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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MODERATE, v., adj., n. Also †moderat, -it, moad(e)rat(e). Pa.p. †moderate.

I. v. To preside, act as chairman, specif.: 1. in Presbyterian usage, over one of the church courts, session, presbytery, synod or General Assembly.Wgt. 1708 Session Bk. Glasserton MS. (15 April):
He was desired to moderat at this tyme in the Session, ther being ane affair to be considered wherein the minister hes some concern.
Sc. 1709 W. Steuart Collections i. xv. § 19:
The Moderator of the former Assembly . . . openeth the assembly by prayer, and moderates till a new Moderator be chosen.

Hence moderator, †moderawtor (Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past and Pres. 32), the minister who so presides, specif., and spelled with a capital, the minister who is chosen for one year to preside over the General Assembly and usually has certain ceremonial duties to perform besides. Deriv. moderatorship, the office of moderator.Sc. 1700 Acts Gen. Assembly 6:
To the Right Reverend and well Beloved, the Moderator, Ministers and Elders, of the General Assembly of the Church of Our Ancient Kingdom of Scotland.
Gsw. 1718 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 9:
The commissioners for this toun protested and appealled to the synod, and in pursuance thereof have allready given in the reasons of appeall to the moderator and clerk of the said presbitry.
Sc. 1769 Weekly Mag. (25 May) 255:
The Assembly had under consideration various contested commissions to different members who had voted in the election of a moderator.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
The Pastor is constant Moderator of a Session, from the superiority of his office to those of Ruling Elders and Deacons. In a Presbytery, a new Moderator is generally chosen annually; in a Provincial Synod or Assembly, at every meeting.
Rxb. 1868 Hawick Advertiser (18 April) 4:
The ordinary meeting of the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale was held on Tuesday in the Abbey Church, Jedburgh — the Rev. Mr Fergusson, moderator.
Lnk. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 26:
He'll yet be a D.D., An that a first-rater — be made Moderator.
Sc. 1889 Scots Mag. (July) 89:
Dr. Gloag, whom all were delighted to see raised to the Moderator's Chair, did good service in reminding the Church of the necessity for thorough intellectual equipment.
Kcd. 1900 Crockett Stickit Minister's Wooing 140:
“Moderator and ruling elders of this congregation,” said Willie.
Sc. 1901 Daily Chron. (25 Dec.) 6:
Moderatorship of the Free Church of Scotland. . . . A letter was read from the Rev. Dr. Marcus Dods, declining to be nominated to the Moderatorship of the next Assembly.
Sc. 1947 Scotland (Meikle) 123:
Even a parish minister is addressed as “Moderator” when presiding at a meeting of his kirk session.
Sc. 1960 Scotsman (3 Aug.) 6:
The Moderator of the General Assembly is not the Head of the Kirk, and is simply the chairman of the supreme court when it is in session. Any insignia given him as Moderator are but a fiction, and any title that would raise him in rank or order above his brethren is contrary to the Declaratory Articles of the Church, which recognise only the headship of Christ and the parity of ministry.

2. In phr. to moderate (in) a call, of a Pres-bytery: to preside, through its representative, over the election, call and induction of a minister to a vacant charge. Hence moderation, the authority for this procedure. †Also used pass. of the call: to be put through in the appointed manner.Ayr. 1710 Ayr. Presb. Rec. MS. (25 Oct.):
The presbytrie . . . came in the end to this state of question, appoint both Calls to be moderate after due intimation or not? the roll being called and votes marked, it carried by plurality in the affirmative.
Sc. 1712 Chrons. Atholl & Tullibardine Families (1908) II. 142:
He, taking his advantage, did press the presbitery to moderat a Call.
Sc. 1725 Letter from a Gentleman at Aberdeen (Broadsheet) 3:
Such Persons of the Town-Council . . . should have no Right to vote again as Elders at the Moderation.
Wgt. 1745 Session Bk. Glasserton MS. (17 June):
A petition should be drawn up and presented to next Presbytry for a committee of their number to meet here . . . to moderate in a call for one to be minister in this parish. At which time Mr Hathorn of Over Airis craved that the Session might petition the Presbytery for the hearing of more probationers before a call should moderate. Accordingly the Session appointed that two petitions should be wrote out and signd by any that inclind, the one for a moderation without hearing of more probationers and the other for the hearing of more.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
When a minister is appointed to preside in this business, it is said that the Presbytery grant a moderation to the people.
Sc. 1849 M. Oliphant M. Maitland xvi.:
The first step in procuring a minister for a vacant congregation in Scotland, is the holding of a Presbytery meeting, for the purpose of “moderating in the call;” that is, after sermon, the call, or invitation, is signed in presence of the Presbytery, and attested by their Moderator, or Chairman. Notice of this meeting must be given to the congregation a stated time (ten days, we believe) before this notice, which must be done in the church after service, is called “Serving the Edict.”
Sc. 1903 E.D.D.:
It is the Presbytery that moderates in a “call” from the congregation to the person elected. The Presbytery meets for public worship with the congregation: a form of call is produced which the members of the congregation sign. If signed by the majority of members and no objections are made, the Presbytery “sustains” it, and thereafter in due time and order proceed to ordination, or to induction.
Sc. 1904 R. Small Hist. U. P. Congregat. I. 125:
A moderation was applied for, £100 of stipend being promised.

3. To act as chairman at a meeting of the High Constables of Edinburgh. Hence moderator, the chairman of this society.Edb. 1828 Regulations High Constables 10:
Upon occasions of fire, the Moderator of the High Constables shall call out the High Constables, when it shall be their duty to preserve order, and to protect property.
Edb. 1865 J. Marwick High Constables 117:
The term “moderator” was synonymous with president, and was not confined, as Jamieson would seem to indicate, to ecclesiastical courts. With the exception of the period between 1745 and 1796, when the term “preses” was in use by the constables, the head of the body has uniformly retained the title of moderator.
Edb. 1915 Rules & Reg. for High Constables 9:
That the Constables may be called out by the Bailie as often as circumstances require; and, in the discharge of their duties, they shall act under the direct orders of the Moderator, . . . who shall receive his instructions from the Bailie.
Edb. 1958 Edb. Evening News (20 May):
The Moderator . . . wearing the uniform of the High Constables and Guard of Honour, with his badge of office and Moderator's silver-mounted ebony baton.

II. adj. 1. In the ecclesiastical and doctrinal controversies in the Church of Scotland from the early 18th c. till the middle of the 19th applied orig. by themselves to the group or party which favoured a less rigorous application of Calvinist principles and acquiesced in patronage, and later on by their opponents, the Evangelicals, to connote lukewarm tenets and Erastian or Conforming tendencies. Hence moderation, (the principles of) the Moderate party, moderatism, id. Now chiefly hist.Sc. 1735 E. Erskine Works (1871) II. 357:
There is a generation of Gallios and Laodiceans who under the name of moderation, falsely so called, will look upon you as madmen.
Sc. 1774 Gentleman and Lady's Weekly Mag. (15 June) 261:
The moderate party (as they call themselves) seemed to be much broke.
Sc. 1800 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1860) 238:
In the year 1751 or 1752, . . . a few of us of the Moderate party were for two or three days united in a case, with Dr Alexander Webster, the leader of the high-flying party.
Sc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 16:
The Moderate party, as it affected to be called, was not always superior to passion and interested considerations.
Sc. 1831 J. Campbell Memoirs (1877) I. 78:
The Moderation was not half so excited against me as the Evangelicals. . . . The “moderation” in my presbytery are not better than the rest.
Sc. 1842 Mem. J. Halley 37, 38:
There are two contending principles within the Church of Scotland, the supporters of which are called respectively Evangelical and Moderate. . . . The principles of Moderatism in the Scottish Church.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 3:
Religious feeling was in rather a dormant state . . . The prevailing sentiment was pretty much that which, at a later era, came to be described by the term “moderate” understood in its worst sense.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken ix.:
Fau'se doctrine I'se wager! But that comes o' sittin' under a moderate minister!
Sc. 1890 R. Story Ch. Scot. III. 714:
The popular party required a call from the heads of families in the parish, while the Moderate party were satisfied if it came from the heritors and elders.
Sc. 1905 W. L. Mathieson Scot. and the Union 264:
There were ministers in Scotland whose opposition to Moderatism had resulted in their reluctant withdrawal from the national Church.

2. Of the weather: calm, temperate. Obs. in Eng. Hence moderation, a change from rough to calm weather.Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. and Poems 107:
“Yae, it's a moderate day, boy,” I said. “What news wi' dee?”
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (27 Nov.):
An he comes ony moderation i' da wadder michtna we a' geen aff an' tried da haandlin' some day.
Sh. 1931 Shetland Times (14 March) 7:
“I do declare it is warm!” “Yea, dat shö is in feth! Hit's a kind o' a moaderit loor, is wan might sae —!”

III. n. A member of the Moderate party within the Church of Scotland. See II. 1. Gen.Sc. Hist. In the controversies which led up to the Disruption of 1843, the reduced form Mod is frequent.Sc. 1830 W. Chambers Bk. Scotland 432:
In all the presbyterian church courts, there are two parties, called the high flyers, the evangelicals, or the saints, and the moderates.
n.Sc. 1840 D. Sage Memorabilia (1889) 388:
The Church had since the days of Principal Robertson been divided into the two sections of Moderates and Evangelicals.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxii.:
The fattal thing's nae that there's a camp o' Moderates to conten' against.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 206:
The Church was composed of two sections known as Evangelicals and Moderates . . . The former were the party of progress, whose battle-cry for the time was Non-intrusion and Spiritual Independence. The latter were really what their name implies. They were the comfort-loving, easy-minded class, who were opposed to change either in doctrine or Church-government.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick iii.:
I've heard them say mysel that the Auld Kirk folk were juist a wheen reprobants, an' Moderates.
Cai. 1903 E.D.D.:
A party term in the Scottish ecclesiastical disputes which led to the “Disruption” of 1843, and for many years afterwards applied to those who continued to adhere to the Church of Scotland.
Fif. 1905 S. Tytler Daughter of the Manse III. ii.:
You know that when the non-intrusionists leave the Church to the back sliders and the Moderates, it will be a dead Church.
Sc. 1959 H. Escott Scottish Congregationalism 47:
The ideal virtue of the Moderates was a sanctified commonsense nurtured by general culture, and they were the sedatives to all enthusiasm.

[O.Sc. Moderator, the minister presiding over the General Assembly, from 1563. The v. usage (O.Sc. 1611) derives from the vocabulary of the French Protestant church, modérateur being the president of various reformed assemblies in the 17th and 18th centuries. Calvin freq. uses modérer, modération, modérateur, esp. of the rule and government of God.]

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"Moderate v., adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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