Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: Letter of Samuel Rutherford

Title:  Letters of Samuel Rutherford
Author:  Samuel Rutherford as selected by Andrew A. Bonar
First Copy Right:  1664
Type of Book:  Hardback
General Subject:  Inspiration, Christian Living
Price:  $39.00
ISBN:  0-85151-388-3

The purpose of this book is extremely difficult to nail down. A collection of Rutherford's letters were published 3 years after his death. This compilation was published in 1891 and these letters were selected by Andrew A Bonar. Bonar's purpose of selecting these letters seems to come from the book jacket where he is quoted as saying, "What a wealth of spiritual ravishment we have here! This edition is a noble volume and we shall measure the soundness of Scotch religion very much by the sale of this work. One page of Rutherford is worth a thousand tomes of the Downgrade frothiness."

It seems that the purpose of this volume is to inspire, instruct, and to inculcate the very grace of God to those who would read these letters. These letters serve as a very large door way into the heart of this great pastor. They show his knowledge and love of the Savior and his love and commitment to his people.

Rutherford wrote various letters that encouraged, edified, or engaged the recipients in the grace and knowledge of God. He wrote these letters from the view point of a pastor who was deeply aware of his charge and responsibiltiy before his God to shepherd the sheep trusted to him. Rutherford made no attempt to be technical or dramatical. He wrote beautiful biblical theology which was coated by God's grace.

The author's style is homy, personal, parochial, and precious. He writes in the formal prose of his day, yet the letters flow informally from his heart to his people.

This book effected me very deeply. The heart and depth of this man's relationship with God is almost beyond comprehending. One cannot read these letters without grieving over one's sense of one's own lack of intimacy and yet a joy in knowing one can strive for this intimacy. Rutherford's language is almost heavenly, it was bathed in constant prayer. If Bonar's purpose was to inspire, edify, and demonstrate God's grace, that purpose was certainly accomplished. I would recommend this book to every believer who wants to know what it is like to walk in the shadow of God.

The theme of this book is inspirational letters of a pastor to his people. The thesis seems to be, pastors must comfort, instruct, and edify their people.

Rutherford develops this theme by simple narration. He also uses explanations and analytsis to present his various truths in various letters.

For example in letter four, he is writing to a parishoner whose infant daughter had died. He paints a tremendous picture of where a believer's affections should really be by writing:

"Build your nest upon no tree here; for ye see God hath sold the forest to death; and every tree whereupon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may fly and mount up, and build upon the Rock, and dwell in the holes of the Rock." 

This book was extremely interesting and inspiring. It is an extremely valuable tool in Christian growth.

Samuel Rutherford was a Scottish pastor and theologian. He was a professor at Edinburgh College in Scotland. He was an author having published a book defending the Doctrines of Grace and his book Le Rex (The Law and the King) caused him to be charged with treason. He died before he could respond to a governmental summons.

My general conclusions is that is an extremely valuable addition to any believer's "library." This book will have a major impact on those who truly drink deep from the well of grace which each letter is bathed with.


John Patrick Donovan said...

Samuel Rutherford is a name I had forgotten, but worthy of looking into again. I love it when you remind me of these saints who have gone before us.

Persis said...

Your post makes me want to take my copy off the shelf and start reading this. Thanks!


I have never heard of Samuel Rutherford, sounds like a very good book.

Have a good week-end. Gregg.


mikew116 said...

I will certainly have to acquire a copy of this now. Thanks for the review, Bro. Gregg!

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