Editions of 1LCF and 2LCF

Introduction

The First and Second London Baptist Confessions of Faith were printed various times. The table below represents editions of which I am aware, from the first printing of 1LCF in 1644 up to Charles Spurgeon’s modification and reprinting of 2LCF in 1855.

The textual history of 1LCF reflects the period in which it was published. The early Baptistic Congregationalists were growing in their own articulation and defense of their beliefs, and the 1646 edition reflects edits made in response to criticisms of the 1644 edition. The 1650s editions reflect life under a new, non-monarchical government.

The textual history of 2LCF is very stable. There are basically four versions, only one of which (to my knowledge) includes variations in the text of 2LCF itself.

  1. 2LCF, running completely unchanged from its first printing to modern times. The only variations in its printing deal with corrections of marginal Scripture references. Most churches today who confess the “1689” Confession are confessing the exact same faith, at least in words, as their forefathers when the first copies were first printed in 1677.
  2. The Philadelphia Confession, which did not change 2LCF, but added two articles, one on singing in public worship, and one on the imposition of hands. These articles came from Benjamin Keach’s Confession of Faith, which he wrote for his church.
  3. The Charleston Confession, which did not change 2LCF, but added one article from the Philadelphia Confession, on singing in public worship.
  4. Spurgeon’s Edition of 2LCF, which changed “elect infants dying in infancy” to “infants dying in infancy” in 2LCF 10.3 and changed “moral use” to “modern use” in 2LCF 19.4.

Where is the 1689 Confession?

One of the most important things to note in the table below is the absence of the date 1689. Though 2LCF is commonly known as “The 1689 Confession of Faith”, it was never published in 1689. It is connected with the date 1689 because that was the year that the Baptists held a national General Assembly and published a narrative of its proceedings, in which they stated:

Untitled

The Confession had been published and used for 12 years by this time. The title page of 2LCF when it was published in 1677 stated that the Confession was,

Put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians (baptized upon Profession of their Faith) in London and the Country

So, it is important to understand that the 1689 GA does not represent a year of publication, or a time of churches embracing the confession. It represents the first time that those “many congregations…in London and the Country” who had previously united to publish the Confession could publicly attach their names to the Confession (because of the Glorious Revolution and the Act of Toleration), which they did by listing all their churches and ministers in subsequent pages.

There is nothing wrong, of course, in referring to it as the 1689 Confession. We all know what that means even if it can be misleading, historically. But don’t worry, such errors are not new. For example, the introductory letter to 2LCF 1677 (The Epistle to the Judicious and Impartial Reader) wrongly states that 1LCF was first published in 1643. Or, even worse, the 1765 edition of the Philadelphia Confession said that 2LCF was,

First put forth in 1643; afterwards enlarged, corrected, and published by an assembly of delegates met in London July 3, 1689.

As someone somewhere, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away once said, “Amazing. Every word of what you just said is wrong.”

Printed Editions of 1LCF and 2LCF (1644-1855)

Text: Date: Location Printed: Printer: Edition, if mentioned: Appended Texts:
1LCF 1644 London Matthew Simmons
1LCF 1646 London Matthew Simmons “The second impression corrected and enlarged”
1LCF 1651 London M.S. “The third impression corrected” “Unto which is added, Heart Bleedings for Professors Abhominations”
1LCF 1652 London M.S. “The fourth impression corrected” “Unto which is added, Heart Bleedings for Professors Abhominations”
1LCF 1653 Leith, Scotland [No Printer] “The fourth impression corrected” “Unto which is added, Heart Bleedings for Professors Abhominations”
2LCF 1677 London Benjamin Harris “With an appendix concerning baptism”
2LCF 1688 London John Harris “With an appendix concerning baptism”
2LCF 1699 London S Bridge; Ebenezer Tracy; William Marshall; John Marshall “The Third Edition”
2LCF 1719 London John Marshall “The Fourth Edition”
2LCF 1720 London John Marshall “The Fifth Edition”
2LCF + 2 Articles (i.e., The “Philadelphia Confession”) 1743 Philadelphia, PA Benjamin Franklin “The Sixth Edition To which are added, Two Articles viz. Of Imposition of Hands, and Singing of Psalms in Publick Worship” “To which is added a Short Treatise of Church Discipline”
2LCF + 2 Articles (i.e., The “Philadelphia Confession”) 1765 Philadelphia, PA Anthony Armbruster “To which is added a Short Treatise of Church Discipline”
2LCF + 2 Articles (i.e., The “Philadelphia Confession”) 1773 Philadelphia, PA John Dunlap “The Seventh Edition To which are added, Two Articles viz. Of Imposition of Hands, and Singing of Psalms in Publick Worship” “To which is added a Short Treatise of Church Discipline”
2LCF 1774 Charlestown, SC David Bruce “To which is annexed a summary of church-discipline”
2LCF 1790 London [No printer named]
2LCF + 2 Articles (i.e., The “Philadelphia Confession”) 1794 Portland, ME Thomas Baker Wait “To which is added a short treatise of church discipline”
2LCF + 2 Articles (i.e., The “Philadelphia Confession”) 1798 Philadelphia, PA Stephen C. Ustick “The Ninth EditionWith two additional Articles, viz. Of Imposition of Hands, and Singing of Psalms in Public Worship” “A Treatise of Church Discipline and a Directory [Revised]”
2LCF 1809 London G. Offor; Burdit and Button; Maxwell and Wilson
2LCF (I have not seen this edition. Does it contain the added article on singing, as in the 1850 4th ed?) 1813 Charleston, SC J. Hoff “Second Charleston Edition” “A summary of Church discipline”

“The Baptist Catechism”

2LCF + 2 Articles (i.e., The “Philadelphia Confession”) 1818 Philadelphia, PA Anderson and Meehan “With two additional Articles, viz. Of Imposition of Hands, and Singing of Psalms in Public Worship” “A Treatise of Church Discipline [Revised]”
2LCF + 2 Articles (i.e., The “Philadelphia Confession”) 1829 Philadelphia, PA John Gray “With two additional Articles, viz. Of Imposition of Hands, and Singing of Psalms in Public Worship” “A Short Treatise of Church Discipline”
2LCF (I have not seen this edition. Does it contain the added article on singing, as in the 1850 4th ed?) 1831 Charleston, SC W. Riley (Does this edition call itself “Third Charleston Edition”?) “A summary of Church discipline, to which is added an appendix”
2LCF + 1 Article (i.e., The “Charleston” Confession) 1850 Raleigh, NC B. Temple “Fourth Charleston Edition To which is added an Article on singing Psalms in Public Worship” “A Summary of Church Discipline”

“The Baptist Catechism”

2LCF Modified 1855 London Alabaster and Passmore; James Paul “Spurgeon’s Edition”

If you have verifiable evidence of an additional printed edition from this time period, would you please inform me? Thank you.

Also, if you have a physical or digital copy of the 1813 or 1831 editions, would you please contact me? Thank you.