During my Th.M. studies, I came across an intriguing reference to an unpublished (in the modern typeset sense) manuscript that was written by Robert Baillie, one of the six Scottish commissioners to the Westminster Assembly. I was able to locate an extant copy of this scribally reproduced book, Some Few Quaries and Doubts, and have made it a bit of a hobby to painstakingly transliterate it from the scribe’s rather forced seventeenth century Scot’s secretariat into a readable format.
Robert Baillie (1602-1662) presents the historian with something of a quandary. On the one hand, he has been heralded as one of the great churchmen of the Scottish kirk in the mid-seventeenth century. On the other hand, his life has attracted remarkably little focused attention in the secondary literature of the period. Baillie’s transition from being a local pastor to a national theologian is not well documented. The changes that took him from being a locally respected theologian that is viewed with some suspicion by the puritan faction to being one of the two theologians asked to address the 1637 Glasgow assembly on the topic of Arminianism have not been satisfactorily described. This project will attempt to demonstrate that the events of October 18, 1637 are really the fulcrum on which Baillie’s career as a theologian of the Scots church pivots. And the summary of Baillie’s activities of that day are recorded in this unprinted work… Some Few Quaries and Doubts…
There is an undeniable tendency for historians to assume a greater importance for texts or artifacts that they feel they may be to some degree ‘uncovering’ in some new relation to an established history. To imitate if not to truly borrow from Baillie’s humility, this historian cannot presume to be free from the skewed perspective that comes from spending many months deciphering a sometimes crabbed hand that reveals a man whose greatness grows with each paleographical eureka! Objectivity in synthesizing new data such as that offered by a presentation and analysis of Baillie’s Some Few Quaries and Doubts seems always to belong to a subsequent hand. But what appears to this student of Church History to be beyond question is that in this early work of Baillie’s, a work which won Baillie the respect and approval of his peers at the first blush of his career as one of the Scots Kirk’s preeminent theologians in a troubled age, we see as it were in a chrysalis the deeply held charitable moderation that was Baillie’s professed and often attained ideal.
As the proposed table of contents below suggests, this project is also relevant to a broader understanding of the tumultuous puritan movement , especially in its ecclesiological debates. If you are visiting this page and have any information or sources for this project that you would like to share with me, or if you have any feedback, please send me a note!
Some Few Quaries and Doubts about the Scottish service booke:
The Making of a Moderate Puritan
- Robert Baillie and his Times
- A Technical Introduction to the Transcription of the Text
Part One: Robert Baillie’s Some Few Quaries and Doubts about the Scottish service booke
- Concerning the tyme of imposeing
- Concerning the way and meanes of its inbringing
- Concerning holie dayes
The fourth Anent the Sabbath
The Fyft Anent Crosse in Baptisme
The Sixt Anent the same Crosse
The seventh Anent preaching
The eight Anent the Corporall
The ninth Anent the sacrifice
The Tenth. Anent Auricular confession Indulgences, veniall sins, Justification by works, meritt of works, works of supererogation
Concerning the regeneration of all baptized infants, as well reprobatt as elect, the totall and finall apostacie of many saincts: the power of the will to overcome the most gracious acts of the spirit of adoption, the assurance of eternal election from our faith & works and perseverance forseene by God, [???] antecedent condition, the intention of Christ to die to redeme by his death all alyke
Anent the present church of Rome and poperie in grosse
Anent the government of Bishops as the Canons makes it among us.
The books out of which the preceiding doubts are drawne
Part Two: Commentary
- The Identification and Provenance of the Text
- Moderation in Manner and Method
- Episcopacy in the Early, Middle and Late Polity of Robert Baillie
- Robert Baillie and the Liturgical Debate
- Robert Baillie and the Soteriological Debate
- The Transformation of the Text: From A Few Doubts and Quaries to The Canterburian’s Self-Conviction
- Baillie’s Citations and Seventeenth Century Standards of Academic Integrity
- Concluding Thoughts: the Abiding Relevance of Robert Baillie and A Few Doubts and Quaries
- Parallels of Select Citations with Their Sources