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Andrew Melville

17. January 2018

Columns, Gentle Reformation,

  —Andrew Quigley

Andrew Melville was born in 1545 in Montrose, Scotland. He was the youngest of nine sons. Orphaned in childhood, he was raised by his eldest brother, Richard, and educated first at Montrose Grammar School, and then at St. Mary’s College, St. Andrews University, entering at the age of 14 to study philosophy. A highly gifted student, he left four years later, “the philosopher poet and Grecian of any young master in the land.” Further study took him to Paris and Poitiers, before taking up the Chair of Humanity in Geneva’s renowned Academy.

In July 1574, two years after the death of John Knox, he returned to Edinburgh, “and at once took up the mantle which the Scottish Elijah had dropped.” It was a time in the development of the young Reformed Church in Scotland when decisive steps were being taken to abolish the Episcopalian form of church government, and the gifted Melville was quickly engaged by the Scottish Church in the process. He played a leading role in the production of the Second Book of Church Discipline and was proactive in asserting the Word of God as the sole authority in all matters ecclesiastical and in terms of the relationship between church and state. Melville’s labors didn’t go unnoticed by the adherents of episcopacy, and he soon became the object of much derision and criticism. But he responded as a godly man should. McCrie says of him “that in exerting this influence he never overstepped the bounds of moderation, and the fervor ...

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