A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Gary Steward
Biographical reading is some of the most inspiring and encouraging reading that one can do. Banner of Truth has put out another carefully produced and well-bound reprint of a spiritually-inspiring biography of a significant church leader from the past. This book was originally published in 1907 and then was reprinted in paperback form by Banner of Truth in 1961, making it one of the earlier books they brought back into print. They have now produced a newly-typeset edition, adding the eleven illustrations back into the work that were originally a part of the 1907 edition. It is truly a beautiful little book and the only full biography of Bruce to be written to date.
Robert Bruce (1554–1631) is not to be confused with Robert the Bruce (1274–1329), the Scottish king and defender of Scottish independence. Robert Bruce of Kinnaird, as he is sometimes also called, was a leading figure in the Church of Scotland after the days of John Knox. He is credited with bringing stability and strength to the Church of Scotland in the days of growing antagonism between King James VI of Scotland and the Presbyterian Church.
As a parallel figure to the godly Puritans in the Church of England during the great Puritan century (1560–1660), Bruce’s life was marked by a deep spirituality and a tireless zeal for the honor and glory of Christ. In this book, one not only gets a sense of Scottish church history in the days just after Knox but also of Bruce’s dedication to Christ, his intense spirituality, and his persistent joy and godliness in seeking to serve the Lord. This biography discusses his personal and public life and sets his story all within the context of the broader turmoil within Scotland and the Scottish church of his day.
Bruce’s life was one of suffering. After falling out of favor with James I, he was banished from Scotland and later confined to the Highlands and prevented from fully carrying out his ministry. Resigned to the sovereignty of God, Bruce maintained a significant influence upon the church and the next generation of godly Scottish ministers through his example. Ministers today will especially profit from this book as it contains an inspiring example of devotion to Christ and commitment to his cause. Some readers will be surprised by the role that impressions and visions had in Bruce’s life at certain points (227-236).
Bruce deserves to be more widely known. The nineteenth-century theologian William Cunningham said (as is recorded in the flyleaf) that “Robert Bruce was one of the most distinguished men whom Scotland has ever produced, and [he] rendered invaluable services to his Church and country.” Those interested in Bruce should read this book and also consult Cunningham’s edited collection of some of Bruce’s surviving sermons, entitled Sermons by the Rev. Robert Bruce…with Collections for his Life by the Rev. Robert Wodrow (Edinburgh: Wodrow Society, 1843). Macnicol himself used the material on Bruce that Wodrow collected to produce this book.
Assistant Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences
Colorado Christian University
Buy the books
MASTER ROBERT BRUCE: MINISTER IN THE KIRK OF EDINBURGH, by D. C. Macnicol