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Alexander Whyte
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 181 pages of information about Samuel Rutherford.
and deny all that, in a way that all his admirers only too well know.  But still it stands true.  A friend of mine once told me that it was to him often the most delightful and profitable of Sabbath evening exercises just to take down Newman’s sermons and read their titles over again.  And this mere title, I feel sure, has encouraged and comforted many:  ‘Saintliness not forfeited by the Penitent.’  And Samuel Rutherford’s is just another great name to be added to the noble roll of saintly penitents we all have in our minds taken out of Scripture and Church History.  Neither great Saintliness nor great service was forfeited by this penitent; and he is constantly telling us how the extreme of demerit and the extreme of gracious treatment met in him; how he had at one time destroyed himself, and how God had helped him; how, where sin had abounded, grace had abounded much more.  In one of the very last letters he ever wrote—­his letter to James Guthrie in 166l—­he is still amazed that God has not brought his sin to the Market Cross, to use his own word.  But all through his letters this same note of admiration and wonder runs—­that he has been taken from among the pots and his wings covered with silver and gold.  Truly, in his case the most seraphic Saintliness was not forfeited, and we who read his books may well bless God it was so.

And then, experimentally also, what extremes met in our author!  Pascal in Paris and Rutherford in Anwoth and St. Andrews were at the very opposite poles ecclesiastically from one another.  I do not like to think what Rutherford would have said of Pascal, but I cannot embody what I have to say of Rutherford’s experimental extremes better than just by this passage taken from the Thoughts:  ’The Christian religion teaches the righteous man that it lifts him even to a participation in the divine nature; but that, in this exalted state, he still bears within him the fountain of all corruption, which renders him during his whole life subject to error and misery, to sin and death, while at the same time it proclaims to the most wicked that they can still receive the grace of their Redeemer.’  And again, ’Did we not know ourselves full of pride, ambition, lust, weakness, misery and injustice, we were indeed blind. . . . What then can we feel but a great esteem for a religion that is so well acquainted with the defects of man, and a great desire for the truth of a religion that promises remedies so precious.’  And yet again, what others thought of him, and how they treated him, compared with what he knew himself to be, caused Rutherford many a bitter reflection.  Every letter he got consulting him and appealing to him as if he had been God’s living oracle made him lie down in the very dust with shame and self-abhorrence.  Writing on one occasion to Robert Blair he told him that his letter consulting him about some matter of Christian experience had been like a blow in the face to him; it affects me much, said

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