Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bitesize Biographies: Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula

Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula

   In this concise biography about Samuel Rutherford, author Richard Hannula has done a wonderful job of summarizing the life and works of this great Scottish preacher of the 1600s. Richard Hannula has a rich background of studies  to his name as well as two other literary works. He now serves as principal at the Covenant High School in Washington. Writing a biography on Samuel Rutherford is no easy task; a 'bite-size' one even less of an easy endeavour! But, as one reads this book one gains a great amount of insight for such a small volume into the life and works of this great Presbyterian preacher. The author covers, in an understandable way, the personal history of Rutherford as well as the history of Rutherford's contemporary world. To my pleasure, this book also contains a good deal of Rutherford's theology and quotes. Although I cannot agree with Samuel Rutherford's theology in its entirety, I learned so much from the majority of his quotes in the book. I share a few...

   ''Believe Christ's love more than your own feelings...your Rock does not ebb and flow, though your sea does.......Your heart is not the compass that Christ sails by....
...Woe unto us for these sad divisions that make us lose the fair scent of the Rose of Sharon!

 I love how Samuel Rutherford relied so much on Christ's love! He was all about the love of His Saviour...that is what kept him alive! We need to read more from authors such as he.


   ''His relationship with Christ sustained him: 'My Lord Jesus has fully recompensed my sadness with His joys, my losses with His own presence. I find it a sweet and rich thing to exchange my sorrows with Christ's joys, my afflictions for that sweet peace I have with Him.'''

  As the author pointed out in this small biography, Rutherford was not perfect. He struggled with bluntness for one thing, which is a common thing when one has so much knowledge and experience and those around are blindly heading the wrong way. But he was also incredibly humble and broken over his own sin.

   ''Contempt of the communion of saints hides us from on another an d Christ from us all....
...When the head is filled with topics, and none of the flamings of Christ's love in the heart, how dry are all disputes? Far too often, fervour of dispute in the head weakens love in the heart...''

This biography is the perfect introduction to the life and times of Samuel Rutherford. It is neither prolix or too simple; which enables it to appeal to both history and theology buffs as well as those who know nothing about the Reformation!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

More about Samuel Rutherford;

Samuel Rutherford was 36 years old when he was exiled to Aberdeen, feeling that he was ‘an outcast and withered tree.’ He had served the little church at Anwoth in Galloway faithfully, but in those August days of 1636 he seems to have felt for a while that his useful service was over.
Little could he have known that his exile would end in less than two years when Scotland rose up to resist the king’s domination of the church. He could hardly have imagined that he would serve a key role in reasserting biblical doctrine, worship and government to the Scottish church. He would also play an important part in the Westminster Assembly, defining Christian doctrine for much of the English-speaking world for centuries to come, and nearly two dozen influential books would flow from his pen, winning the admiration of the Reformed churches of Britain and the Continent. He would even have the most prestigious universities in the Netherlands and Scotland clamor to have him fill their chairs of divinity, and as a professor of theology, he would mold the minds of a generation of Scottish pastors and theologians.
Alexander Whyte wrote, “No man of his age in broad Scotland stood higher as a scholar, a theologian, a controversialist, a preacher and a very saint than Samuel Rutherford.”
Nor could Rutherford have envisioned in his wildest dreams that a collection of letters that he sent to friends from his exile in Aberdeen would rank among the most beloved Christian classics, a timeless source of spiritual inspiration to millions of readers.