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 […]
Zeal for God’s Glory October 18, 2019
That supreme reverence for the glory of God which prompted Jesus to regard not his life dear unto him, provided his Father’s honour were maintained, must be the dominant principle of action in every Christian heart. The Divine character must be sacred in our eyes. The jealousy which the prophet Elijah expressed for the Lord […]
Bound Yet Free: Four Insights into the Will of Man October 15, 2019
For more than fifteen hundred years the Church has engaged in a heated debate over the freedom of man’s will. The major issues came to general attention in the early fifth century when Augustine and Pelagius did battle on the subject. Through medieval times the nature of man’s freedom received a great deal of attention. […]