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LIFE OF MR DAVID DICKSON.
S a specimen of Dickson's views and his general deportment, we subjoin the following Address to the General Assembly of 1638, on the subject of Arminianism. It is headed—
"Then Mr David [Dick] raise and spackas followes :—The taske is large, the tynle is short; therefore I will sett myselff to as little tyme as I can; only I would have this preface in the beginning, that we would all labour to have errours in als great detestation as any corporall vycc; and doubtlesse, if our eyes were open to see the bewtie of trueth and the good fruites of it, and to see the vyldnes of errours, and the fearfull consequences of it, we would need no exhortatioun of this sort. For the preaching of errour is like the selling of poysoned pestied bread, that slays the eater of it, and infects with the breath every man that comes neir hand; and albeit the Lord hath brought in wholesome food in his house, and hes held his table long covered, yet the malice of Sathan, and the bussines of the Pope to recover his kingdome, and the dalliance of worldlie men, hes sett instruments on foot to trouble our Church againe; and God, in his deep wisdome and justice, hes suffered the matter to goc that farr on, that Avc might see what a fearfull
VOL. II. B
sin it was to put the keyes of the house of Uod in wrong hands, and what evil frcicks, errours in discipline would bring foorth, and also that he might punische the unsanctified and proud witts of men that would take upon them to goveme his Kirk, as also he would have these ministers in this land corrected for their negligence who arc like the rest of the countrie, who thiukes of arnies whilst they are in peace. So have we done. In tyme of peace we were all secure, and dreamed not of straites, and studied for no more but to get ane sermone in the week; yet blessed be our God, who hes alse many painfull and faithfull servands as will be sufficient to cleare his trueth of his Kirk against all that will say the contrair.
By the power of Jesus, I will take up my speach in thir heads. First, I will lay out their errors in four heads; Secondlic, I will lay out our doctrine in uther four; then, Thirdlie, I will lay out before you the cullours they use instead of probation; Fourthlie, then I will lay before you some maine reasons which are the cause and ground of all the errours, and the grounds whereupon the dispute runs wrong on their syde; then I will shaw you the bulwark wherein our strenth stands; Lastlie, I will answer some objections, and so close. For the trueth of our doctrine, I will content myselfe with a place or two, and it is in the hinder end of the 52 Isai, and 6 of John, 29 v8e, which is sufficient for a confirmation of all our doctrine against all Arminians.
(1.) For the first, The Arminians they grant ane election; but such a ane as makes man to be a chooser of God, and not God to be chooser of man, that by their course God shall choose a man twenty tymes, and refuse him or reprobat him twenty-one tymes, and the man to goe to hell in the hinder end.
(2.) For the death of Christ they make a great bussines for it, as if they were the only men that knew to extend the worth of it; but it comes home to this:—Christ layes doune his blood, and buyes no waires bot a possibilitie of some man's salvation—that is to say, they extend his death in drawing on of a bargane betwixt God and maD, to put man in the termes that Adam fell into, that man may take a new essay of himselfc, by the force of univcrsall grace, to hold his feet where Adam fell.
(3.) There is concerning man's conversion, wherein they would secme to plead for themselves, that they are seeking no more but to make man to be no stock nor block, and if they had no further, we should casillie grant that he were not a stock in his conversion; but he is a quick divell, and when it comes to the upwith, heir doe they schoot1 to put all the matters in man's awne hand, that God shall be the giver of abilitie to convert by giving the man a power of frie-will, but the man shall have the glorie to turne himselfe to God or receave grace.
(4.) For the last and fourth poynt; they sever poor simple man, and sett him alone with the staff of his frie-will tottering in his hand, and the divell, the world, and sin, tempting him; and then they dispute with him, saying, that there is no assurance of perseverence, and that the saints may fall away, and all the rest of it; whileas, they should joyne all his helpes with all his hinderances, and should put him in the hand of ane cautioner and guyd to teach him and correct him, and raise him up when he is fallen.
These being their four errors, I oppose to them the doctrine of the Kirk of Scotland, whereof we may all thinke good the day, and thank God most hcartilie for it; and seeing I have gotten leeve to spcake, I blesse God in Jesus Christ our Lord, that evir looked upon the Kirk of Scotland, to give us a doctrine that will not suffer itselff to be disgraced by errors or false doctrine, but will take the place of it in the hands of weake Ministers who will not boast of their learning, but whose glorie is simple trueth; and in that we will glorie more nor in all the learning in the world, finding ourselves guarded against all the scribes and disputers of the world, since we have the trueth of Christ in simplicitie according to the word.
1. We give this for our doctrine out of the word of God—That there is a number severed out, in God's speceall purpose, from the race of mankind, and advanced above the state of nature, to the
1 Push, endeavour.
estate of grace and glorie, by a speceall designation, and that for no foirseene good workcs in the man, but for bis free grace and good purpose who helped to make the man, then to put the saule in him, and then to put such and such graces in his saule, and restoir what was fallen in him, and so make him doc good workes. This ground is clear from Scripture. Ye know be will have mercie on whom he will, and whom he will he hardens; for he is a Soveraigne Lord, and, of his owne workmanship, he can advance ane pairt higher of it then ane uther, and doe no wrang to the rest.
2. For the matter of Christ's purchase by his death, we teatch that our Lord made no blind blocke, but wist wcill what he bought, as the Father wist what he sold; and had his scheepe before his eyes, and was content to lay doune his lyfe for them; [for] all thinges that belongc to lyfe and salvation he layd doune such a pryce to the Father, and [He] declaired, by a voice from heaven, that he was pleased with it—" This is my beloved Sone."
3. For conversion we say, that how quicke, how reasonable soever a man is in the hourc of his conversion, considering him as he is, a naturall man, and so wicked in himselff, that there is so much power in the gospell of grace, the Spirit of God concurring therewith, that he is able, not onlie morallie to perswade and convince the man, but effectuallie to induce the mynd of him—keeping himselfe still in a freedome of will, that most willinglie and frielie makes the man turne unto God, and to take his Mediator and God in his armes, who before was in the arnies of Sathan. .
4. For the fourth we say, that, albeit it is true, there is nothing vainer nor man—nothing lighter than he—he being laid in the balance, and nothing fickler nor he, for at his best estate he is altogether vanitie—yet He that hes bought him deare will never leave him nor forsake him. That man that he hes begun to take be the heart, and to speake to as he uses to doe to these quhom he setts his mynd upon and calls according to his purpose, he so admonishes him, reproves him, corrects him, and causes him to eat the fruit of his owne wayes in cace he deborred,1 that he causes him
1 Wandered, sinned.
cast all consolations from himselfe—from men—from the world— from sin—and makes him faine to creipe in under his Lord's winges, and bringes him through all doubts, and rubbs, difficulties, and temptations, and never leaves him till he sett him before his Master and Lord.
Now, their cullours are chieflie thric—first, from Scriptures, rent ane of them from ane uther, as if there were no Scripture but that text quhilk they would sceme to prove their errours by, quhich text of theirs being compaired with uthers, is our doctrine; and by soe doeing, they deale lyke sophists rather than telling the mynd of the Spirit of God, who tells not all his mynd in ane sentence, but must be waited on till he tell his last word; and reason it be so—as, for example, when the matter of man's salvation and conversion is spoken of, to say the Lord swearcs he loves not the death of a sinner, and we oppose to them ane uther Scripture, that he laughed at the destruction of the wicked; where they take the ane place and not the uther, and takes not that quhilk agries with .—but he rejoyces at their destruction—not as it is a destructione of the creature; but when man wilfullie rejects grace and mercie and scornes God, it is righteous w* God to rejoyce in his destruction when the man will not rejoyce in his mercie.
Ane other of their cullours is a number of calumnies of our doctrine, where before the ignorant and unlearned, that understands not what we teache, they seeme to speake to them with some face, as if our doctrine did open a doore to sin; whereas howsoever, as in other professions, there are too many prophane among them, if all of them be not so, yet amongst us, the doctrine is such that if any man be prophane, or abuse the trueth that is spocken, he beares the blame himselfe, and not the Lord.
Their third cullour is plausable humane reasoncs and discourse, drawen from the corrupt judgement of unsanctified men—as if man wer to sitt downc and lay the platformc of his owne salvation, and not to leave it to the word and to the Lord; but humane rcasone shall prove a foole when it comes to the contrare of these two.