Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Rutherford Revised (355)

355. To the Presbytery of Kirkudbright, concerning Union, with a desire to have Mr. William Rait, Professor a St. Andrews.   From St. Andrews 12 Sep 1659

(That Presbytery particularly distinguished itself by its earnest endeavours to restore harmony between the Resolutioners and Protesters; to which they were stirred up chiefly by Mr. Thomas Wylie. But their laudable efforts, though partially successful in allaying animosity, failed to heal the breach. On this subject, Mr. George Hutchison, in a letter to Mr. Thomas Wylie, dated March 12, 1660, says: That little essay towards union hath been followed with the blessing of much less animosity than was wont to be before, in actings and walkings one with another; though, as yet, it is to be regretted that little can be got done for healing particular ruptures of parishes and presbyteries, even upon seeming equal overtures; and, it fears me, some elsewhere are more stiff than needful in such an exigent. But I apprehend that either our trials or Gods appearing, among others, may press the necessity of union more upon us”)

Reverend,The desire of your Wisdoms for union to me, who am below such a public mercy, and of so high concernment to the Church of Scotland, ought to be most acceptable. The name of peace is savoury, both good and pleasant. I so close with your godly and religious aim in it, as judging the Lord has from heaven suggested to you, and inspired your spirits with, a fervent thirst and intention to promote the Gospel, that though I should judge myself (as in truth I am) lower than to ask from either Presbytery or Synod any favour, yet I shall, in all humility, beg your Wisdoms to prosecute with the power which Christ hath given you the work of union; and so much the more that I must shortly put off this my tent. I offer to your Wisdoms serious consideration, the evident necessity of union with God, and of a serious and sound humiliation, and lying in the dust before the Lord for a broken covenant, declining from our former love, owning of such as we sometime judged to be malignant enemies and opposers of the work of reformation and of the sworn covenant of God, despising of the offered salvation of the Gospel, and coldness and indifferency in purging the house of God, and other causes of the sad judgments which we now are under. And my last and humble request to your Wisdoms is, that you would be pleased to take in with this union the planting of the New College with a third master. It is a matter that concerns the whole Church of Scotland and seminary of the ministry of it, and cannot be done but by a General Assembly. If, therefore, you have, dear brethren, judged me faithful of the Lord, and regard the work of the Lord, and the promoting of the kingdom of Christ (as I nothing doubt but it is the desire of your souls), give commission to the brethren sent to treat for union, at the meeting in Edinburgh or elsewhere, to join their authority and power, such as now may be had, to call, invite, and swear some godly and able man, to embrace the charge of Professor in the College of Divinity in St. Andrews. And because Mr. William Rait, minister at Brechin, is a man for learning, godliness, prudence, and eminent authority in the Church of Scotland, sought for to the ministry by the town of Edinburgh, and also by Aberdeen, to preach the Gospel and to profess in the College, and has the approval of the present masters of the New College, the godly ministers of the Synod of Fife, of the Presbytery of St. Andrews, ministers of the city of St. Andrews, it is my souls desire, and the heart-cry of students in the College, and of the godly in the city, that Mr. William Rait may be the man; and that your commissioners may be moved to deal with the commissioners of the Synod of Fife and Angus for that effect; so shall you be instrumental to repair our divisions, and build His house. So praying that your labours may not be in vain in the Lord, I rest (the Lord Jesus be with your spirit!) your unworthy brother and fellow-labourer in the Lord, S. R.

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