This study began its life in a rather modest attempt to evaluate the presence of Arminianism in Scotland c.1638. My initial labours produced a couple of essays looking at the theology of the decades before the National Covenant (28 February 1638) and the sentiments expressed in the Glasgow Assembly, thence leading to a consideration of what Arminianism meant in the mind of the Scottish covenanters through the 1640s. As I read the works of divinity I recognized that there was much else to be gleaned from these sources, and the result of that uninspired observation is this book.
My programme of research has taken me to Scotland on four different occasions for a total of nearly eighteen months, and to Guelph and other North American destinations for shorter periods of time. Along the way I have incurred a great many debts, intellectual and more personal, and the book serves to remind me of the warm humanity which so often characterizes the academic community. In addition, especially during my lengthy stays abroad, I have been befriended by others who have done much to make my visits enjoyable and fulfilling.
Above all, I am indebted to the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, for electing me a visiting research fellow in 1995 and allowing me to return in 1996 and 1998. Its director Professor Peter Jones and administrative assistant Anthea Taylor, along with a wide range of scholars from many disciplines and countries, contributed to a remarkable experience of the intellectual life which I shall always look back upon as a high point in my career. I first learned of the institute during my fellowship in the spring and summer of 1991 at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities. Like the mother house, the Calgary Institute provides a splendid environment for serious work, and although I did not know it at the time, the seeds of this book were actually sown during those four months; I am grateful to the then director Dr Harold Coward and the institute's staff for an enjoyable and productive term.
I have benefited from conversations with many people on both sides of the Atlantic, sometimes directing me to important sources. To attempt to (p.viii) name all who contributed to my work would be futile; many, though not all, of their names are found in the bibliography. Anonymous readers for Oxford University Press offered a number of helpful comments, and I do hope that they may see many improvements derived directly from their reflections; I am also delighted to acknowledge the contributions made by the commissioning editor for classics and religion at Oxford, Hilary O'Shea. And while it is entirely conventional, it is likewise entirely appropriate to express the obvious, that none of the errors of fact or blunders in interpretation which may be found herein are in any way attributable to hands other than my own.
I have been well served by the staff of the University College of Cape Breton library who have traced and obtained for my use a number of significant works; special thanks are due to Laura Syms and Mary Campbell. Beyond Cape Breton, I visited libraries at the University of Calgary; Dalhousie University, St. Mary's University, and the Atlantic School of Theology, all in Halifax; the University of Guelph, where my Scottish history colleague Dr Elizabeth Ewan, with her husband Dr Kris Inwood, offered warm and generous hospitality; the University of Toronto, including the Robarts Library, the John Fisher Rare Book Library, and the libraries of Trinity, Wycliffe, Emmanuel, and Knox Colleges; Colby College in Waterville, Maine; Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine; Yale University, and especially the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Seeley G. Mudd Library, the Sterling Memorial Library, and the Divinity School Library; Edinburgh University Library; the National Library of Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland, New College Library, and the Signet Library, all in Edinburgh; St. Andrews University; King's College, Aberdeen; the University of Glasgow; and the British Library. Dr Louise Yeoman of the National Library of Scotland kindly granted me permission to cite her St. Andrews University Ph.D. thesis.
The University College of Cape Breton, under Dr Robert Morgan, director of research, offered financial support during a time of shrinking funds. ‘Final’ preparations were made in 1998 in Edinburgh, once again at the Institute, with financial support supplied by a research grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I am grateful to the editors and publishers of several publications for permission to include material which appeared first on the pages of their publications. Parts of Chapters 2, 7, and 9 were published in ‘Arminianism in the Lord's Assembly’, Records of the Scottish Church History Society, 26 (1996), 1–30; parts of Chapter 7 were published in ‘Masked Popery and Pyrrhonian (p.ix) Uncertainty: The Early Scottish Covenanters on Arminianism’, Journal of Religious History, 21 (1997), 159–77; parts of Chapter 3 were published in ‘Mistress Rutherford's Narrative: A Scottish Puritan Autobiography’, Bunyan Studies, 7 (1997), 13–37. An earlier version of Chapter 5 was published in Elizabeth Ewan and Maureen M. Meikle (eds.), Women in Scotland, c. 1100–c.1750 (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 1999); the first part of Chapter 7 was published as ‘Theology in the Church of Scotland 1618–c.1640: A Calvinist Consensus?’ in Sixteenth Century Journal, 26 (1995), 595–617. Also, portions of this study were presented to sessions of or discussed over meals at conferences of the Sixteenth Century Studies Society in Atlanta (1992, 1997), St. Louis (1993, 1996), and Toronto (1994, 1998). Fred Graham introduced me to this stimulating community after tracking me down to elicit an essay for a society publication under his editorial supervision, Later Calvinism: International Perspectives. I benefited also from opportunities to speak about my research at seminars held at St. Andrews University and the University of Edinburgh, and to the Scottish Church History Society.
Research trips to Scotland were the occasion for travel by Arlene and Joel both to visit me and to make their own explorations in the British Isles. My son, with a keen eye for good bargains in Edinburgh's bookshops, supplied me with the quotation from Singer at the beginning of Chapter 7; my wife, recalling her student days at McMaster Divinity College, located her copy of Fowler's Stages of Faith to enlighten me about a point of particular interest in connection with another project, and it has benefited me here also.
I have generally left primary sources with their original spelling and capitalization. In my own writing, I have used ‘Word’, i.e. upper case, in reference to the Bible and the preaching of the Word; similarly ‘Covenant’ refers exclusively to the National Covenant (1638).