Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Rutherford Revised (359)

359. To a Brother Minister.    From St. Andrews 1660

Judgment of a draught or minute of a Petition, to have been presented to the Committee of Estates, by those Ministers who were then prisoners in the Castle of Edinburgh for that other well-known Petition to his
Majesty, about which they were when seized upon and made prisoners.

[But that no man may mistake or judge amiss of persons so fixed in the cause and faithful in their generations, know that this draught was not sent to Mr. Rutherford as a paper concluded and condescended upon among these brethren, whose love to truth made them in all things so tender that they were ever fond to abstain from all appearance of evil. It was more like the suggestion of some other men (wherein was laid before them what kind of address would most probably please, waiving the just measures of what was simply duty in their circumstances), than anything flowing from themselves, as the product of a mature deliberation. And, secondly, know (which confirms what was said), that whatever it was, or whoever gave the rise to it, yet it was never made use of, nor presented to the Committee of Estates, by any of these faithful men, whose praise, for their fidelity, fixedness, real and untainted integrity, is in the churches of Christ” (Note by Mr. Robert MWard, the original editor of Rutherfords

Dear Brother,I am, as you know, restricted as another suffering

man, but dare not petition this Committee:1. Because it draws us to capitulate with such as have the advantage
of the mount, the Lord so disposing for the present: and, to bring the matters of Christ to yes and no (you being prisoners and they the powers) is a risk.
2. Speaking to them in writing, and passing in silence the sworn Covenant and the cause of God (which is the very present controversy), is contrary to the practice of Christ and the Apostles, who, being accused or not accused, affirmed Christ to be the Son of God and the Messiah, and that the dead must rise again, even when the enemy misstated the question. Yes, silence on the cause of God, which enemies persecute, seems a tacit deserting of the cause, when the state of the question is known to onlookers: and I know that the brethren do not intend to leave the cause.
3. I know of no offence that you have given (I will not say what offence may be taken), either as to the matter or manner of your petition. For, if what you have done be a necessary duty laid aside by others, a duty can never give an offence to Christ, and so none to men; but Christians will look upon a pious, harmless, and innocent petition to the Prince, in the matters of the Lords honour and the good of His church (though proffered by one or two, when they are silent whose it is to speak and act), as a sea- sonable duty.
4. The draught of that petition, which you sent me, speaks not one word of the Covenant of God for the adhering to which you now suffer, and which is the object of mens hatred, and the destruction of which is the great work of the times. Your silence in this nick of time appears to be a non-confession of Christ before men; and you lack nothing to produce an uncleanly deliverance except the profession of silence.
5. There is a promise and real purpose, as the petition says, to live peaceably under the Kings authority. But, 1. Ye do not answer candidly and straitforwardly the mind of the rulers, who, to your knowledge, mean a far other thing by authority than you do. For you mean, his just authority, his authority in the Lord, and his just greatness, in the maintenance of true religion, as in the Covenant, Confession of Faith, and Catechisms, is ex-pressed from the Word of God: they mean his supreme authority, and absolute prerogative above laws, as their acts make clear, and as their practice is. For they refused, to such as were unwilling to subscribe their bond, to add authority in the Lord,” or, just and lawful authority,” or authority as it is expressed in the Covenant.” But this draught of a petition, under your own hand, yields the sense and meaning to them which they crave. 2. That authority for which they contend is exclusive of the sworn Covenant; so that, unless you had said, We shall be subject to the Kings authority in the Lord, or according to the sworn Covenant,” you say nothing to the point in hand; and that, sure, is not your meaning. 3. Whoever promised so much peaceable living under his Majestys authority, leaving out the exposition of the fifth commandment, as your petition does, may upon the very same ground subscribe the bond refused by the godly; and so you pass from the Covenant, and make all those by-past actings of this church and State, these years bypast, to be horrid rebellion! And how deep that guiltiness draweth, consider.
6. A condemning of the Remonstrance, simply and without any limit-ation and distinction, is a condemning of many precious ones in the land,and a passing from the causes of Gods wrath, which is the chief matter of the Remonstrance.
7. That nothing is before your eyes but the exoneration of your con- science, is indeed believed by the godly who know you; but a passing in silence of the honest materials in your former petition to his Majesty seemeth to be a deserting of it, since, in all your petition, you do not once say you cannot but adhere to that pious petition, as your necessary duty. And, that you intend in the petition the happiness of his Majesty, is also believed.
   Dear brother, show to our brethren, that the Lord Christ, in your persons, has a stated question between Him and the powers on earth. The only wise God lead you now, when He hath brought you out in public, so to act as if you did see Jesus Christ by you, and seeing you. It is easy for such as are on the shore to throw advice to those that are tossed in the sea; but, only by living by faith, and by fetching strength and comfort from Christ, can you be victorious, and have right to the precious promisesof the tree of life,” “of the hidden manna,” of the gifted morning star,and the like, made to those who overcome: to whose strength and grace, brethren who desire with me to remember you do recommend you. I am, dear brother,
   Yours, in the Lord,    S. R.

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