Samuel Rutherford's "Letters" are known in the churches everywhere; and
here are notes of his preaching. These sermons, as quaint as his "Letters" in
some respects, have never till now appeared in print. They form part of a
manuscript volume in which are included other sermons of the same author that
have already been published. They are carefully and neatly written in the old
style of handwriting. Who it was who took down the notes of these sermons at
the time, and who it was that gathered all together into the volume, we do not
know. One thing is certain, viz., he was a most attentive hearer and a faithful
attender on the minister's preaching; for at p. 232 he notes that he had the
misfortune to miss one sermon in the course by absence.
It is something of a guarantee for the authenticity of the whole to find, as we do on a close examination, that the first half of the MS. collection contains the discourses that have already been published, but in a much more archaic spelling, and with Scotch words that must have been modernised in the printed copies. Besides, the character of the somewhat peculiar penmanship suggests that it is quite possible the writer was a contemporary of Rutherford, and not a mere transcriber of original notes.
This MS. volume of which we speak has been a sort of heirloom in the family of one who knew its value, viz., the Rev. David Russell, for fifty-seven years an earnest minister of Christ, first in Hawick and then at Errol, in Perthshire, in connection with the "Relief" and "United Presbyterian" Church. About six years ago his son, James Eccles Russell, Esq., London, was led to tell me of the manuscript volume, and to let me examine it. Other friends also became interested in it, and the result was that Mr. Russell kindly agreed, at the suggestion of these friends, that the portion of it which as yet had not appeared in print should be published. A greatly esteemed brother in the ministry, Mr. J.H.Thomson, of the Free Church, Hightae, skilled above many in deciphering such documents, and in fullest sympathy with the spirit of the author, was not loath to spend time and labour in preparing the work for the press.
The Discourses are throughout characteristic of the man. Try, for example, the lecture on John xx. 9-13. Christian reader, you may glean many a sheaf of the finest of the wheat in these fields. Samuel Rutherford never fails to set Christ on high, for truly he had -
"A thirst no earthly stream could satisfy -
A hunger that must feed on Christ, or die."
ANDREW A. BONAR, D.D.
GLASGOW, April, 1885.
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