Thursday, April 04, 2019

Rutherford revised (99)

99. To Earlston, Younger (William Gordon)  From Aberdeen 20 Feb 1637

(Second son and heir to Alexander Gordon of Earlston (1587–1654). Willian, b.1614, died at the battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679)

Honoured and dear brother,- Grace, mercy and peace to you. I received your letter which refreshed my soul.
   I thank God that the court case is over; I am ashamed of my part in it. I now go on to their unjust accusation of unkindness libelled against Christ my Lord. He is not as the Lord and Master I took Him to be; truly He is God and I am dust and ashes. I took Christ's frowns to be the same as Scripture speaking wrath; but now I have seen the other side of Christ and the white side of His cross. It was fitting for me to come to Aberdeen in order to learn a new mystery in Christ: that it is better to believe His promise than His looks, and that the devil can make Christ's frowns speak a lie to a weak man. No, truly I was a child before and the past was only child's play. I wish I could start as a serious Christian. I  do not need to blame Christ if I am not one, because he a shown me heaven and hell in Aberdeen. But the truth is that despite all my sorrow, Christ is not in debt to me, for comforts have refreshed my soul. I have heard and seen him in his sweetness so I am almost saying that it was not Him that I failed to meet with. He smiles more cheerfully, His kisses are sweeter and more refreshing than the kisses of the Christ I saw before; though He is the same. Or rather, the King has led  me up to a state of joy and communion with my Bridegroom that I never reached before, so that I often think I will not trade with this world. I will not give in to crosses, nor flatter them to be rid of them as I have done. Come on all crosses, welcome, welcome, that I may get my heart full of my Lord Jesus! I have been so near to Him that I have said,'I bear witness that this is the Lord. Leave a token behind you so I may never forget this.'Now what more can Christ do to spoil one of His poor prisoners? Therefore Sir, in the name of my Lord Jesus, I charge you to praise with me and to tell others what He has done to my soul. The fruit of my sufferings is this; I want Christ's name spread abroad in this kingdom on my behalf. I hope in God that I will not slander Him again. Yet  I do not get my feasts without some mix of bitterness; neither am I free from jealousies for He has removed my lovers and friends far away from me; He has made my congregation lonely and taken away my crown. And like a stone tied to a bird's foot, it stops me from flying but I do not say anything except, 'Well done, Lord Jesus.'   
   We can in our prosperity promote ourselves and be too bold with Christ, yes, we may be so insolent as to rebuke Him, but beneath the surface we dare not speak. I wonder now at my former boldness in rebuking and quarrelling with Christ, and slandering providence when it rubbed me up the wrong way; for now swimming in the water I think my will has fallen to the bottom of it: I have lost it. I think that I will be willing to leave Christ alone, and let him do what He pleases with me, if He would smile on me. Truly we do not know how evil it is to go overboard and indulge ourselves and to make an idol of our will. There was a time that I will not eat unless I have choice meat; but now I cannot complain about the crumbs and skins under His table. Formerly I would make a fuss if I didn't 't see the world carved and ordered according to my liking; now I am silent when I see that God has sent servants on horseback and is fattening and feeding the children of hell. I pray to God that I will never find my will again. Oh, that Christ would subject my will to His and tread it under His feet and free me from that lawless lord!
    Now Sir, in your youth make haste; your sun will quickly rise to its height and then decline. Being greedy for grace. Above anything my dear brother, study to put to death your lust. But youthful pride, vanity, lusts and charming pleasures; it takes a long time to root them out! As far as you have advanced in the way to heaven, as near as you are to Christ, as much progress  you have made in the way of putting sin to death, you will still find that you are far behind and have most of your work ahead of you. I never found it to be so hard to be dead to my lusts and to this world. When the visiting day comes and your idols all weep around you; you will find it hard not to to break your heart. It is best to quickly give up on them so you could quickly leave your part of this world like a drink of water or a nothing. Truly I have seen the best of this world  is only a moth-eaten or threadbare coat. I intend to put it away for it is old and full of holes. O for my house above not made by hands!
     Pray for Christ's prisoner and write to me. Give my love to your mother. Ask her from me to be ready to move; the Lord's tide will not wait for her. She should seek a heavenly mind so her heart be often there. Grace be with you. 
   Yours, and Christ's prisoner,      S.R.

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