Samuel Rutherford

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For the American politician, see Samuel Rutherford (Georgia politician). For the American insurance executive, see Samuel Wilson Rutherford.
Samuel Rutherford
Samuel Rutherford St. Andrews.jpg
Samuel Rutherford
Born circa 1600
Nisbet, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Died 19 March 1661
London, England
Alma mater University of Edinburgh

Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600 – 19 March 1661, 5.00 PM) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.

Life[edit]

Samuel Rutherford, a little, fair haired man [1] was born in the village of Nisbet, Roxburghshire, in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. Rutherford was educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and Edinburgh University, where he became Regent of Humanity (Professor of Latin) in 1623. In 1627 he was settled as minister of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire, Galloway, where it was said of him 'he was always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying',[2] and from where he was banished to Aberdeen for nonconformity, 'being very powerful on the side of the Reformed faith and of God living',[3] there in Aberdeen, 'his writing desk', was said to be, 'perhaps the most effective and widely resounding pulpit then in Christendom'.[4] His patron in Galloway was John Gordon, 1st Viscount of Kenmure. On the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1638 he was made Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.

Rutherford was chosen as one of the four main Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London taking part in in formulating the Westminster Confession of Faith completed in 1647, [5] and after his return to Scotland he became Rector of St. Mary's College at St. Andrews in 1651. Rutherford was a staunch Protester during the controversy in the Scottish Presbyterian church between the Resolutioners and Protesters in the 1650s, and at the Restoration of Charles II his Lex Rex was burnt by the hand of the common hangman, and the "Drunken Parliament" deprived him of all his offices and voted that he not be permitted to die in the college. His epitaph on his tombstone concluded 'Acquainted with Immanuel's song'.[6]

Writings[edit]

Rutherford's has been described as 'Prince of Letter writers' [7] and C. H. Spurgeon described Rutherford's letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men,[8] continuing in an 1891 review of Rutherford's (posthumously published Letters (1664) 'when we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men'. Andrew Thomson, a Scottish minister, in a 19th-century biography observed 'the letters flash upon the reader with original thoughts and abound in lofty feeling clothed in the radiant garb of imagination in which there is everything of poetry but the form. Individual sentences that supplied the germ-thought of some of the most beautiful spiritual in modern poetry' continuing 'a bundle of myrrh whose ointment and perfume would revive and gladden the hearts of many generations, each letter full of hope and yet of heartbreak, full of tender pathos of the here and the hereafter.' [9] Rutherford was also known for other spiritual and devotional works, such as Christ Dying and drawing Sinners to Himself, "The Trial and Triumph of Faith".

Rutherford's political book Lex, Rex was written in response to John Maxwell's "Sacro-Sanctum Regus Majestas" and presented a theory of limited government and constitutionalism raised Rutherford to merited eminence as a philosophical thinker.[10] After the Restoration, the authorities burned Lex, Rex and cited Rutherford for high treason, but his death intervened before the charge could be tried. Rutherford was vehemently opposed to liberty of conscience and his A Free Disputation against Pretended Liberty of Conscience raised the ire of John Milton, who named Rutherford in his sonnet on the forcers of conscience in the Long Parliament. Rutherford also was a strong supporter of the divine right of Presbyterianism (the idea that the Presbyterian form of church government is mandated in the Bible). Rutherford was involved in written controversies over church government with the New England Independents (or Congregationalists). His "A Peaceable Plea for Paul's Presbytery in Scotland" (1642) was followed by his Due Right of Presbyteries (1644), Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication" (1648) and "A Survey of 'A Survey of that Sum of Church Discipline' penned by Thomas Hooker (1655), with not only Hooker, but John Cotton and Richard Mather also writing books against Rutherford's view of church government.

List of Works[edit]

  • 1. Exercitationes pro Divina Gratia Amstelodami 1636
  • 2. A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul's Presbytery in Scotland, London 1642
  • 3. A Sermon before the House of Commons, on Daniel, London 1644
  • 4. A Sermon before the House of Lords on Luke 7:22 London 1644
  • 5. Lex Rex The Law of the Prince London 1644
  • 6. The Due Right of Presbyteries London 1644
  • 7. The Trial of Triumph of Faith London 1645
  • 8. The Divine Right Of Church Government and Excommunication London 1646
  • 9. Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself London 1647
  • 10. A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist London 1648
  • 11. A Free Disputation against Pretended Liberty of Conscience London 1649
  • 12. The Last and Heavenly Speeches of John Gordon, Viscount Kenmure Edinburgh 1651
  • 13. Disputatio Scholastica de Divina Providentia Edinburgh 1651
  • 14. The Covenant of Life Opened Edinburgh 1655
  • 15. A Survey of Mr. Hooker's Church Discipline London 1658
  • 16. Influences of the Life of Grace London 1659
  • 17. Joshua Redivivus, or Mr Rutherford's Letters 1664
  • 18. Examen Arminianismi Utrecht 1668
  • 19. A Testimony left by Mr. S. Rutherford to the Work of Reformation uncertain date
  • 20. Twelve Communion Sermons Glasgow 1876
  • 21. The Cruel Watchman, The Door of Salvation Opened Edinburgh 1735
  • 22. Treatise on Prayer 1713
  • 23. Quaint Sermons Hodder & Stoughton, London 1885

Sourced from Andrew Bonar's, Letters of Samuel Rutherford [11]

See also[edit]

  • Letters of Samuel Rutherford, selected by Andrew Bonar, The Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, ISBN 0851513883
  • Thomson, Andrew The Life of Samuel Rutherford. Free Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh ISBN 090250623
  • Coffey, John, Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford, (1997), ISBN 0-521-58172-9

References[edit]

  1. ^ M'Cvies Sketches - History of the Reformation in Scotland , 1829
  2. ^ Bonar,Andrew, Letters of Samuel Rutherford , Religious Tract Society, London 1891
  3. ^ Bonar,Andrew, Letters of Samuel Rutherford , Religious Tract Society, London 1891
  4. ^ Thomson, Andrew Samuel Rutherford, Hodder & Stoughton, London 1884
  5. ^ Cook, Faith (ed), Grace in Winter: Rutherford in Verse, (1996), ISBN 0-85151-555-X
  6. ^ Bonar,Andrew Sketch of Samuel Rutherford in Letters of Samuel Rutherford , Religious Tract Society, London 1891
  7. ^ Cook, Faith (ed), Grace in Winter: Rutherford in Verse, (1996), ISBN 0-85151-555-X
  8. ^ Spurgeon, C.H. The Sword and the Trowel 1891 ISBN 0851513883
  9. ^ Thomson, Andrew Samuel Rutherford, Hodder & Stoughton, London 1884
  10. ^ Thomson, Andrew Samuel Rutherford, Hodder & Stoughton, London 1884
  11. ^ Bonar,Andrew, Letters of Samuel Rutherford , Religious Tract Society, London 1891

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]