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MR. HENRY SCOUGAL, the worthy Author of the following book, was born about the end of June, in the year 1650.
His father, Mr. Patrick Scougal, was sometime minister at Sulton, and afterwards bishop of Aberdeen; in which see he sat above twenty years from the Restoration. He was married to Margaret Wemyss, daughter to a gentleman in Fife, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. John Scougal, the eldest son, became Commissary of Aberdeen. Our Author was the second. The youngest son, James, upon his eldest brother's death, succeeded him in the commissariat; which post he sold to Mr. Robert Paterson, father to the late Commissary of Aberdeen. He then went to Edinburgh; where he was made one of the senators of the College of Justice, by the title of Lord Whitehill. Catharine Scougal, the elder daughter, married Alexander Scrogie, bishop of Argyle; and Jane, the younger, became spouse to Mr. Patrick Sibbald, one of the ministers of Aberdeen.
But to return to our Author. From his childhood, he made uncommon progress in divine, as well as human learning. At the age of fifteen, he went to the University; where he finished his courses in four years time: and scarce had he ceased to be a pupil, when he became a Professor.
Having adorned this character four years, the more immediate service of God in his church, required him to enter into holy
orders; and he was soon after settled at Auchterless, a small village about twenty miles from Aberdeen. Here he had preached the gospel but the space of one year, when he was called to Aberdeen, and promoted to the Professorship of Divinity, in King's College there, though yet no more than four and twenty. This important function he discharged with the highest honour, till about his twenty-seventh year, that he fell into a consumption, which wasted him, by slow degrees, and, at last, put an end to his valuable life, on the 13th of June, 1678, before he had completed the twenty-eighth year of his age. He was buried in King's College church, Old Aberdeen, and the following inscription was put upon
DIDICIT, PRÆSTITIT, DOCUIT,
OBIIT ANNO DOM. MDCLXXVIII,
ÆTATIS SUÆ XXVIII.
ET HIC EXUVIAS MORTALITATIS POSUIT.
For a more particular account of our Author's life and character, we refer the reader to the sermon preached at his funeral, by Dr. George Gairden, which was first published, from an authentic manuscript, by
the Reverend Mr. Cockburn, sometime minister of St. Paul's, at Aberdeen, and which we have here subjoined to Mr. Scougal's discourses.
Besides the works now published, our Author left behind him some occasional reflections, and moral essays, which had been the exercises of his retired moments; while but a student at the University; as, also, three manuscript tracts in Latin, viz. A short System of Ethics, or Moral Philosophy; a Preservative against the Artifices of the Roman Missionaries; and a Treatise of the Pastoral Care: the last unfinished.
The works of this excellent author have too well recommended themselves, to need any new encomiums. It can, however, be no improper preface to this edition, (which we hope will be found a correct one), to present the reader with the accounts of the following discourses, which the reverend and learned men who formerly published them, have prefixed to their respective editions.
The sermons were first collected, and made public, by the above Mr. Cockburn; who tells us“ he was
encouraged to it, by some persons no less emi“nent for their piety and virtue, than for their " birth and quality. I have endeavoured,” says he,
to give them as correct as possible; gh some “ of the manuscripts I was obliged to make use of, " bad not been transcribed with that care and exact
ness they ought. It cannot be expected,” continues he, “ that these discourses, which were never
designed by the author for the press, can appear “ with the same advantage as the Treatise,” (meaning The Life of God in the Soul of Man) “which, at " the persuasion of his friends, was published in his “ life-time; yet, as they retain the same spirit and
genius, and give the same clear and persuasive “ notions of religion, it is hoped they will be favour
ably received, as well as that they may be very " profitable to the candid and serious reader.”
But now, to come to our Author's noblest and most perfect work, The Life of God in the Soul of Man, This discourse was first published about the year 1677, in the author's life-time, by the Reverend Dr. Burnett, afterwards bishop of Sarum, who introduced it into the world with the following account : “ It was writ“ ten by a pious and learned countryman of mine, for " the private use of a noble friend of the author's, “ without the least design of making it more public. “ Others seeing it, were much taken, both with the
excellent purposes it contained, and the great clear
ness and pleasantness of the style; the natural me“thod, and the shortness of it; and desired it might “ be made a more public good : and knowing some “ interest I had with the author, it was referred to
me, whether it should lie in a private closet, or be " let go abroad. I was not long in suspense, hav"ing read it over; and knowing that the author had " written out nothing here, but what he himself did « well feel and know : and, therfore, it being a tran“ script of those divine impressions that are upon his
own heart, I hope the native and unforced ge“nuineness of it, will both delight and edify the “ reader.”
The Reverend Dr. Gairden, in our author's funeral sermon, speaks much to the same effect. Sure, “ whoever considers the importance of the matter of “ that book, the clear representation of the life and
spirit of true religion, and its graces, the great ex“cellency and advantages of it, the proposal of the “ most effectual means for attaining to it the
grace " of God, the piety and seasonableness of the devo“tions, together with the natural and affectionate " eloquence of the style, cannot but be sensible of “ its great usefulness, to inspire us with the spirit of “true religion; to enlighten our minds with a right
sense and knowledge of it; to warm our hearts “ with suitable affections and breathings after it, and “ to direct our lives to the practice of it.”