The Westminster Confession of Faith :
The 1946 edition, edited by S.W. Carruthers.
The text of the Westminster Confession reproduced here, in both scanned jpg files and in an Adobe PDF version, represents the original English text of the Confession, as edited by S.W. Carruthers in 1946 following the then-recent discovery of an additional manuscript of the Confession. A comparison of the many different editions printed since the Confession was originally composed in 1647 shows the number of errors, primarily in punctuation, which have crept into the document, and thus the need for a carefully edited text such as this one by Carruthers.
NOTE: This text differs at several points from the Confession adopted by the American Presbyterian churches, particularly at Ch. 23.1. A chart detailing the differences between the English and American versions is in preparation and a link to that chart will be posted here soon.
Editorial Note by S.W. Carruthers on why this edition is significant:
It was in 1646 that Cornelius Burges wrote out, in his even, clear hand, the Confession of Faith. Through the recent discovery of this manuscript, and its acquisition for the Presbyterian Church of England, it is now possible to print a more accurate text than has ever yet appeared. For even the earliest printed edition (used by my father in his careful reprint of 1883) contained some errors, and had already initiated the careless and unthinking punctuation which has since gone from bad to worse.
The errors in the text are few, usually trivial, and none of vital importance.
They occur in iii. 4; vi. 2; vii. 3; viii. 7; x. 4; xiii. 1; xv. 3; xvi. 6; xxii. 3; xxiii. 4; xxiv. 4; xxvi. 3.
On the other hand, the punctuation, at first sight of less importance, had great significance, since marred by careless reproduction. As the Confession was passed sentence by sentence, and clause by clause, it is evident that Burges (who knew the course of the debates) must have been responsible for the punctuation. It is systematic, but follows a logical, rather than a grammatical, system. The colon and the semi-colon have each its own value and use; in this reprint they are faithfully reproduced, and give the clue to the balance of the main clauses of a section. The comma was very liberally used by Burges, frequently in ways which are no actual help to the sense, and would be mere stumbling blocks to the modern reader. In such cases they are omitted. But, far more frequently, they serve either to emphasize a limiting clause, or to restrict its applications; in all such cases they have been retained.
A comparison of the punctuation of any chapter with the modern editions will leave the reader with an admiration of Burges' logical mind, and his precise expression of it. One interesting peculiarity in the manuscript may be noted. In xxiii. 3 "Christ" occurs three times where "God" is substituted in the printed copy. This change was made by the Assembly only a few minutes before the manuscript was carried to the House of Commons, and Burges had no opportunity for altering the manuscript.
A year and a half elapsed before Parliament sanctioned the Confession as the authoritative doctrine of the Church of England, superseding the Thirty-nine Articles. In giving this sanction, Parliament made certain changes (in Chapters xx., xxiii., xxiv., xxx., and xxxi.) which were noted by footnotes in my father's edition. --S.W. CARRUTHERS.
For image scans of individual pages :
Page  : inside front cover, blank
|Page  : XXXI.5 - XXXIII.3|