Bishop Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715). A critical account of his conception of the Christian ministry.
Anderson, Michael D.
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The substance of this study of Bishop Gilbert Burnet's conception of the ministry, in the first place, sets out the multifarious aspects of the development of his thought and his educational environment. At this juncture, the major biographical source dealing with Burnet's life, offers few insights beyond the description that Burnet himself wrote. This work brings into focus the Scottish and English influences on Burnet's thought. A discussion of the training of a Scottish divine in the mid-seventeenth century reveals the character of the ministerial office in a specific instance.A study of Burnet's participation in the second episcopate in Scotland suggests the inter-relationships of bishop, presbytery, and local kirk judicatory. Session and presbytery records appertaining to this facet of Burnet's ministry provide primary evidence of the nature of the pastoral care in Scotland. In contradistinction to biographers Clarke and Foxcroft, it Is shown that Burnet was not, in this nascent period of development, a Calvinist. urthermore, the strong, but moderate, episcopacy tradition of the continuing legacy of the Aberdeen Doctors and the Aberdeen environment as a whole had a significant effect on Burnet. The work demonstrates that Burnet's academic experience, although occurring during the interregnum, did: not lack important episcopal influences. Burnet's professorship at the University of Glasgow is examined, lointed out also, is the fact that the products of his classroom, insofar as records for his students exist, were unanimously loyal to episcopacy, even after the settlement of presbyterianism in Scotland. The doctrinal method of Burnet's thought is illustrated in the context of the Natural and Revealed Theology on which his doctrine is contingent. This discourse aims to elucidate the prominent place in Burnet's delineation of thought that is held by the Cambridge Platonists, as well as pointing out the synthesis Burnet attempted to make between faith and reason. His doctrinal statements, including his explication of a doctrine of the ministry,are examined and compared to those sources he used. Manuscript sources and primary diocesan records,particularly those relatin to the consistory courts, offer material for the study of Burnet's ministry as a bishop. His diocesan ministry is an important illustration of episcopal rule in the post- Revolutionary period of the Anglican church. Some examples of his practices in episcopal administration, in public service, in relationships with the clergy, and in situations where there existed an extreme polarity of political opinions, are considered.