Thursday, June 06, 2019

Rutherford Revised (161)

161. To John Stuart, Provost of Ayr   From Aberdeen 1637

( Stuart inherited property and was generous with his wealth lending to those in need saying they should tell no-one while he was alive and that they did not have to repay until he asked. But following business setbacks though plague depressing trade, he brown money and went to France where at a cheap rate he purchased a ship load of goods. Returning home he waited for the ship but was told it was taken by the Turks. At last it came to port and he made a great profit. He did plan to emigrate to New England with Blair and Livingstone but it was not to be.)

Much honoured sir, - Grace, mercy and peace be unto you. Now that I am removed from my flock and being the prisoner of Christ in Aberdeen, I long to hear from you. I do not want you to think it strange that your journey to New England has been prevented. It has indeed made me sad; yet I know it is not a dumb providence, but a speaking one, by which our Lord speaks His mind to you, though at present you do not clearly understand what He says. However it is, He who sits on the floods has shown you His marvellous kindness in the great depths. I know your loss is great and your hope has gone; but I beg you sir, to rightly understand our Lord putting all the hindrances in the way. I am sure myself that you aim to follow the footsteps of the flock, to feed beside the shepherds' tents, and to live beside Him whom your soul loves; and that it is your desire to remain in the desert where the Woman is kept from the Dragon. (Rev 12:14) And as this is your desire, remember that a poor prisoner of Christ said to you, that your aborted journey is pregnant with mercy and comfort for you: and will produce a fair birth with the Lord in attendance. Keep waiting; 'Whoever believes will not be in haste' (Is 28:16).
   I hope that you have been using what the Lord means, and what may be his future will concerning your return. My dear brother, let God make of you what He will, He will end all with comfort and make glory out of your sufferings; and would you wish for better work? This water was in your way to heaven and written in the Lord's book; you wanted to cross it, and therefore, kiss His wise and right providence. Do not let the censures of men who only see the outside of things and that not well, lessen your courage and rejoicing in the Lord. Though your faith only sees the black side of providence; yet it has a better side, and God will let you see it. Learn to believe Christ better than His rebukes; Himself and His promises better than His frowns. Setbacks and disappointments are not inspired Scripture; fighting for the promised land seems to cry out to God,'You lie.'If our Lord rides upon a straw His horse will neither stumble nor fall.   'And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,'(Rom 8:28); that is, shipwreck, losses etc., work together for the good of those who love God. Therefore I deduce that losses, disappointments, slander, loss of friends, houses, or country are God's workmen set to work, to work out good to you out of everything that happens to you. Because it is unpleasant, do not let the Lord'd dealing with you seem harsh, rough and not like a father. When the Lord's blessed will blows against your desires, it is best in humility to sail to Him, and be willing to be led any way our Lord pleases. It is self denial to be as if you had no will but have given it to Gd and sold it to Him ; and to use His will in place of your own is both true holiness and your ease and peace. You do not know what the Lord is working out from this, but afterwards you will know.
   What I write to you I write to your wife also. I have sympathy for her situation but beg her not to fear of faint. This journey is part of her desert on the way to heaven and the promised land and now there are fewer miles behind. The dawn of day is nearer to her than when she left Scotland. I would be glad to hear that you and she have comfort and courage in the Lord.
   No      Now, concerning our church; our Service Book by open proclamation and the sound of trumpets is prescribed to be read in all the churches of the kingdom. Our bishops are to meet this month about our Canons, and want to reconcile us and the Lutherans. The Professors of Aberdeen University are instructed to draw up the Articles of a uniform Confession; but reconciliation with popery is the intent. This is the day of Jacob's visitation; the ways of Zion mourn, our gold has become dim, the sun has set on our prophets. A dry wind is coming on this land, but neither to fan nor to cleanse; and all our ill is coming from the multiplied sins of this land, and from the friends and lovers of Babel among us. 'The violence done to me and to my kinsmen be upon Babylon let the inhabitant of Zion say My blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,” let Jerusalem say.' (Jer 51:35) Now for myself: for three days I was before the High Commission accused of preaching treason against the King. (A minister giving witness went near to swearing it.) God has saved me from their malice. 1stly, They have deprived me of my ministry;  2ndly,  I am silenced from exercising any ministerial work in this kingdom or it will be called rebellion.  3rdly Confined me in the town of Aberdeen where I find the ministers at work to have me confined in Caithness or Orkney, far from them, because some people here (willing to be strengthened) come to me. When I first came I felt many challenges within me, and a court set up (but not I hope in Christ's name) where it was alleged that my Lord wanted my services no more, and was tired of me; and like a fool accused Christ of unkindness. My soul fainted and I refused to be comforted saying, 'What had Christ against me when I wanted to be faithful in His house?' This way, in my wanderings and mistakes, my Lord Jesus gave mercy to me who am less than the least of all the saints.I lay in the dust and brought a charge from Satan against Christ and he was happy to sell it. But at last Christ showed He was friends with me, and in mercy pardoned and passed over my part in it, and only complained that a court should have been held in his lands without His permission. Now I pass from my court case as if Christ was at fault and He has made amends and returned to my soul; so that now His poor prisoner feeds on the feasts of love. My enemies do not know what a courtier I am now with my Royal King, for whose crown I now suffer. It is only our soft and lazy flesh that has made a bad report of the cross of Christ. O sweet, sweet is his yoke! Christ's chains are pure gold; sufferings for Him are perfumed. I would not give my weeping for all the laughing of the fourteen bishops; I would nor exchange my sadness with the world's joy. O ;lovely, lovely Jesus, how sweet must your kisses be when your cross smells so sweetly! Oh if all the three kingdoms had part of my love fast. and the comfort of a spoiled prisoner!
   Br      Brother, I urge you to praise for me, and to seek the help to our friends there to help me praise. Why should I smother Christ's honesty to me? My heart is take up thinking that my silence and sufferings may preach. I beg you by the compassion of Christ to help me to praise. Remember my love to your wife, to Mr. Blair, and Mr. Livingstone; and Mr. Cunningham. Let me hear from you because I worry what to do. If I was called to New England I would answer. Grace be with you.
              Yours in our Lord Jesus,  S.R.

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