Sunday, June 09, 2019

Rutherford Revised (163)

163.  To John Stuart, Provost of Ayr   From Aberdeen 1637

Worthy and dear beloved in our Lord,- Grace, mercy and peace be to you. I was refreshed and comforted by your letter. I do not remember what I wrote to you for your comfort; I believe that love will prophesy towards home as it would have it. I wish I could help you praise His great and holy name who keeps the standing of His saints and counts all your works. I know that our dearest Lord will pardon and overlook our honest errors and mistakes, when we are concerned for His honour: yet I know that none of you have seen the other half and the hidded side your wonderful  return home to us again. I am confident that you will yet say that God's mercy blew your sails back to Ireland again.
   Worthy and dear Sir, I can only give you an account of my present state, that you may run an errand for me to my royal Master, of whom I boast all day long. I am as proud of His love (no, I bless myself and boast of my present lot) as any poor man can be in an earthly king's court or of a kingdom. First, I am very often seeing both sides of my cross, especially my dumb and silent Sabbaths; not because I want to find a fault or defect in my Lord's love, but because my love is sick with thoughts and fears. I have not yet understood if the Lord has something against my guiltiness. I want to ride well and not kick up dirt (if, I may with reference to Him, use such a word) in the face of my only Well-beloved; but fear of guiltiness carries tales between me and Christ, and still whispers bad reports to my Lord, to weaken my faith. I would rather a cloud from these messages went over my comforts, than that my faith should be hurt; for, if my Lord gets no wrong by me, truly I want grace not to care what becomes of me. I do not want to believe or give credit to my sorrow that can make my best friend, Christ, to be a liar. Woe, woe to everyone who speaks badly of Christ! So these thought wake with me in the morning and go to bed with me at night.Oh, what service can a dumb body give in Christ's house! Oh, I think God's word is imprisoned too! Oh, I am a dry tree! Alas, I can neither plant nor water! Oh, if my Lord would only make manure from me to fatten and fertilise His own corn ridges on Mount Zion! Of, if I could only speak about my worthy master to three or four shepherd boys, I would be satisfied to be the humblest and most obscure of all the pastors in this land, and to live in any place even the lowest of Christ's huts! But he says, 'Sir, I will not send you; I have no work for you there.',My desire to serve Him is sick with jealousy, in case he is unwilling to employ me.
   Secondly, This is followed by another. Oh! all that I have done in Anwoth, the fair work that my Master began there, is like a bird dying in the egg; and what then will I have to show for all my work in the day of my appearance before Him, when the Master of the vineyard calls the workers and pays them their wages?
   Thirdly, But truly when Christ's sweet wind is in the right direction, I resent and ask Christ to take pledges of my quarrelling, unbelieving sadness and sorrow. Lord rebuke those that put evil between a poor servant like me and his good Master. Then I say that whether the black cross wants it or not, I must climb on hands and feet up to my Lord. I am now regretting in my heart that I obeyed the law (my old dead husband) so far as to see anger in my sweet Lord Jesus. I would far prefer to work for the grace of God, for I think I am sworn in debt to Christ; and the truth is (to say about my Lord what I cannot deny) , drowned over my head and ears in many debts to his love and mercy. 
   He has been patient with me for some time so I am ashamed to ask for more, but want to live content (until the marriage supper of the Lamb) with what He has given. But I do not know how greedy and hard to please is love. For either my Lord Jesus has taught me bad manners, not to be content with a place unless my head lies on His chest, and unless I am fed with the riches of His house; or else I have drown impatiently fussy and hard to please, as if Christ was obligated, under the cross, to do nothing else except to carry me in His arms as if I had some claim to merit by my suffering for Him. But I wish He would give me grace to stand on my own feet, and to learn to do without His comforts, and to give thanks and believe when the sun is not in my sky and when my Well-beloved is away from home and gone on another errand. Oh what sweet peace I have when I find Christ holds and I pull; when I climb up and he shuts me down; when I grip and hug Him, and he seems to escape the grip and run away from me. I think there is a sweet joy in faith and contentedness and peace in His very tempting unkindness, because my faith says, "Christ is not serious with me but trying to see if I can be kind to His mask and cloud that covers Him, as well as to His fair face. ' I bless His great name and love His veil which covers His face, until God sends something better; for faith can kiss God's tempting rebukes when he calls a sinner 'A dog not fit to eat with the children'(Mat 7:27,28).  I think it an honour that Christ misnames me and rebukes me. I take that well from Him, though if anyone else was so familiar I would not take it; but because I am His own (I thank God) He may use me as he wills. I must say the saints have a sweet life between them and Christ. There is much sweet comfort between Him and them, when He feeds among the lilies and comes into his garden, and makes a feast from honeycombs, and drinks His wine and His milk, and cries, 'Eat, O friends, and drink well, O well-beloved.' An hour of this work is worth a ship load of this world's drunken and muddy joy; no, even before we come to heaven this is the sunny side of the hill, and the very garden of the world. For the men of this world have their own named and profane crosses; and woe to both them and their cursed crosses; for their evils are salted with God's vengeance, and our bad things are seasoned with our Father's blessing. So those who chose Christ are not fools and they sell everything for Him. It is not a child's market, or a blind sale; we know what we get and what we give. 
   Now, for any plans to go to another kingdom, I cannot say anything. My hopes for improvement are cold, my hopes of re-entry into my master's badly cared for vineyard are even colder. I have no seat for my faith to sit, only the sheer all power and God's holy arm and good favour. I want to stay here and ride at anchor, and winter until God sends fair weather again and is pleased to take home to His house my prostitute mother. Oh, if only her husband would be so kind as to go and fetch her out of the brothel and chase her lovers into the hills! But before it comes to that, there will be sad days. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.
   Yours in our Lord Jesus, S.R.  

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