Christians of many generations have located verses of Scripture by pulling their Cruden’s Concordance off its shelf. Spurgeon wrote in the flyleaf of his, “For ten years this has been at my left hand when the Word of God has been at my right.”

Here’s the rest of the story: Alexander Cruden was born in Scotland on May 31, 1699. His father, a strict Puritan, forbade games on the Lord’s Day, and Alexander entertained himself by tracing words through the Bible. He enrolled in college at 13, graduated at 19, and fell in love. The girl’s father forbade him in the house, and when the girl became pregnant, she was sent away. Alexander, his nerves broken, entered an asylum.

In 1726 he was hired to read books for Lord Derby of Sussex. Alexander began reading the way he always did—spelling out each word letter by letter. He was quickly fired, but he refused to leave the grounds. For months, he followed Lord Derby around, creating one scene after another. He eventually moved to London and began working on his Concordance. It was published in 1737 and became an immediate success.

Alexander fell in love again, was rejected again, and went to such extremes to attract the woman’s affection that he was seized, taken to a private asylum, and chained to a bed for ten weeks. He finally managed to escape by cutting off the bed leg, then began traveling around calling himself “Alexander the Corrector,” trying to reform morals. One evening, wanting to stop a man from swearing, he hit him over the head with a shovel. A riot ensued, and Alexander endured a third stay in an asylum. Being released, he fell in love again, was rejected again, and badgered the king to appoint him “Alexander the Corrector.”

People thought him crazy—but they loved his Concordance. Alexander spent his final days giving out tracts and studying the Bible. One morning in 1770, a servant found him on his knees, his head on the open Bible, dead. “This half-crazy Cruden,” said Spurgeon, “did better service to the church than half the D.D.’s and L.L.D.’s of all time.”

If we seem out of our minds, it is between God and us. But if we are in our right minds, it is for your good. We are ruled by Christ’s love for us. We are certain that if one person died for everyone else, than all of us have died. And Christ did die for all of us. (2 Corinthians 5:13-15a)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). May 31.

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