Saturday, June 29, 2019

Rutherford Revised (184)

184. To Mr William Dalgleish    From Aberdeen 16 June 1637 

(See letter 117)

Reverend and well-beloved brother, - Grace, mercy and peace be to you. I have hears something of your troubles in Galloway. I bless the Lord who has begun first in that corner to make you a new church for Himself. There is less complaining about Christ after he has refined you.
   Let me beg you, my dearly beloved, to stick to Christ. My witness is above, my dearest bother, that you have added much joy to me in my imprisonment, when I hear that you grow in the grace and zeal of God for your Master. Our ministry, whether by preaching or suffering, will cast a smell through the world, both of heaven and hell. (Cor 2:15,16). I want to persuade you, my dear brother, that there is nothing out of heaven, apart from Christ, that is dearer to me than my ministry; and the worth of it, in my estimation, is swollen and is very painful to me. Yet, for the honour of my Lord, I am content, to surrender it back again to the Lord of the vineyard, Let Him do with both it and me, what He thinks to be good. I think myself too little for Him.
   And let me speak to you how kind a fellow prisoner is Christ to me. Believe me, this kind of cross (that would not pass by my door but must visit me) is still more welcome to me no matter how long it is. It is true that my silent Sabbaths have been and still are like glassy ice, on which my feet can hardly stay upright and I am often blown on my back and off my feet by a storm of doubting; yet truly, all this time my imprisonment gives a strong and definite smell of high and deep love in Christ. Indeed I cannot see through my cross to the far end; yet I believe I am in Christ's books, and in His purposes (as yet not revealed to me), a man triumphing, dancing and singing on the other side of the Red Sea. and laughing and praising the Lamb, over beyond time, sorrow, deprivation, bishops' indignation, losses, want of friends and death. Heaven is not a bird flying in the air (as men used to say of uncertain things); no, it is well paid for. Christ has taken care that all the mourners in Zion will be in secure possession of glory, and we have blood, losses and wounds and what we have suffered for His cause to show our Master and Captain when He appears. 
   Woe is me, my dear brother, that I often say, 'I am only dry bones which my Lord will not bring out of the grave again;' and that my faithless fears say, 'Oh, I am a dry tree that can produce no fruit; I am a useless body who cannot father children for the Lord in His family.  Hopes of deliverance look cold and uncertain and far away as if I had done with it. It is hard for Christ (if I may say so) to get a pledge from my sorrow and from my quarrelsome heart. Christ's love plays a fair contest with me. I am not wronged at all; but in me there is a false heart that plays tricks, and plays foul with Christ.
I am a difficult neighbour to Christ; it is amazing that He lives near the likes of me.Yet I often get the advantage of the high ground over my temptations, and then I look down on temptation, even hell itself, and the stink of it, and the tools of it, and I am proud of my honourable Master. And I am determined, whether the wind is against me or not, to reach Christ's harbour; and I think it is most lawful to have a wilful and strong struggle with my Lord for His love. Sometimes it is hard for me to win my food from Christ's love, because my faith is sick, and my hope withers, and my eyes grow dim; and unkind and comfort eclipsing clouds go over the fair and bright Sun, Jesus; and then when I and temptation meet together, all is lost through unbelief. My life would be forevermore sweet, sweet, if I could keep exercising faith! But my fire does not always give light; I even have 'a poor man's hard world.' when He goes away. But surely, since I came here, my fair sun has many times shone without a cloud: Christ's love to me has been hot and burning.  I have no way to express it; I must be content with stolen and smothered desires for Christ's glory. Oh, how far is His love from receiving what I owe it! I am just like a man who has nothing with which to pay his thousands of debt: all that can he have from him is to seize me. Unless Christ seizes me, and I make the most available payment that can be given, my heart and love to Himself; I have nothing else to give Him. If my sufferings could do good to those who see them, oh, them my soul would be overjoyed, and my sad heart be cheered and calmed!
   Dear brother, My dear brother, I cannot tell what has become of my work among that people! If all that my Lord built though me is thrown down, and the bottom fallen out of the profession of that parish, and no-one stands by Christ, whose love I once preached so plainly and clearly as I could to that people (though far below its worth and excellence); if so, how can I bear it! And if another makes a bad harvest, where I made a painful and honest sowing, it will be hard for me to take. But I know His ways are past understanding. Yet my witness, both above me and with me knows. And my joy now is my pained breast on the Lord's Day at night, my desire to present Christ, awful and amiable and sweet to that people. It was my desire and aim to make Christ and them one; and if I see my hopes die in the bud before they blossom a little, and bear no fruit, I die with grief. O my God, do not seek for a reckoning of the violence done to me by my brothers, whose salvation I love and desire. I pray that they and I not be heard as opposing parties on the day of our appearance before our Judge, in that process they led against my ministry which I received from Christ. I know that a little inch, and less than the third part of this span and hand breadth of time which is passing away, will put me beyond the blows and above the reach or either brothers or enemies; and it is a brief injury done to me, and to my pains in that part of my Lord's vineyard. Oh, how silly advantage my deprivation is to men, seeing that my Lord Jesus has many ways to recover his own losses, and is irresistible to accomplish His own glorious purposes, so His lily may grow among thorns, and His little kingdom lift itself up, even under the swords and spears of powers against it.
   But my dear brother, go on in the strength of His rich grace, whom you serve. Stand firm for Christ. Deliver the Gospel from your hand, and your ministry to your Master, with a clean and undefiled conscience. Do not lose a nail from Christ's tent,. Do not so much as nick with your nail at one plank or border of Christ's ark. Have no part or dealing on any terms on a hoof (Ex 10:26), in a closed window (Dan 6:10), or in a bowing of your knees, in throwing down the temple. But be a mourning and speaking witness against those who now ruin Zion. Our master will be on us all now very quickly before we realise it. That day will reveal all our whites and our blacks, in this controversy about poor and oppressed Zion. Let us make our part of it good so we will be able to withstand the fire when hay and stubble will be burned to ashes. Nothing, nothing I say nothing but sound sanctification can stand the Lord's fan. I stand by my testimony the I often preached about Scotland - "Lamentations, mourning and woe rest on you, O Scotland! O Scotland! The fearful quarrel of a broken covenant well stands with your Lord!"
   Now remember my love to all my friends, and to my parishioners as if I named each one by one. I recommend you and God;'s people committed to your trust, to the rich grace of our all sufficient Lord. Remember ny chains. Praise my Lord who lifts me up in my sufferings. As you have opportunity, according to the wisdom give to you, show our friends what the Lord has done to my soul. This I seek, truly not for my own praise, but so my dearest and sweetest master might be magnified in my sufferings. I rest,
   Yours, in his sweetest Lord Jesus,  S.R.

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