All of the Bible Commentaries of the Scottish Covenanters

 

Order of Contents

Introduction
Old Testament Commentaries  (33)
New Testament Commentaries  (30)

 

 

Introduction

This collection includes every commentary, or series of sermons, on at least a whole chapter of the Bible (plus a few more) of the Scottish covenanters that are in English, from the Scottish Reformation in 1560 to the end of what is popularly known as the Covenanting Era in 1689, as well as works from a few godly episcopalians of that time period (such as Guild and Leighton).  

A significant share of the works below originated from David Dickson spear-heading a project for Scottish divines to produce short, popular commentaries on some of the more difficult books of the Bible that were not as often commented upon.  Though the entire design of the project could not been seen through, yet this effort produced commentaries between 1635-1669 from:

Dickson on the Psalms, Matthew, all of the Epistles and Hebrews;
James Fergusson on Galatians-2 Thessalonians;
George Hutcheson on Job, the Minor Prophets and John; and
Alexander Nisbet on Ecclessiastes and 1 &2 Peter;

all of which commentaries are below.  Robert Blair finished a commentary on Proverbs, but it was never published.  Samuel Rutherford was assigned Isaiah, but whatever portion of the work was completed, was lost.  Robert Douglas also collaborated in this project.  

Read the article at Reformation Scotland for why you should read these commentaries, as they (and most of the rest of the commentaries below) are: practical, pastoral, simple, concise, clear, contextual, and popular.  The value of these commentaries, for those who savor the Word of God, will also be quickly assessed by skimming the comments of the renowned Charles Spurgeon following many of the works.  His scale is as follows:

*** – ‘Heartily recommended’
** – ‘Good, but more ordinary’
* – ‘Least desirable

Do not be fooled by the number of commentaries that received three stars below: Spurgeon did not handout his highest rating frequently or loosely.  J.C. Ryle said that Rollock’s commentaries were some of the best Christian literature that he ever read.

Though Latin works have not been included, it may be of interest to highlight a few:  Rollock wrote Latin commentaries on the Psalms, Daniel, John, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and Hebrews; Andrew Melville commented on Romans; Robert Boyd wrote a magnum opus on Ephesians, it being ‘not only an exhaustive commentary, but virtually a systematic theology as well.’ (F.F. Bruce)  It can only be hoped that with time, these, and many other Latin works in the archives, will be translated into English, the new lingua franca.

The list below includes 25 commentaries on whole books of the Bible in all.  On the one hand, this is a rather low number for the length of the time period (especially in comparison to the prolific output of the more numerous English puritans).  This low number may in part be explained by historical circumstances.  It took several decades after the Reformation in 1560 to establish circumstances and institutions in Scotland that fostered the flourishing of protestant higher learning and literature.  Rollock, the first principal of Edinburgh University, in 1591 first gave spring to this ensuing fountain of Biblical wealth.   As James Hewison explains in Appendix 1, Literary Men and their Works from 1625-1690 (in Vol. 2 of The Covenanters), the later civil wars and censorship of the dominant prelate party during several decades of the 1600’s also contributed to the limited number of godly works that were able to make it through the Scottish presses.  Nonetheless, the contribution that the covenanters did make to commentaries on books of the Bible is irreplaceable, and a landmark of solid, deep, spiritual savoriness found in too few of later commentaries.

Please take great delight in the richness of God’s Word unfolded by these Scottish covenanters!

 

 

 

The Old Testament

 

On the Types and Prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament

Guild, William – Moses Unveiled: or Those Figures which Served unto the Pattern and shadow of heavenly things, pointing out the Messiah Christ Jesus, briefly explained; Whereunto is added the harmony of all the prophets, breathing with one mouth the mystery of his coming, and of that redemption which by his death He was to accomplish  1620  62 pp.

 

 

The Torah

Ex. 20, The Ten Commandments

Durham, James – The Law Unsealed, or a Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments  EEBO  Buy  †1658  500 pp.

Gau, John – A Short Declaration of the Ten Commandments  †1553  14 pp., his The Right Way to the Kingdom of Heaven, pp. 11-25

Gau was an early Scottish Lutheran before the Reformation of 1560.

Leighton, Robert – An Exposition of the Ten Commandments  Buy  †1684  66 pp., in Works, vol. 3, pp. 107-173

Weemes, John – An Explication of the Moral Law, the First Table (300 pp.), the Second Table (360 pp.)  1632, 1636

 

The Judicial Laws

Weemes, John – An Explication of the Judicial Laws of Moses  1632  260 pp.

 

The Ceremonial Laws

Guild, William – Moses Unveiled: or Those Figures which Served unto the Pattern and shadow of heavenly things, pointing out the Messiah Christ Jesus, briefly explained; Whereunto is added the harmony of all the prophets, breathing with one mouth the mystery of his coming, and of that redemption which by his death He was to accomplish  1620  62 pp.

Weemes, John – An Explanation of the Ceremonial Laws of Moses  1632  300 pp.

 

 

2 Samuel

Guild, William – 2 Samuel  †1657

** – ‘The manuscript of this rare book was sent to Dr. John Owen by the widow of the author, with a letter of her own, informing him that her dying husband desired it to be so forwarded.  Dr. Owen says, that he found the treatise ‘written with perspicuity and clearness, handling a subject of great and delightful variety, with a choice mixture of spiritual, moral, and political observations, tempered by a good and sound judgment unto common capacities.’  We do not presume to criticize where Owen commends, but we should not have originated such a commendation.’ 

 

 

Ezra

Leighton, Robert – A Fragment on Ezra 9  Buy  †1684  2 pp., in Works, vol. 4

 

 

Job

Durham, James – Job  Buy  †1658

*** – ‘This is a small book, and we have been unable to procure it.  [William] Orme [†1830] only mentions it upon the authority of Watt’s Bibliotheca.  It is certain to be good, for Durham is always admirable.’ 

Hutcheson, George – Job  PoD  1657

*** – ‘Whenever the student sees a commentary by Hutcheson let him buy it, for we know of no author who is more thoroughly helpful to the minister of the Word.  He distills the text, and gives his readers the quintessence, ready for use.’ 

Dickson, David – Exposition of the Tenth Chapter of Job  †1662  75 pp.  being from his Select Practical Writings, vol. 1, pp. 1-75

 

 

Psalms

The Whole Book

Dickson, David  †1662

Psalms, vol. 1 (1-50), 2 (51-100), 3 (101-150)  Buy  1653-4

*** – ‘A rich volume, dropping fatness.  Invaluable to the preacher.  Having read and re-read it, we can speak of its holy savor and suggestiveness.  We commend it with much fervor.’

The Psalms of David in Meter, with Annotations

Note that the available print-on-demand versions of this work by Nabu Press are a farce and spectacularly unreadable.  Do not waste your money on them.

 

Individual Psalms

Rollock, Robert  †1599

An Exposition upon some Select Psalms of David

Including expositions of 15 Psalms: 3, 6, 16, 23, 32, 39, 42, 49, 51, 62, 65, 84, 116, 130, 137

2 Sermons on Ps. 130  23 pp., from his Select Works  Buy, vol. 1, pp. 457-481

Leighton, Robert – Meditations and Lectures on Ps. 4, 7, 32, 39, 130  Buy  †1684  in Works, vol. 2

Simson, Archibald – Exposition on the Seven Psalms of Repentance  PoD

Including expositions of: Ps. 6, 25, 32, 38, 51, 130, 143

*** – ‘A marrowy author, full of instruction.’ 

Knox, John – An Exposition of Psalm 6  Buy  †1572  45 pp., in Works, vol. 3, pp. 111-156

Renwick, James – Lecture on Ps. 23  Buy  †1688  23 paragraphs

Bruce, Robert – Sermon on Ps. 40 & 2 Sermons on Ps. 76  1617  from his The Way to True Peace and Rest

Cameron, Richard – Lecture on Ps. 92  Buy  †1680  6 pp., from Sermons in the Time of Persecution

Hutcheson, George – 45 Sermons upon Ps. 130  †1674

 

 

Proverbs

Blair, Robert – Proverbs  (in manuscript, not published)  †1666

 

 

The Song of Songs

Durham, James – Song of Solomon  EEBO  Buy  †1658

*** – ‘Durham is always good, and he is at his best upon the Canticles.  He gives us the essence of the good matter.  For practical use this work is perhaps more valuable than any other Key to the Song.’ 

Guild, William – Song of Solomon  1657

** – ‘A rare old work: but we prefer Durham.  The author was one of the better sort of the Scotch Episcopalians.’ 

Rutherford, Samuel – Communion Sermons (see sermons 9, 11-12 & 14)  Buy, ‘The Spouse’s Longing for Christ’ & ‘The Church Seeking her Lord’  Buy  †1661

 

 

Ecclesiastes

Nisbet, Alexander – Ecclesiastes  PoD  †1669

** – ‘One of those solid works which learned Scotch divines of the seventeenth century have left us in considerable numbers.  In our judgment it is as heavy as it is weighty.’ 

 

 

Isaiah

Rutherford, Samuel – Isaiah  in manuscript

Whatever portion of the work was completed, was lost.

Leighton, Robert – 3 Lectures on Isa. 6  †1684  18 pp., in Works  Buy, vol. 2

Bruce, Robert – 6 Sermons on Hezekiah’s Sickness, Isa. 38  1617  115 pp., from The Way to True Peace and Rest, pp. 157-272

Durham, James – Christ Crucified, 72 Sermons on Isa. 53, vols. 12  Buy

 

 

The Minor Prophets

Hutcheson, George – The Minor Prophets  (Hosea-Malachi)  Buy  †1674

*** – ‘Get it.  Hutcheson is always rich.  He resembles Dickson.’ 

Note that the Sovereign Grace Publishers reprint only contains 6 of the minor prophets (see the review on Amazon).

 

 

The New Testament

 

Matthew

Dickson, David – Matthew  Buy  1651

*** – ‘A perfect gem.  The work is, to men of our school, more suggestive of sermons than almost any other we have met with.’

Leighton, Robert  †1684  Buy  9 Lectures on Matt 1-9  84 pp., in Works, vol. 3

Knox, John – An Exposition of Matt 4:1-4, Concerning the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness  1556  29 pp., in Works  Buy, vol. 4, pp. 85-114

Nevay, John – 32 Sermons on Christ’s Temptation  †1672

The Lord’s Prayer, Mt. 6:9-13

Gau, John – The Pater Noster [‘Our Father’]  †1553  18 pp., from his The Right Way to the Kingdom of Heaven, pp. 82-100

Gau was an early Scottish Lutheran before the Reformation of 1560.

Leighton, Robert – Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer  †1684  69 pp., in Works   Buy, vol. 4, pp. 37-106

Cameron, Richard – Lecture on Mt. 18:1-17  †1680  9 pp., from Sermons in Times of Persecution  Buy

 

 

Luke

Rutherford, Samuel – On Luke 15:11-32, The Forlorn Son, Sermons 9-15  Buy  †1661

 

 

John

Hutcheson, George – John  Buy  1657

*** – ‘Excellent; beyond all praise.  It is a full-stored treasury of sound theology, holy thought, and marrowy doctrine.’

Rollock, Robert – 25 Lectures on John 14-17 & 54 Lectures on John 18-21  Buy  †1599  including commentary on selections from the other gospel accounts of the same history

 

 

All of the Epistles

Dickson, David – The Epistles (Romans-Jude)  Buy  1659  

*** – ‘Dickson is a writer after our own heart.  For preachers he is a great ally.  There is nothing brilliant or profound; but everything is clear and well arranged, and the unction runs down like the oil from Aaron’s head.  In this volume the observations are brief.’

Note that the Banner of Truth reprint contains Dickson’s commentary on less books than the original.

 

Romans

Brown, John, of Wamphray – Romans  Buy  †1679

** – ‘By a Calvinist of the old school.  Heavy, perhaps; but precious.’

Ferme, Charles – Romans  PoD  †1617  

Binning, Hugh – The Sinner’s Sanctuary, 40 Sermons on Rom. 8:1-15  †1653  145 pp., from his Works  Buy, pp. 119-264

Leighton, Robert – Lecture Rom. 12:3-12  †1684  15 pp., in Works  Buy, vol. 2

 

 

2 Corinthians

Rollock, Robert – 5 Sermons on 2 Cor. 5:1-18  Buy  †1599  64 pp., from his Select Works, vol. 1, pp. 299-363

 

 

Galatians – Thessalonians

Fergusson, James – The Epistles (Galatians-2 Thess.)  Buy  †1667

*** – ‘He who possesses this work is rich.  The author handles his matter in the same manner as Hutcheson and Dickson, and he is of their class–a grand, gracious, savory divine.’

Rollock, Robert – Colossians  EEBO  1603  

** – ‘It is said that when this great divine died the entire population of Edinburgh attended his funeral.  His Lectures on Colossians were once very popular, but are now extremely scarce.  The style is very simple and colloquial, and the matter far from profound.’

Rollock, Robert – 1 & 2 Thessalonians  1606

Guild, William – On 2 Thess. 2:3-9, Antichrist… the Popes of Rome proven to be that Man of Sin…  1655  see chs. 3, 7, 9-11 & 16-18

 

 

Hebrews

Dickson, David – Hebrews  Buy  1635  

*** – ‘We need say no more than–get it, and you will find abundance of suggestions for profitable trains of thought.’

This is a different commentary than the commentary on Hebrews in his commentary on all the epistles. 

 

 

The General Epistles

Binning, Hugh – Fellowship with God, 20 Sermons on 1 John 1  †1653  59 pp., from his Works  Buy, pp. 271-330

Leighton, Robert – 1 Peter, vols. 1 (chs.1-2), 2 (3-5)  Buy  †1684

*** – ‘Dr. Henry Mills thus wrote of Leighton’s works: ‘There is a spirit in them I never met with in any other human writings, nor can I read many lines in them without being moved.’  We need scarcely commend this truly heavenly work.  It is a favorite with all spiritual men.’

Nisbet, Alexander – 1 & 2 Peter  Buy  1658

*** – ‘A judicious and gracious Scotch commentary, after the style of Dickson and Hutcheson.’

 

 

Revelation

The Whole Book

Durham, James – Revelation  EEBO  Buy  1658

** – ‘After all that has been written, it would not be easy to find a more sensible and instructive work than this old-fashioned exposition.  We cannot accept its interpretations of the mysteries, but the mystery of the gospel fills it with sweet savor.’

Durham writes in the historicist school of interpretation, which was the nearly universal view of the Scottish covenanters, along with the Reformation and puritan era.

Guild, William – The Sealed Book Opened: or, a Clear Explication of the Prophecies of the Revelation. Together with the lessons that are to be observed from every chapter thereof, being clearly explained. Intended chiefly for the discovery to all of that Roman Antichrist, and that Rome’s final destruction is surely at hand, by that blessed work of reformation happily begun in the several churches and kingdoms of Europe  ToC  1656

Napier, John – Revelation  1611

Napier was the mathematician that invented logarithms.

 

Chapters of Revelation

Fleming, Robert – An Epistolary Discourse Concerning the Rise and Fall of Antichrist  1694  200 pp.

Fleming covers many of the chapters in Revelation and their interpretation in his Discourse.

Guild, William – Antichrist… the Popes of Rome proven to be that Man of Sin…  1655  see chs. 4-6, 8, 11, 13-15

Baillie, Robert – On Rev. 20, ‘The Thousand Years of Christ’s Visible Reign
upon Earth, is Against Scripture’  1645  71 paragraphs, being ch. 11 of his Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time

 

 

 

Related Pages

All of the Writings of the Scottish Covenanters

Bible Commentaries

Recommendations for Bible Commentaries

Whole Bible Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries