LEECHMAN, WILLIAM, D.D.,
a learned divine, the son of a farmer, was born in the parish of
Dolphington, Lanarkshire, in 1706. He acquired his education at the
parish school, and completed his studies at the university of
Edinburgh. In October 1731 he was licensed to preach by the
presbytery of Paisley, and, in October 1736, was ordained minister
of Beith. In October 1740 he was elected moderator of the synod of
Glasgow and Ayr, and in July 1743 he married Miss Bridget Balfour,
of the family of Pilrig, near Edinburgh. He was soon after elected
professor of theology in the university of Glasgow, by the casting
vote of the then lord rector, he and his opposing candidate, Mr.
John Maclaurin, brother of the celebrated professor at Edinburgh,
having an equal number of votes. To prevent his induction to the
chair, the defeated party brought a charge of heresy against him
before the presbytery of Glasgow, founded on his sermon on prayer,
in which, it was alleged, the had laid too little stress on the
merit of the satisfaction and intercession of our blessed Saviour,
as the sole ground of our acceptance with God. The synod of Glasgow
and Ayr having taken up the case, unanimously found that there were
no grounds whatever for charging Professor Leechman with unsoundness
of faith, a decision which the General Assembly confirmed. He
afterwards obtained the degree of D.D., and held the professorship
for seventeen years, during which time he signalized himself by his
able vindication of religion against the reasonings of Hume,
Bolingbroke, Voltaire, and other deistical writers.
In May 1757 Dr. Leechman was chosen moderator of the General
Assembly. In 1761 he was raised to the dignity of principal of
Glasgow university, by a presentation from the king. In this
situation he remained till his death, December 3, 1785. – His works
The Temper, Character, and Duty of a Minister of the Gospel; a
Sermon preached before the Synod of Glasgow, on 1 Tim. iv. 16. Glasg.
1741, 1742, 8vo. This has passed through many editions.
On the Nature, Reasonableness, and Advantages of Prayer; a
Discourse; with an attempt to answer the Objections against it.
The Wisdom of God in the Gospel, Revelation; a Sermon. Edin.
His collected sermons were re-published in 1789, in two
volumes 8vo, with some account of his life, and of his lectures, by
Dr. James Wodrow, minister at Stevenston.
Dr. Leechman wrote, besides, a life of Dr. Hutcheson, prefixed
to the latter’s ‘System of Moral Philosophy,’ published in 1755.