Order of Contents
The Confession (26)
The Confession and Catechisms (3)
The Larger Catechism (5)
The Shorter Catechism (151)
The Directory for Public Worship
The Form of Presbyterial Church Government
The Westminster Directory of Church Government
We believe and love the Westminster Standards, not because they are human documents, but because we are persuaded that they are the most accurate summary of the Biblical teachings of Christianity that history has yet produced.
Have a question about something in the Westminster Confession or Standards? Want to study the standards of Presbyterianism yourself? Teaching a class on the Confession or Catechisms? Reviewing these documents before you vow to them as an office-bearer? The commentaries on this page will be of tremendous help to you.
This page intends to be a reasonably exhaustive collection of all the (good) commentaries on the Westminster Standards in English that are available (though inevitably there are bound to be some out there that we have missed; if so, let us know).
The best commentary on the Confession that Church history has given to us is that of the Free Church of Scotland minister, Robert Shaw (1845), which is one of the few commentaries on the original 1646 Confession (as opposed to the American-revised Confession). To see demonstrated that the Biblical distinctives of the original 1646 Confession are right, see Fentiman’s The Interpretation and Defense of the Original Westminster Standards: an Annotated Bibliography.
Most of the works in the subsections below are in chronological order. Where a subsection is composed of all contemporary works, the items are in alphabetical order.
Please enjoy these commentaries unto your good and the glory of God!
* – particularly noteworthy
“Keep close to the Bible. Pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and subordinately to this, study the works, expository and symbolical, of the great Reformers.”
John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan
Commentaries on the Westminster Confession (26)
Included below are only commentaries on the whole Confession. For more commentaries on parts thereof, and other background info on the Confession, see this bibliography.
Study Guides on the Confession (6)
* Weed, Henry – Questions on the Confession of Faith and Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America with a selection of Scripture proofs, designed for the instruction of classes in the doctrines of said Church PoD 1842 103 pp.
Ball, III, John; Rollinson, Philip – The Westminster Confession of Faith (a Modern Study Edition) Buy 1991 53 pp.
Crampton, Gary – Study guide to the Westminster Confession Buy 1996 101 pp. published by the Trinity Foundation.
Crampton, at the time he wrote this, held to the epistemology (how we know things) of Scripturalism (that the only knowledge we can know is that deduced from Scripture), following Gordon Clark and the Trinity Foudnation, though this is not the view of the Confession. See The Westminster Standards on Natural Law. Crampton has since become a Reformed Baptist.
Hustedt, Dennis – Grounded in God’s Word: Daily Devotions from the Westminster Confession of Faith Buy 2008 352 pp.
‘These readings will introduce you to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, grounded in the Scripture, while providing a guide for your daily devotional time. Each week focuses on one question and answer from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Ideal for Sunday school or Bible class use.’
* Pipa, Joseph – The Westminster Confession of Faith Study Book: A Study Guide for Churches Buy 2005 416 pp.
Dr. Pipa is the president of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a faithful seminary in South Carolina, USA.
Ward, Rowland – The Westminster Confession of Faith: A Study Guide (New Expanded Edition) Buy 2004 304 pp. Includes analysis, exposition, thoughts from other minds, questions for discussion, a selected bibliography
Rowland Ward is a presbyterian minister in Australia.
* Williamson, G.I. – The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes Buy 1964 409 pp.
Williamson is one of the more conservative ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Introductory Commentaries on the Confession (8)
McKee, Charles Brown – An Analysis and Defence of the Doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith 1832 Brown was of the RPCNA
Clark, Gordon – What do Presbyterians Believe? Buy 1965 285 pp.
This introductory commentary on the Confession is helpful and humorous at times, in Clark’s characteristic style. Clark (†1985) was a minister in the O.P.C. and R.P.C.E.S., as well as a philosophy professor at Wheaton College and Butler University.
To be noted is that Clark finds an inconsistency in the Confession in ch. 3.1, which says that God ‘ordain[s] whatsoever comes to pass’, and ch. 6.1, that God ‘permit[ed]’ Adam’s Fall. However, these two teachings of the Bible and the Confession are true in different respects. Clark also, in redefining ‘person’ and ‘nature’, finds an inconsistency in the chapters on the Trinity and on the Person of Christ. His view (in his later works) that Christ is, in a sense, two persons, leans awfully close to Nestorianism.
Philip, James – The Westminster Confession of Faith – An Exposition, 2 vols. Buy 1970
James Philip, a Scottish minister, has ministered at the Tron Church in Glasgow and at Holyrood Abbey Church in Edinburgh (the church that the English royal family attends when in Scotland).
* Gerstner, John; Kelley, Douglas; Rollinson, Philip – A Guide: The Westminster Confession of Faith: Commentary Buy 1992 202 pp.
‘This is a concise review of what the Westminster Confession says and means in the context of its origins in the Reformation and the 17th century and in the context of our own day in the 21st century. The introduction is followed by chapter-by-chapter, section-by-section, analysis and explanation. There is also a synoptic outline of the contents of the Confession and comprehensive indices of subjects and names.’ – Amazon
Thomas Wilkinson – The Westminster Confession Now: An Exposition of a Reformation Document with a Message for Today, in Today’s Language 1992
Everhard, Matthew – Hold Fast the Faith: A Devotional Commentary on the Westminster Confession of 1647 Buy 2012
Everhard is a pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Florida.
* Spear, Wayne – The Faith of our Fathers: A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith Buy 2006
Spear is a professor at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, of the RPCNA.
Sproul, R.C. – Truths We Confess: A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, 3 vols. Buy 2006
Medium-Level Commentaries on the Confession (7)
* Dickson, David – Truth’s Victory Over Error, or, An Abridgment of the Chief Controversies in Religion which since the apostles days to this time… by going through all the chapters of The Confession of Faith.. Buy first edition 1684 300 pp. See also the later edition at Internet Archive
This was the first commentary on the Westminster Confession, written by a prominent Scottish minister contemporary to the Assembly, and printed after his death in 1662. The commentary is by way of question and answer format, and mainly focuses on refuting errors that the Confession meant to guard against. The internet versions are not incredibly easy to read, so buy the Banner of Truth reprint on this important work, which is well done.
Hutcheson, George – [Unknown Title] †1674
Hutcheson was a major Bible commentator and one of the Scottish divines in the 1647 Assembly of the Church of Scotland that adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith. His commentary thereon has been lost to history. Read Andrew Myers’ blogpost for more on this intriguing story.
* Shaw, Robert – An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines Buy 1845 4th edition, 1850 416 pp.
This is perhaps the best commentary on the Confession in print, and that not from the American revisions, but from the original 1646 Confession. Shaw was part of the Original Secession Church in Scotland, and then later came into the Free Church of Scotland. This older online edition has numerous details that got cut out of the modern reprint.
Associate Reformed Synod – Exposition and Defense of the Westminster Assembly’s Confession of Faith, being the Draught of an Overture Prepared by a Committee of the Associate Reformed Synod, in 1783, a New Edition, with Introduction and Notes by Rev. David McDill Buy 1855 286 pp.
This original edition of this work was published in 1787. B.B. Warfield gives some background to this work here. McDill was a minister in the Associate Reformed Synod and later in the United Presbyterian Church. Here is a biography of him.
* Hodge, A.A. – A Commentary on the Confession of Faith, with Questions for Theological Students and Bible classes Buy 1st ed. 1869, 1901 572 pp.
Hodge, the Princeton Professor and son of Charles Hodge, gives a very valuable commentary on the Confession.
MacPherson, John – The Westminster Confession of Faith, with Introduction and Notes Buy 1881 200 pp.
MacPherson was a professor of the Free Church of Scotland. The work was geared towards Bible classes.
Finlayon, R.A. – Reformed Theological Writings Buy 1996 268 pp.
This collection of writings by a notable Free Church of Scotland professor, perhaps one of the best theologians of the 20th century (see here for an intro to his life), contains 6 excellent chapters on the theology of various subjects in the Confession (his treatment of Predestination is one of the best their is, quoted in part on this page), and 19 chapters on the same doctrines of the Confession though the contents of those chapters do not explicitly bring the Confession into view.
Historical-Theological Expositions of the Confession (4)
ed. Duncan, Ligon – The Westminster Confession in the 21st Century, 3 vols. Buy 2003
These three volumes are composed of historical and theological essays on (amongst other things) the theology of the Confession. They are very helpful in that regard, but the total volume of pages is lengthy.
Also to be noted is that each essay, and the argument therein, is particular to that author, and sometimes is not always right on. Nick Needham argues at length that the word ‘psalms’ in the Standards implicitly included uninspired hymns. Matthew Winzer, in an academic journal article, has thoroughly, historically refuted that thesis. In the volumes, a reformed baptist argues that the Westminster Confession teaches a form of baptismal regeneration. Patrick Ramsey gives the counter response to that in this academic journal article (you must request access to the site).
Fesko, J.V. – The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Context and Theological Insights Buy 2014 448 pp.
* Letham, Robert – The Westminster Assembly: Reading its Theology in Historical Context Buy 2009 416 pp.
This very helpful work goes through the subjects of most of the chapters of the Confession and gives the historical development of their teachings. This was the first commentary on the Confession to make use of van Dixhoorn’s (very expensive and hard to come by) complete collection of the minutes of the Assembly, which recent discovery has greatly added to out knowledge of the context of the Westminster teachings.
A drawback to the work is that Letham has a few American-revision-biases to the subject he is treating of. He says that the Assembly was Erastian, though, according to the Bible and the Confession (1646) ch. 31.2, it is lawful for the Civil Magistrate to call an ecclesiastical assembly during extraordinary times (see the proof-texts from Scripture in the Confession), for example, as the Westminster Assembly was called by the English civil Parliament. Further misunderstandings occur with regard to the Confession’s teaching regarding the Establishment Principle and other Biblical principles of the original Standards that American presbyterianism has abandoned.
van Dixhoorn, Chad – Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith Buy 2014 512 pp.
Dixhoorn is the scholar that found and published (in 2012) the whole, remaining minutes of the Westminster Assembly, previously lost in a mislabeled library archive. Per Dr. Ryan McGraw, this commentary is ‘devotionally excellent, but historically weak’ as Dixhoorn leaves the reader to trust him for his historical assertions without many footnotes from the primary sources (which would make the book much longer and unwieldy). See McGraw’s review on the Buy link.
Another weakness of the work is that Dixhoorn takes, and argues for, the American revisions of the Confession: ‘this commentary does, from time to time, first state the assembly’s own perspective on an issue and then argue against it.’ (xxi-xxii).
Critical of the Westminster Confession (1)
Parker, William – The Late Assembly of Divines’ Confession of Faith Examined: as it was Presented by Them unto the Parliament, wherein Many of their Excesses & Defects of their Confusions & Disorders, of their Errors and Contradictions, are Presented Both to Themselves & Others 1651
This was the first commentary published on the Westminster Confession, it being an attempted refutation of it. To give an idea of where the author was coming from, here is a title to another book of his:
‘A Revindication Set Forth by William Parker… of the possibility of a total mortification of sin in this life: and, of the saints’ perfect obedience to the law of God: to be the orthodox Protestant doctrine, and no innovations (as they are falsely charged to be)…’
Commentaries on the Confession and Catechisms (3)
Medium Level (2)
Bordwine, James – A Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger Catechism, With Scripture Proofs: Also Including Chapter Summaries and Topical Index Buy 1991 370 pp. published by the Trinity Foundation
At the time of this work, Bordwine was a teaching elder in the P.C.A. in North Carolina and an instructor in Old Testament and Historical Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, at which he was a Th.D. candidate. He wrote in the Preface, ‘This work is the result of my deep love and appreciation for the Westminster Standards. It is my conviction that the Confession and Catechisms represent the single best expression of the doctrine contained in the Scriptures.’
Medium Level (2)
Beattie was a very faithful, able and accomplished Southern Presbyterian, teaching as a professor in Louisville, KY. See here for a bio and review of this work. This commentary synthesizes the similar parts of the Confession and Catechisms by subject (see the table of contents), and comments on them all.
* Morris, Edward – Theology of the Westminster Symbols: A Commentary, Historical, Doctrinal, Practical on the Confession of Faith and Catechisms and the Related Formularies of the Presbyterian Churches 1900 888 pp.
Morris’ work is very valuable, especially as one of the earlier analyses of the Westminster theology, though he does have a few tendencies, including teaching non-literal days of Creation.
Commentaries on the Larger Catechism (4)
For more resources relating to the Larger Catechism, see this bibliography.
Introductory Level (1)
Intermediate & Advanced (4)
Introductory Level Commentary (1)
This commentary is devotional in nature. It is not particularly recommended as Baynard departs from the doctrine of the Catechism in certain places, such as denying the Regulative Principle of Worship in Q. #109. Baynard was of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Intermediate & Advanced Commentaries (4)
This was the first commentary published on the Larger Catechism, being a series of sermons through it. Ridgley (1667-1734) was a reformed, English Independent, who was the assistant and successor of Thomas Gouge in London.
* Vos, Johannes – The Westminster Larger Catechism, a Commentary ed. G.I. Williamson Buy originally written 1946-49 614 pp.
Vos was a mid-western pastor in the RPCNA. This is the most accessible and usable commentary on the Catechism. It is a medium level treatment and is in the format of questions and answers, which is well done.
Morecraft, Joe – Authentic Christianity: An Exposition of the theology and the Ethics of the Westminster Larger Catechism, 5 vols. Buy 2009
Morecraft, who has been a pastor in the RPCUS, here has written a massive and detailed, though not technical, commentary on the Larger Catechism. Such a work, which took 20 years in the making, is very welcome, though do note that Morecraft is a Theonomist and entrenched in Worldviewism, as was the original publisher (American Vision). The first edition contains a multitude of oversights in editing and proof-reading; however the second edition by Four Falls Press has corrected these and includes a volume of indices.
Moeck, Gregory – Westminster Larger Catechism Lecture Notes 2015-2020
Moeck was an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This is a collection of the handout outlines and notes that attended his weekly Sabbath-school classes going through the Larger Catechism. They go up through Question 49, are very in-depth, often interact with theologians throughout Church history and the reformed scholastics, and sometimes contain valuable bibliographies.
Though Moeck shortly after apostatized to Romanism, it appears that the teachings of all of the handouts, except the last one, are in-line with the Westminster standards.
Commentaries on the Shorter Catechism (151)
For more resources relating to the Shorter Catechism, see this bibliography.
McCurley, Rob – ‘Lectures on the Westminster Shorter Catechism’ 28 Lectures, about 15-20 min long each
These lectures expounding the Shorter Catechism were originally done for the children of the congregation that Rev. McCurley is a pastor of, though they will be a blessing and very helpful to adults as well.
Commentaries for Children and Youth (25)
A Plain and Familiar Method of Instructing the Younger Sort, according to the Lesser Catechism PoD 1662
An Explanation of the Shorter Catechism, Composed by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, 1647. With a plain, and familiar Method of instructing the younger Sort, in that Catechism. Specially intended for Governors of Families, and humbly submitted to the candid judgment of the godly and judicious Reader 1675
An Abridgement of the late Reverend Assemblies Shorter Catechism, Fitted for the use of the weakest Capacities and Memories
Lye (1621-1684) was one of the ejected London ministers in 1662. For more details on the contents and publication info of these works, see Carruthers, p. 73.
* Doolittle, Thomas
The Young Man’s Instructor, and the Old Man’s Remembrancer: or Controversies and Practical Truths fitted to the Capacity of Children, and the more ignorant sort of People, being done in a Catechetical Exercise, on the Lord’s Day, in explaining the… Shorter Catechism 1673 367 pp.
A Plain Method of Catechizing, with a Prefatory Catechism, showing ministers, parents, masters ought to be teachers of: Ignorant, Young, Old ought to be learners of the first Principles of Christian Doctrine PoD 1699 417 pp.
Anonymous – A Short and Easie Catechism, wherein the more difficult terms in the Assemblies Shorter Catechism are opened and explained. For the Benefit of Children and such as are of Weaker Capacity….By a Minister of the Gospel (Glasgow: 1719)
Fletcher, A. The Important Doctrines of Scripture plainly illustrated, in a brief Explanation of the Assembly’s Catechism, for The Instruction of Youth. Divided into fifty-two Lessons for the use of Sunday Schools and Families (London: 1824)
Murray, D. – The Parent’s and Teacher’s Assistant: or a Help to make Young People acquainted with the Doctrines contained in The Shorter Catechism (Dundee: 1826)
Anonymous – The Shorter Catechism Explained, and made intelligible to children with a Directory for composing prayer in the language of Scripture, by a Friend of Youth (Leith, 1827) 120 pp.
Smith, William – The School and Family Catechist; or an Explication and Analysis of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (Glasgow, 1823) 112 pp. Smith had a Master of Arts and was a minister.
Buchan, C. F. – An Introduction to the Shorter Catechism, designed for the use of Sabbath Schools (Edinburgh: 1849)
Anonymous – The Shorter Catechism of the Reverend Assembly of Divines; with Questions and Explanations to illustrate the text, and a few forms of prayers and graces for the benefit of the young (Edinburgh, 1849) 36 pp.
Smith, Eliza – Chapters on the Shorter Catechism: a Tale for the Instruction of Youth, by a Clergyman’s Daughter 2nd ed. 1850 368 pp. Smith was of Montrose.
Blackwood, W. – Notes for Teachers: being a series of Scripture lessons for Sabbath Schools, with notes on the Shorter Catechism (Philadelphia: 1853)
Boyd (1835-1890) was an American minister in Ohio.
* Cross, Jonathan – Illustrations of the Shorter Catechism for Children and Youth, vols. 1, 2 PoD 1865 288 & 308 pp.
Cross (†1876) was an American minister in the Northern Presbyterian Church.
Anonymous – A Series of Popular Notes (with Illustrative Anecdotes) on the Shorter Catechism, expressly adapted for the Teachers of Elementary Day-Schools (Glasgow: 1875)
Symington, Mary Thomson – Home Lessons on the Old Paths, or Conversations on the Shorter Catechism PoD (Paisley, 1878) 288 pp. †1882
No Date (4)
Anonymous – Catechetical Assistant for the use of Parents and Sabbath School Teachers (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publications, n.d.)
Dickey, J. – Questions on the Shorter Catechism, with an Alphabetical Table of Definitions, designed to aid in the work of Catechetical Instruction (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board)
Engles, Joseph – Catechism for Young Children. Being an Introduction to the Shorter Catechism (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publications)
Gall, J. Jun – The Child’s Introduction to The Shorter Catechism
Contemporary Works (2)
Ross, Marianne – The Shorter Catechism Activity Book: Learning the Truth through Puzzles Buy n.d. 127 pp.
‘Using the familiar puzzle formats children use in school such as word searches, crossword puzzles and codes this book will help children to work through the Westminster Shorter Catechism…’
Conway, Andrew – The Shorter Catechism Made Simple Buy 94 pp.
‘This brief book aims not only to address this problem by putting the Catechism into modern English, but likewise to highlight the carefully arranged structure of the catechism – a structure that in itself contains a great deal of wisdom. To achieve this, the catechism is divided into sections, and a few notes to help explain it are given.’
Conway is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
Puritan Commentaries on the Catechism (16)
Wallis, John – A Brief and Easy Explanation of The Shorter Catechism Presented By the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, to both Houses of Parliament. And By them Approved. Wherein the meanest Capacities may in a speedy and easy way be brought to understand the Principles of Religion, In imitation of a Catechism formerly published by Mr. Herbert Palmer PoD 1648
Wallis (1616-1703) was a non-voting scribe at the Westminster Assembly. Note that his work above, the first commentary on the Shorter Catechism, was approved by the Westminster Assembly. Wallis was also a mathematician, one of the founders of the Royal Society and in 1649 a professor of Geometry at Oxford. All of his writings that are online (many of which are theological) are here.
Adams, Thomas – The Main Principles of Christian Religion in a 107 Short Articles or Aphorisms, generally received as being proved from Scripture: now further cleared and confirmed by the consonant doctrine recorded in the articles and homilies of the Church of England †1653 191 pp.
W., S. – A Short and Plain Explication of the Shorter Catechism Composed by the Reverend Assembly of Divines. In which every Answer (which is in itself an entire Proposition) is taken apart, and resolved into Short Questions and Answers, with the Proofs set in their proper places, to that part of the Answer for proof of which they are also quoted: as also any difficult expression opened, that may seem to mean capacities hard to be understood (London, 1667)
Lye, Thomas – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Drawn out into distinct Propositions, and Proved by Plain & Pertinent Texts of Scripture at Large. With Short Rules of Direction for Masters of Families, how to use this Book to the best advantage 1672 Buy 1675 182 pp.
Lye (1621-1684) was one of the ejected London ministers in 1662. For more details on the contents and publication info of these works, see Carruthers, p. 73.
* Vincent, Thomas – An Explicatory Catechism; or, An Explanation of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Buy 1673 304 pp.
Vincent (1634-1678) was one of the London ministers ejected in the Great Ejection of 1662. He preaches in several of the city churches during the plague of 1665 and visited the sick and dying.
Alleine, Joseph – A Most Familiar Explanation of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism wherein their larger answers are broken into lesser parcels, thereby to let in the light by degrees into the minds of the learners PoD 1674 160 pp.
Most of the answers are one word, making this especially suitable for children.
Chambre, Robert – An Explanation of the Shorter Catechism of the Reverend Assembly of Divines 1680 Chambre was a minister.
* Flavel, John – An Exposition of the Assembly’s Catechism, with Practical Inferences from each Question, as it was carried on in the Lord’s Day’s Exercises in Dartmouth in the first year of liberty, 1688 PoD 1688 232 pp.
“Dr. Increase Mather wrote a preface to this work in which he says that the author left four questions at the end unfinished which have been done by ‘a ruder hand.'” – W. Carruthers
Angier, Samuel – A Short Explanation of the Shorter Catechism. Being the substance of some late Explanations of the same Catechism. With some Variations and Additions. By one that desires to promote Christian knowledge, as the way to Life Eternal 1689 86 pp.
Angier (1639-1713) was ejected from Christ’s Church, Oxford in 1662. Here is his biography.
Hall, Thomas – A Plain and Easy Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism; confirmed with plenty of Scripture Proofs; very helpful to all, especially to those of weaker capacity Buy (Edinburgh, 1697) 248 pp. Hall was a minister.
Chauncy, Isaac – The Doctrine which is according to Godliness grounded upon the Holy Scriptures of Truth; and agreeable to the Doctrinal Part of the English Protestant Articles and Confessions Buy 1700 352 pp.
Chauncy (1632-1712), the successor to John Owen, was ejected in the Great Ejection of 1662. ‘The first division of the Catechism only is dealt with, to Q. 38. An 18th edition was issued in 1737.’ – W. Carruthers
Maschil, or, The Faithful Instructor, Offering Memorials of Christianity In twenty Six Exercises Upon The New-English Catechism;… With an Addition, (To render the work yet more Universally Acceptable and Serviceable) of the like operations upon, The Assemblies Catechism (Boston: 1702)
Much in Little. Or, Three brief Essays To sum up the whole Christian Religion, for the more easy and Pleasant Instruction of the weakest Capacities…. III. An Abridgment of the Assemblies Catechism…. (Boston: 1702)
The Man of God Furnished. The Way of Truth, Laid out; with a Threefold Catechism: Epitomizing that Excellent Composure of One Hundred & Seven, with no more than Thirty Two Questions… (Boston: 1708)
* Doolittle, Thomas – A Complete Body of Practical Divinity; being a new improvement of the Assembly’s Catechism PoD 1723 †1707
‘This had been delivered at his Wednesday lectures in Monkwell Street, and was printed after his death. He catechized the youth and adults of his congregation every Lord’s Day.’ – W. Carruthers
Henry, Matthew – A Scripture Catechism in the Method of the Assembly’s Buy †1714 224 pp. The title refers to Henry’s own explanatory catechism upon the Shorter Catechism.
Scottish Commentaries on the Shorter Catechism (50)
* Willison, John – An Example of Plain Catechizing upon the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism PoD 1717 327 pp.
Wilson (1680-1750) was a minister in the Church of Scotland.
Campbell – On the Assembly’s Catechism (Edinburgh: 1726)
Lang, Robert – The Father’s Catechism in a legacy to his eight children; or a help for the young and ignorant in order to their better understanding of the Assembly’s Catechism PoD (Glasgow, 1726)
* Boston, Thomas – A Brief Explication of the First Part of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Buy †1732 133 pp. in Works, vol. 7, pp. 9-142 The commentary is up through Question #38. See also his longer work on the whole Catechism below.
Cameron, H. – Some Meditations on the First Thirty-Eight Questions of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (Edinburgh: 1783)
Mair, Alexander – A Brief Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism PoD (Edinburgh, 1752) 168 pp.
Mair was a minister at Forteviot.
* Fisher, James, Ebenezer Erskine – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism explained by way of Question and Answer Buy 1753, 1760
Fisher and Erskine were ministers in the Scottish Secession Church.
Brown, J. – An help for the Ignorant: being an Essay towards an easy Explication of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, Composed for the Young ones of his own Congregation (Edinburgh: 1758)
Gillies, John – The Shorter Catechism divided, for the use of Young People in the South Parish of Glasgow 1760 62 pp.
Gillies (1712-1796) was a Scottish minister of South Parish, Glasgow.
Oliphant, J. – The Mother’s Catechism, Doctrinal and Historical….enlarged for the Benefit of Young Communicants….The whole intended as a brief Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, and a Summary of the Christian Religion Buy (Glasgow: 1770)
Bain, W. – Family Instructor, being an Attempt to Illustrate the Principles of Christianity, as they are contained in the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism 1778
Bain was a teacher in Glasgow, Scotland.
Brown, John, of Haddington
This Brown was the minister in the Secession Church of Scotland.
Two Short Catechisms mutually connected, the Questions of the former being generally supposed and omitted in the latter Buy 1764
‘The one is introductory to, the other explanatory of, the Shorter Catechism. They have been frequently reprinted; and the second appears in various editions under the name, ‘A Brief Explanation of the Assembly’s Catechism.’ A 20th edition was published in Edinburgh, 1793′ – William Carruthers
Anonymous – The Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained (Ayr: 1797)
Browne, John – An Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, in consistency with the Holy Scriptures 1824 198 pp.
Browne (1755-1821) was a minister in the Scottish Relief Church. ‘Prepared by him for his own guidance at the examination of his people, and published after his death.’ – W. Carruthers
Lennie, William – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism with Explanations and Questions 2nd ed. 1825
Lennie was a teacher of English in Edinburgh.
Key to the Shorter Catechism 1827 202 pp.
The Shorter Catechism popularly explained; with Questions and Proofs, for the use of schools and families PoD 1857
Inglis, after the Disruption of 1843, was a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.
* Whitecross, John – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Illustrated by Appropriate Anecdotes Buy 1st ed. 1828, 1840 190 pp.
This unique commentary gives anecdotal and illustrative stories from history and the author’s life on each question of the Catechism. Great for teaching children, sermon illustrations, as well as personal edification. Whitecross was a school teacher in Edinburgh.
Esdaile, James – Lectures on the Shorter Catechism of the Church of Scotland 1829 460 pp.
Esdaile was a minister in Perth.
* Belfrage, Henry – A Practical Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism: Exhibiting a System of Theology in a Popular Form, and Particularly Adapted for Family Instruction, vols. 1 (Q. #1-52), 2 (#53-107) PoD 1834
Belfrage (1774-1835) was a Scottish secessionist minister.
Cook, R. – The Catechist’s Poetical Manual; or, Hymns and Scriptural Paraphrases in Verse. Selected, Arranged, and Supplied, in Illustration of the Assembly’s Catechism (Aberdeen, 1834)
Leitch, N. – A Brief Analysis of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, in the form of question and answer for the use of Schools and Families PoD (3rd ed. Glasgow, 1835) 40 pp.
Leitch was a teacher in Paisley.
Caldwell, J. – An Explanation of the Song of Solomon, the Shorter Catechism, and part of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (Edinburgh: 1836)
Corsan, George – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism; with Explanations, Questions, etc. (Edinburgh, 1836) 48 pp.
Corsan was the Master (principal) of the Irvine Academy.
The Explanatory Proof Catechism, on a new and improved plan, in which the principle doctrines are analysed, lucidly arranged, numbered, proved from Scripture, and illustrated with notes (Edinburgh, n.d.) 36 pp.
The Explanatory Catechism, being the Shorter Catechism… with Illustrations and Proofs on a new and improved plan (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1838) 43 pp.
Hart was a teacher.
Struthers, Gavin – An Explanation of the Shorter Catechism 1st ed. 1838 89 pp.
Struthers (1791-1858) was a minister in the United Presbyterian Church of Glasgow.
Millar, John – The Shorter Catechism: with the Propositions Separated and Proved, for the use of Schools and Families PoD (1st ed. Edinburgh: 1839) 58 pp. Millar was of Sheardale.
This is a collection of scriptural cross-references for all the significant words and phrases of each catechism answer.
* Paterson, Alex Smith – A Concise System of Theology, being the Shorter Catechism… Analyzed and Explained Buy (Edinburgh, 1841) 454 pp. Paterson was a Master of Arts.
Hamilton, W. – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, with three hundred doctrinal questions, answered in the words of that comprehensive system of Christian Theology, adapted to the Intellectual System of Tuition (Edinburgh, 1843)
Millar, Rev. James – Class-book on the Shorter Catechism, for Sabbath and Day Schools, Part I (Edinburgh: 1845)
* Donaldson, George – The Shorter Catechism Catechetically Illustrated and Practically Applied 1844, 2nd ed. 1846 272 pp.
Donaldson was an elder in the Free Church of Scotland.
Anonymous – Edinburgh Sunday School Teachers’ Union. Notes for Teachers…on the Shorter Catechism….First series of three years (Edinburgh: 1851)
Lawson, Roderick – The Shorter Catechism with Commentary, Proofs and Revising Questions Buy n.d. 60 pp.
Lawson (1831-1907) was originally a teacher. He trained for the ministry in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1857 and became a minister in the Free Church of Scotland in Ayrshire. Within a few years after its publication, his commentary on the Catechism sold a quarter million copies. He retired in 1897.
McPhun, W.R. – Catechisms of Useful Knowledge; No ii. The Shorter Catechism and Dr. Watt’s Catechisms for Children; with notes 1859
McPhun was a publisher in Glasgow.
Morison, J. – Questions on the Shorter Catechism (Glasgow: 1862)
Peddie, J. – Syllabus of Exercises on the Shorter Catechism: taken in connection with the Summary of Principles of the united Presbyterian Church. Prepared for an Advanced Female Class (Edinburgh: 1863)
Rattray, William – The Shorter Catechism analyzed and explained: in which the Doctrines and Duties are connected with their Promises, Warnings and Experiences 1863 112 pp. Rattray was of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Whyte, at the time of writing this work was a minister in St. George’s Edinburgh in the Free Church of Scotland. After 1900, he was part of the United Free Church of Scotland, and became a professor therein.
Sinclair, John – Sabbath Lessons from Westminster: Meditations on the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism for Sabbath Use PoD 1886 209 pp.
Sinclair was a Free Church of Scotland minister in Edinburgh and was afterwards an M.P.
Bannerman, D. D. – The Shorter Catechism of 1647 and the Free Church Catechism of 1898. A Sketch and an Appreciation (Edinburgh: 1899)
Salmond was a professor in the Free Church College and minister in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Macdonald, D. – The Shorter Catechism with Notes and Alternative Answers (Aberdeen: Univ. Press, 1923)
No Date (6)
Anonymous – The new proof Catechism. Stating separately and proving the doctrines taught in the Shorter Catechism (Edinburgh & London: n.d.)
Anonymous – The Proof Catechism with Paraphrase and Notes (Edinburgh & London: n.d.)
Anonymous – The Scripture Catechism, illustrated by various Extracts from the most approved Authors. Carefully selected and arranged in the order of the Catechism, with Scriptural References to each Question (Edinburgh: n.d.)
Anonymous – The Shorter Catechism enlarged by Explanatory Questions, and without the Proofs n.d.
A Key to the Shorter Catechism; containing Catechetical Exercises, a Paraphrase, and a New and regular series of proofs on each Answer (Edinburgh)
Exercises on The Shorter Catechism; in which the Answers are minutely dissected… (Edinburgh)
English Commentaries on the Shorter Catechism (12)
Anonymous – A Short View of the Assembly’s Catechism (London: 1700)
Anonymous – Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, delivered in the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, Made plainer to Babes in Knowledge (London: 1701)
Anonymous – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Illustrated (London, 1708)
Notcutt, William – A Short Explanation of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, In a most Familiar Way. Design’d to promote Useful Knowledge among Professors; but especially the Younger Sort Buy (London, 1726) 242 pp. Notcutt was a pastor at Ipswich.
Miller, D. – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism rescued from the Late Reviser and Vindicator: being, A Large Defence of that Most Excellent Compound of Divinity… (London: 1738)
Some, David – The Assembly’s Catechism Explained; and the Principles of Religion, therein contained, confirmed by the Holy Scriptures (3rd ed. London, 1754) 89 pp.
Some was a minister at Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England. The Glasgow 1836 edition has a preface by William Cunningham.
Pike (1717-1773), known for his work on Cases of Conscience, was an Independent minister in London. ‘It is clearly Calvinistic, and caused much offence to the opposite part among the Independents. The Rev. Caleb Fleming published a criticism of it.’ – W. Carruthers
Prince, Thomas – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Rescued from the Later Reviser and Vindicator, being large defence of that most excellent Compend of Divinity (London, 1738) 322 pp.
Rutherford, Robert – A Scripture Catechism: or Questions on the… Shorter Catechism. Bequeathed by the author for the use of the Parish of Castleton in Liddesdale, and the Protestant Dissenting Congregation of Longframlington in Northumberland 1794 81 pp. Rutherford was the minister of Castleton.
Burder, George – The Assembly’s Catechism Dissected; or an easy explanation of that excellent Work, on the original plan of Dr. Wallis 1801 47 pp.
Burder (1752-1832) was an Independent minister in London, author of ‘Village Sermons’.
* Steel, Robert – The Shorter Catechism with Proofs, Analyses, and Illustrative Anecdotes, etc. for Teachers and Parents PoD (London, 1885) 254 pp. Steel was a minister at St. Stephen’s, Sydney, N.S.W.
MacKay (1838-1885) was a presbyterian minister in Hull.
Mackay, A. B. – Apples of Gold on Salvers of Silver: Scripture Illustrations of the Shorter Catechism (London: 1890)
Irish Commentaries on the Shorter Catechism (5)
Alleyn, W. – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained (Belfast: 1700)
Bankhead, J. – A Catechism wherein the questions in the Shorter Catechism composed by the Westminster Divines are answered in Scripture Words (Belfast, 1786)
Murphy, James – The Shorter Catechism… with the proofs, arranged for Weekly Instruction; hints for Teachers on the opposite page 1875 64 pp.
Murphy was a professor of Hebrew in Belfast, Ireland.
Rowan, S. Hamilton – The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism; with Scripture Proofs, Explanation of Words and Phrases, and Additional Questions PoD (Belfast, 1888) 34 pp.
Haire, J. L. M. & J. Thompson – The Shorter Catechism: With Explanatory Notes Buy (Belfast, 1950-86)
American Commentaries on the Shorter Catechism (32)
Thomson, John – An explication of the Shorter catechism, composed by the Assembly of Divines, commonly called, the Westminster Assembly Wherein the several questions and answers of the said Shorter catechism, are resolved, divided, and taken apart into several under-questions and answers… PoD 1749
Thomson (1690-1753) was an Irish born, Scot educated, American presbyterian minister, who was the primary author of the foundational Adopting Act of 1729 in American Presbyterianism.
Marshall, William – A Catechism for Youth, containing the principles of practical religion, agreeable to the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures, exhibited in the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the larger and shorter Catechisms (Philadelphia: 1783) Probably the same as: Religious Instruction to the Rising Generation, A Catechism for Youth containing the Principles of Practical Religion Buy 1792 160 pp.
Marshall was the minister of Scot’s Church, Philadelphia.
Anonymous – The Master and Scholar attending Catechising: or, An Attempt to imitate Timothy’s Catechism: who from a child knew the Holy Scriptures, that were able to make him Wise to Salvation, through the Faith which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. 3:15 Being an attention to two Questions arising from what the Scriptures principally teach, viz., 1st. What is Man to believe concerning God? 2d. What doth God require of Man? Introduced by the first four Questions and Answers of the Assemblies Catechism (Boston: 1787)
McMaster, Gilbert – The Shorter Catechism, Analyzed: Containing a distinct exhibition of the Particular Doctrines under each Question, with appropriate Proofs from Scripture (1st ed. 1815)
McMaster was born in Ireland, but served as a minister in the RPCNA. The work is a brief, but handy guide to the catechism.
Brown, J. – A Brief Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (New York: 1823)
Emerson, Joseph – The Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism; with Short Explanatory Notes and copious Scripture Proofs and Illustrations Buy 1825 25 pp.
Emerson was a congregational minister and principal of Female Seminary in Weathersfield , CT.
* McDowell, John
McDowell (1780-1863) was a presbyterian minister in Philadelphia.
‘This is a recast of the previous work.’ – W. Carruthers
Laird, R. M. – The Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterian Church briefly explained 1831
* Green, Ashbel – Lectures on the Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, vols. 1, 2 Buy 1841 447 & 472 pp.
Green (1762-1848) was a presbyterian minister and a president of Princeton College.
Hall (1806-1894) was the minister of First Church in Trenton, N.J. and is best known for his long-term friendship with J.W. Alexander, that later resulted in his two volume work which included the 800 letters he received from Alexander over their 40 year relationship.
Newcomb, H. – Questions on the Shorter Catechism…. Part II. For the higher Classes (Boston: 1844)
Baker, A. R. – The Catechism tested by the Bible. A Question Book on the Topics in the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, for Families, Sabbath Schools, Bible Classes, and Churches (Boston: 1850)
Todd, J. – The Shorter Catechism illustrated (Mass.: c. 1850)
Engles, Joseph – Shorter Catechism, with Proofs, Analysis, and Notes 1852 54 pp.
Engles was an elder, a principal of a classical school in Philadelphia, and afterwards a publishing agent for the Presbyterian Board of Publication in Philadelphia.
Hall, Edwin – The Shorter Catechism, with Analysis and Scripture Proofs PoD 1860 126 pp.
Hall (†1877) was a minister in the Northern Presbyterian Church. This commentary helpfully gives scriptures for each part of each answer of the catechism’s questions.
Boyd (1835-1890) was an American minister in Ohio and has helpfully collected historical, illustrative anecdotes on each answer of the Catechism.
Wylie, W.T. – The Bellefonte Series of Tracts on the Answers to the Shorter Catechism, written by numerous Presbyterian ministers 1875
‘Each tract contains an answer, with a brief treatise upon it.’ – W. Carruthers Wylie was an American minister in Bellefonte, PA.
* Hodge, A.A. & J. Aspinwall Hodge – The System of Theology Contained in the Westminster Shorter Catechism Opened and Explained Buy 1888 206 pp.
A.A. Hodge was a Princeton professor following in the steps of his father Charles Hodge. J. Aspinwall Hodge was a professor at Lincoln University.
Nevin (1816-1890) was a minister in Philadelphia.
Rice, Willard M. – Shorter Catechism, with Analysis, Notes and Proof Texts, Revised (Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1893) 48 pp.
‘This is a revision of the work by Joseph P. Engles .’ – W. Carruthers
* Harper, James – An Exposition in the Form of Question and Answer of the Westminster Assembly’s Shorter Catechism PoD 1905 407 pp.
Harper was of the United Presbyterian Church and was a professor of theology in the Theological Seminary in Xenia, Ohio.
McQuiston, J. A. C. – The Westminster Shorter Catechism Outlined and Illustrated (Pittsburgh: U.P.Bd. Pubn, c. 1907)
Ewings, Joseph – The Westminster Shorter Catechism. A key to the Holy Scriptures 1943
No Date (5)
Anonymous – The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly. With Proofs from the Scriptures, and Explanatory Notes (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board)
Anonymous – What We are to Believe (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publications)
Clifford, J. – Sound words: or, the Catechism composed by the Reverend Divines assembled at Westminster, with the proofs from scripture more full and fitted to the help of learners
Forbes, J. – Lessons on the Shorter Catechism n.d.
Settle, P. G. – Studies in the Shorter Catechism (Weaverville, NC: Southern Presbyterian Journal, n.d.)
Longer Commentaries on the Catechism (6)
Binning, Hugh – The Common Principles of Christian Religion Clearly proved, and singularly improved: or A Practical Catechism, wherein some of the most Concerning Foundations of our Faith are Solidly Laid Down… 1659 255 pp. This covers questions 1-21
Binning was a Scottish covenanter; this was his first published work. His biographer, Thomas Leishman, says:
“Mr. M’Ward speaking of this performance, says,
“That it was not designed for the press, that it contained only his notes on those subjects he preached to his flock, and which he wrote (I suppose he means in a fair hand) for the private use and edification of a friend, from whom he had them, and when put into his hand to be revised, he says, he did not so much as alter, or add one word, to make the sense more plain, full, or emphatical.”
This book is an excellent exposition of the Westminster Catechism, so far as it goes, viz. to the twenty first question, “Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?” Mr. Patrick Gillespie writes a preface to the reader, wherein he expresses his high opinion of it in the following encomium.
“In this book Mr. Binning explains many of the fundamental articles of the Christian faith and had he lived to have perfected and finished this work, he had been upon this single account famous in the church of Christ.”
The Assembly’s Catechism has had many expositions by pious and learned ministers, some of them by way of sermon, and others by way of question and answer. But this, so far as it goes, is not inferior to any.”
Watson (†1689) was one of the ministers of London that was ejected in the Great Ejection of 1662.
* Willard, Samuel – A Complete Body of Divinity in 250 expository lectures on the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Evans PoD 1726, d. 1707 1014 pp.
Willard (1640-1707) was a New England puritan.
* Boston, Thomas – A Complete Body of Divinity upon the Shorter Catechism, vols. 1, 2, 3 Buy 1732
Boston was a Church of Scotland minister.
Arthur, Michael – Exposition, Critical, Doctrinal and Practical of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, in a series of Sabbath Evening Lectures, vol. 1 (1-21), 2, 3 PoD 1788
Arthur was a Scottish Secession minister at Aberdeen.
Leslie, Mrs. Madeline, and Rev. A.R. Baker – Illustrations of Doctrines respecting God and Mankind, vols. 1 (1-21), 2 (22-38), 3 (39-62), 4 (63-81), 5 (82-107)
Contemporary Commentaries on the Shorter Catechism (5)
Dykema, Dale – The Concise Survey of the Westminster Shorter Catechism Buy 1996
* Robinson, William Childs – The Christian Faith According to the Shorter Catechism 1950 28 pp.
Ward, Rowland – Learning the Christian Faith: the Shorter Catechism for Today Buy 1987 54 pp.
This work includes a commentary on the WSC, a church history overview, and an appendix on church government. Ward is a presbyterian minister in Australia.
* Williamson, G.I. – The Westminster Shorter Catechism: For Study Classes Buy 1st ed. 1970 371 pp.
Williamson has been a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Compton, David – Biblical Doctrine and Practice: A Commentary on the Shorter Catechism, based on the Shorter Catechism by James Fisher 2005 397 pp.
Compton is of the Free Church of Scotland.
Commentaries on the Directory for Public Worship
Commentaries on the Form of Presbyterial Church Government (1)
Boughen, Edward – Observations upon the ordinance of the Lords and Commons at Westminster after advice had with their Assembly of Divines for the ordination of ministers pro tempore, according to their directory for ordination and rule for examination therein expressed (Oxford: Leonard Lichfield, 1645)
To see the basic framework of the Directory defended (and hence its relevance for today): (1) that the office of minister is a separate office from that of the Ruling Elder, see Sherman Isbell’s article, Order in the Offices: a Book Review; (2) that the office of Teacher (the fourth office) is a separate office from that of minister, see Travis Fentiman’s, Introduction to the Office of Teacher.
For more resources on the FoPCG, see this bibliography.
Commentaries on the Westminster Directory of Church Government (0)
None exist; though to see background to this little known, though important document of the Westminster Assembly, see Andrew Myers’ blog post (11 paragraphs) regarding it.
The ‘Directory for Family Worship’ (1647) was produced by the Church of Scotland. ‘The Sum of Saving Knowledge’ (1650), often printed along with the Westminster Standards, was probably authored by James Durham and David Dickson.
Commentaries on the Directory for Family Worship (1)
* Comin, Doug – Returning to the Family Altar: A Commentary and Study Guide on The Directory for Family Worship Buy 2004 63 pp.
Commentaries on the Sum of Saving Knowledge (1)
* MacPherson, John – The Sum of Saving Knowledge, with Introduction and Notes Buy in ed. Marcus Dods & Alexander Whyte, Handbooks for Bible Classes (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, n.d.) 133 pp.