Saturday, March 08, 2008

Article For Your Perousal

Rutherford's Diamonds - The Loveliness of Christ

By Sinclair B. Ferguson

A hundred years ago, H. C. G. Moule, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, said in his simple but elegant commendation of The Loveliness of Christ that it was ‘a small casket stored with many jewels’, and expressed the hope that it would have a wide circulation. These pages contain short extracts from the letters of the great seventeenth-century Scottish Christian, Samuel Rutherford. I count it a personal privilege, and the fulfilment of a long-held aspiration, to be able to echo Bishop Moule’s words, but now for the twenty-first century.

Decades after the publication of this little book, a copy of it came into the possession of my wife’s family, and later became hers. She introduced me to it, and thus we both found ourselves caught up in the fulfilment of Moule’s aspirations for its circulation. We have often found ourselves echoing his sentiment that it contained ‘many jewels’. It has brought encouragement to us out of proportion to its size. Surprising though it may seem in a world of large books, of all those owned by our family this may be the one we have most often lent or quoted to friends. It is full of rich spiritual wisdom and insight culled from the experience of a man who knew both the sorrows of life and the joys of faith in great abundance. When such experience is married to a poetic and imaginative spirit, as it was in Samuel Rutherford, then, truly, spiritual jewels appear in abundance.

The Letters of Samuel Rutherford are, happily, still available today[1, 2] and continue to be read. The Loveliness of Christ is not merely another edition of these. Here some of his most helpful thoughts are allowed to stand out in their unadorned wisdom and power. Indeed, I suspect that even those who have read Bonar’s great nineteenth-century collection will feel that this setting of brief quotations makes the words sparkle like diamonds on a dark cloth in a jeweller’s shop. This is simply one of several reasons why I have long wished that a contemporary publisher would give a new generation the privilege of experiencing the spiritual wealth found in these pages. Now that task has been undertaken by the Banner of Truth Trust in this very attractive edition[3].

I pray that many readers will find here the help, comfort, wise counsel, and spiritual compass that we and our friends have so often discovered in meditating on these pages. May this twenty-first century edition lead many readers to be able to say, with Rutherford, ‘Every day we may see some new thing in Christ. His love hath neither brim nor bottom.’

[1] The Letters of Samuel Rutherford
Selected by Andrew A Bonar
Banner of Truth Trust reprint of 1891 edition, 1984 and 2006
764 pages, clothbound, £18.50, $39.00
ISBN 978 0 85151 388 1

[2] The Letters of Samuel Rutherford
An abridged edition of the above in the PURITAN PAPERBACK series.
Banner of Truth Trust 1973.
208 pages, paperback, £5.00, $7.00
ISBN 978 0 85151 163 4

[3] The Loveliness of Christ
By Samuel Rutherford
Banner of Truth Trust 2007
128 pages, soft cover gift edition, £10.00, $14.00
ISBN 978 0 85151 956 2

This article forms the Foreword to The Loveliness of Christ: Extracts from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford, and also appeared in The Banner of Truth magazine, October 2007.

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