Sunday, June 13, 2010

George Hutcheson on the Westminster Confession

In the vein of wishful thinking about books lost to history, it is known that George Hutcheson, who was both a member of the 1647 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland which gave its stamp of approval to the Westminster Confession, and a member of David Dickson's team of Biblical commentators, himself authored a commentary on the Westminster Confession.

Robert Wodrow, Analecta, or Materials for a History of Remarkable Providences, Vol. 1, p. 30:

The Principal told me that Mr George Hutcheson has written a large commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is yet in his freind's [sic] hands.

Ibid, Vol. 3, p. 13:

I heard Mr. Ralf Rodger say, that he had read that piece of Mr. George Hutcheson's on the Westminster Confession, and he was but come to the Trinity, and he said he had writt seven quair,' and that it was so correct that it needed very little to put in the press, and if he had lived to have perfected it, [it] would have been one of the greatest common-places [which] ever had seen the light.

It was William Parker who wrote the first commentary on the Westminster Confession, a negative commentary, The late Assembly of Divines confession of faith examined: as it was presented by them unto the Parliament: wherein many of their excesses and defects, of their confusions and disorders, of their errors and controdictions are presented, both to themselves and others (1651). David Dickson's Truth's Victory Over Error (originally a collection of his lectures delivered to divinity students in Latin in the early 1650's, entitled Prealectiones in Confessionem Fidei; translated into English, and pirated, by George Sinclair in 1684) was the first sympathetic commentary on the WCF to be published. But what if Hutechson's commentary had been published? As a student of his other writings, it is my wishful thinking that the manuscript survives and will one day see the light. What a treasure to the church this would be.

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