Robert Rollock does not receive the acknowledgment he deserves.
He is not mentioned in the three dictionaries of the Christian church, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, The Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, and The Dictionary of the Christian Church. He was an early Puritan, born in 1555 and lived only 44 years, dying just before the 17th century began. He became regent in St. Andrews and the first Principal of the Town’s College of Edinburgh. This was the first Protestant University founded in Scotland and commenced ten years after the death of Knox who died in 1572. Rollock was the colleague of the two leading successors to follow Knox, that dynamic saintly duo Andrew Melville and George Buchanan. What a group of men they inspired, leaders of the caliber of John Welsh of Ayr, Robert Bruce of Edinburgh and John Davidson, such were Rollock’s contemporaries.
But of all of those preachers Robert Rollock has left us the most helpful and accessible material, and the two volumes of his works were published by the Woodrow Society in 1844 in good large type. Rollock wrote a treatise on effectual calling, and commentaries on the gospel of John, Daniel, Colossians and Thessalonians, but his vital contribution to us today is his series of sermons on the death and resurrection of Christ. Rollock introduced into Scotland systematic, expository, evangelistic preaching and the second volume of his works (which can be bought independently and generally is) consists of 56 remarkable sermons, in total over 700 pages in length, on the passion, trial, crucifixion, resurrection and resurrection of Christ. A few weeks ago I preached three sermons on Luke 24, Christ on the road to Emmaus. A friend spoke to me when I told him my intention and he urged me to read Rollock. I was glad of his counsel.
If you have the three volumes of Schilder, Christ on Trial, Christ in his Suffering and Christ Crucified then you have the Dutchman’s history of redemption insights into the last hours of our Lord’s life. If you also have the three paperbacks of Frederick S. Leahy Is it Nothing to You?, The Cross He Bore, The Victory of the Lamb (all published by the Banner of Truth), then you have those insights blended with Puritan piety. Then to have Spurgeon’s sermons and Professor Finlayson’s The Cross in the Experience of our Lord are all helpful and deeply experiential. But now I am telling you of Robert Rollock, to be read alongside the best contemporary commentaries on the gospels that have appeared in the past couple of decades. All of this will provide you with all the tools that are essential for encouraging and correcting experiential preaching. The second volume of The Select Works of Robert Rollock has been reprinted by various reprint houses and is readily available for about £20. John Macleod in his Scottish Theology judges that Rollock ‘excelled in his gift of exposition’ adding that, ‘In the public conflicts of his age he took a less share that some of his fellows, but in respect of sound theology he did his part in training a race of divines who did credit to his instruction and oversight. He was a faithful man who was able to teach others also’ (John MacLeod, Scottish Theology, pp.52-53, Banner of Truth. 1943).
The BANNER OF TRUTH ONLINE; Sept. 3, 2016