|dc.description.abstract||This thesis examines the religious divisions that Scotland experienced after the
revolution of 1688-89, and how the authorities responded to them. It shows how the
nation went from having one established Church in 1689, to having two churches in
1712. These were the presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the new episcopalian
church that was erected under the toleration act that was enacted on 3 March 1712.
The thesis argues that this development was a combination of political, intellectual,
and social processes that culminated in a begrudging acceptance of legal pluralism and
the end of the established Church’s exclusive national status.
After episcopacy was abolished in 1689, and presbyterianism and the
Westminster confession were re-established as the Church’s ecclesiological and
doctrinal standards in 1690, there was a substantial episcopalian minority who refused
to accept these standards. The government of William II, the re-established
presbyterians, and the episcopalians, all supported a national church but disagreed over
how it should be organised. Many episcopalians were willing to be received into the
Church under a flexible presbyterian settlement that did not pressure them to accept
the Westminster confession. William’s government adapted this idea to try and
convince the presbyterians to receive episcopalians into the Church under a flexible
settlement that did not require them to fully accept the re-established standards.
However, the presbyterians felt that ministers should accept presbyterian government
and subscribe the Westminster Confession of Faith before they were received.
Comprehension, or the modification of the established Church’s structure to
accommodate nonconformists, was promoted in the early 1690s to solve these
divisions, but its meaning was not fixed. Four national settlements attempted to
implement comprehension in the 1690s. These were the Act ratifying the Confession
of Faith and settling presbyterian church government in 1690, the ‘Church Union’ that
was proposed to the 1692 general assembly, the 1693 Act for settling the quiet and
peace of the Church, and the formula for entry that was implemented by the 1694
general assembly. Comprehension was also practised in the localities when ministers
negotiated an arrangement with a Church court or visitation commission to be
received. As the terms of national comprehension gradually became associated with
the presbyterians’ demands, most episcopalians became alienated from the Church.
The 1695 Act concerning the Church addressed this problem and had widespread
uptake. It allowed episcopalians to minister in their parishes and exempted them from
accepting presbyterianism and the Westminster Confession, if they qualified by
swearing certain state oaths.
Despite the compromise that was reached in 1695, the differences over
comprehension caused some politicians and younger episcopalians to argue that their
co-religionists should be legally tolerated as a separate church. These men organised
themselves into a tolerationist movement and used Anne’s accession to propose a
toleration act to the Scottish parliament in June 1703. The act failed, but the movement
continued to claim that it was necessary because comprehension had failed to preserve
a national church in the 1690s. After the union of 1707, the tolerationists used the
political and constitutional arrangements within the new British state to push for a
broader toleration that allowed episcopalians to use the English liturgy. The 1712 act
was the culmination of a successful campaign by the movement to convince the British
authorities to enact such a toleration. The thesis concludes by examining the previously
unexplored proposals for a Scottish model of England’s 1689 toleration act that were
unsuccessfully made by some presbyterians to counter the broad terms of the 1712 act.||en