In the opinion of B.B. Warfield, the Westminster divines left to posterity not only ‘the most thoroughly thought out statement ever penned of the elements of evangelical religion’ but also one which breathes ‘the finest fragrance of spiritual religion’. Their most influential work, ‘The Shorter Catechism’, was intended as a teaching basis for an introduction to the Christian Faith. No London pastor made more effective use of it than Thomas Vincent (1634-1678) and when his ‘explanation’(The Shorter Catechism Explained From Scripture) was first published in 1674, John Owen, Thomas Watson along with 38 other signatories to the Preface, declared their belief that it would ‘be greatly useful to all Christians in general’.
About the Author
Thomas Vincent (1634–1678) was born in Hertford, England and educated at Westminster School, and Felsted School in Essex before being elected in 1648 to Christ’s College, Oxford (BA, 1652; MA, 1654). Both his father and brother were prominent ministers. He served as catechist to John Owen, and as chaplain to Robert Sidney, second earl of Leicester.
In 1657 he succeeded Thomas Case as rector of St Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, London, from where he was ejected in 1662 under the Act of Uniformity. He then assisted Thomas Doolittle at his Nonconformist Academy in Islington.
When the Great Plague came in 1665 Vincent became the friend of the afflicted, offering comfort and assistance to the diseased and dying. Sixty-eight thousand died of the plague in London alone that year, seven in his own household. The following year he was eyewitness to the Great Fire of London – ‘dreadful . . . a fearful spectacle’.
For the last twelve years of his life Vincent preached to a congregation in Hand Alley, London, devoting himself to educating young people. His The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture is published by the Trust in the Puritan Paperbacks series.