A Body of Practical Divinity (3 Volumes)
Vol 1: A Body of Divinity
Vol 2: The Ten Commandments
Vol 3: The Lord’s Prayer
Author: Thomas Watson
Published by: Banner of Truth
Pages: 316 (Vol 1), 254 (Vol 2) & 332 (Vol 3)
Theme: Sermons on the Shorter Catechism
The Westminster Assembly of Divines met during the 1640’s and produced what we call “The Westminster Confession of Faith,” which is used in the majority of Presbyterian governed Churches, as a Summary of the doctrines taught in Scripture.
The Shorter Catechism is one of the documents contained in the Confession, and it is this catechism that is taught in Sunday School. It was penned by Puritans who were members of the Westminster Assembly. The Puritans were a movement of Christians in England who sought to further reform the Church during the late 1500’s to the early 1700’s. They were Godly men who wrote many books that are still in high demand today. Thomas Watson wrote three books based on the Shorter Catechism: “A Body of Divinity,” “The Ten Commandments,” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” His effort was termed “his magnum opus” or “his greatest single work.” It was first published after his death in 1692 and became the best-known out of his many writings. It contains the essence of sermons preached by Watson on the Catechism.
Joel Beeke, an authority on the subject of Puritanism, says the following about this work: “It shows the authors deep understanding of spiritual truths and his ability to make them clear to anyone. Unlike most other systematic theologies, it weds knowledge and piety together, and can be used effectively in daily devotions…”
Watson’s books are very devotional, especially “The Lord’s Prayer” and he is regarded as one of the most readable of the Puritans. The layout of the books is very straightforward and understandable. He commences each section by quoting the relevant catechism that he will deal with and proceeds to expound it using a simple outline. He concludes each main part in typical Puritan fashion by stating various methods of application to the reader. There is no doubt that these books are a treasure trove of scriptural truth and I heartily recommend them to all with the exhortation given by Paul to Timothy: “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” (2 Timothy 2:7)
Review by: Andrew Fitton