Monday, August 05, 2019

Rutherford Revised (228)

228. To Mr. James Fleming   From Aberdeen 15 August 1637

(A minister in Haddinton Presbytery, East Lothian. His first wife was a daughter of Knox. His son Robert was ejected for nonconformity under Charles II and ministered to Scots in Rotterdam.)

Reverend and well-beloved in our Lord,- Grace, mercy and peace be to you. I received your letter which has refreshed me in my imprisonment. I can only testify to you, my dear brother, what sweetness I find in my Master's cross; but alas, what can I either do or suffer for Him!If I had been given as many lives as there have been drops of rain since creation, I would think itoo little for that  lovely One, ourWell-beloved; bumy pain and my sorrow is above my sufferings, I do no find ways to others the praises of His love. I am not able by tongue, pen or sufferings, to provoke many to fall in love with Him: but He knows, whom I love to serve in the Spirit, what I would do or suffer by His own strength , if I could make my Lord Jesus sweet and lovely to many thousands in this land. I think it among God's wonders, that He will take any praise of glory, or any witness to His honourable cause from such a lost sinner as I am. But when Christ works, He does not need to ask the question, through whom he will be glorious. I know (seeing His glory did shine at the beginning out of poor nothing to set up such a fair use for men and angels, and so many glorious creatures, to proclaim His goodness, power and wisdom) that if I was burnto ashes, out of the smoke and powder of my dissolved body, He could raise glory to Himself. His glory is His purpose. Oh that I could join with Him to make it my purpose! I would think that fellowship with Him sweet and glorious.Bu alas, few know my guitiness: it is anazing thathe good cause has not been marred and ruined in my foul hands. But I rejoice in this, that my sweet Lord Jesus has found something happening, even a ready market for His free grace and incomparable and matchless mercy in my wants. Only my loathsome wretchedness and my wants have qualified me for Christ, and the riches of His glorious grace. He was pleased ttake me for nothing, or else to want me. Few know the unseen and private doings between Christ and me; yet His love, His boundless love would not keep away nor stay at home with Himself. And yet I do not welcome it as I should, when it comes uncalled and free. 

   My heart is joyfyful that you write that you want to join with me in praising; for it is charity to help a debtor pay his debs. But when all have helped me, my name will stay in His account book under ten thousand thousands of sums unpaid. But it eases my heart that His dear servants will speak of my debts to such a sweet Credtior. I want Him to put me in His own scales and weigh me, if I would now rather have a feast of His boundless love made to my own soul, and to many others. I know one thing, that we will not all be able to come near His excellency, with eye, heart or tongue; for He is above all created thoughts. All nations before Him are as nothing, and less that nothing.; He sits in the heavens and all the inhabitants of he earth are as grasshoppers before Him. Oh that man would praise Him!
You complain about your private situation. Alas, I am nothe one to speak to such a one as you. Any sweet presence that I have had in this town, is, I know for this reason, that I might express and make it known to others. But I never find myself nearer to Christ, that royal and princely One, than after a great weight and sense of deadness and gracelessness. I think that the sense of our wants, when we have a restlessness and a sort of spiritual impatience in them and can make a noise, because we want Him whom our soul loves, is that which males an open door for Christ. And when we think we are going backwards, because we feel deadness, we are going forward; for the more sense, the more life; and no sense shows no life. There is no sweeter fellowship with Christ than to bring our wounds and our sores to Him. But for myself I am ashamed of Christ's goodness and love since I have been imprisoned; for he has been pleased to open up new treasures of love and felt sweetness and to give visits of love and access to Himself in this strange land. I would think a fill of His love to be a young and longed for heaven. And when he is pleased to come, the tide is in, and the sea full, and the King and a poor prisoner together in the house of wine, the black tree of the cross is not so heavy as a feather. I cannot, I am not able o give Christ anything other than a glorious and honourable witness.
I see that the Lord can ride through His enemies armies, and triumph in the sufferings of His own; and this blind world does not see that sufferings are Christ's armour in which He is victorious. And those who fight with Zion, do not see what he is doing, when they are puto work as smiths and servants to do the work of refining the saints. By them, Satan's hand also is athe melting of the Lord's containers of mercy, and their work in God's house, is to scrub and cleanse dishes for the King's table. I am not amazed to see them triumph, and be at leisure in Zion; for our Father must lay up His rods and keep them carefully for His own use. Our Lord cannot lack fire in His house: His furnace is in Zion and his fire in Jerusalem. But he enemies little know the plans and the thoughts of the Lord.   
   And for your complaints about your ministry. I nw think all I do is too little. Plainess, freedom, watchfulness, faithfulness will swell on you, in exceeding large comforts in your sufferings. The feeding of Christ's lambs in private visitations and catechising, in painful preaching and fair, honest and free warning of the flock, is a sufferer's necklace. Oh, ten thousand times blessed are those who are honoured by Christ as fair, full and painful in courting a bride for Christ! My dear brother, I know that you think more about this than I can write, ; and I rejoice that your plan is, in the Lords strength, to support your wronged Master; and to come out and call yourself Christ's man, when so many are now denying Him,fearing that Christ cannot do for Himself and them. I am a lost man forever, or this, this is the way to salvation, even this way that they call heresy, that men now laugh and scoff at. I am sure now that Christ will accept His servants's sufferings as good service to Him at the day of His Appearance; and that before long He will be upon us all, and men in their blacks and whites will be brought out before God and angels and men. Our Master is not far off. Oh, if we could wait and be faithful! The goodwill of Him who lived in The Bush, the tender favour and love and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
   Help me with your prayers; and from me, encourage other brethren to take courage for their Master.
      Yours in his sweet Lord Jesus,  S.R.

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