 1640 (L&R, 1728†). These Acts are not in the 1679 Covenanter edition printed in Holland; neither do they appear in Watson or Cox. Dunlop and the Reformed Presbyterian Collections have several Acts relative to the National Covenant, but Dunlop does not have that of 1640.

    11. The National Covenant (Holland, 1679†). This apparently was first included in the Covenanter edition of 1679. It is included in Dunlop and the Reformed Presbyterian Collections, and also appears in Watson and Cox, though after the title, Watson sets the rest of the text in two columns, a format Cox did not follow.

    12. The General Assembly’s Approbation of the Solemn League & Covenant, August 17, 1643. And, Act anent the Ratification, etc. July 15, 1644 (L&R, 1728†). The 1679 edition does not contain these; neither do Watson or Cox. The Reformed Presbyterian Collection of 1725 has several Acts relating to the Solemn League and Covenant, including these two subsequently placed in the 1728 L&R edition.

    13. The Solemn League and Covenant (Tyler, 1649). The Solemn League is also in Tyler’s 1650 (the general title page is dated 1650, but the Catechisms have 1649; Three Centuries, 54), and is also in both Stationers (1651, 1652), which is not clear in Warfield (Warfield, 627). Also, as noted in 9 above, it appears in some Lithgow 1650 editions. It would seem that there was quite the competition between Tyler and Lithgow, to the extent that Lithgow not only published the fictitious and unauthorized 1649 imprint of the Confession of Faith under the name of Luice Elsever (Three Centuries, 54), but at least one other under the name of Evan Tyler.12

    14. Act of the Commission of the General Assembly for renewing the Solemn League and Covenant, Edinburgh, October 5, 1648. And, The Act of the Committee of Estates of Parliament for renewing the Solemn League and Covenant; Edinburgh, October 14, 1648 (Holland, 1679†). These appear in the 1679 edition as well as in Watson and Cox, following the text of the Solemn Acknowledgement rather than before it, as in the L&R 1728 forward. As with the National Covenant, the text is set in two columns by Watson.

    15. A Solemn Acknowledgment of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant (Holland, 1679). This was subsequently included in Cox and Watson (again in two columns), and the RP Collection; but not Dunlop.

    16. An Act of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Scotland, approving and establishing the Directory for Publick Worship, February 6, 1645. And, Act of the General Assembly, February 3, 1645 (L&R, 1728†). The RP Collection contains the Acts. They do not appear in the editions of Watson and Cox. Another Act or Acts common to many of the Scottish editions such as Watson’s 1710, entitled Acts against such as withdraw themselves from the publick Worship in their own congregations, was not included in the traditional text. Neither does it appear in Watson’s earlier edition of 1707-1708 or in Cox.

    17. The Directory for the Publick Worship of God (Station-ers, 1652). In the 1652 Stationers edition this appears in a separately paginated 91-page section. Dunlop does not contain the Directory, as it was projected to have been included in the proposed third volume, which was never published due to Dunlop’s death. It appears, less the Acts, in the Covenanter’s 1679, as well as in Watson and Cox.

    18. Act of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland approving the Propositions concerning Kirk-government, and Ordination of Ministers (L&R, 1728†). Dunlop did not include the Form of Government (see 17 above). The Reformed Presbyterian Collection includes the Act, but it does not appear in the edition of 1679, Watson or Cox.

    19. The Form of Presbyterial Church-Government (Bostock, 1649). This is the earliest document to appear along with the Confession and Catechisms.

    20. Act for observing the Directions of the General Assembly for secret and private Worship. August 24, 1647 (L&R, 1728†). This Act was published with the text of the Directions as first issued alone in 1647. It also appears in the fictitious imprint mentioned in 13 above bound with the Luice Elsever edition of the Confession and Catechisms, but it may have originally been issued separately, as in 1647. The English editions before Watson, given the form in which the Directions are published in them, do not reprint the Act, and it does not appear to have been normally included in Scottish printings. It is not in the 1679 edition. The Act was published with the text of the Directions in both the Dunlop and RP Collections.

    21. Directions For Family-Worship (Lithgow, 1650). See 9 above. Dunlop (1719) was evidently the first to title the Directions of the General Assembly, concerning Secret and Private Worship, as The Directory for Family Worship.

    22. A Table of the Chief Matters Contained in the Confession of Faith and Larger Catechism. A subtitle states: “Con. signifies the Confession of Faith. The first number denotes the Chapter, the following figures denote the Paragraphs. Cat. signifies the Larger Catechism, and the figures denote the numbers of the Questions.” Apparently, a table appears for the first time in the Rothwell ‘B’ edition of 1658, which relies on page numbers to give the subject location. This is reproduced exactly in Watson and Cox, except for varying the page number appropriately. Dunlop revised and expanded the table and subtitled it as represented here. Also, the dependence upon page number for locating the reference was removed by using chapter, paragraph and question numbers, making the index independent of any particular publication. This revised table was reproduced in the L&R 1728, and was faithfully reproduced through the end of the 19th century, ending with Johnstone & Hunter.

    Appendix B: Editions of the Westminster Standards Referenced in this Article

    Unless otherwise noted, the editions consulted for this collation are part of the author’s research collection.

    Lithgow, 1649. The Confession of faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisme: First agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. And now appointed by the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, to be a part of Uniformity in Religion between the Kirks of Christ in the three Kingdomes (Edinburgh: Printed by Gedeon Lithgow, printer to the Universitie of Edinburgh, 1649). Wing 5760C. Dr. Anette Hagan, who is Curator of Rare Books at the National Library of Scotland, kindly checked the NLS copy of this edition for this collation. North Reading Room (George IV Bridge); reference F.7.g.46.

    Tyler, 1649. The Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisme, etc. Together with the Solemn league and covenant of the three Kingdoms (Edinburgh: Printed by E. Tyler, 1649). Wing C5760B. Wing locates a copy at University of Chicago Library. The above is the entry from the card catalog. Location: Special Collections, Rare Books BX9183.A3 1649.

    Bostock, 1649. The Confession of Faith and Catechisms, Agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster: Together with their Humble Advice concerning Church Government and Ordination of Ministers (R. Bostock: London, 1648 [1649]). Warfield, relying upon the work of William Carruthers, gives the explanation why this is actually more likely a 1649 imprint, rather than 1648 as indicated on the title page (Warfield, 625). Wing C5760. UMI, Thomason Tracts, 255.1419:1.

    Luice Elsever, 1649. The Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisme, First agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, And now appointed by the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland to be a part of Uniformity in Religion between the Kirks of Christ in the three Kingdomes. [With “Directions of the Generall Assembly concerning Secret and Private Worship.”] (Amsterdam; for Andrew Wilson; Edinburgh: Printed by Luice Elsever, 1649). All are fictitious imprints. The “Directions of the Generall Assembly” is the imprint of 1650 noted in this article. The copy containing it is in the British Library. The copy available in Early English Books does not contain the “Directions”. Wing 5760A. Early English Books (1641-1700), 2350:05. Hereafter EEB.

    Tyler, 1649/1650. The Confession of Faith, etc. Together with the solemn League and Covenant of the three kingdoms. (Edinburgh: Printed by Evan Tyler, printer to the Kings most excellent Majesty, 1650). Individual title pages for the Catechisms are dated 1649. Wing C5760D. A copy is owned by the National Library of Scotland, but it was not checked for this collation. As of this writing, this edition of Evan Tyler is not available in EEB.

    Lithgow, 1650. The Confession of Faith, etc. [With] A breef Sum of Christian Doctrine contained in Holy Scripture, and holden forth in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms, etc. By David Dickson. (Edinburgh: Gedeon Lithgow, 1650). Wing 5761. EEB 1791:30.

    Stationers, 1652. The Confession of Faith, etc. … together with the Solemn League and Covenant of the three kingdoms (London: First printed at Edenburgh, and now reprinted at London for the Company of Stationers, 1652). Wing 5764. EEB 1186:14.

    Rothwell ‘A’, 1658. The Confession of Faith, etc. (London: Printed for the Company of Stationers and are to be sold by J. Rothwel, 1658). The first version of Rothwell is known as Rothwell ‘A.’ Carruthers thus concludes the theories and research of the Rothwell editions first begun by his father and continued by Warfield: “This is the first of the five ‘Rothwell’ printings of this year, which have not hitherto been properly differentiated. The Text is carelessly printed, nearly two score errors, mostly unimportant, occurring throughout. These ‘Rothwell’ editions were the first in which the proofs were printed ‘at large’. Presumably it was this novel feature which caused the five printings. The large number of copies extant does not, however, necessarily mean that the printings were large” (Three Centuries, 55)

    Rothwell ‘A’ has a variant with “S. Griffin” given as the printer on the title page. The confession of faith, etc (London: Printed by S. Griffin for the Company of Stationers, and to be sold by J. Rothwell at the Fountain in Cheapside, 1658). This is the form of Rothwell ‘A’ examined for this article. Carruthers notes it is from the same type as ‘A’ with “some typographical errors corrected.” He comments: “Sarah [Griffin] was the widow of Edward Griffin who died in 1652. Presumably she printed the Confession in D 16 [i.e. ‘Rothwell A’] as well as in this. Anne Maxey printed both Catechisms.” (Three Centuries, 55). Wing W1433. EEB 1412:22.

    Rothwell ‘B’, 1658. Confession of Faith, Together with the Larger and Lesser Catechismes. … Again Published with the Scriptures at large, and the Emphasis of the Scriptures in a different Character. To which is annexed two sheets of Church-Government with the Scriptures at large. [The Second Edition] (London: Printed by E. M. for the Company of Stationers, and are to be sold by John Rothwel at the Fountain in Cheapside. 1658). Carruthers styled this “Second Edition” as Rothwell “B” and there are two subsequent variant forms. Carruthers notes: “The type was re-set for this printing. On the general title it is noted—‘the Emphasis of the Scriptures in a different Character’. In due time these somewhat unintelligent italics disappeared, to be revised, however, by Johnstone & Hunter in 1855. E. M. is probably Edward Mottershead.” The first variant of Rothwell ‘B,’ which Carruthers numbers D 19, is from “the same type as the previous Edition, with some corrections.” Of the final variant (D 20), he notes the “type has again been re-set” (Three Centuries, 55). Wing C5796. EEB 1482:24.

    Covenanter, 1679. The Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter catechism, first agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster; and now approved by the General Assembly … (1679). Wing 5770AB. EEB 2683:21a.

    Watson, 1707-08. The Confession of Faith, etc. Again published with the Scriptures at large, and the emphasis of the Scriptures in a different character. Together with the Directory, and all other additions that have been hitherto printed. The Fourth Edition (Edinburgh: Printed by James Watson, 1708). This is the same James Watson who later collaborated with William Dunlop to produce his “Collections.” The 1707 is styled the “Fifth edition,” but a careful collation by Carruthers, confirmed for this article by the Rev. Sherman Isbell, indicates these are printed from the same setting of type. Watson evidently thought better of the numbering of editions and changed it at some point in the middle of the print run, which must have spanned from late 1707 into 1708. For more information about these Watson editions, see the author’s comments in “Examining the Work of S. W. Carruthers,” printed earlier in this issue of The Confessional Presbyterian. NLS, North Reading Room (George IV Bridge) Cwn.504 (1708). The rare 1707 variant is in The Newbattle Collection, Newb. 2746, housed at Monteviot House, which Dr. Hagan kindly arranged to be transported to Edinburgh for collation with the 1708.

    Cox, 1717. The Confession of Faith, Together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Composed by the Reverend Assembly of Divines Sitting at Westminster, etc. Together with the Directory, and all other Additions that have been hitherto Printed. The Fifth Edition (London: Printed for S. Cruttenden and T. Cox, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, near MercersChappel, 1717). It appears that Cox is set from Watson’s Fourth of 1707/08. Warfield quotes Dr. Mitchell saying, “The fifth, bearing the date of 1717, is a large octavo, and perhaps the most handsomely printed of all these early editions of the Confession.” Warfield also notes, “This edition was apparently the copy from which was prepared the first American edition, printed at Boston, in 1723, for D. Henchman, by S. Kneeland. There were no other successors in England or America of this type.” (Warfield, 636). Dr. Carruthers notes that there was a Scottish imprint of this edition which he numbers D 53 and describes it as: “The Fifth Edition. London, Printed for James MacEwen in Edenburgh. 1717.” He comments: “This is from the same type as the previous one….” (Three Centuries, 59).

    Dunlop, 1719. A Collection of Confessions of Faith, Catechisms, Directions, Books of Discipline, etc. (Edinburgh, James Watson, 1719-21). While they are not large volumes, Warfield was of the opinion that Dunlop “is one of the most beautiful editions of the Confession of Faith ever printed (though some impressions were also issued on inferior paper) …” (Warfield, 638). The author’s copy is a set once owned by the library of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Diocese of Massachusetts.

    Reformed Presbyterian, 1725. The Confessions of Faith, Catechisms, Directories, Form of Government, Discipline, etc. Of Publick Authority in the Church of Scotland (Edinburgh: Printed by Thomas Lumisden and John Robertson, 1725).

    Lumisden & Robertson, 1728. The Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter catechisms, with the Scripture proofs at large. Together with The Sum of Saving Knowledge (contain’d in the Holy Scriptures, and held forth in the said Confession and Catechisms) and Practical Use thereof, Covenants National and Solemn League, Acknowledgment of Sins, and Engagement to Duties, Directories, Form of Church-Government [etc.] (Edinburgh: Printed by Thomas Lumisden and John Robertson…, 1728). A copy of this edition is owned by Dallas Theological Seminary. Rare Books, BX9183 .C45 1728. The author owns the second edition of 1736, which closely follows the 1728.

    Orr, 1842. The Confession of Faith; the Larger … etc. (Glasgow: Francis Orr and Sons, 1842). The copy consulted is an example of the 1849 edition, which according to Carruthers was set from the same type as the 1842 edition (Three Centuries, 68). He lists editions for 1842, 1845, 1848 and 1849.

    Johnstone & Hunter. The Confession of Faith, etc. (Edinburgh: Johnstone, Hunter, & Co.). This firm was the first to use stereotyping in British editions of the Standards (Three Centuries, 68). B. B. Warfield wrote to Mr. Hunter in 1901 about their editions and he received the following reply (Warfield, 452): “I cannot fix a date when we first issued it [the Confession of Faith], but it must have been about 1842 or 1843 in the 12mo size.” However, this is off by a decade, as Carruthers does not list any Johnstone & Hunter editions prior to 1851. Also, Johnstone & Hunter did not succeed and take up the same address of the printing firm of John Johnstone until 1849, the year that firm’s titles cease and those by Johnstone & Hunter appear in earnest.13

    There are three Johnstone & Hunter editions, which Carruthers styles Johnstone ‘A’, Johnstone ‘B’, and Johnstone ‘C’. Johnstone ‘A’ was first published in 1851, and apparently was set from an Orr edition because it also adds Mark 9:43 as a Scripture proof text at WLC 29. They printed 6,000 copies, and printed another 5,000 in 1852, and another 5,000 again in 1853 (Three Centuries, 68-69). Some of the 1851 have additional matter and are titled, The Subordinate Standards … of the Free Church of Scotland. Johnstone ‘B’ (1855) was a larger 8vo format edition limited to 750 copies, with some printed on larger paper. A fire destroyed these earlier plates, and in 1860 new ones were created to publish the final form, Johnstone ‘C.’ This form was often reprinted, including versions for the Free Church. In 1933 Graham and Heslip, Belfast, published the regular edition of Johnstone ‘C’ and they also reprinted the version for the Free Church. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland also made use of this 1933 regular edition before publishing their own reprint of Johnstone ‘B’ beginning in 1958. In the late 1960s the FPCS corrected the text of the Confession of Faith against the manuscript text published by Carruthers in 1946, while leaving the rest of the Johnstone ‘B’ text unchanged. This edition was published in 1967 and again in 1970. However, evidently determining that the manuscript text was not the preferred text, after this they returned to a straight reprint of the Johnstone ‘B’ edition. Beginning in 1994, the FPCS again changed the text of the Confession, this time to Carruther’s 1937 critical text, while keeping the rest of Johnstone ‘B’ as before. They have continued to make changes to the text as improvements or corrections were warranted.


    1. B. B. Warfield, “Notes Toward A Bibliography of the Westminster Confession: I. Britain,” The Presbyterian and Reformed Review, xii (1901) 621. Hereafter, Warfield.

    2. S. W. Carruthers, Three Centuries of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (New Brunswick: Published for the Beaverbrook Foundations by the University of New Brunswick, 1957) 59. Hereafter Three Centuries. William Carruthers, The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly of Divines: Being a facsimile of the First Edition, which was ordered to be printed by the House of Commons, 25th November, 1647. With Historical Account and Bibliography (London: Publication Office of the Presbyterian Church of England, 1897) 48.

    3. Dictionary of Scottish Church History & Theology, Nigel M. de S. Cameron, David F. Wright, David C. Lachman, Donald E. Meek, eds. (Downers Grover: IVP, 1993) “Covenanters,” 218-219; “Brown, John (of Wamphray),” 98-99; “Killing Times,” 458; “MacWard, Robert,” 537-538. Hereafter DSCHT.

    4. See Chris Coldwell, “Examining the Work of S. W. Carruthers” beginning on page 43 of this issue of The Confessional Presbyterian.

    5. B. B. Warfield, “The Printing of the Westminster Confession,” The Westminster Assembly and Its Work (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981) Works, 6.344.

    6. Rothwell was the first to include the texts of the Scripture proofs, and the italicized portions evidently were to emphasize what he at least thought were the key portions of the references adduced by the Westminster divines. Carruthers criticized the endeavor as having been done “ in the most haphazard way,” and he considered it “almost unbelievable that any man in 1855 could think it worth while to reproduce these hopelessly unintelligent italics….” S. W. Carruthers, The Westminster Confession of Faith: Being an account of the Preparation and Printing of its Seven Leading Editions, to which is appended a critical text of the Confession with notes thereon (Manchester: R. Aikman & Son, [1937]) 75.

    7. DSCHT, “Dickson, David,” 243; “Durham, James”, 265-266.

    8. For a complete bibliography for titles published by James Watson see: D. Wyn Evans, “James Watson of Edinburgh: A Bibliography of Works from his Press 1695-1722,” Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Transactions, Volume V, Part 2, Sessions 1976-7, 1977-8, 1979-80 (Edinburgh: Printed for the Society by John G Eccles Printers Ltd, Inverness, 1982). Warfield and Carruthers on the authority of John Lee note an earlier 1701 edition by Watson [John Lee, Memorial for the Bible Societies in Scotland (Edinburgh: Printed for the Edinburgh Bible Society, 1824; 1826; 1839)], but neither traced an existing copy (Warfield, 635; Three Centuries, 58). Wyn, who consulted Lee as well, does not list such a title for that date. Neither does Wyn catalog one for 1709, another untraced edition which Carruthers lists out of “Orr’s Catalogue.” Watson did publish another edition in 1710, the only known copy of which is located by Wyn, Warfield and Carruthers at the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia. It follows older Scottish forms rather than the 1707-08, has the Scripture proofs by reference only, and beneath each section rather than in the margin, as in Sanders 1690, and the anonymously published editions of 1794 and 1700 (Wing C5776, C5776A, C5776C). Barry Waugh, Ph.D, who examined this rare volume for the author, notes that it has aged poorly, which may explain why more copies have not survived. See a summary of Dr. Waugh’s presented in Appendix C.

    9. The Postscript was probably first added to the 1679 edition. It appears also in the anonymously published editions of 1694 and 1700, as well as in Watson’s 1710. It does not appear in the 1683 edition by George Swintoun and Thomas Brown (Wing C5770B), nor does it appear in Carruthers’ Glasgow Fourth (Robert Sanders, 1675; Wing C5797). The later editions of 1687, 1690 and 1693 by Sanders (Wing C5772, C5775, C5776), and by his son Robert Sanders (1703, 1711), and those by Anderson for 1679, 1685 and 1697 (Wing c5770A, C5771, C5776B), were not examined.

    10. The editor of the RP Collection probably changed this statement in keeping with the 1647 Act by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland approving the Confession of Faith: “the Assembly understandeth some parts of the second article of the thirty-one chapter only of kirks not settled, or constituted in point of government: And that although, in such kirks, a synod of Ministers, and other fit persons, may be called by the Magistrate’s authority and nomination, without any other call, to consult and advise with about matters of religion … yet neither of these ought to be done in kirks constituted and settled….”

    11. Act Ratifying the Confession of Faith and Settling Presbyterian Church-government the seventh day of June, 1690 (Edinburgh, Printed by the heir of Andrew Anderson, 1690). The Act contains the text of the Confession of Faith only, without scripture proofs.

    12. Directions of the Generall Assembly concerning Secret and Private Worship…. With an act for observing these directions, and for censuring such as use to neglect family worship. And an act against such as withdraw themselves from the publike worship in their owne congregations (Edinburgh: Re-printed by Evan Tyler, 1650). The entry in the card catalog at the British Library where this example resides notes: “The imprint is fictitious; probably printed by Gideon Lithgow in Edinburgh.”

    13. Earlier title listings may be misprints, or possibly there was a wider transition period. See “Johnstone [John] & Hunter [Robert] printers and bookbinders Edinburgh,” in the NLS Scottish Book Trade Index. Also see the entry for the Free Church Publication Scheme Depository. resources/sbti/index.html.

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    About Author

    Since 1987 through his imprint Naphtali Press, Chris Coldwell has edited and published new and critical text editions of classic Presbyterian & Reformed books. He is general editor and publisher of The Confessional Presbyterian journal.
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  1. NaphtaliPress
      Ask Mr. Religion likes this.
  2. Ask Mr. Religion
    A fascinating and excellently researched article. If you could own but one of these ancient works, which one would you choose?
    1. NaphtaliPress
      If you are asking the author, for use I'd want a fine edition of the large format 1855; otherwise be nice to have the Lumisden and Robertson editions in much better shape than the research copies shown above.
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