Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two for Tuesday

Spotlight on two great Puritans - 

Richard Baxter -

Richard Baxter was born in 1615, in Rowton, near Shrewsbury, in Shropshire. He was the only son of Beatrice Adeney and Richard Baxter, Sr. Because of his father’s gambling habit and inherited debts, and his mother’s poor health, Richard lived with his maternal grandparents for the first ten years of his life. When his father was converted through “the bare reading of the Scriptures in private,” Richard returned to his parental home, and later acknowledged that God used his father’s serious talks about God and eternity as “the Instrument of my first Convictions, and Approbation of a Holy Life” (Reliquiae Baxterianae, 1:2-4).

Baxter’s education was largely informal; he later wrote that he had four teachers in six years, all of whom were ignorant and two led immoral lives. Nevertheless, he had a fertile mind, and enjoyed reading and studying. A prolonged illness and various books—particularly William Perkins’s Works—were the means God used to “resolve me for himself,” Baxter wrote (Reliquiae Baxterianae, 1:3-4). When he was fifteen, he was deeply affected by Richard Sibbes’s The Bruised Reed: “Sibbes opened more the love of God to me, and gave me a livelier apprehension of the mystery of redemption and how much I was beholden to Jesus Christ.” Subsequently, Ezekiel Culverwell’s Treatise of Faith (1623) “did me much good” (ibid., 1:4-5).

Baxter’s education took a turn for the better when he transferred to the Wroxeter grammar school, where he received some tuition support from a schoolmaster named John Owen. His best teacher there was an erudite minister, Francis Garbet, who took a real interest in Baxter. At the age of sixteen, under Owen’s persuasion, Baxter decided to forego university in favor of placing himself under the instruction of Owen’s friend, Richard Wickstead, chaplain at Ludlow Castle, who tutored him rather half-heartedly for eighteen months.

In 1633, Baxter went to London under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, in the court of Charles I. Joseph Symonds and Walter Cradock, two godly Puritan ministers in London, roused his sympathy for nonconformity, but he stayed in London only four weeks. Having become dissatisfied with the worldly court life in London and desiring to care for his ailing mother, he returned home in 1634; his mother died in May of 1635. He spent the next four years privately studying theology, particularly that of the scholastics, including Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham.

At age twenty-three, having as yet “no scruple at all against subscription,” and thinking “the Conformists had the better cause” (ibid., 1:13), Baxter was ordained deacon ..... Read rest of Bio HERE

Samuel Rutherford -

Samuel Rutherford was born in 1600 in Nisbet, Roxburghshire, eldest son of a well-to-do farmer. His parents noted his intellectual gifts and believed that God would call him to the ministry, though they seldom spoke about Christ in an experiential way. Rutherford later wrote that in his birthplace “Christ was scarce named, as touching any reality or power of godliness” (Letters, p. 680). Rutherford was educated first at Jedborough, then at the University of Edinburgh, where he excelled in Latin and Greek, and earned a Master of Arts degree in 1621.

In 1623, Rutherford was chosen to serve as Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh, with responsibilities as a Latin tutor. Two years later, he was forced to resign after behaving inappropriately with a young woman named Euphame Hamilton, whom he subsequently married. God apparently used this incident to initiate or further his conversion. In a letter to Robert Stuart (1637), Rutherford wrote, “Ye have gotten a great advantage in the way of heaven, that ye have started to the gate in the morning. Like a fool, as I was, I suffered my sun to be high in the heaven, and near afternoon, before I ever took the gate by the end.”

In 1625, Rutherford studied theology at Edinburgh under Andrew Ramsay. Two years later, he was asked to pastor the church in Anwoth by the Solway in Kirkcudbrightshire—the charge with which his name is inseparably bound. John Welsh, the godly son-in-law of John Knox, had ministered at that church from 1595 to 1600. Anwoth was a rural parish; its people were scattered in farms over a hilly district.

Rutherford rose at 3 a.m. each day, devoting many hours to prayer and meditation. He wrote of a favorite place where he often walked to ponder spiritual truths: “There I wrestled with the angel and prevailed. Woods, trees, meadows and hills are my witnesses that I drew on a fair meeting between Christ and Anwoth” (cited in Nigel Clifford, Christian Preachers, p. 132).

Rutherford worked effectively and tirelessly for his congregation for nearly a decade. One aged, contemporary pastor wrote, “I have known many great and good ministers in this church, but for such a piece of clay as Mr. Rutherford was, I never knew one in Scotland like him, to whom so many great gifts were given; for he seemed to be altogether taken up with everything good, and excellent, and useful. He seemed to be always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechizing, always writing and studying…. Many times I thought he would have flown out of the pulpit when he came to speak of Jesus Christ. He was never in his right element but when he was commending Him. He would have fallen asleep in bed speaking of Christ”               Read rest of Bio HERE

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