Scottish Puritanism, 1590-1638

By David George Mullan | Go to book overview

Epilogue

I am farther than ever I was from expecting great matters of Unity, Splendour or Prosperity to the Church on Earth, or that Saints should dream of a Kingdom of this World, or flatter themselves with the Hopes of a Golden Age, or reigning over the Ungodly (till there be a new Heaven and a new Earth wherein dwelleth Righteousness). And on the contrary I am more apprehensive that Sufferings must be the Churches most ordinary Lot, and Christians indeed must be self-denying Cross-bearers, even where there are none but formal nominal Christians to be the Cross-makers.

Richard Baxter, Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696), 132.

I say, we good Presbyterian Christians should be charitable in these things, and not fancy ourselves so vastly superior to other mortals, pagans and what not, because of their half-crazy conceits on these subjects. There was Queequeg, now, certainly entertaining the more absurd notions about Yojo and his Ramadan;—but what of that? Queequeg thought he knew what he was about, I suppose; he seemed to be content; and there let him rest. All our arguing with him would not avail; let him be, I say: and Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851), ch. 17.

David Mathew emphasized the remarkable self-assurance of presbyterianism, pointing to its sense of the pure in contrast to the corruption of the world all around. However, his statement that 'presbyterianism was essentially a creed that was victorious' 1 has now been seen to be at best dubious. Presbyterianism was a creed which called for victory, but was kept alive predominantly through its experience of frustration and even defeat. The heart of its faith was individualistic 'spirituall encounter' reified as a community of prayer and worship, resistant to a hostile world; in this context it is true that the elect were assured of eschatological victory, but as

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Scottish Puritanism, 1590-1638
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Scottish Puritanism 1590-1638 iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Abbreviations xii
  • Prologue 1
  • 1: A Puritan Brotherhood 13
  • 2: A Ministry of the Word 45
  • 3: Conversion and Assurance 85
  • 4: The Pilgrim's Progress 111
  • 5: The Ambiguity of the Feminine 140
  • 6: Covenants and Covenant Theology 171
  • 7: A Schism Defined 208
  • 8: Political and National Divinity 244
  • 9: The Damnable Covenant 285
  • Epilogue 318
  • Bibliography 323
  • Index 361
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