Friday, June 28, 2019

Rutherford Revised (182)

182. To his honoured and dear brother, Alexander Gordon of Knockgray                               From Aberdeen 16 June 1637

(See letters 102, 154)

Dearest and truly honoured brother, - Grace , mercy and peace be to you. Since I came to Aberdeen I have seen no letter from you. I will not put it down to forgetfulness. I am here in a good prison: Christ is my sweet and honourable fellow prisoner, and I am His sad and joyful enobled prisoner if I may say so. I think this cross suits me well, and is suitable for me in respect of my duty to suffer for Christ,  though not in regard to me deserving to be so honoured. However it be, I see that Christ is strong even lying in the dust, in prison, and in banishment. Losses and disgraces are the wheels of Christ's triumphant chariot. In the sufferings of His own saints, as He intends their good, He also intends His own glory, and that is the target at which He shoots His arrows. Christ does not shoot at moving targets, He hits at what he aims; and therefore he makes His own people, worthless and weak nothings, and held in contempt by man, 'a threshing sledge new, sharp, and having teethyou shall thresh the mountains and crush themand you shall make the hills like chaffyou shall winnow them' (Is 41:15,16). What harder stuff, or harder grain to thresh out, than high and icky mountains? But the saints are God's threshing engines to beat them all into chaff. Are we not God's earthen pots? And yet when they throw us over a house we are not broken into pieces. In the great shower, we creep in under our Lord's wings, and the water cannot come through those wings. It is foolishness then for men to say, ' This is not Christ's case. He will lose his money; men will fool Him:' that would be a strange contest. No I dare risk my soul, and lay it, and put it on Christ's side, and be a half loser, half winner with my Master. Let fools laugh the fool's laughter, and despise Christ, and tell the weeping prisoners in Babylon 'sing us one of the songs of Zion, and play a tune to cheer up your sad hearted God!' We may sing with the prospect of winning, even in our winter storm, in the hope of a summer sun, at the turn of the year. No created powers, in hell or out of hell, can spoil the music of our Lord Jesus, nor spoil our song of joy. Let us then be glad, and rejoice in the salvation of our Lord; for faith has never yet had reason for wet cheeks, and downcast brows, or to droop or die. What can harm faith, seeing Christ lets himself (speaking with reverence to Him) to be commanded by it, and Christ commands all things? Faith may dance because Christ sings; and we may come into the choir, and lift our hoarse and rough voices, and chirp and sing and shout for joy with our Lord Jesus. We see cattle going to slaughter leaping and rushing; we see Christ's fed cattle, prepared for the day of slaughter, go dancing and singing down to the black chambers of hell; and why should we go weeping to heaven, as if we were likely to fall down through the earth for sorrow.? If God was dead (if I may with reverence speak of Him who lives for eve and ever) and Christ buried, and rotten among the worms, we might have reason to look like dead people; but 'The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation' (Ps 18:46). No-one but us has the right to joy; for joy is sown in us, and a bad summer or harvest will not ruin the crop. The stolen joy of the children of this world is not welcome. It is no real fun at which they laugh: they as it were steal joy from God; for he commands them to mourn and howl (Jas 5:1). Then let us claim our honestly obtained and lawfully conquered joy. 
   My dear brother, I must speak of what I have experienced; since my Lord Jesus has broken a box of perfume on the head of His poor prisoner, and it is hard to hide a sweet smell. It is painful to smother Christ's love; it will be revealed whether we want it or not. If we only spoke the truth of the matter, a cross for Christ should have another name; yes, a cross, especially when he comes with His arms full of joys, is the happiest hard tree that was ever put on my weak shoulder. Christ and His cross together are sweet company, and a blessed couple. My prison is my palace, my sorrow is pregnant from joy, my losses are rich losses, my pain easy pain, my heavy days are hey and happy days. I can tell a new story about Christ to my friends. Oh, if i could make a love song about him, and commend Christ and properly tune His praises! Oh, if I could make all tongues in Great Britain and Ireland to work to help me sing a new song about my Well-beloved! Oh, if I could be a bridge over water for my Lord Jesus to walk on and keep His feet dry! Oh if my little heaven could go between my Lord and blasphemy and dishonour! (Providing He loved me.) Oh that my heart could say this word and stick with it forever! Is it not great skill and incomparable wisdom of my Lord, who can produce such fair apples from this twisted tree of the cross? No, my father's never enough admired providence can make a fair face out of a black devil. Nothing can go wrong in my Lord's sweet working. I would even fall fast asleep in Christ's arms, and my sinful head on His holy breast, while he kisses me; apart from the fact that the wind often turns to the north, and for a time my sweet Lord Jesus will neither give nor take, borrow nor lend with me. I complain that He is not friendly; I half call him proud and lord like in His disposition, and looking hard to please, but it is not true. I would be happy to give even if he would not take. I would be happy lacking His kisses at such times, providing he would be happy to come nearby and take my insipid, dry and worthless kisses. But at that time when he will not listen, let a poor soul stand still and knock, and never seem to notice that He hears; and then the old scraps and crumbs and dry sighs and greater food than I can relate. All I have then is that though the law and wrath have a judgement against me. I  yet trust for a little good in Christ to get the case suspended and brought to argument again before my Well-beloved. I only want to be heard, and that at last he is happy to come and settle the matter with a fool, and forgive freely because he is God. Oh, if men would glorify Him, and taste Christ's sweetness!
   Brother, you must be busy with Chris on behalf of the prostitute church; I am afraid that Christ will pour water on Scotland's fire. No, I know that Christ and His wife will be heard: He will plead for the broken covenant. Be prepared for that time.
   Grace be with you.
      Yours, in his sweet Lord Jesus,  S.R.

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