English Reformation of the Sixteenth Century by W.H. Beckett

William Henry Beckett [1847-1901], The English Reformation of the Sixteenth Century with Chapters on Monastic England, and the Wycliffite ReformationWilliam Henry Beckett [1847-1901] intended this book to be a sketch of the history of the English reformation. He covers John Wycliffe and the Lollards, the Oxford reformers and progress of the movement under Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. This volume contains numerous portraits which I have made available at various resolutions. This title is in the public domain.

William Henry Beckett [1847-1901], The English Reformation of the Sixteenth Century with Chapters on Monastic England, and the Wycliffite Reformation. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1890. Hbk. pp.312. [Click to visit the main download page]


  • Introduction
    1. Destruction of Monasteries
    2. Attempts at Reformation
    3. Advance in Monastic Reform
    4. The Institution of the Friars, a Further Advance in Reform
    5. Bishops and Parochial Clergy
    6. The Spiritual Awakening
    7. The Great Plague and its Consequences
    8. The England of Wycliffe’s Days
    9. John Wycliffe
    10. The Early Followers of Wycliffe, or Lollards
    11. Lollard Literature
    12. The Later Lollards
    13. Oxford Reformers
    14. Contemporaries at Cambridge
    15. The Reformation Parliament and Convocation 1529-1536
    16. Reform of Doctrine
    17. Early Reformation Literature
    18. The Protectorate, 1547-1553
    19. Reformation Liturgies and Manuals of Spiritual Instruction, 1534-1553
    20. Reformation Preachers
    21. The Dark Days of Mary
    22. The Triumph of Spanish Policy, 1555-1558
    23. The Elizabethan Compromise
    24. Doctrines of the English Reformation
    25. ‘The Romanist Martyrs’
  • Chonological Summary
  • Appendix I
  • Appendix II
  • Appendix III
  • Appendix IV


When on the 29th day of April, in the year 1509, the young Prince Henry Tudor, at the ago of eighteen, succeeded to the throne left vacant by the death of his father, Henry VII., the country of which he became monarch was already in a transition state. ‘Old things were passing away, and the faith and the life of ten centuries were dissolving like a dream. Chivalry was dying, the abbey and the castle were soon together to crumble into ruins, and all the forms, desires, beliefs, convictions 0£ the old world were passing away, never to return.’ Had Henry VIII. never reigned, there would have been a history of religious reform in England. The notorious divorce question did but confirm and hasten tendencies which were already at work. [Continue reading]

Three Articles by T.H.L. Parker on John Calvin

John CalvinThomas Henry Louis Parker [1916-2016] taught for many years at the University of Durham and was a world-renowned expert on John Calvin. In 2013 I gained his permission to digitise his articles from Evangelical Quarterly.

This is what Dr Parker wrote:

Thank you for your email about the Evangelical Quarterly articles. My word! this is going back a year or two, but I well remember writing the first two, when I was in my twenties and trying to find my literary feet. The third was a paper I gave at  a conference [IVF of some sort] in Cambridge, in the company of various interesting figures – F.F. Bruce I remember and of course my great friend David Knox [Broughton in Australia].

Certainly you may have my permission to put them on line. Very gratifying, after all this time. But you must remember that I was then even more ignorant than now – although I think that I was on the right lines, walking as I did in the steps of Peter Barth and his more famous brother.

Here are the three articles, all downloadable as PDFs.

T.H.L. Parker, “The Approach to Calvin,” The Evangelical Quarterly 16.3 (July 1944): 165-172.

T.H.L. Parker, “A Bibliography and Survey of the British Study of Calvin, 1900-1940,” The Evangelical Quarterly 18.2 (April 1946): 123-131.

T.H.L. Parker, “Calvin’s Doctrine of Justification,” The Evangelical Quarterly 24.2 (April 1952): 101-107.

I also have this monograph available:

T.H.L. Parker, Supplementa Calviniana. An Account of the Manuscripts of Calvin’s Sermons Now in Course of Preparation. London: The Tyndale Press, 1962. Pbk. pp.23.

You can read Lee Gatiss’s obituary of Dr Parker on the Church Society website. The back-issues from the Churchman he mentions are available free of charge, together with hundreds of articles from The Evangelical Quarterly on the BiblicalStudies.org.uk website.

History of the Reformation by Thomas M. Lindsay

Thomas Lindsay’s comprehensive introduction to the European Reformation and Counter-Reformation is now available on-line for free download in PDF. These volumes are in the public domain and so can be freely copied and distributed.

Thomas Martin Lindsay [1843-1914], A History of the Reformation in Two Volumes, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1907. Hbk. pp.528+631.



Map Showing the Reformation and Counter-Reformation (1520-1580)
Map Showing the Reformation and Counter-Reformation (1520-1580)

Volume 2 has an interesting map hidden away in a pouch on the back cover. I have included images at varying resolutions on the main download page if you are interested.

Contents of Volume 1

Book 1: On the Eve of the Reformation

Chapter 1 – The Papacy
Chapter 2 – The Political Situation
Chapter 3 – The Renaisance
Chapter 4 – Social Conditions
Chapter 5 – Family and Popular Religious Life in the Decades Before the Reformation
Chapter 6 – Humanism and the Reformation

Book 2: The Reformation

Chapter 1 – Luther to the Beginning of the Controversy About Indulgences
Chapter 2 – From the Beginning of the Indulgence Controversy to the Diet of Worms
Chapter 3 – The Diet of Worms
Chaper 4 – From the Diet of Worms to the Close of the Peasant’s War
Chapter 5 – From the Diet of Speyer, 1526, to the Religious Peace of Augsburg, 1555
Chaper 6 – The Organisation of the Lutheran Churches
Chapter 7 – The Lutheran Reformation Outside Germany
Chapter 8 – The Religious Principles Inpsiring the Reformation

Contents of Volume 2

Book 3: The Reformed Churches

Chapter 1 – Introduction
Chapter 2 – The Reformation in Switzerland Under Zwingli
Chapter 3 – The Reformation in Geneva Under Calvin
Chapter 4 – The Reformation in France
Chapter 5 – The Reformation in the Netherlands
Chapter 6 – The Reformation in Scotland

Book 4: The Reformation in England

Chapter 1 – The Church of Henry VIII
Chapter 2 – The Reformation Under Edward VI
Chapter 3 – The Reaction Under Mary
Chapter 4 – The Settlement Under Elizabeth

Book 5: Anabaptism and Socinianism

Chapter 1 – Revival of Medieval Anti-Ecclesiastical Movements
Chapter 2 – Anabaptism
Chapter 3 – Socinianism

Book 6: The Counter-Reformation

Chapter 1 – The Necessity of a Reformation of some sort of Universally Admitted
Chapter 2 – The Spanish Conception of a Reformation
Chapter 3 – Italian Liberal Roman Catholics and Their Conception of a Reformation
Chapter 4 – Ignatius Loyola and the Company of Jesus
Chapter 5 – The Council of Trent
Chapter 6 – The Inquisition and the Index

The Oxford Reformers – John Colet, Erasmus & Thomas More

Frederic Seebohm [1833-1912], The Oxford Reformers. John Colet, Erasmus and Thomas More

The 3rd edition of Frederic Seebohm‘s book on John Colet, Erasmus and Thomas More is now available for download in PDF. This material is in the Public Domain

Frederic Seebohm [1833-1912], The Oxford Reformers. John Colet, Erasmus and Thomas More, 3rd edn. London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1896. Hbk. pp.551. Click here to download.


Chapter I

  1. John· Colet returns from Italy to Oxford (1496)
  2. The Rise of the New Learning (1453-92)
  3. Colet’s previous History (1496)
  4. Thomas More, another Oxford Student (1492-6)
  5. Colet first hears of Erasmus (1496)

Chapter II

  1. Colet’s lectures on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (1496-7)
  2. Visit from a Priest during the Winter Vacation (1496-7?)
  3. Colet on the Mosaic Account of the Creation (1497?)
  4. Colet studies afresh the Pseudo-Dionysian Writings (1496-7?)
  5. Colet lectures on ‘I. Corinthians’ (1497?)
  6. Grocyn’s Discovery (1498?)

Chapter III.

  1. Erasmus comes to Oxford (1498)
  2. Table-talk on the Sacrifice of Cain and Abel (1498 ?)
  3. Conversation between Colet and Erasmus on the Schoolmen (1498 or 1499)
  4. Erasmus falls in love with Thomas More (1498)
  5. Discussion between Erasmus and Colet on ‘The Agony ‘in the Garden,’ and on the Inspiration of the Scriptures (1499)
  6. Correspondence between Colet and Erasmus on the Intention of Erasmus to leave Oxford (1499-1500)
  7. Erasmus leaves Oxford and England (1500)

Chapter IV.

  1. Colet made Doctor and Dean of St. Paul’s (1500-5)
  2. More called to the Bar-In Parliament-Offends Henry
    VII. – The Consequences (1500-1504)
  3. Thomas More in Seclusion from Public Life (1504-5)
  4. More studies Pico’s Life and Works-His Marriage (1505)
  5. How it had fared with Erasmus (1500-5)
  6. The ‘Enchiridion,’ &c. of Erasmus (1501-5)

Chapter V.

  1. Second Visit of Erasmus to England (1505-6)
  2. Erasmus again leaves England for Italy (1506)
  3. Erasmus visits Italy and returns to England(1507-10)
  4. More returns to Public Life on the Accession of Henry
    VIII. (1509-10)
  5. Erasmus writes the ‘ Praise of Folly ‘ while resting at
    More’s House (1510 or 1511)

Chapter VI.

  1. Colet founds St. Paul’s School (1510)
  2. His Choice of Schoolbooks and Schoolmasters (1511)

Chapter VII.

  1. Convocation for the Extirpation of Heresy (1512)
  2. Colet is charged with Heresy (1512)
  3. More in trouble again (1512)

Chapter VIII

  1. Colet preaches against the Continental Wars – The First Campaign (1512-13)
  2. Colet’s Sermon to Henry VIII. (1513)
  3. The Second Campaign of Henry VIII. (1513)
  4. Erasmus visits the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham (1513)

Chapter IX.

  1. Erasmus leaves Cambridge, and meditates leaving England (1513-14)
  2. Erasmus and the Papal Ambassador (1514)
  3. Parting Intercourse between Erasmus and Colet (1514)

Chapter X.

  1. Erasmus goes to Basle to print his New Testament (1514)
  2. Erasmus returns to England-His Sa~ire upon Kings (1515)
  3. Returns to Basle to finish his Works-Fears of the Orthodox Party (1515)


  1. The ‘N ovum Instrumentum’ completed – What it really was (1516)

Chapter XII.

  1. More immersed in Public Business (1515)
  2. Colet’s Sermon on the Installation of Cardinal Wolsey
  3. More’s ‘Utopia’ (1515)
  4. The ‘Institutio Principis Christiani’ of Erasmus (1516)
  5. More completes his ‘Utopia ‘-the Introductory Book (1516)

Chapter XIII.

  1. WhatColet thoughtofthe ‘Novum lnstrumentum’ (1516)
  2. Reception of the ‘N ovum Instrumen turn’ in other Quarters (1516)
  3. Martin Luther reads the ‘Novum Instrumentum’ (1516)
  4. The ‘Epistolre Obscurorum Virorum’ (1516-17)
  5. The ‘Pythagorica’ and ‘Cabalistica’ of Reuchlin (1517)
  6. More pays a Visit to Coventry (1517?)

Chapter XIV.

  1. The Sale of Indulgences (1517-18)
  2. More drawn into the Service of Henry VlIl. – Erasmus leaves Germany for Basle (1518)

Chapter XV.

  1. Erasmus arrives at Basle-His Labours there (1518)
  2. The Second Edition of the New Testament (1518-19)
  3. Erasmus’s Health gives way (1518)

Chapter XVI.

  1. Erasmus does not die (1518)
  2. More at the Court of Henry VIII. (1518)
  3. The Evening of Colet’s Life (1518-19)
  4. More’s Conversion attempted by the Monks (1519)
  5. Erasmus and the Reformers of Wittemberg (1519)
  6. Election of Charles V. to the Empire (1519)
  7. The Hussites of Bohemia (1519)
  8. More’s Domestic Life (1519)
  9. Death of Colet (1519)
  10. Conclusion


A. Extracts from MS. Gg. 4, 26, in the Cambridge University Library, Translations of which are given at pp. 37, 38 of this Work
B. Extracts from MS. on. ‘I. Corinthians.’ – Emmanuel College MS. 3. 3.12
C. On the Date of More’s Birth
D. Ecclesiastical Titles and Preferments of Dean Colet, in Order of Time
E. Catalogue of early Editions of the Works of Erasmus in my possession
F. Editions of Works of Sir Thomas More in my Possession


Resources on the Counter-Reformation

Public Domain books on the Counter-Reformation are not easy to find, but thanks to a recent visit to Book Aid I have been able to add one to my on-line bibliography.

Arthur Robert Pennington [1814-1899], The Counter-Reformation in Europe. London: Elliot Stock, 1899. Hbk. pp.280. Click to Download in PDF.

You will also find Public Domain articles by Donald Maclean on this subject.

Donald Maclean [1869-1943], “The Counter-Reformation in Scotland: First Jesuit Assault 1580-1603,” The Evangelical Quarterly 2.1 (Jan. 1930), 46-69. Click here to download in PDF.

Donald Maclean [1869-1943], “The Counter-Reformation in Scotland: The Beginnings 1560-1580,” The Evangelical Quarterly 3.3 (July 1931): 278-296. Click here to download in PDF.


MacKinnon’s Luther & the Reformation online

James MacKinnon, Luther and the Reformation, 4 Vols.

James MacKinnon’s 4 Volume work on Martin Luther entered the Public Domain today, so here is the full text in PDF for free download.

James MacKinnon [1860-1945], Luther and the Reformation, 4 Vols. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1925-1930. Click to visit the download page.

Table of Contents

  1. Home and Education (1484-1505)
  2. Beginnings of Luther’s Monastic Career (1505-1507)
  3. Luther and the Scholastic Theology (1507-1512)
  4. Luther’s Spiritual Confliect (1507-1512)
  5. The Discovery of the Gospel (1509-1513)
  6. The New Theology amd its Development (1513-1516)
  7. Luther and the Mystics (1515-1517)
  8. Luther and the Humanists (1509-1517)
  9. The Reformer in the Making (1514-1516)
  10. The Reformer at Work (1516-1517)

Volume 2: The Breach with Rome (1517-21)

  1. The Indulgence Controversy
  2. The Developing Situation
  3. The Papal Prosecution of Luther
  4. The Sequel of the Augsberg Hearing
  5. The Leipzig Disputation
  6. The Sequel of the Leipzig Disputation
  7. The Condemnation of Luther
  8. The Reformation Manifestos of 1520
  9. The Diet of Worms
  10. Conclusion

Volume 3: Progress of the Movement (1521-29)

  1. Luther at the Wartburg (1)
  2. Luther at the Wartburg (2)
  3. Luther’s Return From the Wartburg
  4. Luther at Wittenberg
  5. The Empire and Luther
  6. Luther and the Revolutionary Movement
  7. The Conflict with Erasmus
  8. Consilidation of the Evangelical Movement
  9. The Disruption of the Evangelical Party

Volume 4: Vindication of the Movement (1530-46)

  1. The Emperor and the Protestants
  2. The Later Religious Radicalism
  3. Ecclesiastical and Educational
  4. The Emperor and the Reformation (1539-46)
  5. Final Controvery With Rome
  6. Luther and Theological Dissent
  7. The End and its Sequel
  8. Luther and His Work (1)
  9. Luther and His Work (2)
  10. National and Extra-National Influence

Calvin: His Life and Times by Thomas Lawson on-line

The following book is now available for free download as a PDF.

Thomas Lawson - Calvin: His Life and Times
Thomas Lawson – Calvin: His Life and Times

Thomas Lawson, Calvin: His Life and Times, 4th edn. London: F. Kirby / Brighton / A.M. Robinson, n.d. pp.157. [Click to download]

Preface to the Fourth edition

In producing the following chapters, the object of the author has been to supply, in an attractive form, as much reliable information upon the life and labours of this remarkable man as possible.

The principles and practices of the Papacy, in which the Reformer was trained, have been, in all fairness and charity, contrasted with the doctrine and grace of Christ, to which he was converted.

Many admirable works, and some much more voluminous than the present, have since John Calvin’s day appeared upon his life and times. But it is to be regretted that some of his biographers have, through natural aversion to his doctrine, formed harsh judgments of his motives. This, however, is not surprising, for man’s dignified notions of the freedom of his own will, are so averse to the unconditional predestination of elect sinners to everlasting life, that although this truth shines as clearly in the Bible as the sun in the firmament, he is found constantly opposing it, and yet in his blindness he thinks he is doing God service.

While giving a faithful record of this remarkable Reformer, great care has been taken in the following pages to avoid ascribing undue honour to the creature. To glorify the God of grace, who delivered John Calvin from the power of darkness, translated him into the kingdom of His dear Son, and made him an able, faithful minister of Christ, has been the sincere desire of the writer.

Thos. Lawson


I. John Calvin

ll. His early days, appearance and practice-The laws of nature to be regarded – His natural piety and great talents – First principles of true Reformation – A.Pharisee of the Pharisees

III. James Pavanne, a youthful Martyr-The Hermit of Livry – Calvin’s convictions

IV. “There are only two Religions in the world” – Human Authority or Divine Revelation?-Dead Works – Confession – The Confessional has no Scriptural authority, and was unknown to the early Fathers

V. Jesus the Mediator – The Keys, or objections answered – Does the Confessional produce good results?

VI. The Sorrows of Death and the Source of Religion – The Redeemed Sinner’s Need – The Prisoner Released and Pardon Sealed

VII. Our Illustrations – A great struggle – Calvin the lawyer – Calvin the Gospel minister – His Father’s Death

VIII. Calvin visits his native city-He returns to Paris and labours as a Missionary-Roussel preaching in the Royal Palace- Light rejected, Grace communicated

IX. The Martyrdom of Alexander – The time for Calvin to come forward – His Oration read before the Sorbonne – The Assembly arose and the Storm burst – Calvin’s Escape – Calvin on the Worship of Images

X. French Reformers before Calvin – Le Fevre and Calvin contrasted – Reasons for protesting against Popery – Calvin administers the Lord’s Supper in both kinds – The Decree of the Council of Constance for withholding the Cup from the Laity – Tested by the Word of God and Reason – Calvin resigns his livings and secedes from the Church

Xl. A bold Adventure in the Dark – Morning and its Revelations – Bartholomew Millon – Superstition, Pomp and Barbarity

XII. Calvin and his work – Halfway men – Interview between Erasmus and Calvin – His distinguished Scholarship – Another John Calvin – Calvin arrested in Italy by the Officers of the Inquisition

XIII. Reflection after Deliverance-Calvinism – Life’s Turning Points – Geneva

XIV. Church and State – Geneva – William Farel – Froment’s school

XV. A True Church – Angels of Darkness and their Weapons of Warfare – Public Disputation – Spiritual and Political Protestantism – The Nuns of St. Claire – Nuns and Nunneries – All Bibles ordered to be burnt – Sham Pilgrims – God preserved the Reformers from being Poisoned – Protestantism established in Geneva

XVI. The Decree of the Creature and the Decree of the Creator – Seeds of Internal Discord – Calvin at the Gates of Geneva – Farel’s Denunciation and Calvin’s Surrender

XVII. Calvin’s first work in Geneva – The Theological Teacher not a Gospel Preacher – Calvin’s first Sermon in Geneva – Public Disputation and a Friar Converted – The Dragon and his angels – Divine Chastening in lovingkindness – Superstitious Consecration of Bells – The immoral fruits of superstition – The Lord’s Supper and the Romish Mass

XVIII. A Terrific Tempest – Reflection – The Shafts of the Almighty against Calvin’s Enemies

XIX. Calvin at Strasburg – The Genevese invited by the Mother of Harlots to return to her grasp – Macaulay’s reason for Men of Learning being found in the Church of Rome – Natural and Spiritual Knowledge contrasted – Geneva repenting – Calvin reluctantly returns to Geneva – – Moral Laws introduced

XX.-Calvin’s marriage and the death of his wife – The eelibacy of the Clergy-Marriage is honourable

XXI. An injustice done to Calvin – Servetus – Apprehension and examination – A Libertine conspiracy against Calvin – The trial

XXII. Toleration – A fresh indictment against Servetus – The Council release Berthelier and deprive Calvin of the power to exclude the profane from the Lord’s table – The snare and the Deliverer – September 3rd, 1553 – Calvin taking farewell of his flock

XXIII. The field of Calvin’s labour fixed by God – An Officer from Vienna demands Servetus-The Articles of Accusation – The case referred to the Churches and Magistrates of Switzerland – The Letters of Servetus – The Verdict of the Cities and Pastors of Switzerland – Now let us reflect on the whole affair

XXIV. A black spot from Rome’s fires – Truth revealed and truth sealed – Calvin’s letters to the Martyrs

XXV. The five young Martyrs of Lyons

XXVI. Calvin and Luther contrasted – The Libertines – Their utter confusion – The speedy rise and prosperity of Geneva – Cardinal Sadoleto’s visit to Calvin

XXVII. His literary labours – The Reformation in England – The nobility and dignity of the Church

XXVIII. The Reformation in France – The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s day – Silver lining to a dark cloud – A College and Academy at Geneva

XXIX. His last interview with the Council – His farewell address to the Pastors – Calvin’s will – William Farel and Calvin meet for the last time – The Reformer’s last moments – His Death and Burial – Concluding Remarks

14 Years of Theology on the Web!

14 Years of Theology on the Web
14 Years of Theology on the Web!

Theology on the Web was launched 14 years ago this month. It is exciting to note that this anniversary coincides with three other major milestones in the development of the ministry.

  • There are now over 25,000 free-to-download theological articles hosted on Theology on the Web.
  • 2.3 terabytes of data was downloaded worldwide over the last 12 months. If, like me, you have no idea what that means, it is the data equivalent of downloading 2,300 sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica!
  • Theology on the Web has now moved to its own Virtual Webserver with greatly increasing speed and capacity as the visitor numbers climb to around 2 million in 2015.

To mark these events, I have prepared a Press Release which I am sending to Christian News services in the UK and posting online. Please feel free to download and share this document as widely as possible.

Finally, thank you all for making this possible by your ongoing support and encouragement!

T.H.L. Parker’s Supplementa Calviniana

Supplementa Calviniana by T.H.L. ParkerThe following hard-to-find monograph is now available for free download in PDF:

T.H.L. Parker, Supplementa Calviniana. An Account of the Manuscripts of Calvin’s Sermons Now in Course of Preparation. London: The Tyndale Press, 1962. Pbk. pp.23.

My thanks to the Rev. Dr T.H.L. Parker for his permission to place this material online. It is the text of the 1962 Historical Theology Lecture given at Tyndale House, Cambridge in January 1962.

Supplementa Calviniana

Three editions of the Opera omnia of Calvin have been formed. The first, in seven folio volumes, was published at Geneva in 1617; the second, in nine folio volumes, at’ Amsterdam in 1667-71; the third consists of volumes 29 to 87 of the Corpus Reformatorum, published at Brunswick from 1863 to 1897. Geneva and Amsterdam contained only Latin works and no French – except that some French translated into Latin was included; most notably for our purpose, the sermons on 1 Samuel and Job. The Corpus Reformatorum improved on this considerably by publishing everything of Calvin that had already been published, whether Latin or French – everything, that is to say, that they could discover. They therefore included many sets of sermons that had been printed in the sixteenth century. But they did not include any works in manuscript. In preparing their edition, the editors, Baum, Cunitz and Reuss, noted the existence of certain volumes of sermons in manuscript in the Bibliotheque publique et universitaire at Geneva, and at first intended to transcribe and publish them:

‘A l’égard des sermons aussi nous sommes en mesure d’enrichir par plusieurs séries nouvelles les collections déja imprimeés ‘
(C.R, I, p. 2). In the course of the thirty years of publication, two of the editors, Baum and Cunitz, died, and it was left to their surviving colleague, Edouard Reuss, to apologize for the absence of the sermons: ‘ La seule exception que nous nous soyons permis de faire, concerne une douzaine de volumes manuscrits conservés à la Bibliothèque de Genève, et contenant des centaines de sermons recueillis par la voie de la sténographie pendant que l’orateur les débitait. Nous avons pensé que la postérité pouvait s’en passer, après tant d’autres qui sont compris dans notre édition….

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Samuel Rutherford & His Contemporaries

Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661)The following rare public domain article is now available for free download in PDF:

Prof. W.G. Blaikie [1820-1899], “Some Preachers of Scotland. Samuel Rutherford and His Contemporaries,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1842 (August 17th 1889): 517-520.

Samuel Rutherford, and His Contemporaries

Professor W. G. Blaikie, D.D., LL.D.

Whatever may be thought of the great preachers of Scotland in the covenanting period, it is certain that, judged by the present standard of manners and culture, they stood in the foremost rank among the scholars of their time. Samuel Rutherford, for example, at the close of his own studies at the University of Edinburgh was appointed one of its regents or professors—a striking proof of his abilities and attainments. A similar distinction was conferred on two of his contemporaries, David Dickson and Robert Blair, by the Uni¬versity of Glasgow.

On leaving Edinburgh, Rutherford became Minister of Anwoth in the Stewartry of Kirkcud-bright. The church lies in a hollow, embosomed in wood, and seems the very ideal of a country church. Gordon of Earlston, afterwards Viscount Kenmure, was one of -the landowners, a man of eminent godliness and of a family most attached to the church. Rutherford’s first sermon was from John ix. 39—rather a strange text: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”

In the very first years of his ministry he had a sharp lesson in the school of affliction. His wife suffered from a most painful illness. For thirteen months before her death she was in almost constant agony, crying out at night in paroxysms of pain. Among his people Rutherford was a marvel of diligence. Up at three in the morning, he had done much work among his books before the day had well begun. It was said of him that he was “always praying, always preaching, always visiting families, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always teaching in the school, always writing treatises, always reading and studying.” The fervour of his preaching was remarkable—the earnestness with which he preached Christ. Many came from great distances to his church. So earnest was he for the good of his people that he could say: “My witness is in heaven, your heaven would be two heavens to me, and your salvation two salvations.” And of his prayers: “There I wrestled with the angel and prevailed. Woods, trees, meadows and hills are my witnesses that I drew one fair match between Christ and Anwoth.”

But the enemy could not but try to sow tares in so goodly a field. In 1636, nine years after his settlement, he was called before the High Commission Court on account of his non-con¬formity to the Episcopal government of the church, and banished from Anwoth. His Patmos was Aberdeen, then conspicuous for its zeal in the opposite cause. Here many of the “Letters” were written by which he is so well known. Two years later, he returned to his beloved Anwoth; but next year he was removed to St. Andrew’s, where he became Professor of Divinity and Principal of St. Mary’s. He had now no pastoral charge, but it is said that before accepting the chair, he bargained that he should be allowed to preach somewhere every Sunday, so much did he delight to proclaim the love of God in Christ.

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