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The Burns Encyclopedia
Home | Introduction | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

'Auld Lichts' and 'New Lichts'

The Act of Union of 1707, protected the polity of the Presbyterian Kirk, but the Patronage Act of 1712 restored the right of lay patrons who were heirs of the original donors of ecclesiastical properties to present ministers of their own choice to vacant parishes. Patronage was accepted by the 'Moderate' core of the Kirk, but an Act of Assembly in 1732, giving the power of election to heritors and elders when a patron did not exercise his rights under the 1712 Act, brought about a secession. A further secession occurred in 1747 over the Burgher's Oath, which required holders of public offices to affirm the religion 'presently professed in this kingdom'. Ramsay of Ochtertyre thought that: 'To a sober Presbyterian, no proposition seemed more self-evident', adding: 'Yet by means of perverse ingenuity in torturing words, did these wrong headed men insist that it was inconsistent with their principles and professions'.

The two parties formed independent synods, which bitterly hated each other.

The Burghers later divided on the issue of civil compulsion in religious affairs, those who held to the obligations of the Solemn League and Covenant seceding as 'Auld Lichts', while the majority, willing to modify that commitment, were known as 'New Lichts'.

Apart from organisational differences however, the 'Auld Lichts' were more orthodox Calvinists, enthusiastic for original sin, election and predestination, while the 'New Lichts' tended to be more 'liberal in their theology and moralistic in their preaching'. Burns, of course, was on the side of the 'New Lichts'.

Buy the Burns Encyclopedia online
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Robert Burns Store

NEW!! robert burns store View our exclusive range of distinctive Robert Burns related products. Register with our Shopping Club for further offers and unique member offers.Click here...


Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
Search our huge CD and music store for any Burns-related phrase!
Hint: Type "lang syne" or "peck maut" etc. into the Search box there for all artists, titles, descriptions or track listings with the words entered.
Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...