From Alexander F. Mitchell’s “The Westminster Assembly: Its History and Standards.” (1883)
According to Mitchell, the Westminster Assembly intended their standards to be the public norm of teaching but not a matter of personal subscription. In other words, what mattered was that what was publicly taught was in accordance with the standards. This is not to say that the Westminster Divines would have been disinterested in personal conviction about the truth, or that a public norm of teaching and personal subscription are in any way opposed to one another, but rather simply that the confession was intended to be the public standard of orthodoxy in the national church.
The Baptists did not treat their confession(s) in the same way, nor did the Scots, as Mitchell points out. But that is another story.
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