Samuel Rutherford eBook

Alexander Whyte
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 219 pages of information about Samuel Rutherford.
advices the old minister gave the new beginner were these:—­That he should remain unmarried for four years, in order to give himself up wholly to his great work; and that both in preaching and in prayer he should be as succinct as possible so as not to weary his hearers; and, lastly, ’Oh, study God well and your own heart.’  We have five letters of Rutherford’s to this master of the human heart, and it is in the third of these that Rutherford opens his heart to his father in the Gospel, and tells him that he is made up of extremes.

In every way that was so.  It is a common remark with all Rutherford’s biographers and editors and commentators what extremes met in that little fair man.  The finest thing that has ever been written on Rutherford is Mr. Taylor Innes’s lecture in the Evangelical Succession series.  And the intellectual extremes that met in Rutherford are there set forth by Rutherford’s acute and sympathetic critic at some length.  For one thing, the greatest speculative freedom and theological breadth met in Rutherford with the greatest ecclesiastical hardness and narrowness.  I do not know any author of that day, either in England or in Scotland, either Prelatist or Puritan, who shows more imaginative freedom and speculative power than Rutherford does in his Christ Dying, unless it is his still greater contemporary, Thomas Goodwin.  And it is with corresponding distress that we read some of Rutherford’s polemical works, and even the polemical parts of his heavenly Letters.  There is a remarkable passage in one of his controversial books that reminds us of some of Shakespeare’s own tributes to England:  ’I judge that in England the Lord hath many names and a fair company that shall stand at the side of Christ when He shall render up the kingdom to the Father; and that in that renowned land there be men of all ranks, wise, valorous, generous, noble, heroic, faithful, religious, gracious, learned.’  Rutherford’s whole passage is worthy to stand beside Shakespeare’s great passage on ‘this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.’  But persecution from England and controversy at home so embittered Rutherford’s sweet and gracious spirit that passages like that are but few and far between.  But let him away out into pure theology, and, especially, let him get his wings on the person, and the work, and the glory of Christ, and few theologians of any age or any school rise to a larger air, or command a wider scope, or discover a clearer eye of speculation than Rutherford, till we feel exactly like the laird of Glanderston, who, when Rutherford left a controversial passage in a sermon and went on to speak of Christ, cried out in the church—­’Ay, hold you there, minister; you are all right there!’ A domestic controversy that arose in the Church of Scotland towards the end of Rutherford’s life so separated Rutherford from Dickson and Blair that Rutherford would not take part with Blair, the ‘sweet, majestic-looking man,’ in the Lord’s Supper. 

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Samuel Rutherford from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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