Given that Rutherford's work was not infrequently compared with Defoe's (for, among other things, its sincerity and authenticity), and given that both authors are in the tradition of Dissenting fiction, it is necessary to look at at least one case of Defoe's deployment of 'deliverance', especially since Defoe looks as much back to Bunyan as forward to the realistic novel.
Call on me, and I will deliver you, in a different sense from what I had done before; for then I had no Notion of anything being call'd Deliverance, but my being deliver'd from the Captivity I was in; for tho' I was indeed at large in the Place, yet the Island was certainly a Prison to me .
Of this episode one critic has written: 'If any single episode can be isolated as the book's turning point, it is probably this one.'(9) Without getting involved in the somewhat fraught arguments about literary form and the nature or intensity of Defoe's (or Crusoe's) Protestantism, it is clear that Defoe was aware not only of two meanings of 'deliverance' but that they were related, and it is at the least arguable that he is consciously drawing on the same tradition as Bunyan (Crusoe's 'Load', Christian's 'Burden', for example).
However, even if, as with Bunyan, Defoe gives primacy to the religious, the Christian, rather than the legal meaning of 'deliverance', such a simple appeal to a Christian world-picture is no longer available to Rutherford and Shapcott - or to their creator.
Pollock, with the freedom of the interpreter as critic, indicates by his use of 'deliverance' something very different from the meanings intended by Bunyan and Defoe, as his quotation from Spinoza's preface to part V of the Ethic indicates: 'At length.
Goode's suggestion that Pollock's choice of 'The Deliverance of Man' as a chapter title is relevant for Deliverance is both persuasive and suggestive.
In his preface to the first edition of his translation of the Ethic (published in 1883, between The Autobiography (1881) and Deliverance (1885)), White abandons the editorial neutrality he had claimed for himself:
Or, as Pollock puts it in his 'Deliverance of Man' chapter, 'Spinoza's eternal life is not a continuance of existence but a manner of existence; something which can be realized here and now as much as at any other time and place; not a future reward of the soul's perfection but the soul's perfection itself' (Spinoza, 295).
Rutherford's last sentences contain what I propose are best read as Spinozan key words ('Hope', 'repose', 'actual joy', Deliverance, 128), and White commends Spinoza for his search for 'a joy continuous and supreme to all eternity' (Pages from a Journal, 33).
(It is strange that White, having claimed that his translation had the virtue of being 'tolerably literal,' should translate acquiescentia mentis as 'repose'.) And, since 'salvation, or blessedness, or liberty' are very much what Pollock meant by 'The Deliverance of Man', it appears that I can say with Spinoza 'QED'.
And Shapcott extends not only the posthumous life but the range of Rutherford's achievements by supplementing the autobiographical texts with the pieces ('Notes on the Book of Job', 'Principles', 'A Mysterious Portrait') which follow on his conclusion to Deliverance - and by suggesting that there may be more to be discovered.
Since Deliverance has to be read as Shapcott's choice of title, since his own words (especially the preface to the second edition of The Autobiography) suggest that he would not recognize, let alone appreciate, ambiguity, ambivalence, or irony, then it has to look as though he is imposing a single meaning, even verdict, on another man's words, a text with not just ambiguous but conflicting terms of value.