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Life Sketches from Scottish History of Brief Biographies of the Scottish Presbyterian Worthies
Samuel Rutherford


Samuel Rutherford is one of those characters whom every one thinks he should know by his writings, as familiarly as if he had seen him face to face. Rutherford was the most popular preacher of his day, and was distinguished as much for his learning as for his eloquence, lie received invitations to the chair of philosophy in more than one of the foreign universities; but such was his love to his native country, that he could not desert her in the midst of her troubles. The following anecdote of his infancy, though it approaches the marvellous, is so characteristic of the future man and the age in which he lived that it deserves to be preserved: while amusing himself with some of his companions, Samuel, then a mere child, fell into a deep well; the rest of the children ran off to alarm his parents, who, on reaching the spot, were astonished to find him seated on an adjoining hillock, cold and dripping. On being questioned how he got there, he replied, that “a bonnie white man came and drew him out of the well.”

The minutest particulars concerning such a person are interesting. The following are curious:—“I have known many great and good ministers in this church,” said an aged cotemporary pastor, who survived the Revolution, “but for such a piece of clay as Mr. Rutherford was, I never knew one in Scotland like him, to whom so many gifts were given; for he seemed to be altogether taken up with every thing good, and excellent, and useful. He seemed to be always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechizing, always writing and studying. lie had two quick eyes, and when he walked it was observed that he held his face upward. He had a strange utterance in the pulpit, a kind of skreigh, that I never heard the like. Many times I thought he would have flown out of the pulpit, when he came to speak of Jesus Christ.”

One day, when preaching in Edinburgh, after dwelling for some time on the differences of the day, he broke out with— ‘‘Woe is unto us for these sad divisions, that make us lose the fair scent of the rose of Sharon,” and then he went on commending Christ, going over all his precious styles and titles, about a quarter of an hour; upon which the laird of Glanderstone said in a loud whisper, “Ay, row you are right — hold you there.”

Rutherford died in 1661, shortly after his book, called “Lex Rex,” was burned by the hangman at Edinburgh. He departed just in time to avoid an ignominious death; for, though every body knew he was dying, the council had, with impotent malice, summoned him to appear before them, at Edinburgh, on a charge of high treason. When the citation came, he said, “Tell them I have got a summons already, before a superior judge and judicatory, and I behove to .answer my first summons; and ere your day arrive, I will be where few kings and great folks come.” When they returned and reported that he was dying, the parliament, with a few dissenting voices, voted that he should not be allowed to die in the college! Upon this Lord Burleigh said, “Ye have voted that honest man out of his college, but ye cannot vote him out of heaven.” Some of them profanely remarked, “he would never win there—hell was too good for him.” “I wish I were as sure of heaven as he is,” replied Burleigh, “I would think myself happ}r to get a gripe of his sleeve to haul me in.”

Among his brethren, who came to pray with him on his death-bed, were Mr. Wood, an excellent man, and Mr. Honeyman, who afterwards was made a bishop, and distinguished himself for his opposition to the cause of God. It was observed that when Mr. Wood prayed, the dying man was not much affected, but when Mr. Honeyman was engaged, he wept all the time of the prayer. Being afterwards asked the reason for this, he replied, “Mr. Wood and I will meet again, though we be now to part; but, alas for poor Honeyman! He and I will never meet again in another world —and this made me weep!”

When dying, he frequently repeated, “O for arms to embrace them! O for a well tuned harp! I hear him saying to me, ‘Come up hither!”’ “And thus,” says Howie, “the renowned eagle took its flight into the mountain of spices.”


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