Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Rutherford Revised (249)

249. To James Bautie    From Aberdeen 1637

(A divinity student at this time. Ordained to ministry at Ballywater, County Down in 1644. Imprisoned in 1650 for reusing an oath of loyalty to the Commonwealth. Banished and lost  to history.) 

Loving brother, - Grace, mercy and peace be unto you. I received your letter and thank you for it; but I do not have time to answer all the points you raise as the bearer can inform you. 
  1. You do well to recall your thoughts before they have gone too far when you wrong Christ by doubting and unbelief. For this is to nickname Christ, and call Him a liar, which if said to our prince, would mean hanging or beheading. But Christ does not always hang for treason. It is good that he may keep a believer’s bond on record a hundred times, and have law against us more than seven times a day; and yet He spares us, as a man does the son who serves him. No tenderhearted mother who may have a law to kill her suckling child would ever execute that law. 
2ndly, For your failings, even when you have a set meeting with Christ, and when you have a fair seen advantage, by keeping your appointment with Him, and salvation comes to the very passing of the seals, I would say two things.-
  1. Concluded and sealed salvation may go through and be ended, suppose you write your name on the end of the covenant with ink that can hardly be read. I do not think that any man’s salvation ever passed the seals, without an odd trip or slip, less or more on the fool’s part who is infested in heaven. In the most grave and serious work of our salvation, I think Christ always had good reason to laugh at our silliness, and to put us on His merits so we might carry weight.
  2. It is a sweet law of the New Covenant, and a privilege of the new burgh, that citizens pay according to their means. For the New covenant does not say, ‘So much obedience by the ounce, ad no less, under the pain of damnation.’ Christ takes as poor men may give. Where there is a little portion, He is content with less, if there is sincerity; broken sums and little, worthless obedience will be pardoned, and hold the foot with Him. Do you not now that our kindly Lord yet keeps His good old heart? He does not break a bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax: if the wind blows He holds His hand until it rises to a flame. The law comes on with three O yeses, ‘with all the heart and with all the soul and with all the strength;’ And where would poor folks like you and me provide all these sums? I am afraid (no, it is most certain), that if the payment were to come out of our purse, when we put our hand in our bag, we would bring out the wind or worse. But the New Covenant does not seek full measure, nor fixed obedience as its condition; because forgiveness is always in place. So I draw this conclusion: that to think that matters between Christ and us go back for lack of a full measure, it a piece of old Adams pride, who would either have legal payment or nothing. We would still be indebted to God, and buy His kindness with our merits. For beggarly pride is devil’s honesty, and blushes to be indebted to Christ, and hardly gives God a thanks, and a lifted cap,  (except for the Pharisee’s unlucky,’God I thank you’, or a bowed knee to Christ. It will only give a  ‘God day’ for a ‘Good day’ again; and if he conceals His kindness, as if it was joking, and seems to overlook it, it turns on its heels and sniffs the wind and does not care much for God’s kindness.’ If He will not be friends, let Him go’ says pride. Beware of this thief when Christ offers Himself. 
       3rdly, No surprise then of whisperings as to whether you are in the covenant or not? For pride make loose work of the covenant of grace. And will not let Christ be full bargain maker. To speak to you particularly and shortly: -
1. All the truly regenerate cannot determinately the measure tell you of their dejections; because Christ begins young with many, and steals into their hearts before they understand themselves, and is at home with them with little sound or noise. I grant that many are blinded in rejoicing in a cheap conversion that never cost them a sick night. Christ’s medicine worked on them in a dream. But for they, I would say, if other marks are found that Christ has indeed come in, never bargain with Him for He will not answer, ‘Lord Jesus, how did you come in? Was it by door or window?’   Since He has come, make Him welcome. ‘The wind blows where it will;’ all the world’s intelligence cannot give a reason why the wind should be a month in the east, six weeks possibly in the west, and the space of only an afternoon in the south or north. You will not find out all the marks and steps of Christ’s way with a soul whatever you do; for sometimes He will come in stepping softly, like one walking beside a sleeping person, and slip to the door and let none know He is there. 
2. You object: The truly regenerate should love God for Himself; and you fear you love Him more for His benefits (as incitements and motives to love Him) than for Himself. answer: to love God for Himself, as the last end, and also for His benefited as incitements and motives to love Him, may stand well together; as a son love his mother because she is his mother, though she is poor: and he loves her for an apple also. I hope you will not say that benefits are the only reason and basis of your love; it seems there is a better foundation for it. Though if there is a hole in it, sew it up quickly.
3. You do not feel such mourning in Christ’s absence as you would. I answer: I deny that the regenerate man at all times, and all in like measure, for His absence. There are different degrees of mourning, less or more, as they have less or more love to Him, and less or more sense of His absence; but some they must have. Sometimes they do not miss the Lord, ad then they cannot mourn; though it is not loud, so, at least, it is not always so.
4. You challenge yourself that some truths find more credit with you than other. You do well; for God is true in the least, so well as in the greatest, and He must be so to you. You must not call Him true in one page of the leaf, and false in the other; for our Lord, in all His wrings, never yet contradicted himself. Although the best of the regenerate have slipped here, always work to hold your feet.
   4thly, Comparing the state of one truly regenerate, whose heart is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and your which is full of uncleanness and corruption, and you stand dumb and discouraged and sometimes dare not heartily call Christ your own. I answer:
  1. The best regenerate have their defilements, and if I may say so, their beggar’s bag will go with them all their days; and wash as they will, there will be filth in their body. But do not let this put you off the well. I answer;
  2. Although there are some ounce weights of worldliness, and some squinting, or eye in out neck towards an idol, love may be found in its own measure. For glory must purify and perfect our love, it will then never be absolutely pure. Yet if the idol reigns and has the whole of the heart, and the keys of the house, and Christ is only made a servant to run errands, all is not right; therefore, examine well. 
  3. There is a two-fold discouragement: one of unbelief, to conclude (and to doubt the conclusion) for a speck in your eye, and a glance at an idol, this is bad. There is another discouragement of sorrow for sin, when you find a glance at an idol; this is good and a matter for thanksgiving. Therefore examine here too.
5thly, You say, the assurance of Jesus love would be the most comfortable news you ever heard. Answer: That may stop twenty holes and loose many objections. I believe that love can be communicated. Oh that you knew and felt it, as I have done! I wish you a share of my feast; it has been sweet, sweet to me. If my Lord had not given me this love, I would have fallen through the road in Aberdeen before now! But for you, hang on; your feast is not far off, before you go you will be filled. There is, as much in my Lord’s pantry as will satisfy all His children, and as much wine in His cellar as will quench all their thirst. Hunger on, for there is food in hunger for Christ. Never go from Him, but trouble Him (who is yet pleased with the persistence of hungry souls) with a dish full of hungry desires until He fill you; and if he delays, do not come away, though you fall faint at Hid feet.
6thly, You want to know from me whether sound comfort may be found in prayer, when conviction about a known idols present. I answer:
1st, An idol as an idol cannot stand with sound comforts; for that comfort found at Dagon’s feet is a cheat or sham. Yet sound comfort, and conviction of an eye to an idol, may well live together as tears and joy. But let this do you no harm; I speak it for your encouragement that you may make the best of our joys as you can, though you find them mixed with specks.
2ndly, Conviction alone is not enough (if alone without remorse and grief); therefore, lend it a tear if you can. 
   7thly, You question, when you sometimes find more fervency in prayer with your neighbour, than when you are alone, whether or not hypocrisy is in it? I answer, if this is always the case there is no question that a spice of hypocrisy is in it, which should be attended to. But possibly desertion may be in private, and present in public, and then the case is clear. A fit of applause may happen by accident rubbing a cold heart, ad so heat and life may come, but it is not a proper cause of that heat.  So God in His free grace will ride his errands on our sinking corruption. But corruption is merely an occasion and accident; as the playing of a pipe removed anger from the prophet, and made him fitter to prophecy (Kin 3:15).
8thly, You complain of Christ’s short visits, that he will not keep you company one night; but when you lie down warm at night, you rise cold in the morning. Answer: I cannot blame you (nor any other that knows that sweet Guest), to complain of His withdrawing, and to be most desirous of his home and company; for He would captivate and engage the affection of any creature that saw His face. Since He looked on me, and gave me a sight of His fair love got away with it. Well, well may He allow it! He wholly gained my A good super and kind entertainment make guests better love the inn. Yet sometimes, merely for the purpose of art, He will keep it for a long time before I fetch it from Him. But I will tell you what you should do; treat Him well and give him the chair, the head of the table, and make Him welcome to the small part you have. A good supper and kind entertainment makes guests better love the inn. Yet sometimes, merely for the purpose of trying the soul, Christ goes away elsewhere, you give Him king’s hospitality; He will go away; as is clear in desertions for mere testing and not for sin.
   9thly, You seek the difference between the motions of the Spirit in their least way, and the natural joys of your own heart. Answer: As a man can tell if he joys and delights in his wife; or he delights and joys in her to satisfy his lust, but hating her person, and so loving her for her body, and not grieving when bad things happen to her: so will a man’s joy in God, and his immoral natural joy, be discovered. If he is sorry for anything that may offend the Lord, it will speak of his undivided love to Him.
   10thly, You ask the reason why sense overcomes faith. Answer: because sense is more natural, and closely related to our selfish and soft nature. You ask if faith in that case is sound? Answer: If it is chased away, it is neither sound nor unsound for it is not faith. But it might be and was faith before sense blew out the act of believing.
   Lastly, you ask what to do when promises come to you, and a sense of impenitency for sins of youth hinders application. I answer, if it is living sense, it may stand with application; ad in this case, take and eat your meat in God’s name. If false, so that the sins of youth are not repented of, the as faith and impenitency cannot stand together, so neither that sense and application can be together.
   Brother, excuse my brevity; for time limits me, so I do not express my mind in these things, but must put it off to a new time if God offers it.  Brother pray for me. Grace be with you.

   Yours, in his dearest Lord Jesus, S.R.

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