Page images


The following LIFE OF DAVID Dickson is the production of WODROW, the Historian, and was originally prefixed to an edition of a work entitled Truth's Victory over Error, first published in 1684. Mr George Sinclair, well known about that period by various productions, had translated an unpublished Latin treatise by Dickson on the Confession of Faith, assigned to it the title given above, and published it as his own. Of this piracy, Wodrow says,—" What led him to translate another man's book, and send it abroad under the initial letters of his own name, I shall not determine. I am willing to leave the ashes of the dead in quiet, especially those of a person who, in his time, was taken notice of, with some applause, by learned men abroad as well as at home ; and wrote several things in philosophy, mathematics, and his. tory, in his own way, not without their use in the time when they were published.” But this act of literary dishonesty was soon detected.

The work was published with the real author's name prefixed to it, and Wodrow was employed to write a preface for the volume thus restored to its proper rank as the production of David Dickson. Hence the Life now published, which formed the chief part of the preface supplied by Wodrow. It is confessedly meagre and defective, although, were such the object of the WODROW Society, materials might, perhaps, be found for compiling a biography of this distinguished man, by searching into the Histories, published and in MS., of the times in which he lived.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

F ever a Scots biography, and the lives of our eminent ministers and Christians, be published, Mr Dickson would shine there as a star of the first magnitude. Till such necessary work appear, which

would require able hands, and much help from such as have the remains of our worthies in possession, I shall drop a few hints of what I have met with as to this good man.

Mr David Dick or Dickson was the only son of John Dick or Dickson, merchant in Glasgow, whose father was an old feuar, and possessor of some lands in the Barony of Fintry, and Parish of St Ninian's, called the Kirk of the Muir. His parents were religious persons, of considerable substance, and many years married before they had this child, and he was the only one ever they had, as I am informed. As he was a Samuel, asked of the Lord, so he was early devoted to Him and the ministry ; yet, afterwards, the vow was forgot, till Providence by a rod, and sore sickness on their

He is supposed to have been born about the year 1583.

son, brought their sin to remembrance; and then he was put to renew his studies which he had left, and at the University of Glasgow he made very great progress in them.

Soon after he had received the degree of Master of Arts, he was admitted Regent, or Professor of Philosophy in that college, where he was very useful in training up the youth in solid learning; and with the learned Principal Boyd of Trochridge, the worthy Mr Robert Blair, and other pious members of that learned society, his pains were singularly blessed in reviving decayed serious piety among the youths, in that declining and corrupted time, a little after the imposing of Prelacy upon us.

By a recommendation of the General Assembly, not long after our reformation from Popery, the regents were only to continue eight years in their profession, after which, such as were found qualified were licensed, and upon calls, after trials, admitted to the holy ministry. By this constitution, this Church came to be filled with ministers well seen in all the branches of useful learning. Accordingly, Mr Dickson was, 1618, ordained minister to the town of Irvine, where he laboured about twenty-three years.

That very year the corrupt Assembly at Perth agreed to the five known articles, palmed upon the Church by the king and prelates.? Mr Dickson had not much studied these questions till the articles were imposed by this meeting; then he closely examined them, and the more he looked into them, the more aversion he found to them; and when, some time after, by a sore sickness, he was brought within views of death and eternity, he gave open testimony of their sinfulness.”

When this came to take air, Mr James Law, Archbishop of Glasgow, summoned him to appear before the High Commission, January 29, 1622. Mr Dickson, at his entrance to his ministry at

1 They were-1. Kneeling at the Communion. 2. Observance of Holy-days, Christmas, Good Friday, and the like. 3. Confirmation by a Bishop. 4. Private Baptism ; and, 5. Private Communion.

? See Select Biographies, vol. i. pp. 316-320, for some incidents concerning Dickson not mentioned here.

« PreviousContinue »