Moderate theology and preaching in Enlightenment Scotland, c.1750-1800

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Through the Moderate movement, the clergy of the later eighteenth-century Church of Scotland became actively engaged with the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment. This chapter explores the role of the Moderate sermon in this process of cultural engagement,focusing on two main themes. First, it considers how Moderate sermons in the later eighteenth century conveyed an optimistic, world-affirming and highly practical set of theological teachings. For Moderate preachers, God had given individuals the innate capacity– in the form of the moral sense or conscience – that would enable them to respond actively to the divine guidance of Scripture in exercising self-control and contributing to social progress. Second, the chapter shows how Moderate sermons also proclaimed that God was active in history, using human actors, often in ways not intended by those actors, to advance the divine plan for the world, which involved progress towards a future order of peace and freedom.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThis History of Scottish Theology, Volume II
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Early Enlightenment to the Late Victorian Era
EditorsDavid Fergusson, Mark Elliott
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198759348
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2019

Publication series

NameThe History of Scottish Theology
PublisherOxford University Press


  • sermons
  • Enlightenment
  • Moderatism
  • Church of Scotland
  • passions
  • moral sense
  • providence

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