FROM THE LETTERS OF SAMUEL RUTHERFORD, pp. 232-234
LETTER CXV.--To MR. ALEXANDER HENDERSON.
[ALEXANDER HENDERSON, the well-known hero of the Second Reformation, was born in the year 1583, and received his education at the University of St. Andrews. After having taught for several years a class of philosophy and rhetoric in that University, he obtained a presentation to the parish of Leuchars, in 1612. Being at that time unimpressed with spiritual truth, he was a defender of the principles and measures of the prelatic party in the Church. His settlement was on these accounts so unpopular, that on the day of his ordination the church-doors were secured by the people, and the members of Presbytery, together with the presentee, were obliged to break in by the window. But his soul was soon after visited by the Holy Spirit, and underwent an entire change. He became leader in effecting that revolution in the ecclesiastical affairs of Scotland which commenced about the year 1637. He was Moderator of the famous Assembly which met at Glasgow in 1638, and by that Assembly was translated to Edinburgh.
In the civil war, Henderson was appointed by the Covenanters to act as one of their commissioners in treating with his Majesty Charles I. In 1642 he was delegated by the Commission of the General Assembly to sit as one of their commissioners in the Westminster Assembly of Divines, which kept him in London for several years. He died on the 12th of August 1646, in the 63rd year of his age, shortly after his return from England. Baillie, in his speech to the General Assembly in the following year, pronounced him, "the fairest ornament after Mr. John Knox, of incomparable memory, that ever the Church of Scotland did enjoy."]
(SADNESS BECAUSE CHRIST'S HEADSHIP NOT SET FORTH-HIS CAUSE ATTENDED WITH CROSSES-THE BELIEVER SEEN OF ALL.)
MY REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER,--I received your letters. They are as apples of gold to me; for with my sweet feasts (and they are above the deserving of such a sinner, high and out of measure), I have sadness to ballast me, and weight me a little. It is but His boundless wisdom which hath taken the tutoring of His witless child; and He knoweth that to be drunken with comforts is not safest for our stomachs. However it be, the din and noise and glooms of Christ's cross are weightier than itself. I protest to you (my witness is in heaven), that I could wish many pound weights added to my cross, to know that by my sufferings Christ were set forward in His kingly office in this land. Oh, what is my skin to His glory; or my losses, or my sad heart, to the apple of the eye of our Lord and His beloved Spouse, His precious truth, His royal privileges, the glory of manifested justice in giving of His foes a dash, the testimony of His faithful servants who do glorify Him, when He rideth upon poor, weak worms, and triumpheth in them! I desire you to pray, that I may come out of this furnace with honesty, and that I may leave Christ's truth no worse than I found it; and that his most honourable cause may neither be stained nor weakened.
As for your cause, my reverend and dearest brother, ye are the talk of the north and south; and looked to, so as if ye were all crystal glass. Your motes and dust would soon be proclaimed and trumpets blown at your slips. But I know that ye have laid help upon One that is mighty. Intrust not your comforts to men's airy and frothy applause, neither lay your down-castings on the tongues of salt mockers and reproachers of godliness. "As deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known" (2 Cor. vi. 8, 9). God hath called you to Christ's side, and the wind is now in Christ's face in this land; and seeing ye are with Him, ye cannot expect the lee-side, or the sunny side of the brae. But I know that ye have resolved to take Christ upon any terms whatsoever. I hope that ye do not rue, though your cause be hated, and prejudices are taken up against it. The shields of the world think our Master cumbersome wares, and that He maketh too great din, and that His cords and yokes make blains, and deep scores in their neck. Therefore they kick. They say, "This man shall not reign over us."
Let us pray one for another. He who hath made you a chosen arrow in His quiver, hide you in the hollow of His hand!
I am yours, in his sweet Lord Jesus,
ABERDEEN, March 9, 1637.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Letters of Samuel Rutherford
Spurgeon said, "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." Continuing, he comments, "let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherfurd's Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of men... none penetrated further into the innermost heart of holy fellowship with Jesus. Whenever we think of him we compare him to Milton's Uriel, the angel that stood in the sun itself." Richard Baxter commented, "Hold off the Bible, such a book a Mr. Rutherford's Letters, the world never saw the like." And Cecil notes, "It is one of my classics. Were truth the beam, I have no doubt that if Homer, and Virgil, and Horace, and all that the world has agreed to idolize, were weighed against that book, they would be lighter than vanity. He is a real original' (Remains cited in Johnston's The Treasury of the Scottish Covenant). Walker adds his voice to this chorus of praise calling these, "letters which, I may say, stand all alone in religious literature... So far as I know, they are the only letters two centuries old (when he wrote--RB) which are still a practical reality in the religious life of Scotland, England, and America. And criticism cannot get rid of the fact that they continue to retain their hold of human hearts,--that they have won a place for themselves besides such books as Augustine's Confessions or Thomas a Kempis. (Theologians..., p. 8). This is the Banner of Truth reprint and has been made from the 1891 edition of S.R.'s Letters. It contains Andrew Bonar's sketch of Rutherford's life and biographical notices of his correspondence. It is interesting to note that when these letters were first published in 1664 (note the date, just two years after the great ejection), the book was titled Joshua Redivivus (i.e. revived, RB) or Mr. Rutherford's Letters Divided into Two Parts. The First, Containing those Which were Written from Aberdeen, Where He was Confined by a Sentence of the High Commission, Draw Forth Against Him, Partly on the Account of His Declining them, Partly Upon the Account of His Non-conformity. The Second, Containing, Some Which were Written from Anworth, Before He was by the Prelates Persecution Thrust from His Ministry; and Others Upon Diverse Occasions Afterward from St. Andrews, London, etc. Now Published, for the Use of All the People of God; But More Particularly, for Those Who Now Are, or Afterward May Be Put to Suffering for Christ and His Cause; By a Well Wisher (Robert M'Ward, RB) to the Work of the People of God. These Scriptures followed to further stress the point of this publication: "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me" (John 16:2-3); and "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia" (1 Thes. 1:6-7). These letters were put out by Covenanters, for Covenanters, in defense of the covenanted Reformation. They were originally issued just three years after Rutherford's death, by his disciple Robert M'Ward (the "Well Wisher" noted above in the original title). We carry M'Ward's original 45 page preface to the Letters in our rare bound photocopy section under "M'Ward" (this preface is not found in this more recent Banner of Truth hardcover edition which recently went out of print). M'Ward, who was banished to Holland (where he co-ministered with John Brown of Wamphray), notes that his purpose in publishing the first edition of Rutherford's Letters (1664) was to bring comfort and encouragement to those 2000 ministers recently ejected for faithfulness to the Solemn League and Covenant. This was to be accomplished by setting forth Rutherford's example of faithfulness, courage and zeal, as seen throughout these letters, under similar circumstances of suffering. This book was also intended to minister to the myriads of faithful Covenanters who were at that time experiencing increasingly violent persecution and opposition. Another Rutherford masterpiece, not to be missed!
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $99.95-80%=19.99
The Covenant of Life Opened: or, A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace (1655 edition.)
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $199.95-90%=19.99
A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience (1649 edition.)
Rutherford's Free Disputation, though scarce, is still one of his most important works — with maybe only a few copies of the actual book left in existence. Though Rutherford is affectionately remembered in our day for his Letters, or for laying the foundations of constitutional government (against the divine right of kings) in his unsurpassed Lex Rex, his Free Disputation should not be overlooked — for it contains the same searing insights as Lex Rex. In fact, this book should probably be known as Rutherford's "politically incorrect" companion volume to Lex Rex. A sort of sequel aimed at driving pluralists and antinomians insane. Written against "the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, and other Authors contending for lawlesse liberty, or licentious Tolerations of Sects and Heresies," Rutherford explains the undiluted Biblical solution to moral relativism, especially as it is expressed in ecclesiastical and civil pluralism! (Corporate pluralism being a violation of the first commandment and an affront to the holy God of Scripture). He also deals with conscience, toleration, penology (punishment), and the judicial laws, as related to both the civil and ecclesiastical realms. Excellent sections are also included which address questions related to determining the fundamentals of religion, how covenants bind us, the perpetual obligation of social covenants (with direct application to the Solemn League and Covenant and the covenant-breaking of Cromwell and his sectarian supporters), whether the punishing of seducing teachers be persecution of conscience, and much more. Walker adds these comments and context regarding Rutherford's Free Disputation, "The principle of toleration was beginning to be broached in England, and in a modified shape to find acceptance there. Samuel Rutherford was alarmed, or rather, I should say, he was horrified, for he neither feared the face of man or argument. He rushed to the rescue of the good old view... It is not so easy to find a theoretical ground for toleration; and Rutherford has many plausible things to say against it. With the most perfect confidence, he argues that it is alike against Scripture and common sense that you should have two religions side by side. It is outrageous ecclesiastically, it is sinful civilly. He does not, however, take what I call the essentially persecuting ground. He does not hold that the magistrate is to punish religion as religion. Nay, he strongly maintains that the civil magistrate never aims at the conscience. The magistrate, he urges, does not send anyone, whether a heretic (who is a soul murderer--RB) or a murderer, to the scaffold with the idea of producing conversion or other spiritual result, but to strengthen the foundations of civil order. But if he gives so much power to the king, he is no lover of despotism withal: the king himself must be under law. To vindicate this great doctrine is the object of another book, the celebrated Lex Rex; of which it has been said by one competent to judge, that it first clearly developed the constitutionalism which all men now accept" (Theology and Theologians..., pp. 11-12). In our day Francis Schaeffer, and numerous others, have critiqued many of the problems found in modern society, but most have spent little time developing explicitly Biblical solutions — especially regarding the theoretical foundations that Rutherford addresses here. Rutherford's Free Disputation provides a detailed blueprint for laying the foundations that must be laid before any lasting, God-honoring solutions will be found. Furthermore, Rutherford and his writings were the enemies of all governments not covenanted with Christ. This book will give you a very clear picture as to why "the beast" (civil and ecclesiastical) has reserved his special hatred for such teaching. As Samuel Wylie noted “[t]he dispute, then, will not turn upon the point whether religion should be civilly established... but it is concerning what religion ought to be civilly established and protected, -- whether the religion of Jesus alone should be countenanced by civil authority, or every blasphemous, heretical, and idolatrous abomination which the subtle malignity of the old serpent and a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, can frame and devise, should be put on an equal footing therewith” (Two Sons of Oil: or, The Faithful Witness For Magistracy and Ministry Upon a Scriptural Basis, softcover). Can our generation swallow Rutherford’s hard, anti-pluralistic, Covenanter medicine, poured forth from the bottle of the first commandment, without choking on their carnal dreams of a free and righteous society divorced from God (and His absolute claims upon everyone and everything)? Not without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit -- that is for sure! In summary, this book answers all the hardest questions theonomists (and their wisest and best opponents) have been asking for the last 20-30 years (and these answers are much more in depth than any we have seen in the last couple of millennia [less about a century to account for the apostles]). As the reader will discover, Rutherford was a wealthy man when it came to wisdom (and much advanced theologically), and those who take the time to gaze into the King's treasure house, as exhibited in this book, will find that they are greatly rewarded. Furthermore, because of its uncompromising stand upon the Word of God, this book is sure to be unpopular among a wicked and adulterous generation. However, on the other hand, it is sure to be popular among the covenanted servants of King Jesus! This is one of the best books (in the top five anyway) for advanced study of the Christian faith. We have now obtained an easy-to-read, amazingly clear copy of this very rare, old treasure. Great price too, considering that a copy of the 1649 edition, containing this quality of print, would likely cost upwards of $1000 on the rare book market -- though it is unlikely you would ever see a copy for sale!
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $199.95-90%=19.99
Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince.
Without a doubt one of the greatest books on political philosophy ever written. Rutherford's teaching, taken from Scripture, decimated the "divine right of kings" doctrine and set up Scripture as the standard by which to judge the actions, beliefs and constitutions of civil government. Picking up where Brutus, in A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants, left off Rutherford here has penned a great Christian charter of liberty -- against all forms of civil tyranny -- vindicating the Scriptural duty to resist tyrants as an act of loyalty to God. Subtitled: "A dispute for the just prerogative of King and people: containing the reason and causes of the most necessary defensive wars of the kingdom of Scotland, and their expedition for the aid and help of their dear brethren of England; in which their innocency is asserted, and a full answer is given to a seditious pamphlet, entitled, ... The Sacred and Royal Prerogative of Christian Kings..." Rutherford used this book to promote the great work of covenanted reformation taking place in his day. Murray, in his Life of Samuel Rutherford (1827) notes, "The work caused great sensation on its appearance. Bishop Guthrie mentions, that every member of the assembly 'had in his hand that book lately published by Mr. Samuel Rutherford, which is so idolized, that whereas Buchanan's treatise (de jure Regni apud Scotos) was looked upon as an oracle, this coming forth, it was slighted as not anti-monarchical enough, and Rutherford's Lex Rex only thought authentic...' During the period which followed the death of Charles I. to the restoration, Rutherford took an active part in the struggles of the church in asserting her rights. Cromwell had in the meantime usurped the throne, and independency held sway in England. On the death of Cromwell in 1658, measures were taken for the restoration of Charles II. to the throne. The Scottish Parliament met in 1651, when the national covenant was recalled -- Presbyterianism abolished -- and all the decrees of Parliament, since 1638, which sanctioned the Presbyterian system, were rescinded. The rights of the people were thus torn from them -- their liberties trampled upon -- and the whole period which followed, till the martyrdom of Renwick in 1688, was a scene of intolerant persecution and bloodshed. Rutherford, as may be supposed, did not escape persecution in such a state of things. His work Lex, Rex, was considered by the government as 'inveighing against monarchy and laying the ground for rebellion;' and ordered to be burned by the hand of the common hangman at Edinburgh. It met with similar treatment at St. Andrews, and also at London; and a proclamation was issued, that every person in possession of a copy, who did not deliver it up to the king's solicitor, should be treated as an enemy to the government. Rutherford himself was deprived of his offices both in the University and the Church, and his stipend confiscated; he was ordered to confine himself within his own house, and was summoned to appear before the Parliament at Edinburgh, to answer a charge of high treason. It may easily be imagined what his fate would have been had he lived to obey the mandate." At this time Rutherford was already terminally ill and uttered his famous words, "I have got summons already before a Superior Judge and Judicatory, and I behove to answer to my first summons, and ere your day come, I will be where few kings and great folks come." Don't miss this title, as its contents will become more and more valuable to the extent that present civil governments deny the Lordship of Christ, "frame wickedness by law," and persecute the faithful.
(Hardcover) $29.95- 40% = 17.97
The Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication: A Peaceable Dispute for the Perfection of the Holy Scripture in Point of Ceremonies and Church Government in which the Removal of the Service Book is Justified. The Six Books of Erastus Against Excommunication are Examined; with a Vindication of the Eminent Divine Theodore Beza Against the Aspersions of Erastus, The Arguments of Mr. William Pryn, Richard Hooker, Dr. Morton... and the Doctors of Aberdeen; Touching Will-Worship, Ceremonies, Imagery, Idolatry, Things Indifferent, An Ambulatory Government; The Due and Just Power of the Magistrate in Matters of Religion, and the Arguments of Mr. Pryn, in so Far as they Side with Erastus, are Moderately Discussed. (Facsimile, 1646, also contains: "Scandal and Christian Libertie")
Over 750 pages which Walker says "contains the amplest exposition and vindication of our old ecclesiastical principles." Rutherfurd here gives a classic defense of Presbyterianism, touching on both church government and "the due and just power of the Magistrate in matters of Religion." Regarding worship, he touches on imagery, idolatry, things indifferent, ceremonies and will worship. Sherman Isbell describes this book as follows: "Rutherford asserts that there is delineated in the NT a form of Church government by elders and Presbyteries which is of permanent obligation; more-over, that discipline and suspension from the sacraments are vested with church officers rather than with the Christian civil magistrate. The book also expounds the Westminster Assembly's principle that the mode of acceptable worship is regulated by the will of Christ as king speaking in the Scriptures; the Church is not at liberty to alter or invent anything in worship or government which goes beyond the pattern in God's Word. Rutherford's writings during the London years provide a significant commentary on the theology of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms" (Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, pp. 735-36). Innes notes that Rutherford had "no hesitation in including among matters of faith — first, fundamental points; second, superstructions built upon the fundamentals; third, circa fundamentalia, things about matters of faith;" making this an important look at the teaching surrounding the Scottish view of the visible church, close communion, etc. An exceedingly rare gem by this celebrated Presbyterian divine and Scottish commissioner to the famous Westminster Assembly.
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $199.95-88%=23.99
For a magazine faithful to Rutherford's thought and teaching:
The Original Covenanter and Contending Witness [magazine]