5 Stars Out Of 5
"A small casket stored with many jewels"
January 1, 2014
Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish preacher and contemporary of Shakespeare, gives here some of the finest expressions of love and faith and rejoicing in the loveliness of Christ. This book, given to me as a gift, was my first introduction to Samuel Rutherford, and I was refreshed and blessed by his unique way of putting things.
The Loveliness of Christ is a collection of quotes from a "well-marked, much-loved copy of his Letters," compiled by Ellen S. Lister in 1909. The quotes are pithy, deep, and full of a contagious delight in the all-surpassing loveliness that does indeed emanate from Christ but that so few actually see. Rutherford had clearer eyes than most.
This book would be my first choice for a gift for a person passing through deep grief. In the past, I have given C.S. Lewis's book, A Grief Observed, when someone lost a loved one, but the tone of that book is one of doubt, hurt, and loneliness that seems to only offer comfort in a "misery-loves-company" type of way. The Loveliness of Christ, on the other hand, is gentle, healing, and full of grace. It comes from a man who passed through grief, found healing, drank deep from the well of living water, and stood with his bucket ready to fill the cups of the thirsty. He pulls no punches, but in doing so, he offers real healing, solid ground to stand on, and a firm lifeline to the overwhelmed soul, rather than meaningless sentimental phrases that give neither offense nor life.
The dated English (and some Scottish words, e.g. "bairns") does not detract from the message or the understanding of Rutherford's work, but rather enhances the beauty and poetry of his writing. The glossary in the back offers a succinct and helpful definition of words like fash, sibber, and toom, but in most cases, the meaning of the words can be deduced from the context. For example:
"O, pity for evermore that there should be such an one as Christ Jesus, so boundless, so bottomless, and so incomparable in infinite excellency, and sweetness, and so few to take him! O, ye poor dry and dead souls, why will ye come hither with your toom vessels and your empty souls to this huge, and fair, and sweet well of life, and fill all your toom vessels? O, that Christ should be so large in sweetness and worth, and we so narrow, pinched, so ebb, and so void of all happiness, and yet men will not take him! They lose their love miserably, who will not bestow it upon this lovely One."
(Glossary: Toom = empty, ebb = shallow. Both of these could have been guessed by the context.)
This book whets my appetite for more of Samuel Rutherford. Most of all, however, it whets my appetite for more of Christ, and when a book can do that, it's a keeper.