Wilson's Notes on Ridgley's Body of Divinity

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The first commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism was published by the English Independent minister Thomas Ridgley (1667-1734) under the title A Body of Divinity: Wherein the Doctrines of the Christian Religion are Explained and Defended: Being the Substance of Several Lectures on the Assembly's Larger Catechism (1731-1733) in two volumes. There are comparatively few expositions of the Larger Catechism as opposed to the many that have been published regarding the Shorter Catechism, and Ridgley’s is very comprehensive.

The first American edition of Ridgley’s commentary was published in Philadelphia (1814-1815) in four volumes, and edited with notes (“original and selected”) by James Patriot Wilson, Sr. (1769-1830). These four volumes have recently been added to Log College Press. The notes provide an early 19th century American Presbyterian perspective on the 18th century English Independent commentary of the 17th century Westminster Assembly’s Larger Catechism. One noteworthy feature is an appendix in the fourth volume containing 74 study questions intended to encourage disquisitions by theological students.

It should be noted that this set edited by James P. Wilson is to be distinguished from a later two-volume set edited by John M. Wilson, published in Edinburgh (1844) [an 1855 edition of which was reprinted by Still Water Revival Books in 1993], who also included his own notes, and a biographical sketch of Ridgley.

We have at least two commentaries covering the major Westminster Standards (Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms) already available at Log College Press (by Francis Beattie and Edward Dafydd Morris), but this edition of Ridgley by James P. Wilson constitutes the first stand-alone exposition of the Larger Catechism available to read here at LCP. These volumes should provide our readers with a treasure trove of Biblical and catechetical study - enough for a lifetime.