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Title: The Five Articles of Perth
Author: Mackay, P. H. R.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1975
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The General Assembly meeting at Perth in August 1618, out of deference to the wishes of James VI, enacted the five regulations concerning the worship of the Church which came to be known as the Five Articles of Perth. At its next meeting, admittedly twenty years later, after much mature deliberation, "The matter was put to voicing in these words, 'whether the Five Articles of Perth, by the Concession of Faith, as it was meaned and professed in the year 1580, 1581, 1590, 1591, ought to be removed out of this Kirk?' The whole Assembly all in one consent, one only excepted, did voice that the Five Articles above specified were abjured by this Kirk in that Concession, and so ought to be removed out of it; and therefore prohibiteth and dischargeth all disputing for them, or observing of them, or any of them, in all time coming". Some of the questions prompted by setting those two facts in such close juxta-position laid down the guide lines for the research which lies behind the present Thesis, and determined that, in broad terms, it should attempt to make six assessments. First it attempts to trace the origin and growth of the ideas expressed in the Articles, the roots of the opposition which these ideas immediately encountered, and the course of the conflict from its beginning up to the time of the death of James, to whom belongs the responsibility for conceiving the ideas and attempting to enforce them against the judgement, according to contemporary critics, of'some of the best professors'. The Records of the Church Courts which survive from this period are relatively few, disappointingly inadequate by reason of the facts they do not record, and for the most part cover only a few of the critical years, so that the most we can hope for from them is a series of glimpses of local Church life as influenced by the Articles. Imperfect as the picture is, however, it is important and though it inevitably covers the whole period, it has seemed best to examine the picture in some detail before taking up the history of the conflict during the reign of Charles. Chapter 7 therefore examines the evidence which can be gleaned from Session, Presbytery and Synod Records regarding the Articles as a whole and each of the Articles in turn. The Thesis then resumes its study of the history of the conflict from the accession of Charles to its conclusion at the Glasgow Assembly, and this is followed by an assessment of the strength of non-conformity and the abiding interest in the Five Articles throughout the period as witnessed in contemporary sources other than the Records of the Church Courts. But no assessment of the Articles can be considered adequate which regards them as of purely local or contemporary interest, so the Thesis examines the evidence for interest in them furth of Scotland, and attempts to trace their significance for subsequent generations in Scotland, with particular reference to the period 1660 to 1668. While the question - To conform or not to conform? was at the heart of the controversy through the whole twenty years of conflict, each man's answer was determined by his attitude on a number of other questional Consideration of the arguments advanced in favour of making innovations, and of those against the particular innovations proposed, leads on inevitably to the consideration of conflicting doctrines of the Ministry, differing estimates of the validity of the Assembly and the other instruments by which the King sought to impose his will, the force of Oaths, and ultimately the real seat of authority. In a final chapter an attempt is made to assess the importance of the controversy and to discover both its immediate effects and its more lasting influences on the development of the Church in Scotland. It is concluded that the attempt to enforce conformity in worship was a tactical blunder on the part of James, The immediate consequence was to stimulate wide ranging debate, which could not stop short of discussing the relationship between Kirk and Crown among other things. An inevitable result of protracted debate was to emphasise differences of opinion and to create division in the Scottish Kirk which had not previously existed. As to long term results, twenty years of controversy bred attitudes of mind toward the Scriptures, Orders of Worship, and systems of ecclesiastical organisation which have persisted to our own day. While practical experiences of the difficulty of preserving traditional practice against a powerful innovator prepared the minds of Presbyterian Churchmen for the first Barrier Acts. The Thesis proper is followed by a series of Appendices designed to shed additional light on some of the more personal aspects of the conflict, to make plain the important part played by the controversial pamphlets, and to indicate the extent of the field of contemporary and later literature in which the student may find clues to the true course of events, or valid answers to the questions raised by the controversy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available