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B.B. Warfield on the

Westminster Standards

 

"As truly as in the cases of the Nicene and Chalcedonian formularies, the Westminster Standards mark an epoch in the history of human reflection on the truths of the gospel--an epoch in the attainment and registry of doctrinal truth; and as truly in the one case as in the other the statements they give of the truths that fall in their sphere are scientifically final. All attempts at restatement must either repeat their definitions or fall away from the purity of their conceptions or the justness of their language."

 

Benjamin B. Warfield, "The Significance of the Westminster Standards as a Creed," (1897)

Cited from: http://covenanter.org/Westminster/westminsterhome.htm

 

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NUMEROUS NEW and FREE resources are sprinkled throughout this email.

 

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Summaries by Reg Barrow and others.

 

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WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

SUPER SALE RESOURCE SUMMARY

 

Resources 1-4: Westminster Confession of Faith (and Directories)

Resources 4-13: History Surrounding the Westminster Standards

Resources 14-19: Commentaries on the Westminster Confession of Faith

Resources 20-26: Commentaries on the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Resource 27: Commentaries on the Westminster Larger Catechism

Resources 28-39: Books Related to the Westminster Assembly and Standards

Resources 40-41: Harmonies of Various Reformed Standards

 

NUMEROUS NEW and FREE resources are sprinkled throughout this email.

 

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Resource 1. WESTMINSTER DIVINES

The Westminster Confession of Faith

 

"The product of Puritan conflict," stated Shedd, reaching "a perfection of statement never elsewhere achieved."

 

"All that learning the most profound and extensive, intellect the most acute and searching, and piety the most sincere and earnest, could accomplish, was thus concentrated in the Westminster Assembly's Confession of Faith, which may be safely termed the most perfect statement of Systematic Theology ever framed by the Christian Church," writes Hetherington in The History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (p. 345, emphasis added).

 

"These are worth an hundred victories on the battle field. We do not fear to say of them that they are the finest transfusion into uninspired language of the sublime, awful, blessed truths of the Word of God which the Church has as yet been honored to make... Never can the Covenanters be robbed of the immortal honor of having, while at the summit of their power, published this great principle to the world" noted J.A. Wylie, in praise of the Westminster Standards (cited in Johnston's Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 101).

 

"As truly as in the cases of the Nicene and Chalcedonian formularies, the Westminster Standards mark an epoch in the history of human reflection on the truths of the gospel--an epoch in the attainment and registry of doctrinal truth; and as truly in the one case as in the other the statements they give of the truths that fall in their sphere are scientifically final. All attempts at restatement must either repeat their definitions or fall away from the purity of their conceptions or the justness of their language." (Benjamin B. Warfield, "The Significance of the Westminster Standards as a Creed," 1897)

 

Concerning the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which is one of the items also included in this book, Mitchell, in his Westminster Assembly: Its History and Standards, notes: "...it is a thoroughly Calvinistic and Puritan catechism, the ripest fruit of the Assembly's thought and experience, maturing and finally fixing the definitions of theological terms to which Puritanism for half a century had been leading up and gradually coming closer and closer to in its legion of catechisms" (p. 431).

 

Richard Baxter said of Westminster Shorter Catechism, "It is the best Catechism I ever saw -- a most excellent sum of the Christian faith and doctrine, and a fit test to try the orthodoxy of its teachers."

 

The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is the greatest of all the creeds of the Christian church.

The church of Christ cannot be creedless and live. Especially in an age of doubt and confusion, it is her duty to define and proclaim the one true Reformed faith. Nowhere has the Reformed church done this so effectively as in the Westminster family of documents.

 

This book represents Reformed thinking at its purest and best. It was intended, as part of the covenanted reformation taking place during its compilation, to be adopted as the binding confessional standard for every individual, family, school, court, church, and legislature in the British Isles -- and all the King's dominions (including Canada, the United States, Australia, etc.). The Westminster standards were produced in fulfilment of the Solemn League and Covenant, an international covenant with God and some of the most powerful nations on earth at the time of its publication. This covenant and these standards were produced to provide the blueprint for all levels of society to come into obedience to the Word of God in its fullness. Study the documents contained in this book carefully and we think that you will see why this same goal should be covenanted to by all serious minded followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

This is the definitive edition of the WCF and its many related documents. It contains Manton's "Epistle to the Reader," "The Larger Catechism," "The Shorter Catechism," "The Sum of Saving Knowledge," "The National Covenant (1638)," "The Solemn League and Covenant (1643)," "Acknowledgment of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant (1648)," "The Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645)," "The Form of Presbyterial Church Government (1645)," "The Directory for Family Worship (1647)," an extensive index and more! "Every effort has been made, by sparing no expense or labour... to render it the Standard Edition," note the publishers. An essential book for every Christian home, church, and state! Next to the Bible itself, no other book can furnish you with as much necessary spiritual information.

 

ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTED SALE PRICE UP TO AND INCLUDING September 13, 2010

 

(Hardcover) $29.95 (US funds) [$20 off!]

(Softcover) $24.95 (US funds) [$15 off!]

 

AFTER September 13, 2010, OUR REGULAR DISCOUNTED PRICE BELOW APPLIES

 

(Hardcover) $49.95 (US funds)

(Softcover) $39.95 (US funds)

 

(Pocket edition, just the Confession [not the Catechisms], with scripture references)

$6.95 [$4.95 (US funds) until September 13, 2010]

 

(Pocket edition, just the Larger Catechism, with scripture references)

$6.95 [$4.95 (US funds) until September 13, 2010]

 

(Pocket edition, just the Shorter Catechism, with scripture references)

$1.99 [$1.49 (US funds) until September 13, 2010]

 

(The Westminster Confession of Faith on cassette as professionally read

by Bill Mencarow, with related bonus material at no extra cost)

$3.98 [$1.98 (US funds) until September 13, 2010]

 

(The Westminster Larger Catechism on 2 cassettes as professionally read

by Bill Mencarow, with related bonus material at no extra cost)

$7.96 [$3.96 (US funds) until September 13, 2010]

 

(The Westminster Shorter Catechism on cassette as professionally read

by Bill Mencarow, with related bonus material at no extra cost)

$3.98 [$1.98 (US funds) until September 13, 2010]

 

Related item: William Hetherington's History of the Westminster Assembly ( http://www.swrb.com/catalog/h.htm ) or below.

 

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Resource 2. CARRUTHERS, S. W.

The Preparation and Printing of the Westminster Confession of Faith

 

An account of the preparation and printing of the WCF's seven leading editions, to which is appended a critical text of the Confession, with notes thereon. Dedicated to Warfield, Mitchell and others. 157 pages.

 

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Resource 3. WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY

The Westminster Standards: An Original Facsimile (on CD-Rom)

 

"This is not a ASCII text based storing of data. Rather it will have the actual appearance of the original edition, just like the bound edition ($59.95, Hardcover--RB)... The CD-Rom comes complete with Adobe Acrobat Reader installer software for Windows, Windows 95, Windows NT, Macintosh, Power Macintosh and Unix platforms. Printer drivers and installation instructions are included" (Old Paths Publications' flyer).

 

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Resource 4. WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY OF DIVINES

The Directory For Family-Worship (1647) and The Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645)

 

It doesn't get any better than this! These are the documents approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in her purest days. Reproduced in large print for easy reading. The Directory for Family Worship lays out the Biblical path to piety and uniformity in secret and private (family) worship, for godly edification. The Directory for Public Worship aimed at fulfilling the Reformation goals of covenanted uniformity in religion between the churches of Christ in the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland.

 

"Behind its production lay extensive discussion of the proper application of the Puritan regulative principle reducing elements of acceptable worship to what is prescribed or necessarily deducible from Scripture alone... It contains perhaps the finest brief description of expository preaching to be found in the English language" (Cameron, ed., Dictionary of Scottish Church History, p. 864).

 

During the days of the second Reformation Gillespie notes that "(t)he parliament hath also, by their ordinance dated the 23d of August 1645, imposed the Directory of Worship under certain mulcts and penalties to be inflicted upon such as do not observe it, or preach or write against it" ("Miscellany Questions" in Gillespie's Works, p. 87). Oh, for the days of comprehensive, full-orbed, God honoring Reformation like that again! An indispensable document for those who are Presbyterian's. However, it can also be very helpful to all those who seek to worship the LORD in spirit and in truth, regardless of denominational affiliation. These two fine historic documents have yet to be equalled in terms of the intent and purpose for which they were originally produced.

 

ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTED SALE PRICE UP TO & INCLUDING September 13, 2010

 

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Resource 5. MITCHELL, ALEXANDER F.

Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines While Engaged in Preparing Their Directory for Church Government, Confession of Faith, and Catechisms (November 1644 to March 1649) (1874 edition)

 

Warfield states, "The fundamental authority for the study of the work of the Assembly for the period covered by it is, of course, the volume of its Minutes edited by Drs. A.F. Mitchell and John Struthers." This work was also called the best book concerning the Assembly by Gregg Singer. It was compiled from transcripts originally procured by a committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. An invaluable aid for all those who love creedal Christianity, as it is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. A very rare resource that should contribute much to the ongoing Reformation. Indexed, 643 pages.

 

ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTED SALE PRICE UP TO AND INCLUDING September 13, 2010

 

(Bound photocopy) $19.95 (US funds) [$50 off!]

(Hardcover photocopy) $29.00 (US funds) [$70 off!]

 

AFTER September 13, 2010, OUR REGULAR PRICE BELOW APPLIES

 

(Rare bound photocopy) $69.95 (US funds)

(Hardcover photocopy) 99.00 (US funds)

 

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Resource 6. GILLESPIE, GEORGE

Notes of Debates and Proceedings of the Assembly of Divines and Other Commissioners at Westminster. February 1644 to 1645 (1846 edition)

 

"It condenses, and with considerable skill, the purport of long wordy debates, giving their very essence in hard criticism on the Scriptures in the original Greek and Hebrew, as lending support to either side in the controversies about articles of belief and of Church government" wrote Burton (as cited in the Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 304 [ http://www.swrb.com/catalog/j.htm ]). Excerpted from volume two of Gillespie's Works ( http://www.swrb.com/catalog/g.htm ).

 

ADDITIONAL DISCOUNTED SALE PRICE UP TO AND INCLUDING September 13, 2010

 

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FREE!

 

Resource 7. OLIVER CROMWELL

JUDAS OF THE COVENANT

OLIVER CROMWELL'S ungodly intolerance, hatred and persecution of Christians, as well as his actions to overthrow the work of the godly party at the Westminster Assembly, are documented in a free debate at:

 

http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/Crom.htm

 

William Hetherington's History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (1856, see below) also deals with Cromwell and his wicked deeds to overthrow the Second Reformation. And remember that it was Cromwell's government that had the covenanted English Presbyterian pastor, Christopher Love, executed (cf. A Spectacle Unto God: The Life and Death of Christopher Love by Don Kistler, $US34.95, hardcover), and the same government jailed Thomas Watson and other godly ministers of the time.

 

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Resource 8. HETHERINGTON, WILLIAM

History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (1856)

 

This book is one of the best easy reading historical accounts published concerning this unsurpassed Assembly. Hetherington's purpose for writing this book is stated in the preface as follows:

 

In common with all true Presbyterians, I have often regretted the want of a History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines... Especially in such a time as the present, when all distinctive Presbyterian principles are not only called in question, but also misrepresented and condemned, such a want has become absolutely unendurable, unless Presbyterians are willing to permit their Church to perish under a load of unanswered, yet easily refuted, calumny. And as the best refutation of calumny is the plain and direct statement of truth, it is by that process that I have endeavored to vindicate the principles and the character of the Presbyterian Church (p. i.).

 

The Puritan history leading up to the Assembly (which this book takes a in-depth look at) is especially important and not only set the context for what became the major debates among the ministers present, but even dictated who was selected to this august body of scholars. Civil wars, national upheavals, emigration to the "new world" and a host of other epoch making events surrounded this momentous period of history. These debates and their resolutions have defined and directed Christian thought and national cultures ever since their original ratification -- and Hetherington is not shy about noting the significance of this Assembly when he writes,

 

But the man who penetrates a little deeper into the nature of those unrevealed but powerful influences which move a nation's mind, and mould its destinies, will be ready to direct his attention more profoundly to the objects and deliberations of an assembly which met at a moment so critical, and was composed of the great master-minds of the age; and the theologian who has learned to view religion as the vital principle of human nature, equally in nations and in the individual man, will not easily admit the weak idea, that such an assembly could have been an isolated event, but will be disposed earnestly to inquire what led to its meeting, and what important consequences followed. And although the subject has not hitherto been investigated with such a view, it may, we trust, be possible to prove, that it (the Westminster Assembly--RB) was the most important event in the century in which it occurred; and that it has exerted, and in all probability will yet exert, a far more wide and permanent influence upon both the civil and the religious history of mankind than has generally been even imagined (p. 17).

 

Hetherington covers the period from 1531 to 1662. Many consider this era a historical high water mark for doctrinal and practical Puritan precision. Also included is a chapter on the theological productions of the Westminster Assembly and six valuable appendices (one containing six biographical notices of the Scottish Commissioners including Rutherford, Gillespie, Henderson and Baillie).

 

This work is indispensable for understanding the work accomplished by the Westminster Assembly, Presbyterian and Independent history, Oliver Cromwell and much more. For example, consider the lofty and Christ honoring goal of the Assembly as summarized by Hetherington:

 

There was one great, and even sublime idea, brought somewhat indefinitely before the Westminster Assembly, which has not yet been realized, the idea of a Protestant union throughout Christendom, not merely for the purpose of counterbalancing Popery, but in order to purify, strengthen, and unite all true Christian churches, so that with combined energy and zeal they might go forth, in glad compliance with the Redeemer's commands, teaching all nations, and preaching the everlasting gospel to every creature under heaven. This truly magnificent, and also truly Christian idea, seems to have originated in the mind of that distinguished man, Alexander Henderson. It was suggested by him to the Scottish commissioners, and by them partially brought before the English Parliament, requesting them to direct the Assembly to write letters to the Protestant Churches in France, Holland, Switzerland, and other Reformed Churches. . . . and along with these letters were sent copies of the Solemn League and Covenant, a document which might itself form the basis of such a Protestant union. The deep thinking divines of the Netherlands apprehended the idea, and in their answer, not only expressed their approbation of the Covenant, but also desired to join in it with the British kingdoms. Nor did they content themselves with the mere expression of approval and willingness to join. A letter was soon afterwards sent to the Assembly from the Hague, written by Duraeus (the celebrated John Dury), offering to come to the Assembly, and containing a copy of a vow which he had prepared and tendered to the distinguished Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden, wherein he bound himself 'to prosecute a reconciliation between Protestants in point of religion'. . . . [O]n one occasion Henderson procured a passport to go to Holland, most probably for the purpose of prosecuting this grand idea. But the intrigues of politicians, the delays caused by the conduct of the Independents, and the narrow-minded Erastianism of the English Parliament, all conspired to prevent the Assembly from entering farther into that truly glorious Christian enterprise. Days of trouble and darkness came; persecution wore out the great men of that remarkable period; pure and vital Christianity was stricken to the earth and trampled under foot. (pp. 337-339).

 

Further demonstrating his grasp of the most important events of the second Reformation, Hetherington comments on the Solemn League (the epitome of second Reformation attainments),

 

"no man who is able to understand its nature, and to feel and appreciate its spirit and its aim, will deny it to be the wisest, the sublimest, and the most sacred document ever framed by uninspired men" (p. 134).

 

Anyone interested in the work of the Westminster Assembly -- and the men, teaching and events which were at the heart of the Puritan revolution against the forces of antichrist -- should read this book at least once. Third edition, 413 pages.

 

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Resource 9. COVENANTED GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND (Alexander Peterkin, editor)

Records of the Kirk of Scotland, Containing the Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies, From the Year 1638 Downwards, As Authenticated by the Clerks of Assembly; With Notes and Historical Illustrations, by Alexander Peterkin (1838 edition)

 

"The object of the present work is to present to the public, in a form that may be generally accessible, the history of one of the most interesting periods in the annals of our National Church, by the republication of the Acts and Proceedings, at, and subsequent to, the era of her second Reformation; and, combined therewith, such historical documents and sketches as are calculated to preserve the memory of an important, and, ultimately beneficial revolution," notes Peterkin in his introduction.

 

This is one of the most valuable publications we offer related to second Reformation history and the many important questions that were debated (and oftentimes settled) during this watershed period -- before, during and after the sitting of the Westminster Assembly. The interaction between the Scottish general Assembly and the Westminster Assembly is most fascinating and instructive -- affording many insights into the production and development of the Westminster Standards! It also contains some indispensable information on the Protester/Resolutioner controversy (which reveals many valuable lessons for Reformed Christians today), including excerpts from some lost books and papers written by the Protesting Covenanters. The excerpts from James Guthrie's The Waters of Sihor, or the Lands Defectione, in which Guthrie enumerates the errors of the Resolutioners, as well as the marks of malignancy, is one prime example. Other rare Protester documents (inveighing against the "pretended Assemblies" of the Resolutioners), signed by the likes of Samuel Rutherford and Robert Traill are also included. Very rare and very valuable -- a gold mine for the serious student of the covenanted Reformation! 684 pages.

 

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Resource 10. MITCHELL, ALEXANDER F.

The Westminster Assembly: Its History and Standards

 

In the first three lectures, the author has given a succinct account of English Puritanism from its origin to the meeting of the Westminster Assembly, and in the tenth lecture, he has given a similar account of the history of doctrine in the British Churches during the same period. The seven intervening lectures were prepared in accord with the author's desire to complete his researches on the Westminster Assembly.

 

Throughout this work, Mitchell has endeavored to give prominence to aspects of this magnificent period in Puritan history which have hitherto been generally overlooked and to treat more briefly of those which have been previously dwelt on -- making this the ideal companion volume to Hetherington's History of the Westminster Assembly and Gillespie's notes taken at this assembly (found in his Works).

 

Moreover, Mitchell writes in an irenic manner, making this a perfect introductory volume to Puritanism and the work of the Assembly.

 

Mitchell notes the importance of the Westminster Assembly in the following manner,

 

Richard Baxter, who was perhaps as competent as any of their contemporaries to give an impartial verdict, does not hesitate to affirm that √ęthe divines there congregated were men of eminent learning and godliness, ministerial ability and fidelity; and being not worthy,' he modestly adds, 'to be one of them myself, I may the more freely speak that truth which I know, even in the face of malice and envy, that so far as I am able to judge by the information of all history... the Christian world since the days of the apostles had never a Synod of more excellent divines.' (p. 118).

 

Thus, it has been noted by many, that next to the Scripture itself, there is probably more to be gained from the study of this segment of history (and the works of the men God called to produce the Puritan intellect and the Westminster family of documents) than any other single period of history -- right up to the present era. Mitchell's account of this age of brilliance is a veritable information cornucopia in which all lovers of Puritanism, the Westminster Assembly, and especially the truth of Christ (which these our forefathers in the faith so boldly proclaimed) can readily take delight! "The Westminster Assembly, if it does not form a landmark in the history of our common Protestantism, must at least be admitted to constitute an epoch, and a notable one, in the history of Puritanism," notes Mitchell. Don't miss this fine historical account. 519 pages.

 

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Resource 11. MITCHELL, ALEXANDER F.

Catechisms of the Second Reformation (1886)

 

Part 1: The Shorter Catechism and its Puritan Precursors.

 

Part 2: Rutherford's and other Scottish Catechisms of the same epoch.

 

Includes a historical introduction and biographical notices. Explains the composition and sources of the Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly. Gives specimens of the Catechisms which were previously in use among the doctrinal Puritans in England and Scotland and those laid before the Assembly. Mitchell was Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of St. Andrews. 410 pages.

 

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Resource 12. BAILLIE, ROBERT

Letters and Journals of Robert Baillie (3 volumes, 1841 edition)

 

David Laing, ed. (three large volumes, 1841 ed.). Baillie was one of the Scottish delegates to the Westminster Assembly and these volumes cover the period from 1637 to 1662 -- some of the most momentous days in the history of the Reformed faith. These letters contain an intimate insider's look at these days of international religious drama, national covenants, and the writing of the greatest religious Confession ever given to men, the Westminster Confession of Faith ($US29.95 hardcover; $US24.95 softcover). A major source for 17th century Church history and a totally unique compilation -- peering into the very heart of Reformation! "Baillie was a keen Resolutioner, but lived to see his mistake. To this he refers in the last of his Letters, 'We are in the most hard taking we have seen at any time. It is the matter of my daily grief, and I think it has brought all my trouble on me, and I fear it shall do me more harm.' The work is of immense historical value" (Johnston, The Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 312). Cunningham is also cited by Johnston regarding this work, "His Letter and Journals furnish us with some pictures, as lifelike as photographs, of the principal actors then on the stage of affairs, and not unfrequently gives us a peep of what was passing behind the scenes. It is the book of all others to be read by those who would understand the period of the Covenant." About 1700 pages.

 

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Volume one only of above.

Contains Baillie's letters and journal entries covering the period from 1637 to 1641. The appendix includes "Original Letters and Papers, Chiefly Relating to Ecclesiastical Affairs in Scotland, 1633 to 1639."

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Contains letters covering the period from 1647 to 1662. The appendix includes "Original Letters and Papers, Chiefly Relating to Ecclesiastical Affairs in Scotland, 1647 to 1661." This volume also includes a glossary, an index of names and the memoir of the life and writings of Robert Baillie. Of special note are pages 525-557, which contain "Notices Regarding the Metrical Version of the Psalms Received By the Church of Scotland," where we see the historical validity of the Reformed practice of exclusive Psalmody, from the place occupied by the Psalter printed in Geneva in 1556, right up to the "Psalter debates" that took place during Westminster Assembly.

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Resource 13. McFEETERS, J.C.

Sketches of the Covenanters (1913)

 

Stirring accounts of sacrifice and martyrdom for the Reformed Faith that will bring tears to eyes of all but the most backslidden.

Follows the chain of events which gave Scotland two Reformations and a Revolution. John Knox, the National Covenant, The Solemn League and Covenant, the Westminster Assembly, the Field Meetings and the "Killing Times," and much more are all covered. The history of many great battles for Christ and His royal rights are accurately recounted in this moving chronicle of Reformation struggles and martyrdom. This book also sheds much light upon the warfare of Christ's bride (with the dragon) for true Scriptural liberty, while telling the story of some of the most prominent Christians (Rutherford, Renwick, Henderson, et al.) since the days of the Apostles. This is one of our best history books, and is highly recommended! It is great for home schooling, history classes and various other learning situations, as it contains convenient review questions at the end of each chapter. Furthermore, it is written in an easy-to-read and engaging style, which makes it one of the best introductions to the Covenanters and the periods of the first and second Reformations in the British Isles. 412 pages.

 

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Resource 14. DICKSON, DAVID

Truth's Victory Over Error (1684, 1784 edition)

 

The title continues, "The True Principles of the Christian Religion, Stated and Vindicated against the following Heresies, viz, Arians, Arminians, Anabaptists, Antinomians, Brownists, Donatists, Epicurians, Eutychians, Erastians, Familists, Jesuits, Independents, Libertines, Manicheans, Pelagians, Papists, Quakers, Socinians, Sabellians, Sceptics, Vaninians, etc. The whole being a Commentary on all the Chapters of the (Westminster -- RB) Confession of Faith, by way of Question and Answer: In which, the saving Truths of our holy Religion are confirmed and established; and the dangerous Errors and Opinions of its Adversaries detected and confuted... To this Edition is prefixed, A short Account of the Author's Life, by the late Mr. Robert Wodrow..." One of the best commentaries on the Westminster Confession of Faith. This item is part of the elder's reading/training list in the Puritan Reformed Church (the church of the Covenanted Reformation). 296 pages.

 

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Resource 15. SHAW, ROBERT

An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (1845)

 

"All that learning the most profound and extensive, intellect the most acute and searching, and piety the most sincere and earnest, could accomplish, was thus concentrated in the Westminster Assembly's Confession of Faith, which may be safely termed the most perfect statement of Systematic Theology ever framed by the Christian Church," writes William Hetherington in The History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines. The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is without a doubt the greatest human confession ever written, "being the chiefest part of that uniformity in religion, which by the Solemn League and Covenant" bound the British Isles (and all his majesty's dominions) to obedience to the Word of God.

 

Shaw's Exposition is the standard work on the WCF, for he admittedly states "that he has not found it necessary to differ from the compilers of the Confession in any one point of doctrine" (though this is a bit of an overstatement). This edition includes an introductory essay by Hetherington defending the use of Confessions in general and the WCF in particular. Hetherington also gives a brief outline of the historical context of the period in which the WCF was composed while demonstrating the harmonious nature of the Reformational Creeds and Confessions.

 

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Resource 16. PRICE, GREG

Terms of Communion:

The Westminster Standards

 

This series explains and defends the second term of communion in Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian churches, which is,

 

That the whole doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, are agreeable unto, and founded upon the Scriptures.

 

Price not only explains why we need creeds and confession (answering the question: Isn't the Scripture sufficient?), but he shows how everyone has a creed and how such statements of faith are actually inescapable -- for as soon as one says what he believes the Bible means, he has (by definition) put forth his creed ("credo" in Latin means "to believe"). There is no neutrality possible here. Creedalism is an inescapably biblical concept -- or else you could not even preach (with the hope that anyone would believe your preaching), which the Bible commands!

 

Price also gives a summary of the Westminster standards and the history of this august assembly, demonstrating why these standards are agreeable to the word of God. After showing how faithful creeds and confessions (i.e. human testimony) have brought untold blessings to the church he gives a history of the Westminster Assembly (setting the context for the study of the Standards themselves). The doctrines contained in the confessional standards are then summarized.

 

Price also exposes and rebukes much false teaching and false practice (contrary to the standards) using the specific names associated with each heresy refuted. Here is a list of some of the doctrines covered in this extensive and fascinating set:

 

1. Sola Scriptura (refuting popery, neo-orthodoxy, liberalism and the charismatics).

2. The doctrine of God (refuting Unitarianism, Oneness theology [Modalism, Sabellianism], and tritheism).

3. God's decrees and predestination (refuting Arminianism, fatalism [Islam]).

4. Creation (refuting Evolutionism, Pantheism and New Age and Eastern mysticism).

5 The covenant of works.

6. Providence (against "luck" and "accidents").

7. The fall of man (refuting Arminianism and Pelagianism).

8. The covenant of grace (refuting dispensationalism).

9. Christ our mediator (refuting Arianism [JW's], Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism [which led to the transubstantiation and consubstantiation heresies].

10. The free offer of the gospel.

11. Effectual calling (contra Arminianism)

12. Justification by faith alone through Christ alone (contra Rome and the Arminians).

13. Sanctification and good works (condemning antinomianism and legalism).

14. Assurance of faith.

15. Perseverance of the saints

16. The law of God.

17. Christian liberty (against pretended liberty of conscience and the imposition of legalistic standards outside of the law of God)

18. Worship (against the anti-regulativists and promoters of will-worship)

19. The regulative principle (condemning Arminianism in worship).

20. The Sabbath (taking the high Scottish view)

21. Lawful oaths and vows (condemning covenant breaking [churches and nations included], perjury, etc.).

22. The civil magistrate (against pluralism, false toleration, Erastianism, and for biblical establishments).

23. Marriage.

24. The church (contra popery, prelacy and independency [all of which are forms of sectarianism]).

25. The resurrection and general judgement.

 

This is the best taped set dealing with the Westminster Confession of Faith that we are aware.

 

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Resource 17. MCKNIGHT, W.J.

Covenanting, Communion and Confessions: With a Short Summary of the Westminster Confession of Faith

 

Deals with the terms of communion as they relate to the Reformation Creeds and the Westminster Confession.

Defends creedalism and the historic progress evident in the faithful creeds. Touches on covenanting. Contains a useful summary of every chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith. In classic Reformed Presbyterian style, the author notes the testimony of the martyrs in leaving "a noble example for us and our posterity to follow, in contending for all divine truth, and in testifying against all contrary evils, which may exist in the corrupt constitutions of either church or state."

 

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Resource 18. MORRIS, EDWARD D.

Theology of the Westminster Symbols A commentary -- historical, doctrinal and practical, on the Confession of Faith and Catechisms and the related formularies of the Presbyterian Churches

 

Published in 1900, this massive 857 page commentary has a later American flavor to it. The author

 

has desired not merely to set forth the Presbyterian theology of the seventeenth century as embodied in these Symbols, but as well to indicate (though only in outline) the interesting evolution of that theology from the historic germ, to describe its normal growth through the succeeding ages, and to exhibit as far as practicable its remarkable effect and fruitage as seen in the belief and teachings of living Presbyterianism.

 

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Resource 19. WILLIAMSON, G.I.

The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes

 

This study manual explains the meaning of the Confession chapter by chapter. Williamson gives Biblical support for the meaning of what the Confession teaches and distinguishes the truth from overtly conflicting opinions. Each section is followed by study questions, which are answered in full at the back of the volume. Portions of this work contain neopresbyterian thought, but much that is useful is also included. For a thoroughly paleopresbyterian alternative, see Greg Price's cassette series (of five tapes) titled "Terms of Communion: Westminster Standards" at: http://www.swrb.com/catalog/P.htm (or resource 16 above).

 

G.I. Williamson is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC); Greg Price left the OPC because of its unfaithfulness to the original intent of the original Westminster standards.

 

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Resource 20. BOSTON, THOMAS

Commentary on the Shorter Catechism

(2 volumes)

 

Two large volumes of over 1300 pages! Boston's work is the most comprehensive reference set ever penned on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Concerning the Shorter Catechism, A.F. Mitchell states,

 

...it is a thoroughly Calvinistic and Puritan catechism, the ripest fruit of the Assembly's thought and experience, maturing and finally fixing the definitions of theological terms to which Puritanism for half a century had been leading up and gradually coming closer and closer to in its legion of catechisms (The Westminster Assembly: Its History and Standards).

 

The Shorter Catechism is the "king of the catechisms" for shear power of expression, combining logical cogency with succinctness. Boston's exposition is unrivalled; there is nothing else like it. Here you have the cream of Puritan catechisms married to the cream of clear Puritan exposition! This is likely Boston's most important work. A set that will meet numerous needs, ranging from use in family worship, Christian education and personal study, to sermon preparation -- and for help in settling debated questions on the Presbytery floor. A one-of-a-kind set of books that will serve your family for generations to come!

 

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Resource 21. FISHER , JAMES, EBENEZER & RALPH ERSKINE and OTHERS

The Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism Explained, By Way of Question and Answer (1753, 1911 edition)

 

The title continues: "Wherein it is essayed to bring forth the truths of God contained in that excellent composure, more fully than has been attempted in any one of the explicatory Catechisms hitherto published...."

 

Dr. M'Crie writes, "(t)his well-known work was very generally employed by ministers as their test-book at the public examinations of their people, when both old and young were duly catechised. This was, in fact, a profound system of divinity, and was especially devoted to an explanation of the Marrow doctrines" (cited in the Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 474).

 

Mackay notes that it "displays a rich fund of sound theological practical erudition; and it soon became, and still continues to be, the favorite religious manual in thousands of Scotland's religious families, and had associated his name (i.e. Fisher--RB) with the Erskines especially as a household word" (Ibid.).

 

We have also added in the original sections of this book that were taken out by the backsliding (American) Presbyterians that published this later edition. And what they left out is very telling about their defection from Reformation attainments. Among other things they deleted sections dealing with worship (iconoclasm), national covenanting, civil government, toleration, capital punishment (as proved from Old Testament case law), baptism, etc. We have placed all these previously excluded questions and answers in a separate section at the front of the book so that it will be easy for you to see what these unfaithful editors did not want you to see. Thus, you still get the benefit of the superior typesetting of this later edition, with the full text as the original (more Reformed) authors intended it. 485 pages, indexed.

 

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Resource 22. BROWN, JOHN (OF HADDINGTON)

Essay Towards an Easy, Plain, Practical and Extensive Explication of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism (1859, from the sixth Edinburgh edition)

 

The author has taken great care to correct, enlarge, and improve this edition of his catechism, particularly by adding a great number of Scripture texts in order to more clearly elucidate and confirm different points of doctrine and practice. 356 pages.

 

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Resource 23. WATSON, THOMAS

A Body of Divinity Contained in Sermons Upon the Westminster Assembly's Catechism

 

The first book published by the Banner of Truth Trust, this has been one of the best sellers and consistently the most useful and influential of their publications. There are several reason for this:

 

1. The subject of the book. It deals with foremost doctrinal and experimental truths of the Christian Faith.

 

2. The means of instruction used. It is based on the Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism, in which the main principles of Christianity that lie scattered in the Scriptures are brought together and set forth in the form of question and answer. This Catechism is unsurpassed for its 'terse exactitude of definition" and logical elaboration' of the fundamentals.

 

3. The style of the author. Watson conveys his thorough doctrinal and experimental knowledge of the truth in such an original, concise, pithy, pungent, racy, rich and illustrative style that he is rightly regarded as the most readable of the Puritans (backcover).

 

For "part two" of Watson's work on the Shorter Catechism see The Ten Commandments below.

 

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Resource 24. WATSON, THOMAS

The Ten Commandments

 

In this book Watson (c. 1620-1686) continues his exposition of the Shorter Catechism drawn up by the Westminster Assembly. Watson was one of the most popular preachers in London during the Puritan era... The series of three volumes, of which this is the second (the Body of Divinity is first and The Lord's Prayer third), makes an ideal introduction to Puritan literature. There are few matters about which the Puritans differ more from present-day Christians than in their assessment of the importance of the ten commandments. The commandments, they held, are the first thing in Christianity which the natural man needs to be taught and they should be the daily concern of the Christian to the last. In this book Watson examines the moral law as a whole as well as bringing out the meaning and force of each particular commandment. In view of the important function of the law in Christian life and evangelism, this is a most valuable volume (backcover).

 

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Resource 25. WATSON, THOMAS

The Lord's Prayer

 

Watson's three works on the Westminster Shorter Catechism are concluded by his exposition of the Lord's Prayer. In this book he analyses in detail the Preface to the prayer and the six petitions which make it up. His treatment of the second petition ("thy Kingdom come') is exceptionally full and illuminating, This book affords instruction and practical help to praying Christians (backcover).

 

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Resource 26. WILLIAMSON, G.I.

The Shorter Catechism for Study Classes

 

The Westminster Shorter Catechism is unrivalled as a faithful and concise expression of God's revelation in Scripture. For decades G.I. Williamson's study manuals have served as useful tools for instruction in the system of doctrine summarized in this amazing catechism. The format of these books is the same as that explained below in GIW's WCF for Study Classes. Portions of these works contain neopresbyterian thought, but much that is useful is also included.

 

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Resource 27. RIDGELEY, THOMAS

Commentary on the Larger Catechism

(2 volumes)

 

Originally entitled: A Body of Divinity: Wherein the Doctrines of the Christian Religion are Explained and Defended. Being the Substance of Several Lectures on the Assembly's Larger Catechism, we have re-titled it to better reflect its contents for contemporary readers. Consisting of over 1300 pages, this massive and extensive two-volume commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism is unrivaled in scope or extensiveness.

 

Ridgeley himself notes, in "The Author's Preface" (p. ix),

 

The work is large, but the vast variety of subjects will render it more tolerable.... especially since it is rather designed to be read in families than committed to memory...

 

The editor of this edition, John Wilson, pronounces Ridgeley's work as "the best book of its class," stating,

 

no book in the English language, or, so far as I know, in any other, will serve so efficiently the purposes of a daily companion to a reflecting Christian in his inquiries into Divine truth, or a guide to a candidate for the Christian ministry in introducing him to his theological studies (p. xi)... In 1731 appeared the first edition of Mr. Ridgeley's great work -- that in connection with which chiefly his name lives in history, and whose influence, as an instrument of good, will probably render him celebrated and useful for generations to come... (p. xxii).

 

Moreover Wilson writes,

 

a taste, however, for the racy and substantial theological writings of the days of Britain's moral giants has of late revived; and it will scarcely fail to adopt, as one of the richest dishes of its multifarious banquet for the intellect and the soul, Dr. Ridgeley's Body of Divinity (p. xxi).

 

Additionally, Wilson concludes his "Life of the Author" with these words,

 

His method of reasoning he has adapted to the capacities of those who are unacquainted with the abstruse terms made use of by metaphysicians and schoolmen, and when introduced into subjects of theology, have a tendency rather to perplex than to improve the mind. His scheme of divinity is evidently Calvinistic; but; then, he has explained his subjects with so much moderation and latitude, as to obviate many of the objections raised against the system of doctrines that passes under that name. Upon the whole, it is probable that the English language does not furnish a work of this nature that, for perspicuity of language, extent of research, accuracy of judgement, and judicious description of the numerous subjects that fall under examination, any way equals this work of Dr. Ridgeley... he was accounted one of the most considerable divines of his age (emphasis added, p. xxiii).

 

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Resource 28. WAGNER, MICHAEL G.

A Presbyterian Political Manifesto: Presbyterianism and Civil Government (1995)

 

Using citations from great Presbyterians of the past such as Rutherfurd, Gillespie and Knox, and the thoughts of modern day Reformers and Reconstructionists, Wagner demonstrates how the impossibility of neutrality in civil matters leads inescapably to established religion. He then builds the Biblical case for establishmentarianism and deals with some of the hard questions regarding religious liberty and toleration (in such a state). He also shows how the Westminster Confession of Faith should be the doctrinal basis for the state, as well as the church (as it is a faithful summary of biblical teaching). Contains a great bibliography. This is the best short introduction dealing with this subject. Wagner has completed his Doctorate in political science at a major Canadian University.

 

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Resource 29. BARROW, GREG

The Covenanted Reformation Defended (1998)

 

Unsurpassed on points related to the Lord's supper, separation and covenanting as set forth by the best Reformers and best Reformed churches. This book is particularily strong on matters related to the original intent of the Westminster divines! It includes great citations from Calvin and the Westminster Assembly. Deals with many foundational aspects of the Covenanted Reformation (which gave us the Westminster Standards and the Solemn League and Covenant) from numerous original source documents (from the Westminster Assembly's advice to the English Parliament on the Lord's Supper to the official records of Calvin's Covenanting in Geneva).

 

Comprehensive and compelling, this is a shocking (and sometimes advanced) look at what really took place during both the first and second Reformations -- with extensive quotations from the writings of the major Reformers (not just quotes from what others have written about them). It conclusively and irrefutably demonstrates that those churches which today call themselves Presbyterian (and even many which claim a more general Reformed heritage) have seriously departed from the Scriptural standards, principles and worship of these previous Spirit-led Reformations.

 

The Covenanted Reformation Defended is written in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand format and is an unsurpassed work that should not be missed by anyone interested in real Reformation in our day. This is without a doubt the best book to read if you want to understand what it means to be a Covenanter and to walk in the blood-stained footsteps of the witnessing church (Christ's Covenanted and Reformed flock) (Song 1:8)! 318 pages, 8.5" X 11".

 

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Resource 30. WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY

The Reasons Presented by the Dissenting Brethren Against Certain Propositions Concerning Presbyterial Government. And the Proofs of them Voted by the Assembly of Divines, sitting by authority of Parliament, at Westminster. Together With the Answer of the Assembly of Divines to those Reasons of Dissent (1648)

 

It is interesting to note, as Hetherington points out in his History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (p. 220), that,

 

(i)n their answer, the Assembly Divines seem almost to have been ashamed to analyze and expose the weak sophistry of the Dissenting Brethren's argument... but by availing themselves of the concessions made by the Independents in the course of their own illustrations, they completely overthrow the whole Congregational theory.

 

Regarding the book itself Hetherington writes,

 

These reasons of Dissent, and the Answers by the Assembly, occupied the attention of that venerable body during the conclusion of the year 1644, and the early part of the year 1645; and when fully completed, both the reasons and the answers were submitted to the consideration of the Parliament for a considerable time, and when the discussions of the Assembly had terminated, an order was issued by the House of Lords, on the 24th of January 1648 (or 1647, according to their style), that these reasons and answers should be printed from the papers in the hands of Adoniram Byfield, one of the Assembly's scribes, after having been inspected by Messrs Goodwin and Whittaker, to secure their genuineness and authenticity; and they were published in the same year... In the year 1652, the same publication received a new title-page, and was called The Grand Debate concerning Presbytery and Independency, by the Assembly of Divines convened at Westminster by authority of Parliament (History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, pp. 221-222).

 

In short, this is a definitive answer to the best the Independents had to offer. This photocopy is taken from what had previously been Samuel Miller's personal copy of this title. 314 pages.

 

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Resource 31. BROWN (of Haddington), JOHN

The Absurdity and Perfidy of All Authoritative Toleration of Gross Heresy, Blasphemy, Idolatry, Popery, in Britain (1797, 1803 edition)

 

The sub-title reads: "In two letters to a friend in which the doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith relative to Toleration of a False Religion, and the power of the civil magistrate about sacred matters; and the nature, origin, ends and obligation of the National Covenant and Solemn League are candidly represented and defended."

 

Here Brown deals with three major Reformation attainments (anti-tolerationism, establishmentarianism and the obligations of lawful covenants as they biblically bind posterity) that Satan has always been especially concerned to overthrow -- in every major demonic move to open the floodgates of lawlessness, anarchy and misrule. Fletcher, in the preface to the 1797 edition, relates this truth as it comes to bear on various religious professors, stating,

 

Papists were enemies to our covenants because they were a standard lifted up against their system of abominable idolatries. Episcopalians were enemies to them, because they were a standard lifted up against their anti-scriptural church-officers and inventions of men in the worship of God. Some Presbyterians are enemies to them in our day through ignorance of their nature and ends; and others through fear of being too strictly bound to their duty (Cited in Johnston, Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 486).

 

It is also interesting to note the long list of backsliders and heretics that often oppose one or more of these points.

 

The ancient Donatists, a sect of Arian separatists, who appeared about the beginning of the 4th Century, seem to have been among the first who held out these opinions to the Christian world. Feeling the weight of the arm of power for their schismatical practices, by way of reprisal, they stript the magistrate of all power in religion;--maintaining that he had no more power about religious matters than any private person, and refusing him the right of suppressing the propagators of doctrines different from those professed by the Church, or the observers of a different form of worship. From them the German Anabaptists adopted the same views. Then the Socinians (i.e. an early form of Scripture-denying liberals--RB) and remonstrant Arminians, whenever the magistrate ceased to patronize their cause. The English Independents during the time of the Long Parliament were the zealous supporters of the same opinions. In their rage for liberty of conscience, they formed the strongest opposition in the Westminster Assembly which the Presbyterians had to encounter. Through their influence that venerable body was much embarrassed (hindered-- RB) in their proceeding; and by their means (in collusion with that "Judas of the Covenant," Cromwell--RB), certain passages of the Confession of Faith never obtained the ratification of the English Parliament. The English Dissenters of the present age are generally in the same views, especially the Socinians, the Arians, and the Quakers, who have most to dread from the Laws of the Land against their blasphemies. And who knows not that the high reputation of Mr. Locke as a Philosopher... has given these opinions such an air of respectability, that many youth in the Universities have been thereby inclined to embrace them? (Preface, pp. vi-vii).

 

In our day the tree of toleration (and the anti-Scriptural principles which logically grow out of it) has spread its branches in ways that could have never been envisioned by those that took the first steps away from biblical and covenanted uniformity. What Brown is fighting against here is an error so foundational that when left unchecked it permeates all of society, cutting out the foundational roots that are necessary for all national Reformations -- and "if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Ps. 11:3).

 

Furthermore, as the preface notes "liberty of conscience and of opinion" are "the great idols of the day." Here Brown takes out his covenantal hammer and smashes these idols with an inconoclastic zeal worthy of our earlier Reformed forefathers.

 

This book is especially useful in answering the persistent fear and questions that always arise when these old Reformed views are discussed: that is, the questions dealing with religious persecution. Brown spends much time in clearing the Westminster Divines of such false charges, while also setting these controversial Reformed teachings on a thoroughly biblical foundation.

 

Interestingly, in the section defending the continuing obligation of the National and Solemn League and Covenant, we also note that the Westminster Assembly considered the Solemn League and Covenant an "everlasting covenant." Brown cites the following as proof,

 

That the body of the English nation also swore the Solemn League and Covenant, is manifest. The Westminster Assembly and English Parliament, affirm, 'The honourable house of Parliament, the Assembly of Divines, the renowned city of London, and multitudes of other persons of all ranks and quality in this nation, and the whole body of Scotland, have all sworn it, rejoicing at the oath so graciously seconded from heaven. God will, doubtless, stand by all those, who with singleness of heart shall now enter into an everlasting covenant with the Lord' (p. 161, emphasis added).

 

The footnote tells us that the section Brown was quoting was taken from "Exhortation to take the Covenant, February, 1644."

 

Brown also includes a helpful section on a point some modern day malignants are once again attempting to use to overthrow the biblical attainments of the covenanted Reformation. This section shows that the "(t)he intrinsic obligation of promises, oaths, vows, and covenants which constitutes their very essence or essential form, is totally and manifestly distinct from the obligation of the law of God in many respects" (p. 120, emphasis added).

 

Finally, we cite a portion of Brown's dying testimony to his children given in the introduction (p. xix). Such testimonies, from notable Christian leaders, often contain singularly pertinent charges to their hearers. (For another notable example of this see James Renwick's dying testimony, as he was about to be martyred for his adherence to the Solemn League and Covenant, when he recounts what was later to become most of the terms of communion in Covenanted Presbyterian churches. This testimony can be found in Thompson's A Cloud of Witnesses for the Royal Prerogatives of Jesus Christ Being the Last Speeches and Testimonies of those Who Have Suffered for the Truth in Scotland Since... 1680 [ http://www.swrb.com/catalog/h.htm ]). Here are Brown's dying words to his children:

 

'Adhere constantly, cordially and honestly to the Covenanted Principles of the Church of Scotland, and to that Testimony which hath been lifted up for them. I fear a generation is rising up which will endeavour silently,' (O how prophetic!) 'to let slip these matters, as if they were ashamed to hold them fast, or even to speak of them (as with many "reformed" publishers and preachers today, who dare not touch the topics Brown deals with in this book--RB). May the Lord forbid that any of you should ever enter into this confederacy against Jesus Christ and his cause! This from a dying father and minister, and a witness for Christ' (Signed) 'John Brown.'

 

If you have the moral courage to compare the original Reformed faith with that which is often promoted under its name today (and in many ways the old Reformed faith bears little resemblance to the "new light" Reformers and innovators of our day), then this is an ideal book to obtain and study. 213 pages.

 

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Resource 32. REFORMED PRESBYTERY

An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion, Adopted by the Community of Dissenters, etc.

 

Defends the inescapable necessity of creeds and confessions, while promoting a fully creedal church membership. Shows how the law of God obliges all Christians "to think the same things, and to speak the same things; holding fast the form of sound words, and keeping the ordinances as they have been delivered to us" (Col. 3:13).

 

After laying some basic groundwork, this book proceeds to defend the six points of the "Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion Agreed Upon by the Reformed Presbytery." These six points are the most conservative and comprehensive short statements of consistent Presbyterianism you will likely ever see. Besides the obvious acknowledgement of the alone infallible Scriptures, the Westminster Standards, and the divine right of Presbyterianism, these points also maintain the perpetual obligation of our Covenants, National and Solemn League, the Renovation of these covenants at Auchensaugh in 1712, and the Judicial Act, Declaration and Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery.

 

In short, this book sets forth adherence to the whole of the covenanted reformation, in both church and state, as it has been attained by our covenanting forefathers.

 

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Resource 33. MORRIS, EDWARD D.

Nature and Use of Creeds (1900)

 

This is the first chapter from Morris' massive Theology of the Westminster Symbols [$24.95 P; $34.00 HP]. A good defense of the necessity of creeds, the importance of doctrine, the formulation of creeds, historic development, theories of subscription, etc.

 

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Resource 34. SMITH, THOMAS

Select Memoirs of the Lives, Labours, and Sufferings, of Those Pious and Learned English and Scottish Divines, Who Greatly Distinguished Themselves in Promoting the Reformation from Popery; In Translating the Bible; and in Promulgating Its Salutary Doctrines by Their Numerous Evangelical Writings; and Who Ultimately Crowned the Venerable Edifice with the Celebrated Westminster Confession of Faith, etc. etc. etc. (1828)

 

"The Work with the lives of those renowned English Worthies, who introduced and effected the glorious Reformation from popery, and concludes with those, who, unsatisfied with the splendid ceremonial and Romish peculiarities of the church of England, could not conscientiously conform to her superstitious ritual, and were therefore denominated Non-conformists or Puritans. The Reformation of the church of Christ was the sole object of both, their opinions were the same, and it will be difficult to determine who suffered most, or acted the better part. The same reasons that induced the former to labour for the Reformation from Popery induced the latter to exert themselves for the Reformation of the church of England. Their labours, their influence, and their zeal, were devoted to this desirable work, and notwithstanding that they endeavoured, by the most peaceable means, to purge the church, of which they were members, from all its antchristian impurities, they were branded with the name puritans, and many of them, for their non-conformity, suffered suspension, imprisonment, and persecution even unto death. The Work will therefore furnish the reader with a circumstantial account of the arduous conflict of religious liberty, from the days of John Wickliffe. Here he will find some of the merciless proceedings of the court of High Commission and the Star-Chamber, two terrible engine's of cruelty and injustice, whose unparalleled oppressions, and unprecedented barbarities, in place of reconciling men to the unity of the established religion, drove them farther and farther off, confirmed them in their non-conformity, alienated their minds from the prelatical priesthood, and greatly increased their own number and reputation. In a Work of this nature, it appeared necessary to give the reader some account of the errors, encroachments, and corruptions of the Romish church, that led to the long and arduous struggle before us. This he will find in the Historical Sketch of the Christian Church (From the Ascension of Christ -- RB), with which the Memoirs are introduced." (Preface, pp. vii-viii).

 

Also included is a "Short Introduction to the Lives of the Puritans." This is a major historical work, both for scope and accuracy. It covers the lives of 132 principal Reformers; among them: Ames, Baille, Baxter, Bolton, Bradford, the Burgess' (both Anthony and Cornelius), Case, Cawdrey, Coverdale, Cotton, Fox, Gillespie, Goodman, Goodwin, Henderson, Hooker, Hooper, Janeway, Latimer, Lightfoot, Ridley, Rogers, Rutherford, Sibbs, Tyndale, Vines, and a host of others. For the book-lover, researcher and student (of the historical and doctrinal struggle for Reformation), a convenient and helpful list of books by each author covered is appended to the end of each memoir. 724 pages.

 

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Resource 35. WILLSON, JAMES M.

Some Reasons for Retaining the Westminster Confession as the Basis of Ecclesiastical Union

 

Explains why the use of the Westminster Confession is one of the best ways in which to obtain godly ecclesiastical union. This booklet pays special attention to the biblical teaching regarding civil government and shows why changes to the original WCF (regarding this matter) has resulted, not surprisingly, in much ecclesiastical disunity. It also contains some interesting notes on the millennial power and glory that will be exhibited in both church and state "in the day of the Lord's power". Excerpted from the Original Covenanter and Contending Witness magazine (volumes 1:1-4).

 

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Resource 36. JOHNSTON, JOHN C.

Treasury of the Scottish Covenant (1887)

 

A massive listing (over 671 pages) covering Covenanting literature from the period of the Reformation to its publication in 1887. Contains not only the principal literary productions of the Covenanters (in the course of the long-sustained and heroic resistance offered by them to the spiritual despotism thrust against them in both church and state), but all of the chief historical documents connected with this period of history. Inspiration and courage can be drawn from the memories and associations of these events and writings. Here is one example of what you will find (from page 349 in the book),

 

(Richard) Camerons' head and hands, cut from his body at Airsmoss, were taken to his father, then suffering in prison in Edinburgh for the Covenant. He was asked if he knew them. 'His words,' says Dr. Kerr, 'were surely the most touching of all the memories of that cruel time: 'I know, I know them! they are my son's, my dear son's! It is the Lord: good is the will of the Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days.' After which, by order of the Council, his head was fixed upon the Netherbow Port, and his hands beside it, with the fingers upward -- a kind of preaching 'at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors,' that told more for his cause and against the persecutors than all the words he could have spoken.

 

A must for every serious theological student, religious library, or rare book collector who has any interest in Reformation thought and/or literature. It is a veritable gold mine of information, facts, documents, book listings and more!

 

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Resource 37. WILLSON, JAMES M.

The Distinct Denominational Position of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1860)

 

The Covenanter church and its distinctives explained in an easy to read summary. A great short introduction upholding the "Crown Rights of King Jesus!". Excerpted from the Original Covenanter and Contending Witness magazine (volumes 1:7-16).

 

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NOW AVAILABLE ON CD!

Resource 38. REED, KEVIN (JOHN CALVIN, JOHN KNOX, GEORGE GILLESPIE, SAMUEL MILLER, et al.)

LIBRARY OF PRESBYTERIAN HERITAGE PUBLICATIONS and PROTESTANT HERITAGE PRESS ALL ON ONE CD, including some of Calvin's never before translated anti-Nicodemite writings in Come Out From Among Them, The Anti-Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin and other important and previously unreleased titles -- as compiled and/or written by Kevin Reed

 

Over the years, PHP titles have provided readers with solid literature from an historic Protestant and Presbyterian perspective. With the passage of time, many of the older titles have gone out of print. Moreover, the publisher has several new volumes ready for press. At PHP, we do not have the resources to produce printed editions of all these titles at once. Therefore, in order to make all of this material available at one time, on a single source, we have released the PHP Library on CD.

 

The files on the CD are in both HTML and PDF file formats. That means that there is no application software to install. Instead, you use the PHP CD in conjunction with your browser program (such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator) and with Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 3.0 or later). Recent versions of browser software and Reader may be downloaded free via the internet from various software companies; we do not supply them with the PHP disk. Of course, you must also have a CD drive (2x required, faster recommended), connected to your computer.

 

See the full summary and complete contents at:

http://www.swrb.com/presbyterian-heritage.htm

 

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Resource 39. WESTMINSTER DIVINES & OTHER PURITANS (Gouge, Gataker, et al.)

The Westminster Annotations and Commentary on the Whole Bible

(6 volumes, 1657)

 

The diligence given, the energy expended, the obvious humility, and the fearful trembling before God's Word which is evident in these commentators makes this truly a classic Puritan work -- a work of great value! Just knowing, as Barker points out, that this commentary was "prepared mostly by Westminster divines, by order of Parliament, at the time of the Assembly" (Puritan Profiles, p. 37), certainly bodes well for the level of scholarship it contains. Moreover, with Gouge, one of the most respected English Covenanters at the Assembly playing a major role, the thoughtful student of Scripture and history ought to take note: for a theological feast of mature Puritan thought surely awaits those that sup at this table. Esteemed, by the mid-1640's, "as the father of the London Ministers," Gouge was elected as Assessor for the Westminster Assembly on Nov. 25, 1647. His detractors sometimes called him an "arch Puritan" (cf. Ibid., p. 35). Dr. Gouge's "share of the useful work consisted of Kings, and the subsequent books down to Esther, inclusive" (Smith, Select Memoirs of English and Scottish Divines, p. 534). Most of the others chosen to this work had similar credentials, though not all exhibit equal proficiency and some later backslid from attainments reached at this point. Nevertheless, when the commentators were first chosen, these Annotations were produced by some of the most qualified English Puritans -- as a historical high water mark for Puritan scholarship was beginning to crest. Furthermore, in prosecuting this work the divines note, "therefore we have put ourselves to much more pains (for many months) in consulting with many more authors, in several languages, than at first we thought of, that (for the propriety of the original text, for pertinent and profitable variety of versions, for consonancy of parallel Scriptures, and for perspicuity in clearing of the darkest places) we might bring in such observations, as might not only serve to edify the ordinary reader, but might likewise gratify our brethren of the ministry, at least such among them, as have not the means to purchase, or leisure to pursue, so many books, as (by order of the Committee) we were furnished with all, for the finishing of the work, committed to our hands" (preface). As the work wore on, however, it became apparent that the original intention (of printing these annotations as marginal notes in the Bible) would no longer fit the scope and length of commentary that had been produced. Thus, the notes were not added to the Scriptures directly, but rather published as a separate commentary (which we are offering here) -- except that we have divided the work into six volumes rather than the original two, because of logistics.

 

Brook calls this a "useful work" and says of its authors that "several of them were celebrated puritans" (Lives of the Puritans, vol. 3, p. 221n). Spurgeon comments that it "contains valuable remarks" and that "the work is probably less esteemed than it should be" (Commenting and Commentaries). 2383 (8.5" X 11") pages.

 

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Resource 40. BEZA, THEODORE

(Revised and enlarded by Peter Hall)

The Harmony of Protestant Confessions Exhibiting the Faith of the Churches of Christ, Reformed After the Pure and Holy Doctrine of the Gospel, Throughout Europe

 

After 1579 (and some failed attempts at writing a common Protestant Confession), it was decided that it would be a safer plan to compile a Harmony, in which the Protestant Confessions already extant could be distributed under certain heads, and by which all parties involved might be called back to agreement and any appearance of variation that existed might be discussed and explained. The design was accordingly entrusted to Theodore Beza (Calvin's student and successor in Geneva), Daneau, and Salnar. Twelve major Confessions, beginning with Augsburg (1530) through to The Confession of Scotland (1560), are catalogued according to topics (loosely ordered along the general lines of the headings found in the Westminster Confession) in this unique and massive volume. The Westminster Confession (1647), The Synod of Dort (1619), The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England (1571), and the Irish Articles of 1615, have all been appended to this work, increasing its value and making it the most comprehensive compilation and topically indexed reference tool available to creedal Christians today! Over 700 pages.

 

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Resource 41. BEEKE, JOEL & SINCLAIR FERGUSON

Reformed Confessions Harmonized: With an Annotated Bibliography of Reformed Doctrinal Works

 

"For the first time, seven important confessional statements produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been harmonized in a single volume. Three strands of Reformed churches in Europe are represented:

 

Dutch-German: the Belgic Confession of Faith (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Canons of Dort (1618-19)

 

Swiss: the Second Helvetic Confession of Faith (1646-47)

 

Scottish-English: The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646-47) and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647)

 

This book's practical value is further enhanced by its arrangement. The various confessions of faith have been arranged in parallel columns under the traditional categories and subject headings of systematic theology. Readers will find it easy to study and compare the formulations on particular points of doctrine, such as the Trinity, justification, Christian liberty, and baptism... Drs. Beeke and Ferguson also provide a historical introduction to the confessions and the respective conditions under which they were framed. For those who desire to do further research, an extensive annotated bibliography (of 24 pages--RB) of Reformed theological writings is included" (back cover). 284 (8.5" X 11") pages.

 

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