Monday, February 11, 2019

Rutherford Revised - (3)

3) To the Viscountess of Kenmure-at a time of illness and spiritual depression. From Anwoth 27 July 1628

(Lady Jane Campbell was the third daughter of Archibald Campbell, seventh Earl of Argyle, and sister to the Marquis of Argyll who was beheaded in 1661. She was widowed in 1634 having had two daughters dying in infancy in 1629 and 1634.) er husband's family had been followers of Wycliffe since the previous century.

Madam, I write with all dutiful obedience in the Lord remembered. I am grieved to hear of your Ladyship's ill health and sickness; yet I trust you have learnt to say, 'It is the Lord, let him do what ever seems good in his sight.' It is now many years since the fallen angels questioned whether their will or the will of their creator should be done; and since that time humans have always in that way, questioned God, daily rebelling against His will. But the Lord, being both a party and judge in this case, has obtained a judgement 'My counsel shall standand I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (Is 46:10). It is, therefore, best for us, in obedient faith and holy submission, to give to God that  which the law of His almighty and just power demands of us. Therefore ,Lady, it is your Lord's will that you in all circumstances say, 'Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven', and you are comforted, that he who sees you through all your evils, knows the weakness of your nature, and knows what is best for the health of your soul, and that he holds every cup of suffering to your lips with his own gracious hand. Never believe that your tender-hearted Saviour, who knows the weakness of your stomach, will mix that cup with the tiniest drop of poison. Drink then with the patience of the saints and the God of patience bless your medicine.

   I have heard your Ladyship complain of deadness and lack of the power of God in your life. Take courage! He who walked in the garden, and made a noise so that Adam heard his voice, will also at sometimes walk in your soul, and make you hear a sweeter word. Yet, we will not always hear the noise and steps of his feet when he walks. You are at such a time like Jacob, who mourned the supposed death of Joseph, when Joseph was yet alive. The new creature, in the image of the second Adam, is living in you; and yet you are mourning at the was supposed death of Christ in you. Ephraim moans and mourns (Jer 31:18), when he thinks God is far off and does not hear; and yet God is like the bridegroom (Song 2:9), standing behind a thin wall and listening; finally says to himself, 'I have surely heard Ephraim moaning about himself''. I am confident Lady, that Christ Jesus, who you seek through forests and mountains, is within you. Yet I do not say this to put a pillow under your head, nor to dissuade you from a holy fear of losing your Christ, or of provoking and 'stirring up the beloved before He please', by sin. I know that the devil will come in and tell you, as in all good works, crying, 'Half is mine' and so try to bring you under a fearful sleep until He whom you love leaves the door and stops knocking. Therefore, here the Spirit of God must hold you in the golden mid-line between confident resting in the arms of Christ, and presumptuous and drowsy sleeping in the bed of human security. Do not underestimate yourself because of your wretchedness and sinful drowsiness, and do not underestimate God in his ways of unchangeable mercy. For there are many Christians who are like young sailors who think the whole land and shore move, when the ship and they themselves are moved; just so not a few imagine God moves and sails and changes place because their giddy lives are under sail and subject to alteration, to ebbing and flowing. But, 'the Lord's foundation stands sure'. God knows you are his own. Wrestle, fight, go forward, watch, fear, believe, pray; and then you have all the infallible signs within you of one of Christ's elect.
   You have before you now Lady, the prospect of sickness then death. Gather now food for the journey. May God give you eyes to see through sickness and death, and to see something beyond death. I do not doubt that if hell were between you and Christ like a river you had to cross, then you would step in and go through to be with Him, hoping that He would come Himself into the deepest part of the river and lend you his hand. I believe that now you hell is dried up, and you have only these two shallow streams, to pass through, sickness and death; and you have also a promise that Christ will do more than meet you, that He will come Himself and so with you step by step, yes, and carry you in His arms. O then! O then! for the joy that is set before you; for the love of the Man (who is also 'God over all , blessed for ever), who is standing on the shore to welcome you, run your race with patience. The Lord go with you. Your Lord will not have you nor any of his servants, changed for the worse. Death in itself includes both the death of the soul and death of the body; but for God's children death is limited to a narrower compass. So when you die only part of death seizes you, or the least part of you shall die, that is the loss of your body; for in Christ you are delivered from the second death; and, therefore, as one born of God, do not sin (although you cannot live and not sin), and that serpent shall only eat your earthly part. Your soul is above the law of death. But it is fearful and dangerous to be a debtor and servant to sin; for you cannot balance a good account with God in respect to sin, unless Christ both count and pay for you. 
   I trust also Lady, that you will be careful to bring before the Lord the present state of this decaying church. For  the Lord knows as to what Parliament will conclude concerning her. I am sure the judgement of a most fearful parliament in heaven is at the very point of coming out because of the sins of the land. For,' they have rejected the law of the LORD of hostsand have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.(Is 5:24). 'Justice is turned backand righteousness stands far awayfor truth has stumbled in the public squaresand uprightness cannot enter.'(Is 59:14). Look! It is as if the prophet had seen us and our church, liking justice to be treated like an enemy holding out at the gates of our city (for so she is banished!), and truth liken to a person sick and diseased, fallen down in a deadly fainting fit in the streets before he can enter a house. The priests 'have caused many to stumble by your instructionYou have corrupted the covenant of Levisays the LORD of hosts' (Mal 2:8). But what will they do in the end? Therefore, give the Lord no rest concerning the church. Stir up your husband, your brother, and all with whom you are in agreement, to stand on the Lord's side against Baal. I have hope that you husband loves the peace and prosperity of the church. The peace of God be on him concerning his plans about the establishing of a powerful ministry in this land. So, not willing to weary your Ladyship more, I commend you now and always, to the grace and mercy of that God, who is able to keep you , so that you do not fall. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit.
    Your Ladyship's servant at all dutiful obedience in Christ, S.R.


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