Truth’s Victory Over Error – A Review by Kenneth Macleod
This is indeed a first-class book and it is a real pleasure to see it in print again, so attractively produced inside and out. David Dickson, best known for his commentary on the Psalms, was one of Scotland’s most notable ministers. He came to the parish of Irvine in 1618 and his time there included a period of revival but it was also interrupted by persecution. In 1640 he became Professor of Divinity in Glasgow University and 10 years later he took up the same position in Edinburgh.
The book is subtitled A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith and is based on Dickson’s lectures in Edinburgh, reproduced from his students’ notes. No one should be put off by the fact that the book is derived from university lectures or that its main focus is to oppose error. Nor should anyone be put off by the method Dickson uses. He begins by turning a statement from the Confession into a question, which he answers with a Yes or a No. This is then followed by a further question or questions, highlighting the errors of Roman Catholics, Arminians or any of a host of other groups who have gone astray in varying degrees from Scripture (the book concludes with a brief explanation of what each of these groups believed). The meat of the book lies in the answers to these questions, which are all concise and mostly brief. Anyone who reads the book carefully should have a better grasp of the doctrines of the Bible, and anyone who studies these answers and consults the proof texts quoted should acquire a solid understanding of these doctrines and be prepared to resist most of the errors in circulation today.
Though Dickson was not himself a delegate to the Westminster Assembly, he must have been entirely familiar with the thinking of his Scottish colleagues who made a notable contribution to the discussions which took place in formulating the Confession, and he was in complete sympathy with the overall emphases of the Assembly. Dickson was therefore in an excellent position to give to the world the first sympathetic exposition of the Confession.
The book includes a 20-page introduction by the noted Church historian Robert Wodrow, minister of Eastwood, near Glasgow, in the early eighteenth century. Wodrow leaves us this testimony: ‘The learned author brings in the different errors under proper heads, and in a most plain and solid way refutes them from the Holy Scriptures. At once he discovers [exhibits] the design of the particular branches of our excellent Confession of Faith, he establishes the truth therein laid down, and guards against the gangrene and poison of contrary errors, with judgement and perspicuity, and in a manner far above any character I can give.’ Dickson’s ‘plain and solid’ work is well worth reading and studying today. May the Lord bless it!
A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith
This is indeed a first-class book and it is a real pleasure to see it in print again, so attractively produced inside and out. David Dickson, best known for his commentary on the Psalms, was one of Scotland’s most notable ministers. He came to the parish of Irvine in 1618 and his time there included […]
Hope of the Church 15 October 2021
To help us in the dealings of our lives we should have such a conception of God as not to limit him in our thoughts. When we are in extremity we must not tie him to this thing or to that thing. He can make matter out of nothing. Why should we limit the unlimited […]
The Prayer Meeting 3 September 2021
Why bother coming to the prayer meeting? In the pecking order of many congregations, it is somewhere below the much-lamented evening service. In the priorities of too many Christians, it seems to have little value. It’s the one we can afford to miss. It’s the one to which we don’t, or maybe wouldn’t, take our […]