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Title: The life, work and times of Samuel Rutherford : a history of the development of the Second Reformation in Scotland
Author: Campbell, W. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1946
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No complete study has yet been made of the great Apologist of I Scottish Presbyterianism. Accounts of his life and works have either been uncritical romance or apology mingled with deprecation. ; The Evangelicals enthused, the Moderates sought to regard him as a religious eccentric. He has been, and rightly, remembered by his Letters, and by some uncritical praise of his Lex Rex; his real achievement in formulating the standards, defending the doctrines, and moulding the spirit of his Church, has been passed by. It is usual to concentrate on the statesmanship of Alexander Henderson at the time of the National Covenant, forgetting the patient work of the men who made it a national act of faith, and who later added the solid flesh to the bones, which he so ably resurrected and knit together. Rutherfurd's life is the history of the complete rehabilitation of the Scottish Church, a rehabilitation which the Restoration could not destroy. He was in a real sense the creator of the South West party, which, extremist though it was, did so much by its resolute resistance to preserve the traditions of the Kirk. He is the historical epitome of the Church's movements towards I the establishment of Presbyterianism, the achievement of freedom from State control, and the assertion of a disciplinary jurisdiction which even entrenched mi that of the civil power, as well as of his Nation's somewhat less conscious'' efforts to free herself from the feudal fetters which stunted her expansion in social progress and commercial enterprise. If his thought is involved, complex, and sometimes seemingly contradictory, it is because the causes which he espoused were so confused in an inextricable tangle by the march of events that no statesman of his age could solve the problem of their peaceful reconciliation. The close study of his life reveals certain important i features in .the establishment of the Church of the Covenant not hitherto emphasised. His life as a minister at Anwoth reflects the policy of the Nobles, alienated by the Act of Revocation, to use their patronage to procure an anti-Episcopal Church and Nation. It shows that between the years of 1628 and 1638 a tremendous work was done in the Presbyterianising of Scotland'. There followed, ten years later, the 'Engagement'. A full study of the politics of this embroglio is made, because it is the feudal attempt to subjugate the Kirk which they had placed in power, an attempt which the Kirk led by Rutherfurd and by men who had been schooled for the j past six years in his religious and political doctrines resisted successfully. Finally, the carrying out of some of his disciplinary principles, beyond the point of practical wisdom, brought on the fatal rupture of the years of Protester and Resolutioner. Feudalism was beset in turn, by Charles, by the Kirk and by Cromwell; it changed its alliances and shaped its policies between 1625 and 1660 as best it could, to preserve its own interests. In 1660 the Feudal interest achieved a dying triumph - for Charles, the! Church, and Cromwell, all in different ways, but all the more effective for the different angles of their attack, had already emaciated the power and prestige which the Union v/as to destroy for ever. The Church was established in, and in a'sense by, the death throes of Feudalism, and an attempt will be made to study her fortunes in this relationship, especially since Rutherfurd was in large measure the founder of the South West 'democratic' party, which was consistently anti-Feudal, but only anti-Monarchic, when the Feudal and Monarchic interest, became identified. The comesplicated Resolutioner - Protester controversy will be seen in some of its aspects to be the projection of the clash between feudalist and anti-feudalist into the affairs of the Church. Similarly, Glencairn's Lilliputian stampede is significant as a Feudal reaction to the Cromwellian regime. Rutherfurd spent half of his active political life in Scotland under this regime, and hated it. He was a fervent Scottish Natioianalist. But Scotland owes more, ecclesiastically and less economically to Oliver Cromwell than has been generally held. The suppression of the General Assembly was a blessing in disguise, for it prevented the staging of a bitter strife on a central national arena. He gave the land peace to establish the Westminster Standards, but newly acquired. Even Monk's pacification of the Highlands was not without effect, for it enabled the Church to evangelise in districts hitherto untouched. On the other hand, the efficient taxation and the reformation of the excise, though long heeded fiscal reforms, further impoverished a poor country, and made the Restoration to be welcomed with enthusiasm. They thus contributed to the momentarily popular support for the reactionary party which in vindictive spite temporarily overthrew the Presbyterian Kirk. The whole social and economic condition of Scotland between 1625 -1660 in no small way deter- -mined the nature, the politics and the fate of her Kirk both then and after, and in that setting the Kirk is here placed rather Kilsyth. than in the campaigns of Preston, and of Dunbar. This does not minimise the power of a nation's faith, and the work of the men who created .it and made it a mighty force. They used the opportunities and conditions of their time,and sometimes misused them. The Solemn League and Covenant is generally classed as ill-advised Scottish Presbyterian opportunism. Perhaps it was. But: England was intent on destroying the Laudian system, and was seeking another which she could erect. She was a free consenting party to the machinery erected to establish Uniformity in the two Nations, though many Englishmen wrongly interpreted their own creed as Presbyterian, because they were for the time being politically anti-Episcopalian. Scotland cherished her Presbyterianism because she had fought for it and won it; it was not only a national faith, it was a symbol of national freedom; her zealous desire to share it with her neighbour, if a mistake, v/as the outcome of national exuberance in her new-found liberty. The moral suasion by which Scotland sought to have Presbyterianism adopted by her Southern neighbour is manifested in the work of her ecclesiastical Commissioners at the Westminster Assembly. They dominated that Assembly, sometimes domineered it. Their influence in debate, was out of all proportion to their number, for only Rutherfurd and Gillespie debated much. As far as the standards of Government, Discipline and Worship are concerned, Scottish argument and practice dictated most of their content, though there are some interesting deviations from former Scottish theory and practice, due to strong Independent influence, some of which were sponsored by Rutherfurd. In one field, influenced however, the Scots were noted upon; the Scottish Commissioners brought home a more rigid theology from Westminster than that hitherto prevailing in Scotland. Yet the treatment of Dr. Strang at the Assembly of 1639 shows that even before Westminster, as a counter to Arrninianism, Scottish theology is assuming an ultra-Calvinist shape. Rutherfurd was the prime leader in this theological movement. lie led the forces of supra-lapsarianism at Westminster, and in Scotland on his return, taught a supra-lapsarian interpretation of the doctrinal standards. he deeply influenced the theology of his own, and later, generations in Scotland. Preacher, propagandist, political theorist, scholar, theologian and apologist of Presbyterianism, he excelled in all these roles. He was the mind of the Church in the Second Reformation. It has been found possible to condemn the bigotry, sneer at the enthusiasm and ridicule the achievement of the Westminster Divines, and the Church they furnished with discipline' and doctrine, and their very | apologists have made a half hearted defence. The best defence is to watch them at work, and scrutinise closely the building up of the doctrines.that shaped their creed and dictated their policy. In no other writer of the period can this be done in fullness except in the works of Samuel.Rutherfurd. A close study of five of his major works is, therefore, made in this thesis. He will be i condemned by many as an extremist, but a good part of his life was spent fighting other extremists, and to understand what a man is fighting certainly explains, even if it does not condone, his extremism. He is the greatest apologist and scholar of Scottish Presbyterianism; he is possibly the greatest preacher his Church has possessed; he is certainly amongst the first three of her theologians. In short, he is the greatest divine of the Church of Scotland.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Litt.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available