Thursday, June 27, 2019

Rutherford Revised (181)

181. To Earlston, the Younger (William Gordon)   From Aberdeen 16 June 1637

(See letter 99)

Much honoured and well-beloved in the Lord, - Grace mercy and peace be to you. Your letters give a blow to my laziness in writing,
   I must first tell you, that there is not such a glassy, icy and slippery way between you and heaven than Youth; and I have experience with me to speak here, and to confirm what I assert. The old ashes of the sins of my youth are a new fire of sorrow to me. I have seen the devil as it were dead and buried, and yet rise again, and be a worse devil than he ever was; therefore, my brother, beware of a green, young devil, that has never been buried. The devil in his blossoming (I mean the hot, fiery passions and lusts of youth) is to be greatly feared: better to be joined with an old, grey haired, withered and dry devil. For in youth he finds dry sticks and dry coals, and a fireplace; and how soon he can make fire with his fire, and blow it up with his bellows, and set fire to the house! Sanctified thoughts, being conscientious about thoughts, and called to mind and kept in awe, are green fuel that does not burn and is water for Satan's coal. Yet I must tell you that all the saints triumphant in heaven, and standing before the throne, are nothing but Christ's pitiful, beggarly debtors. What are they but a pack of redeemed sinners? But their redemption is not only past the guarantees, but completed; and yours is on wheels and active.
   All Christ's good children go to heaven with a scar and a crooked leg. Christ has the advantage of you, and I pray you let Him have it; He will find employment for his work in you. If it was not with you as you write, grace would find no sale or market in you; but you must be content to give Christ something to do. I am glad that He is working that way. Let your bleeding soul and your sores be put in the hands of this expert Doctor; let young and strong corruptions and His free grace be joined together; and let Christ and your sins deal with it between them.. I will be reluctant to put you off your fears, and your sense of deadness: I wish it would increase. There are some wounds of that kind where their bleeding should not be stopped quickly. You must take residence near the Doctor. It will be a miracle if you are the first man he puts away without a cure and worse than he found you. No, no, Christ is honest and sinners have nothing to say against Him.  'Whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (Joh 6:37). You take that. It cannot be presumption to take that as your own when you find that your wounds overpower you. Presumption is ever in the heart, and has the truant sickness and groans only for the appearance. Faith is aware of sickness, and like a friend , looks to the promises; and looking to Christ in them, is glad to recognise a face. Christ is as full a feast as you can hunger for. No, Christ I say is not a full man's leftovers. His mercy always sends letters of defiance to all your sins even if there were ten thousand more of them.
   I agree that it is a hard task for a poor hungry man to get his food from a hidden Christs: for then the key of His pantry door, and of the house of wine is sought for and cannot be found. But anger must break through iron locks. I am sorry for those who cannot make a noise and rouse the countryside for a lost Saviour. You must let Him hear it (so to say) on both sides of His head, when he hides Himself; then is no time to be mealy mouthed and patient. Christ is rare indeed and a delicacy to a sinner. He is a miracle, and a world's wonder, to a weeping and seeking sinner; but still such a miracle as will be seen by those who will come and see. The seeker and sigher is in the end a singer and enjoyer; no, I have seen a dumb man get gifts from Christ. He who can tell his story and send such a letter to heaven as he sent o Aberdeen is very likely to quickly come with Christ. To complain heartily for sin signifies God's mercy. Let there be fighting with Christ until he says.'How is it that I cannot get rid of your demands and your rude cries?' and then hope for Christ's blessing; and his blessing is better than ten other blessings. Do not be ashamed of your guiltiness; necessity must not be ashamed to beg. It is hard for you to want Christ; and, therefore, that which due waiting cannot do; badly trained crying and knocking will do.
   As for your doubting because things are not as you were with your master long ago: consider three things. 1st, What if Christ had such wavering thoughts about the bargain of the new covenant between you and Him as you have? 2ndly, Christ does not sail by the compass of your heart. He will give you permission to sing as you please, but he will not dance to your silly tune. What Christ will do with the agreements between you and Him, will not be according to you and your thoughts. Your own wrong belief has torn them, but He has the original with Himself in heaven. You thoughts are not part of the new cover; dreams do not change Christ. 3rdly, Doubts are your sins; but they are Christ's drugs and ingredients which the Doctor uses yo cure your pride. Is it not fitting for a beggar to say at table, 'God reward those who got the food for us'? For then he knows who pays the costs of the house. It is also fitting that you should know by experience that faith is not nature's ill obtained bastard, but your Lord's free gift that lay in the womb of God's free grace. Praised be the winner. I may add a 4thly, In the passing of your agreements, when they received to Mediator's great guarantee and approval. the advice of faith was not saught. Faith has no vote alongside Christ's merits: blood, blood, dear blood that came from your Guarantor's holy body, makes that work sure. The use, then, which you now have for faith (having already fixed with Jesus Christ for justification) is, to take out a copy of your pardon; and so you have peace with God on account of Christ. For since faith claims pardon, but never pays a penny for it, it is no surprise that faith does not die or live, ebb or flow, according to the working of faith. But because it is to your Lord's honour to believe His mercy and faithfulness, it is an infinite goodness from our Lord, that our wrong believe hinders God's glory but does not affect our salvation. And so whoever wants (yes, though God here bears with the lack of whatever we should give him, even the glory of His grace by believing), yet a poor covenanted sinner does not want. But if guiltiness was removed, doubt would find no friend nor life; and yet faith is to believe that Christ has removed guiltiness. A reason why you get less now (as you think) than before is, as I take it, because when we are first converted, our Lord, with His own hand, puts the food in young children's mouths; but when we grow to some further maturity, we must take heaven by violence, and take what we get from Christ by violence. And he can and does hold tight for he wants us to pull. Remember now that you must live on violent takings. Laziness now is a greater fault than before. We always want to have the baby food put in out mouths.
  Nor for myself, alas, I am not the man they think in this nation; men do not have good weights to weigh me. Oh, but I am a silly, useless body, and overgrown with weeds, corruption is thick and fat in me. Oh, if I were answerable to this holy cause, and to that honourable Prince's love for who I now suffer! If Christ would refer the matter to me (I speak if in His presence), I might be ashamed to vote for my salvation. I think Christ might say, 'Are you not ashamed to claim heaven when you do so little for it?' Often I do not know whether I am swimming or sinking in thee water. I find I am a bag of light froth. I would carry no weight (only trifles and nothings in Christ's scales) if my Lord did not throw in borrowed weight and metal, even Christ's righteousness to weigh for me. The stock I have is not my own; I am only the merchant who trades with other people's goods. If my creditor Christ, should take from me what he has lent, I would not long keep to the road; but He has made it mine and His. I think it manly to play the coward and shelter in the calm side of Christ; and so I am not only saved from my enemies, but I get the victory. I am so empty that I think it would be a gift from Christ if He would for evermore win a poor prisoner's blessing and fill me with His love. I complain that when Christ comes, He comes to bring fire; He is always quick, He does not wait; and poor I (a begging debtor) get a visit on foot, a standing kiss and only "How are you?' before He goes. I dare not say that he is like a lord, because he is now made a King at the right hand of God; and is overlooking and dry to his poor friends: for he cannot make more of his kisses than  they are worth. But I think it is my happiness to love the love of Christ: and when he does away, the memory of His presence is like a summer feast. I have comfort in this, that my soul wants every hour of my imprisonment to be a crowd of heavenly tongues to praise Him on my behalf, though my chains were prolonged for a hundred years. Oh that I could be the man to get my Lord's glory to flow like a full sea and blow a mighty wind on all the four quarters of Scotland, England and Ireland! Oh, if I could write a book of His praises! O Fairest among the sons of men, why do you stay away so long? O heavens move quickly! O time, run , run and quicken the wedding day! For love is tormented by delays. O angels, O seraphim who stand before Him, O blessed spirits who now see His face, set Him on high! For when you have worn out your harps in His praises, all is too little, and is nothing, to spread the smell of the praise of that fair Flower, the fragrant Rose of Sharon, through many worlds!
   Sitr take my hearty commendations to Him, and tell Him I am sick of love.
   Grace be with you.
      Yours in his sweet Lord Jesus,  S.R.

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