Westminster and Her Sisters

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Westminster and Her Sisters: A Complete Collation and Comparison of Three English Confessions of Faith by Harvey Bluedorn

This document includes a careful comparison of the entire text for each of three English confessions – the Westminster (Presbyterian, 1646/47/48), the Savoy (Independent, 1658), and the Second London (Baptist, 1677/89) – along with all of their American amendments through 1903. While other comparisons place confessions side-by-side in parallel columns, this comparison interweaves all of the confessions into one confession, yet (by color coding) clearly distinguishes which parts belong to which confessions. (Each confession could be read separately in its entirety by following the color coding.)

Also included is a complete apparatus of the different systems of proof texts associated with each confession.

Each article for each chapter is preceded by a one-line summary title. A glossary of obscure words or meanings follows each article.

In the table of contents, each article is preceded by an index of significant additions and deletions for each confession, and the one-line summary title accompanies each article.

All words lifted from the First London Confession and inserted into the Second London Confession are marked in the text and referenced after the article.

A brief history is given for each of the confessions.

A Few Observations Made Possible by this Method of Comparison

1. The Savoy revisions were more extensive than the Second London revisions

The Savoy made many major additions and deletions from Westminster. Second London incorporated most of the revisions of Savoy, but in many places, Second London deleted the text of both Westminster and Savoy. Most of what is new in Second London is actually inserted word-for-word from the 1646 edition of First London. Very little of Second London is actually new material.

2. Second London occasionally preferred Westminster’s wording over Savoy’s

A popular Baptist exposition of the Second London Confession states: “The Westminster Confession of 1647 was used as the basic framework of the Second London Confession.” Later it moderates this by stating, “… it was the Savoy which was the direct and immediate document on which Collins was working.” So far so good. But then it says, “After thorough study of these documents I am aware of no instance in which the language of the Westminster is preferred over that of the Savoy.” Westminster and Her Sisters clearly demonstrates that the Second London Confession follows the Savoy Declaration over the Westminster Confession in the preponderance of instances. However, there are 25 places where the Second London follows the Westminster over the Savoy:

Westminster & Second London || Savoy

5.6 occasion || occasions

6.1 God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it, to His own glory. || —

6.2 their || —

8.2 in || of

10.3 through the Spirit || —

10.4 truly || —

13.1 who || that

16.1 any || —

16.5 His || the

17.2 flowing || —

18.2 testimony || immediate witness

18.2 of || —

18.2 witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God || —

18.4 and || —

18.4 never || neither

19.3 Besides || Beside

21.5 an || a

22.2 and || or

23.2 occasions || occasion

26.2 by profession || —

26.3 their communion one with another as saints … take away, or infringe the title or propriety || —

29.1 unto || to

29.2 by Himself || —

29.4 all || —

33.3 day of || —

Considered individually, many of these are incidental matters of style and are insignificant. Only a few could be considered important in themselves. But considered together, they demonstrate that the Second London was not merely a revision of Savoy, but that Savoy was regularly compared with Westminster – apparently word by word – and sometimes Westminster was considered better. This also suggests that those parts of Westminster which Savoy dropped or changed, Second London may have reconsidered before it largely though not entirely agreed with Savoy.

3. Second London extensively revised Westminster’s scripture proofs

Westminster originally had no proof texts. Parliament ordered the Westminster Assembly to add proof texts. Savoy also originally had no proof texts. (It was the American revision of Savoy which added proof texts – and it mostly copied Westminster’s proof texts.) So the only proof texts available to the Second London to review were the proof texts added to Westminster. Second London dropped well over a thousand proof texts from Westminster and added about two hundred different proof texts of its own.

4. Later Presbyterians revision of scripture proofs

In 1903, some Presbyterian denominations began adopting two new chapters to Westminster (Chapter 34: Of the Holy Spirit; Chapter 35: Of the Love of God and Missions). There are three versions of Scripture proofs for each article. The first revised version of proofs has very few texts in common with the original list of proofs and it disposes of the arrangement of proofs by clauses. The second revised version of proofs simply compiles the first two lists with very little editing.

This e-book is 85 pages and is in full color.


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