The Development Of The Traditional Form Of The Westminster Standards

By NaphtaliPress · Feb 18, 2017 · ·
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    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.

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    NaphtaliPress
    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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