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- Submitted: Apr 27 2013 07:10 PM
- Last Updated: Apr 27 2013 07:13 PM
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- Author: Samuel Rutherford
- e-Sword Version: 10.x
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Rutherford, Samuel - Letters of Samuel Rutherford
Expository Topics Puritan
Samuel Rutherford is considered by some the most famous letter writer in all of church history. Charles Spurgeon considered Rutherford’s letters to be something special, noting “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.” It takes little imagination to see why.
What a wealth of spiritual ravishment we have here! Rutherford is beyond all praise of men. Like a strong-winged eagle he soars into the highest heaven and with unblenched eye he looks into the mystery of love divine. There is, to us, something mysterious, awe-creating and superhuman about Rutherford's letters.
Concerning the Letters, Spurgeon wrote: "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".
The line numbers are the letter numbers and are sometimes referenced in the text.
This module created by special request.
About Samuel Rutherford
Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) was born near Nisbet, Scotland, where little is known of his early life. In 1627 he earned a M.A. from Edinburgh College, where he was appointed Professor of Humanity. He became pastor of the church in Anwoth in 1627—a rural parish, with the people scattered in farms over the hills. He had a true pastor's heart, and was ceaseless in his labors for his flock. We are told that men said of Rutherford, “He was always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying.” His first years in Anwoth, though, were touched with sadness. His wife was ill for thirteen months before she died in their new home. Two children also died during this period. Nevertheless God used this time of suffering to prepare Rutherford to be God's comforter of suffering people.
In 1636 Rutherford published a book defending the doctrines of grace (Calvinism) against Armininism. This put him in conflict with the Church authorities, which were dominated by the English Episcopacy. He was called before the High Court, deprived of his ministerial office, and exiled to Aberdeen. This exile was a sore trial for the beloved pastor. He felt that being separated from his congregation was unbearable. However, because of his exile, we now have many of the letters he wrote to his flock, and so the evil of his banishment has been turned into a great blessing for the church worldwide.
In 1638 the struggles between Parliament and King in England, and Presbyterianism vs. Episcopacy in Scotland, culminated in momentous events for Rutherford. In the confusion of the times, he simply slipped out of Aberdeen and returned to his beloved Anwoth. But it was not for long. The Kirk (Church of Scotland) held a General Assembly that year, restoring full Presbyterianism to the land. In addition, they appointed Rutherford a Professor of Theology of St. Andrews, although he negotiated to be allowed to preach at least once a week.
The Westminster Assembly began their famous meetings in 1643, and Rutherford was one of the five Scottish commissioners invited to attend the proceedings. Although the Scots were not allowed to vote, they had an influence far exceeding their number. Rutherford is thought to have been a major influence on the Shorter Catechism. During this period in England, Rutherford wrote his best-known work, Lex Rex, or The Law - the King. This book argued for limited government, and limitations on the current idea of the Divine Right of Kings.