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MR BARCLAY's LIFE.
ON the appearance of this edition of Mr BAR
CLAY's Dissertation, accompanied with his Illustrations, prefixed to the common version of the Psalms, the Committee of the Berean Church * have little to offer for an apology; knowing well, that in this form the book will be more extensively useful than if it had been accompanied with his original version.
The individuals to whom this book will be most interesting, will - naturally wish to know something of the man to whom they have been indebted for any information they may receive from the following work, or from any other of his publications.
• The reason of taking the title of “ Berean Church,” may require explanation. Mr Barclay always made an Appeal to the Divine Testimony for the truths of what he declared, and earnestly exhorted his hearers to search the Scriptures, lik the BEREANS of old, wbether these things were so. It was for those reasons that they became distinguished by this name.
Mr BARCLAY was born in 1734. His father, Mr Lodovic Barclay, who was a farmer in the parish of Muthill in Perthshire, at an early period designed his son for the ministry, and accordingly gave him a classical education,
On the 27th September 1759, Mr Barclay was licensed by the Presbytery of Auchterarder, as a preacher of the Church of Scotland ; and was soon after engaged by Mr Jobson, then minister of Errol, to be his assistant. In this situation he remained for several years.
It was here that he began to study the Scriptures in their connection. To this he was induced by the violent disputes that were going on at that time between professing Christians of different denominations. He had not long prosecuted this course of enquiry, until, by the grace of God, he was made not only to perceive, that the doctrines
of all these sects were contrary to Scripture, but that even he himself had been led by the opinions of men, to entertain notions of divine truth, which the Scriptures did not warrant.
Being induced by these means, to throw off the authority and the systems of men, he boldly and fearlessly preached what he saw to be supported by the Scriptures, and by the Scriptures alone. About this period, having, as his custom then was, prepared and written out a discourse to be delivered on a communion Sabbath, (the importance attached to which occasions is well known,) he neglected to put it in his pocket. Not having observed this circumstance till he was in
the pulpit and public worship had commenced, he was suddenly and unexpectedly left to the resources of his own mind. He instantly resolyed to take for his discourse - a subject, which had for some time previous been to him matter of deep and serious meditation. This subject was Rom. x. 9. « If thou shalt; confess with thy
mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in is thine heart that God hath raised him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved.' The doctrine contained in this text led him, in this discourse, into the connection which subsists between the truth as believed in the heart, and its inseparable consequences in the present and eternal wel . fare of the believer, and which was so deeply impressed on his own mind, that from thenceforward he ceased not to declare, without reserve, what he saw and believed to be the truth.
In following the light which the connected view of Scripture so abundantly poured in upon his mind, he was necessarily led to oppose many of the doctrines which were held by Mr Jobson, and many others in the connection. This naturally brought upon him a rebuke from Mr Jobson. But all the opposition he met with only tended to confirm him the more in those truths which he saw to be of divine authority; and induced him decidedly to adopt the line of conduct followed by the first preachers of the gospel, Whe
ther it be right in the sight of God, to hearken 6. unto you more than unto God, judge ye.'.
Mr Jobson, on account of this continued op
position to his opinions, dismissed him from his assistantship; but God had work for him elsewhere.
About the time of his leaving Errol, Mr Anthony Dow,minister of Fettercairn, being, through age and infirmity, rendered incapable of performing the duties of his ministerial office, desired Mr David Dow, his son, then minister of Drone, to endeavour to procure him an assistant. Mr David Dow being acquainted with Mr Barclay, and knowing the cause of his having left Mr Jobson, offered him the assistantship of Fettercairn. This he accepted, and entered upon its duties in the beginning of June 1763.
The people among whom he was now to labour, were at first greatly prejudiced against him on account of his youthful appearance; but when he came to his discourse, and began to de clare with such earnestness and fervour the truths of the gospel, their opinions were completely changed into reverence and respect. His matter and manner were such as carried with them a de monstration and power, that none was found to make any head against him. *
During the space of nine years, which he passed at Fettercairn, he continued to preach to the
• It is worthy of remark, that none have appeared who have made any direct and regular attempt to refute what Mr Barclay has advanced in his writings on the doctrines of the gospel ; and such as have casually taken any notice of them, have been very ably answered. See note in page 55 of his Assurance of Faith, &c. Glasgow edition.