Maintaining the Covenant idea : the preservation of federal theology's corporate dimensions among Scotland's eighteenth-century evangelical Presbyterians
This thesis explores how Scotland's federal theology helped to perpetuate the seventeenth-century Presbyterian conception of a covenanted Church and nation among a significant portion of eighteenth-century evangelical Presbyterians. It examines how both a seventeenth-century form of federal theology and a social ethic based on Scotland's Covenants were preserved among many Scottish Presbyterians between 1690 and the 1790s, until a broader and more individualistic evangelicalism increasingly eclipsed the corporate aspects of federal theology. The thesis focuses on the experiences of the Secession and Reformed Presbyterian Churches, Presbyterian denominations which broke away from the established Church of Scotland. Chapter one traces the origins of federal theology in Scotland, and considers the Scottish covenant idea within Post-Reformation Calvinism generally, and more particularly within the Presbyterian Church of Scotland after the Revolution Settlement of 1689-90. Chapter two considers how federal theology was preserved and perpetuated among Presbyterian evangelicals after 1690, how these evangelicals continued the covenanting practice of identifying Scotland with biblical Israel, and how their longings for national revival came to hinge upon the renewal of Covenant obligations. Chapter three considers the impact of the Marrow controversy in prolonging the predominant influence of federal theology on eighteenth-century Scottish popular piety, particularly among the Secession and Reformed Presbyterians. Chapter four considers a further aspect of the Marrow controversy-that is, its emphasis on the connection between the moral law and the covenant of grace. In analyzing both the individual and corporate dimensions of federal theology, this chapter examines the thought that informed the practice of covenanting, and considers why many Secession and Reformed Presbyterians believed in the 'perpetual obligation' of Scotland's Covenants for subsequent generations. The chapter also introduces the theological criticisms that would in the course of the eighteenth-century largely undermine federal theology's corporate applications for most Presbyterians and that would greatly weaken adherence to the Covenants within the two Secession Synods (Burgher and Anti burgher). Chapter five examines the application of the covenant idea to the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. It explores how the sacraments kept alive the social ideal of federal theology and its aspirations for national revival within the Secession and Reformed Presbyterian Churches between 1690 and the 1820s, despite the mounting theological criticisms of federal theology and covenanting. Finally, chapter six examines how federal theology's corporate aspects affected the Secession and Reformed Presbyterians' views on Church and State and the role of the civil magistrate. Consideration is given to how Scotland's changing social, political, and intellectual contexts eroded the commitments to a Covenant piety among evangelical Presbyterians, and to how this led to further schisms within the two Secession Synods at the close of the eighteenth century.