Samuel Rutherford eBook

Alexander Whyte
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 219 pages of information about Samuel Rutherford.
the work of reformation in Scotland.  My blood will contribute more for the propagation of the Covenant and the full reformation of the kirk than my life and liberty could do, though I should live on for many years.’  One can hardly help thinking that Guthrie must have been reading The Apology in his manse in Stirling at the moment he was apprehended.  But in the case of Guthrie, as in the case of Socrates, no truth, no integrity, and no eloquence could save him; for, as Bishop Burnet frankly says, ’It was resolved to make a public example of a Scottish minister, and so Guthrie was singled out.  I saw him suffer,’ the Bishop adds, ’and he was so far from showing any fear that he rather expressed a contempt of death.’  James Cowie, his precentor, and beadle, and body-servant, also saw his master suffer, and, like Bishop Burnet, he used to tell the impression that his old master’s last days made upon him.  ’When he had received sentence of death,’ Cowie told Wodrow’s informant, ’he came forth with a kind of majesty, and his face seemed truly to shine.’  It needed something more than this world could supply to make a man’s face to shine under the sentence that he be hanged at the Cross of Edinburgh, his body dismembered, and his head fixed on an iron spike in the West Port of the same city.  The disgraceful and ghastly story of his execution, and the hacking up of his body, may all be read in Howie, beside a picture of the Nether Bow as it still stands in our Free Church and Free State Day.  ’Art not Thou from everlasting, O Lord my God?’ were James Guthrie’s last words as he stood on the ladder.  ’O mine Holy One:  I shall not die, but live.  Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.’

There is one fine outstanding feature that has always characterised and distinguished the whole of the Rutherford circle in our eyes, and that is their deep, keen Pauline sense of sin.  Without this, all their patriotism, all their true statesmanship, and even all their martyrdom for the sake of the truth, would have had, comparatively speaking, little or no interest for us.  What think ye of sin? is the crucial question we put to any character, scriptural or ecclesiastical, who claims our time and our attention.  If they are right about sin, they are all the more likely to be right about everything else; and if they are either wrong or only shallow about sin, their teaching and their experience on other matters are not likely to be of much value or much interest to us.  We have had written over our portals against all comers:  Know thyself if thou wouldst either interest us or benefit us, or with the understanding and the spirit worship with us.  And all the true Rutherford circle, without one exception, have known the true secret and have given the true password.  Their keen sense and scriptural estimate of the supreme evil of sin first made them correspondents of Rutherford’s; and as that sense and estimate grew in them they passed on into an inner and a still more inner circle of those Scottish saints and martyrs who corresponded with Rutherford, and closed, with so much honour and love, around him.  And the two Guthries, James and William, as we shall see, were famous even in that day for their praying and for their preaching about sin.

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Samuel Rutherford from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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