Mr. Rollock was descended from the antient family of the Livingstons. He was born about the year 1555. His father, David Rollock, sent him to Stirling to be educated for the university under Thomas Buchanan, where his genius, modesty and sweetness of temper soon procured to him the particular friendship of his master, which subsisted ever after. From this school, he went to the university of St Andrews, where he prosecuted his studies for four years; at the end of which, his progress had been so great, that he was chosen professor of philosophy, the duties of which office he discharged with applause for other four years, until, about the year 1583, he was invited, by the magistrates of Edinburgh, to a profession in their university, which was, not long before this time, founded by K. James VI. He complied with their invitation, at the earnest desire of Mr James Lawson, who succeeded Mr Knox. His reputation, as a teacher, soon drew a number of students to that college, which was soon afterwards much enlarged, by being so conveniently situated in the capital of the kingdom. At first he had the principal weight of academical business laid upon him, but in process of time, other professors were chosen from among the scholars which he educated. After which, his chief employment was to exercise the office of principal, by superintending the several classes, to observe the proficiency of the scholars, to compose such differences as would arise among them, and to keep every one to his duty. Thus was the principality of that college, in his time, a useful institution, and not what it is now, little better than a mere sine-cure. -- Every morning, he called the students together, when he prayed among them, and one day in the week, he explained some passage of scripture to them, in the close of which, he was frequently very warm in his exhortations, which wrought more reformation upon the students, than all the laws which were made, or discipline which was exercised besides. After the lecture was over, it was his custom to reprove such as had been guilty of any misdemeanour through the week. How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed!
He was likewise very attentive to such as were advanced in their studies, and intended the ministry. His care was productive of much good to the church. He was as diligent in his own studies, as he was careful to promote those of others. -- Notwithstanding all this business in the university, he preached every Lord's day in the church, with such fervency and demonstration of the Spirit, that he became the instrument of converting many to God. About this time he also wrote several commentaries on different passages of scripture. His exposition of the epistles to the Romans and Ephesians, coming into the hands of the learned Beza, he wrote to a friend of his, telling him, That he had an incomparable treasure, which for its judiciousness, brevity and elegance of style had few equals.
He was chosen moderator to the assembly held at Dundee, anno 1567, wherein matters went not altogether in favours of Presbytery; but this cannot be imputed to him, although Calderwood in his history, page 403. calls him |a man simple in matters of the church,| He was one of those commissioned by the assembly to wait on his majesty about seating the churches of Edinburgh, but in the mean time he sickened, and was confined to his house. Afterwards, at the entreaty of his friends, he went to the country for the benefit of the air; at first he seemed as if growing better, but his distemper soon returned upon him with greater violence than before: This confined him to his bed. He committed his wife (for he had no children) to the care of his friends. He desired two noblemen, who came to visit him, to go to the king, and intreat him in his name to take care of religion and preserve it to the end, and that he would esteem and comfort the pastors of the church; for the ministry of Christ, though low and base in the eyes of men, yet it should at length shine with great glory. When the ministers of Edinburgh came to him, he spoke of the sincerity of his intentions in every thing done by him, in discharge of the duties belonging to the office with which he had been vested. As night drew on, his distemper increased, and together therewith his religious fervor was likewise augmented. When the physicians were preparing some medicines, he said, |Thou, Lord, wilt heal me;| and then began, praying for the pardon of his sins through Christ, and professed that he counted all things but dung for the cross of Christ. He prayed farther, that he might have the presence of God in his departure, saying, |Hitherto have I seen thee darkly, through the glass of thy word: O Lord, grant that I may have the eternal enjoyment of thy countenance, which I have so much desired and longed for;| and then spoke of the resurrection and eternal life, after which he blessed and exhorted every one present according as their respective circumstances required.
The day following, when the magistrates of Edinburgh came to see him, he exhorted them to take care of the university, and nominated a successor to himself. He recommended his wife to them, declaring, that he had not laid up one halfpenny of his stipend, and therefore hoped they would provide for her; to which request they assented, and promised to see her comfortably supplied. After this he said, |I bless God, that I have all my senses entire, but my heart is in heaven, and, Lord Jesus, why shouldst not thou have it? it has been my care, all my life, to dedicate it to thee; I pray thee, take it, that I may live with thee for ever.| Then, after a little sleep, he awaked, crying, |Come, Lord Jesus, put an end to this miserable life; haste, Lord, and tarry not; Christ hath redeemed me, not unto a frail and momentary life, but unto eternal life. Come, Lord Jesus, and give that life for which thou hast redeemed me.| Some of the people present, bewailing their condition when he should be taken away, he said unto them, |I have gone through all the degrees of this life, and am come to my end, why should I go back again? help me, O Lord, that I may go thro' this last degree with thy assistance, &c.| And when some told him, that the next day was the Sabbath, he said, |O Lord, shall I begin my eternal Sabbath from thy Sabbath here.| Next morning, feeling his death approaching, he sent for Mr. Balcanquhal, who, in prayer with him, desired the Lord, if he pleased, to spare his life, for the good of the church, he said, |I am weary of this life; all my desire is, that I may enjoy the celestial life, that is hid with Christ in God,| And, a little after, |Haste, Lord, and do not tarry, I am weary both of nights and days. Come, Lord Jesus, that I may come to thee. Break these eye-strings and give me others. I desire to be dissolved, and to be with thee. O Lord Jesus, thrust thy hand into my body and take my soul to thyself. O my sweet Lord, let this soul of mine free, that it may enjoy her husband.| And when one of the by-standers said, Sir, let nothing trouble you, for now your Lord makes haste, he said, |O welcome message, would to God, my funeral might be to-morrow.| And thus he continued in heavenly meditation and prayer, till he resigned up his spirit to God, anno 1598, in the 54d year of his age.
His works are, a commentary on some select psalms, on the prophecy of Daniel, and the gospel of John, with its harmony. He wrote also on the epistle to the Ephesians, Colossians, Thessalonians, and Galatians; an analysis of the epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews, with respect to effectual calling.