Saturday, August 31, 2019

Rutherford Revised (284)

284. To the Honourable, Reverend and Well-beloved Professors of Christ and His truth in sincerity in Ireland   From Aberdeen  4 Feb 1638

(In 1634 Robert Blair and some other ministers were deposed foe nonconformity. In 1636, five more so suffered and had to leave Ireland. So the Presbyterians lacked minister of the Word)

Dearly beloved of our Lord, and partakers of the heavenly calling, - Grace, mercy and peace be to you, and from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. 

   I always, utmost of all now in my imprisonment (most sweet imprisonment for Christ my Lord), rejoice to hear of your faith and love, and to hear that our King, our Well-beloved, our Bridegroom, without tiring, still stays to court you as His wife, and persecutions, and mocking of sinners, have not chased away the suitor from the house. I persuade you in the Lord, the men of God, now scattered and driven from you, put you on the right scent and pursuit of Christ: and my salvation on it (if ten heavens were mine), if his way, the way I now suffer for, this way the world nicknames and reproaches and no other way, is not he King's gate to heaven! And I will never see God's face (and alas, I am a misled wretch if I was so!) if this is not the only saving way to heaven. Oh that you would take a prisoner of Christ's word for it (no, I know you have the greatest King's word for it), that it will not be your wisdom to search out another Christ, or another way of worshipping Him, than is now savingly revealed to you. Therefore, though I never saw your faces, let me be pardoned for writing to you (you honourable persons, you faithful pastors, still among the flocks, and you sincere professors of Christ's truth, or any weak, tired strangers, who look with only half and eye for the Bridegroom), if possibly I could, by any weak experience, confirm and strengthen you in the good way, everywhere spoke against.
   I can with the greatest assurance (to the honour of our highest and greatest and dearest Lord, let it be said!) assure (though I am only a child in Christ, and barely able to walk while holding on, and the smallest and less than the least of all the pains), that we do not come near, by twenty degrees, to the due love and estimation of that fairest among sons of men. For if it was possible that heaven, yes, ten heavens, were put in the scales with Christ, I would think the smell of His breath above them all. I am sure He is the far best half of heaven, yes, He is all heaven, and more than all heaven; and my testimony of Him is, ten lives of black sorrow, ten deaths, ten hells of pain, in furnaces of brimstone. and all exquisite torments, were all too little for Christ, if our suffering could be money to buy Him. Therefore, do not faint in your sufferings and risks for Him. I proclaim and cry, hell, sorrow and shame on all loss, upon all past lovers, that would take Christ's room over His head, in this life inch of love of these narrow souls of ours, that is due to sweetest Jesus. O highest, O dearest, O fairest Lord Jesus, are your own from all bastard lovers. oh that we could mortgage and sell all our part of tim'e glory, and time's good things for a lease and a part of Christ for all eternity! Oh how we are blurred and bogged down with the love of things on this side of time, and on his side of death's water! Where can we find one to match Christ, or an equal, or a better than He, among created things? Oh, this world is out of all conceit, and out of all love with our Well-beloved. Oh, that I could sell my laughter, joy, ease, all for Him; and be content with a straw bed, and bread by weight, and water by measure, in the camp our weeping Christ! I know His sackcloth and ashes are better than the fool's laughter, which is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. But as, we do not harden our faces against the cold north storms which blow on Christ's fair face.We well love summer religion, and to be what sin has made us, even as thin skinned as if we were made of white paper.; and would be glad to be carried to heaven in a close covered chariot, wishing from our hearts that Christ would give us a guarantee, and His handwriting and His seal or nothing but a far summer until we are landed at Heaven's gates.
   How many of us have been deceived here and fainted in the day of trial! There are some of the stamp among you. I will be sorry if my friend A.T. has left you: I will not believe that he dares to stay away from Christ's side. I want you to show him this from me; for I loved him once in Christ, neither can I suddenly change my mind about him. But the truth is, many of you, and too many also of your neighbouring Church of Scotland, have been like a tent sitting rent free, and does not know his holding when his right's are questioned. And now I am persuaded, it will be asked of everyone of us, on what terms we possess Christ; for we have sat long rent free.We found Christ without a wet foot; and He and His Gospel came to our doors on small charges: and now we must wet our feet to seek Him. Our evil manners, and the bad passions of a people at ease  from our youth, and like Moab not poured from container to container (Jer 48:11) have made us (like the standing waters), to gather a foul scum, and, when we are stirred, our dregs come up, and are seen. Many take only half a grip on Christ, and the wind blows them and Christ apart. Indeed, when the mast is broken and blown into the sea, it then requires skill to swim on Christ to dry land. It is even possible that in a hard trial, the children of God, lay themselves down as in the sheltered side of a bush, while Christ their maser is taken, as Peter did; and lurk there until he storm is passed. All of us know the way to a whole skin; and the single heart here has a side purse that will contain the denial of Christ, when He has a controversy with the shields of the earth! I wish all of you would consider that this trial is from Christ; it has come on you unprovoked. (Indeed, when we buy a temptation with our own money, it is no surprise the we are not easily freed from it, and that God is not at our elbow to take it off our hands.) This is Christ's ordinary house fire, that he uses to try all the containers of His house. And Christ is now about to bring His treasure out before the sun and moon, and to count His money, and in the counting to see what weigh of gold, and what weight of adulterated copper is in His house. Do not now compromise, or bow, or yield to your enemies a hair's breadth. Christ and His truth will not divide; and His truth does not have latitude nor breadth, that you may take some of it and leave some of it. No. the Gospel is like a small hair, that has no breadth and will not split in two. It is not possible to twist and mix a matter between Christ and Antichrist; and, therefore, you must either be for Christ, or you must be against Him. It was only man's wit, and the wit of bishops, and they godfather the Pope (that man without law) to put Christ and His royal prerogatives, and His truth, or the smallest nail breadth of His latter will, in the new calendar of indifferences, and to make a blank of pristine paper in Christ's testament for men to fill up; and to shuffle truth and matters they call indifferent, through each other, and spin both together, so Antichrist's goods may sell the better. This is only the device and forged dream of men whose consciences are stout, and who have a throat that a graven image, greater in size than the church door, would freely pass into. I am sure that when Christ will bring us all out in our blacks and whites, at the day when he will cry down time and the world, and when the glory of it will lie in white ashes, like a May flower cut down which has lost the blossom, there will be few, yes, none, who dare make any point, which touches the worship and honour of out King and Lawgiver, to be indifferent. Oh that this misled and blindfolded world would see that Christ does not rise and fall, stand or lie according to men's thoughts! Is Christ any he lighter for what men do with Him, by open proclamation, as men do with clipped and light money? They are now crying down Christ some grain weights, and some pounds or shillings; and they will have him stand for a penny or a pound, for one or for a hundred according as to whether the wind bows from east or west. But the Lord has weighed Him and balanced Him already, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!' His worth and weight still stand. It is our part to cry, 'Up,up with Christ, and down, down with all created glory before Him. Oh that I could heighten Him, and heighten His name, and heighten His throne! I know and am persuaded that Christ will again be high and great in this poor, withered and sunburn Church of Scotland; and that the sparks of our fire will fly over the sea, and round about, to warm you and other sister churches; and this tabernacle of David's house, that has fallen, even the Son of David's waste places, will be built again. And I know the prison, crosses and persecution, and trials of the two killed witnesses, that are now dead and buried (Rev 6:9), and of the faithful professors have a back door, and back way of escape; and that death and hell, and the world and the tortures, will all tear and be split in two, and give us free passage and liberty to go through toll free: and we will bring all God's good metal out of the furnace again, and leave behind us only our dross and scum. We may hen beforehand proclaim Christ to be victorious. He is crowned King of Mount Zion: God did put the crown on His head (Ps 2:6, 21:3)and who dares take it off again? No doubt, He has sore and grievous quarrels against His church: and therefore, He is called, 'the LORD, whose fire is in Zion,and whose furnace is in Jerusalem' (Is 31:9). But when He has performed His work on  Mount Zion, all Zion's haters will be like the hungry and thirsty man, who dreams he is eating and drinking. and see, when he wakes, he is faint and his soul empty. And we also have this advantage, that He will not bring before sun and moon all the failings of His wife. It is the modesty of marriage anger or husband wrath, that our Lord Jesus will not come to the streets with complaints, to let all the world hear what is between Him and us. His sweet frowns stay under the roof , and that because He is God.
   Think about two special things:
   1. Try and make sure your profession; that you do not carry empty lamps. Alas, security, security, is the poison and ruin of the most part of the world. Oh, how many professors go with a golden glow, and are like gold before men (who are only witnesses of our white skin), and yet only bastards and base metal! Consider how fair before the wind some go with sails up and white, even called 'illuminated', and 'tasing of the heavenly gift;' and 'a share and part of the Holy Spirit;' and ' he tasting of the good word of God, and the powers of he world to come; Heb 6:4,5). And yet this is only a false sign of renovation, , and, in a short time, such are quickly broken on the rocks, and never reach the harbour, but are stranded in the bottom of hell. Oh, make your heaven sure, and test how you come to be converted; that it is not stolen goods, in a white and polished profession! A white skin over old wounds makes an under coating conscience. But under water, unseen, is dangerous, and that is a leak and split in the bottom of an enlightened conscience; often falling and sinning against light. We, wo is me, the the holy profession of Christ is made stage clothes by many, to bring home a vain fame, and Christ is made to serve man's ends! This is as were to stop an oven with a king's robes.
   Know,2. Unless men martyr and kill the body of sin in sacrificial self denial, they will never be Christ's martyrs and faithful witnesses. Oh,if I could be Master of that house idol myself, my own mind, will, wit, credit and ease, how blessed would I be! Oh, but we have need to be redeemed from ourselves, rather than from the devil and the world! Learn to put out yourselves, and put in Christ for yourselves. I would make a sweet bartering and exchange, and give old for new, if I could shuffle out self, and substitute Christ my Lord, in place of myself; to say 'Not I, but Christ; not my will but Christ's; not my ease, not my lust, not my useless credit, but Christ,  Christ.' But alas, in leaving ourselves, in setting Christ before our idol self, we yet have a light look back to our old idol . O wretched idol, myself! When will I see you wholly removed, and Christ wholly put up in your place? Oh, if Christ, Christ had the full place and room in myself, that all my aims, purposes, thoughts and desires would coast and land on Christ, and not on myself: but alas, I think I will die attempting and aiming to be a Christian.  Is it not our comfort, that Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant, has come between us and God in the business, so green and young heirs, like sinners, now have a teacher who is God! And now, God be thanked, our salvation is based on Christ. I am sure the bottom will never fall out of heaven and happiness to us. Would give up the bargain a thousand times, if it were not the Christ's free grace has taken our salvation in hand.
   Pray, pray and fight with the Lord for your sister church; for it would appear the Lord is about to search out His scattered sheep. , in the dark and cloudy day. Oh that it would please our Lord to set up again David's old wasted and fallen tent in Scotland, so we might see the glory of the second temple in his land! Oh that my little heaven was mortgaged, to redeem the honour of my Lord Jesus among Jews and Gentiles! Do not let dew ever lie on my branches, and let my poor flower wither at he root, so Chris is enthroned, and His glory advanced in all he world, and especially in these three kingdoms.But I know He has no need of me; what can I add to Him? But oh that He would cause His high and pure glory to run through such a foul channel as I am! And though he has made the flower fall from my one poor joy, that was on this side of heaven, even my freedom to preach Christ to His people, yet I am dead to the now, so he would cut and carve glory, glory for evermore to my royal King out of my silence and sufferings. Oh that I had my fill of His love! But I know bad manners make a strange bridegroom.  
   I sincerely beg you for the help your prayers, for I do not forget you; and I greet with my soul in Christ, the faithful pastors and honourable and worthy professors in that land.Now the God of peace, who brought again our Lord Jesus from the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight. Grace, grace be with you.
   Yours, in his sweetest Lord Jesus,  S.R.

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