The Westminster Assembly was originally called by the Long Parliament in 1643 to discuss the reform of the Church of England. It was a gathering of 120 ministers, 20 members of the House of Commons and 10 members of the House of Lords, who met in Westminster Abbey, in defiance of Charles I. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland appointed five ministers and three elders as Scottish Commissioners. Although there were few of them and they didn’t vote, they had a massive impact on the work of the Assembly.
The main work of the Assembly was done in producing a number of very important documents. It had been originally called to give advice about reforming the worship, doctrine and church government of the Church of England and to revise the Thirty-Nine Articles which set out what the Church of England believed. Following the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant however, they were now requested to draw up a form of church government (describing how the church should be organised), a Confession of Faith (summarising what the church believed), a Catechism (for teaching Bible truths) and a directory for the worship of God (setting out guidelines for worship). In 1645 the Directory for the Public Worship of God which replaced the hated Book of Common Prayer had been completed and agreed by Parliament, as had The Form of Presbyterial Church-Government. These were followed by The Westminster Confession of Faith in 1646. In 1647 they completed the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
The main work of the Assembly was completed by 1648 but the documents it produced (known as the Westminster Standards) and are still used by Presbyterian churches today.
BCW: The Westminster Assembly
Westminster Assembly Project
John Murray – The Calling of the Westminster Assembly
John Murray – The Work of the Westminster Assembly
John Murray – The Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly
Thomas Houston – Unity and Uniformity in the Church
W. M. Hetherington – A History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines ] (4th Edn, Edinburgh, 1878 ).
James Reid, Memoirs of the lives and writings of those eminent divines who convened in that famous assembly at Westminster in the Seventeenth Century (Paisley, 2 vols, 1811-15): Volume 1 Volume 2
Robert Baillie – A description of the Westminster Assembly
B. B. Warfield – Is the Shorter Catechism worthwhile?
DSCHT: Westminster Assembly and Documents
Chad Van Dixhoorn, ‘Westminster assembly (act. 1643–1652)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, online edn, Oct 2009
‘Members of the Westminster assembly and Scottish commissioners (1643–1652)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, online edn, Oct 2009
The Westminster Standards