Friday, February 22, 2019

Rutherford Revised - (22)

22. To John Kennedy           from Anwoth  2 Feb 1632

My loving and most affectionate brother in Christ, - I greet you with grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. 
   I promised to write to you, and now though late enough, I make it good. I heard with sadness your great danger of drowning at sea, and the mercy of your deliverance with joy. I am sure, brother, that Satan will leave no stone unturned, to knock you off your Rock, or at least to shake or unsettle you; for at the same time the mouths of the wicked were opened with hard speeches against you, by land, and the prince of the power of the air was angry with you by sea. See then how much you are obliged to that malicious murderer, who would beat you with two rods at one time; but blessed be God, his arm is short; if the sea and wind would have obeyed him, you would never have come to land. Thank your God who says.'  I have the keys of Death and Hades.'(Rev 1:18)  iI kill and I make alive;' (Deu 32:39)  'The LORD kills and brings to lifehe brings down to Sheol and raises up.'(1 Sam 2:6) If Satan was the jailer, and had the keys of death and of the grave, they would be full with more prisoners. You were knocking at these black gates, and you found the doors shut; and we all welcome you back again.
   I trust you know that there is a reason you are sent to us again. The Lord knew you had forgotten something needed for your journey; that your armour was not yet proof enough against the blow of death. Now, in the strength of Jesus, do your work; that debt is not forgiven, but delayed; death has not said goodbye, but has only left you for a short time. End your journey before the night comes on you. Have all ready for the time when you must sail though that black and stormy Jordan; and Jesus, Jesus will be your pilot who knows both those depths and the rocks, and all the shores, The last tide will not wait a minute for you. If you forget anything when your sea is full, and your foot on that ship, there is no going back to fetch it. What you do wrong in your life today, you may correct it tomorrow; for as many suns God makes to rise on you, you have as many new lives; but you can only die once, and if you mess up that business, you cannot come back to amend that work again. No man can sin twice in dying badly; as we die  only once, we die badly or good but once. You see how your months are numbered in God's  and yet without fears and doubts we would soon sleep, and lose our book; and as one hired by God, you must work until the shadow of evening come on you, and you will run out of time,even to the last second. Fulfil your course with joy, for we take nothing to the grave with us, only a good or bad conscience. And, although the sky clear after a storm, the clouds will bring another.
   I hope,that when you first began to follow Christ, you agreed that you would carry his cross. Fill your part of the bargain with patience and do not break from Christ; for who knows better than our God how to bring up children? For (to put aside His knowledge which is past finding out) He has been experienced in bringing up His heirs these past five thousand years; and his children are all well brought up, and many of them are honest men now at home, up in their own house in heaven, and have become heirs to their Father's inheritance. Now the form of His bringing up was by suffering, beating, correcting, nurturing; and does He make an exception of any of his children? No, His eldest Son, His Heir Jesus, is not excepted (Rev 3:19; Heb 12:7-8, 2:10). We must suffer; God planned it before we were born; and it is easier to complain about His purpose than to change it. It is true, terrors of conscience, cast us down, and yet without terrors of conscience we cannot be raised up again: fears and doubts shake us; and yet without fears and doubts we would soon sleep, and lose our grip on Christ. Trials and temptation will almost loosen our roots; and yet, without trials and temptations we cannot grow any more than plants or corn without rain. Sin and Satan, will say and cry in our ears, that we have a hard judgement to make; and yet, none of these three, unless they lie, can say to our face that our sin can change the new covenant. Forward then brother, and do not lose your grip. Hold tight on the truth; for the world's sake do not sell one small measure of God's truth, especially now when most men measure truth relatively, like young sailors setting their compass by a cloud; for it is as if time changes truth according to the evil of our day. May the God of truth establish us; for alas! there are now none to comfort the prisoners of hope, and the mourners in the church. We can do little except pray and mourn for Joseph in chains. And let their tongue stick to the roof of their mouth who forget Jerusalem in her day, and may the Lord remember Edom , and do to him as he has done to us.
   Now brother, I will not tire you, but I ask you to convey my dearest love to Mr David Dickson, who I know slightly; but I thank the Lord, I know he has prayed and still does for our dying church. Remember my dearest love to John Stuart, whom I love in Christ; and tell him I do always remember him and hope for a meeting. The Lord Jesus establish him more and more, though he is already a strong man in Christ. Remember my heart felt love in Christ to William Roger, whom I also remember to God. I wish that the first news I hear of him and you, and all who love our common Saviour in these places, may be that they are so joined and linked and kindly fastened in love with the Son of God, that you may say, 'Now if you would ever escape out of Christ's hands, that love has so tied us that we cannot get our hands free; He has so ravished our hearts that we cannot loosen his grip; the chains of His soul ravishing love are so strong that neither the grave nor death will break them.' I hope brother, yes I do not doubt it, that you put me and my first entrance into the Lord's vineyard, and my flock, before Him who has put me into His work. As the Lord knows, since I first saw you, I have been mindful of you. Marion M'Naught most heartily remembers her love to you, and to John Stuart. Blessed be the Lord, that in God's mercy, I found such a woman in this country, to whom Jesus is dearer the her own heart, when there are many who throw Christ over their shoulder. Good brother, remember your honoured father, now asleep in Christ; and like he did, pray continually, and struggle, for the life of a dying, breathless church. Ask John Stuart not to forget the poor church; she has few friends, and few to speak a good word for her.
   Now I commend you, your whole soul, body and spirit, to Jesus Christ and his keeping, hoping that you will live and die, stand and fall, in the cause of our Master, Jesus. The Lord Jesus Himself be with your spirit.
   Your loving brother in our Lord Jesus,    S.R.


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