Monday, March 11, 2019

Rutherford revised (63)

63. To Mr Robert Cunningham, Minister at Holywood, Ireland   From Irvine  4 Aug 1636

Well-Beloved and reverent brother, - Grace, mercy and peace be to you. Knowing you in Christ, I thought it good to take this opportunity of writing to you. As it has seemed good to the Lord of the harvest to take the sickles out of our hands for a while, and to give us a more honourable service, even to suffer for His name, it is good for us to comfort one another by writing. I have wanted to see you face-to-face; but now being the prisoner of Christ I cannot. I am greatly comforted to hear of your soldier's stately spirit, for your princely and royal Captain Jesus our Lord, and for the grace of God among the rest of our dear brothers with you. 
   I expect you heard of my trouble. It has pleased our sweet Lord Jesus to loose the malice of these illegal lords in His house to deprive me of my ministry at Anwoth, and to imprison me, one hundred and sixty miles from there, in Aberdeen; and also (which was not done to anyone before) to prevent me speaking at all in Jesus' name, within this kingdom, under the charge of rebellion. What provoked their hatred was my book against the Arminians, about which they accused me, on those three days that I appeared before them. But let our crowned King in Zion reign! By his grace and theirs is the loss, the advantage is Christ's and truth's. Though this honest cross gained some ground on me, and my sadness and inward challenges of conscience were sharp for a time, but now, to encourage you all, I dare say and write with my hand. 'Welcome, welcome, sweet, sweet cross of Christ.' I truly think the chains of my Lord Jesus are overlaid with gold, and that his cross is perfumed, and it smells of Christ, and the victory will be by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of His truth, and that Christ, lying on His back, in His weak servants, and oppressed truth, we'll ride over his enemies' stomachs, and will, 'shatter kings on the day of his wrath. '(Ps110:5). When He laughs we should laugh too; and seeing He is now pleased to endure wrongs for a time, we should be silent until the Lord has let the enemies enjoy their hungry, lean and irresponsible paradise . Blessed are those content to take blows with weeping Christ.  Faith will trust the Lord, and is not impatient nor headstrong; neither is faith so fearful as to flatter a temptation, or to bribe the cross. It is of little importance that the Lamb and His followers can get no respite from nor truce with crosses; it has to be so until we are up in our Father's house. My heart is sad indeed for my mother Church, that has played the prostitute with many lovers. Her Husband and is thinking of selling her because of her horrible sins; and the Lord's hand will be heavy upon this backsliding nation. The ways of our church mourn; her gold has become dim, her  white Nazirites are black like coal. Will not the children weep when the Husband and mother cannot agree! Yes I believe Scotland's sky will clear again; Christ will build again the old waste places of Jacob; our dead and dried bones will become an army of living men, and our Well-beloved may yet feed among the lilies, until the day break  and the shadows fly away (Son 4:5,6). My dear brother, let us help one another by our prayers. Our King will mow down his enemies, and come from Bozrah with his clothes all dyed in blood. And for our comfort he will appear, and call His wife wife Hephzibah, and his land Beulah (Is 62:4); for he will rejoice over as and marry us, and Scotland will say, 'What have I to do  any more with idols?'  Only let us they faithful to Him that can ride through hell and death on a straw, and His horse never stumble; and let Him make me a bridge over water, so that His a high and holy name maybe glorified in me . Blows from the sweet Mediator's hand are very sweet. He was always sweet to my soul; but since I suffered for Him, His breath has a sweeter smell them before. O that every hair of my head, and every part and a bone in my body, was a man to witness a fair testimony for Him. When I look over beyond the line, and beyond death, to the laughing side of the world, I triumph, and ride upon a high places of Jacob; though otherwise I am a faint, dead-hearted and cowardly man, often down and hungry waiting for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Nevertheless, I think it is the Lord's wise love that he feeds us with hunger, makes us fat with desires and abandoning. 
   My dear brother, I do not know if our worthy brothers have gone to sea or not. They are on my heart and in my prayers. If they have come to you, greet my dear friend John Stuart, my well-beloved brothers in the Lord, Mr Blair, Mr Hamilton, Mr Livingston and Mr M'Clelland, and tell them about my troubles and ask them to pray for the poor afflicted a prisoner of Christ. They are dear to me. I seek your prayers and theirs for my flock: remembering them breaks my heart. And I want to love that people and others who are my dear friends in Christ, with love in God and as God loves them. I know He you set me to the west and south also sends me to the north. I tell myself to believe and wait for Him, and will follow his providence, not going before it, nor staying behind it. Now my dear brother, saying farewell on paper, I commend you all to the word of His grace and to the work of His Spirit, to Him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, that you may be kept spotless until the day of Jesus our Lord.
    I am your brother in suffering in our sweet Lord Jesus, S.R.

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