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Reformed Literature
A Presbyterian Internet Journal

Simon Peter

Hugh Martin

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Hugh Martin D.D. was born in 1822 and became one of the well-known names amongst those who left the Church of Scotland in the Disruption struggle. His name sits alongside William Cunningham, Thomas Chalmers, James Buchanan and George Smeaton in the Disruption Worthies. While Cunningham was immediately recognised amongst his contemporaries for his theological writing, some of his peers took a little longer to rise to international attention. George Smeaton’s books on the atonement were not widely recognised on both sides of the Atlantic during his lifetime and similarly, Hugh Martin did not enjoy widespread recognition. Similarly, while Hodge was a name familiar to many British Evangelicals in the same period, the names of his American contemporaries like Robert L. Dabney were not as well known. I think the improved recognition of this wider set of men is due in no small part to the work of the Banner of Truth Trust as it has reprinted their works on a scale that was never seen in their own lifetimes.

Hugh Martin was born and educated in Aberdeen. In 1844 he was ordained to the Free Church charge of Panbride and in 1858 he moved to Greyfriars Free Church in Edinburgh. He retired from this charge 20 years before he died in 1885, due to on-going problems with his health. In his life he was an active contributor to various Evangelical magazines, particularly The Watchword. During his active ministry he only published one book which is now reprinted under the title ‘The Abiding Presence’, however, the prolonged period of his retirement from the ministry gave him the chance to go further into print with books on the Atonement, Jonah, the Establishment Principle (Relations between Christ’s Headship over Church and State), the Shadow of Calvary (reprinted by the FP Church) and doctrine of Inspiration where he challenged the erring views of Marcus Dods. The latter book, entitled The Westminster Doctrine of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture saw a follow-up book entitled, Letters to Marcus Dods.

You will notice that in this list of books, the subject of this review is not included. The book is actually a compendium of articles that Hugh Martin wrote in The Family Treasury after his retirement on Simon Peter. We should be grateful that the Banner of Truth thought it was appropriate to draw together these disparate articles into a single volume where together they form an interesting character study.

The first chapter looks at Peter’s introduction to Jesus. It notes that it was Andrew that brought Simon to Jesus and that this was perhaps, one of the very few occasions where Andrew took the lead or exercised influence over his brother. Nevertheless, you can imagine the evangelical way in which Martin speaks about drawing our ‘brother’ to Christ.

The second chapter looks at the ‘new name’ and the confession of sin that Peter makes directly to the Lord Jesus, his repentance, and the way that this is dealt with by our Lord. The third chapter looks at the incident of Peter walking on the water and the remainder of the eleven chapters look at the confession of Peter and his role around our Lord’s crucifixion.

This book is devotional in its nature and drives on to look at the Biblical character and draw out the lessons from his life as it is presented to us. As regular readers will be aware, I have been seeking to regularly review a commentary after realising that I had been neglecting this type of writing – probably due to my personal use of commentaries for ‘dipping into’ rather than ‘reading through’. This book is like a commentary that moves from passage to passage with the character. It is one that seeks to encourage the reader to think and mediate on the lessons to be learnt from his life and then to apply them individually to your own situation.