Thursday, August 08, 2019

Rutherford Revised (234)

234. To James Lindsay (A friend of E. Bair and other ministers).  From Aberdeen Sept 7 1637

My dear brother, - The constant and daily observing of God's going along with you, in His coming, going, ebbing, flowing, embracing and kissing, frowning and hiding, gives me (a foolish and lazy observer of the Lord's way and working) a heavy blow. If I could keep sight of Him, and know when I lack, and carry myself as is fitting I would bless my situation.
   But 1. For desertions. I think them like lying in the shade of lean and weak land for some years, while it gathers sap for a better crop. It is possible to gather gold by moonlight where it can be found. Oh, if I could only creep one foot, of half a foot, nearer in to Jesus, in such a dismal night as that when He is away , I would think it an happy absence. 
   2, If I knew that the Beloved had only gone away for trial, and further humiliation, and not smoked out of the house with provocations, I would forgive desertions and hold my peace at His absence.But Christ's bought absence, (that I bought with my sin) is two running boils at once, one on each side, and then what side can I lie on?
   3. I know that as night and shadows are good for flowers, and moonlight and dews are better than a continual sun,  so is Chist's absence of special use, and that it has some nourishing virtue in it, and gives sap to humility, and puts an edge on hunger, and prepares a fair field for faith to put itself forth, and to exercise its fingers in gripping what it does not see.
   4. It is mercy's wonder and grace's wonder that Christ will lend a place in the house, and a back room beside Himself, to our loss; and that He and such pigs should keep house together in our soul. For, if they couch and contract themselves into little room when Christ comes in and seems to lie as dead under His feet, yet they often break out again; and a foot of the Old Man, of a leg or arm nailed to Christ's cross, looses the nail, of breaks out again! And yet Christ alongside this unruly and badly raised neighbour, can still be making heaven in the saints, one way or another. May I not say, 'Lord Jesus what do you do here?' Yet He mustbe here. But I will not lose my feet to go down to this depth and wonder; for free mercy and infinite merits took rooms with Christ and us alongside such a loathsome guest as sin.
   5. Sanctificaion and mortification of our lust are he hardest part of Christianity, it is in a manner, as natural to us to do when we see the New Jerusalem, as to laugh when we are tickled: joy is not under command, or at our nod, when Christ kisses. But oh, how many of us would have Christ divided into two halves,that we might take the half of Him only! We take His office, Jesus and Salvation: but 'Lord' is a hard word, and to obey and work out our own salvation, and to perfection holiness, is the hard and stormy north side of Christ, and that which we shun and shift.
   6. For your question, the access that reprobates have to Christ (which is none at all, for to the Father in Christ neither can they, nor will they come, because Christ did not die for then; and yet, by law, God and justice overtake them), I say, first, wih you are more worthy and learned than I am, Messrs. Dickson, Blair and Hamilton, who can more fully satisfy you. But I will speak in brief what I think of sin these assertions. 
   First, All of God's justice towards man and angels flows from an act of absolute sovereign free will of God, who is our Former and Potter, and we are only clay; for if he had forbidden to eat of the rest of the trees of the garden of Eden, and commanded Adam to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, that command no doubt would have been as just as this, 'Eat of all the trees, but not at all of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.' The reason is because His will is before His justice, by order of nature; and what is His will is His jusice. And he does not will things without Himself because they are just; God cannot, God does not need sanctity. holiness or righteousness from things outside of Himself, and so not from the actions of men and angels; because His will is essentially external and just, and the prime rule of holiness and justice, as the fire is naturally light and goes upwards and he earth heavy and goes down. 
   The second assertion then, that God says to reprobates, 'Believe in Christ (who has not died for your salvation) , and you will be saved,' is just and right; because His eternal and essentialy just will has so worked and decreed. Suppose natural reason speaks against this, this is the deep and special mystery of the Gospel. God has required, hard and fast, all the reprobates of the visible church to believe his promise, 'He who believes will be saved,' and yet, in God's decree and sacred intention, there is no salvation at all decreed and intended for rerobates. And yet the obligation to God, being from His sovereign free will, is most just as it is said in the first assertion. 
   Third assertion: The righteous Lord has right over he reprobate and all reasonable creatures that violate His commandment
ts. This is easy. 
   Fourth assertion: The faith that God seeks from reprobates, is, that they rely on Christ, despairing of their own righteousness, leaning wholly and humbly as weary and burdened, on Christ, as mankind's Saviour; for to rely on Christ, and not to be tired of sin, is presumption, not faith. Faith is always neighbour to a contrite spirit; and it is impossible that faith can be where there is not a cast down and cortrite heart, in some measure, for sin. Now it is certain God does not command any man to presume.
   Fifth assertion: Then reprobates are not absolutely required to believe that Christ died for them in particular. For, in truth, neither reprobates nor others are required to believe a lie; only they are required to believe Christ died for them if they are first weary, burdened, sin sick, and condemned in their own consciences, and struck dead and killed by the Law's sentence, and have indeed embraced Him as offered; which is a second and subsequentt act of faith, following after a coming to Him and closing with Him. 
   Sixth assertion: Reprobates are not formally guilty of contempt of God and unbelief because they do not apply Christ and the promises of the Gospel to themselves, for so they should be guilty because they do not believe a lie, which God never required them to believe.
   Seventh assertion:Justice has a right to punish reprobates, because out of pride of heart, rising from their own righteousness, they do not rely on Christ as Saviour of all who come to Him. This God may justly require of them, because in Adam they had perfect ability o do, and men are guilty because they love their own inability, and rest on themselves, and refuse to deny their own righteousness, and come to Christ, in whom there is righteousness for wearied sinner. 
   Eighth assertion: It is one thing to rely, rest and lean on Christ, in humility and weariness of spirit, and denying our own righteousness, believing Him to be the righteousness of wearied sinners; and it is another thing to believe that Christ died for me, John, Thomas, Anne, on an intention and decree to save us by name. for 
   1st, The first goes first, the latter always comes after in proper order;
   2ndly, The first is faith, the second is a fruit of faith; and
   3rdly, The first requires reprobates and all men in the visible church, the latter requires only the weary and burdened, and so only the elect and effectually called by God.
   Ninth assertion: It is a vain order, 'I do not know if Christ died for me, John. Thomas, Anne, by name; and therefore I dare not rely on Him.' The reason is that it is not faith to believe God's intention and decree of election at the first Before you are weary. Look first to your intention and soul. If you find sin a burden, and can and do rest on Christ under that burden; if this is so, now come and believe in particular, or rather apply by sense, (for in my judgment it is a fruit of belief, not belief), and feeling the goodwill, intention and gracious purpose of God concerning your salvation. Hence, because there is malice in reprobates, and contempt of Christ, they are guilty, and justice has a law against them, and (which is the mystery) they cannot come up to Christ, because He did not die for them. For their sin is that they love their inability to come to Him; and he who loves his chains, deserves chains. That in short is it. Remember my imprisonment.
   Yours in his sweet Lord Jesus,  S.R.

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