Written by Samuel Rutherford.
Edited for thought and sense by Michael Pursley.
The fairest face that standeth before the throne of redeemed ones, was once inked and blackened with sin. You should not know Paul now, with a crown of a king on his head: he looketh not now like a “blasphemer, a persecutor, an injurious person.” The woman that had once seven devils in her, is a Mary Magdalene far changed, and grace made the change.
But what am I…
….a lump of unrepenting guiltiness and sin? Am I as such a vessel of mercy, as holy Paul, and repenting Mary Magdalene?
Grace, as it is in God, and fitness to receive grace in us, is just alike to all. There was no more reason why Paul should obtain mercy, than why thou, or any other sinner like thee, should obtain mercy. There is a like reason for me to have noble and broad thoughts of the rich grace of Christ, as for Abraham, Moses, David, all the prophets and apostles to believe. There was no greater ransom given by Christ to buy faith and free grace for Noah, Job, and Daniel, to Moses and Samuel, than to poor and sinful me: it is one cause, one ransom, one free love.
If there had a nobler and worthier Redeemer died for Moses and Paul, than for you and me; and another heaven, and a freer grace purchased to them, than to me, I should have been discouraged: grace is grace to thee, as to meek Moses: Christ is Christ to thee, as to believing Abraham. And further,
The same grace that is here, is in heaven.
1. As faith that is freely given us, is the conquest of the new heir, Jesus Christ, (John 6:44; Phil. 1:29; Eph. 1:3,) so are all Christ’s bracelets about our neck in heaven, and the garland of glory, the free grace of God. It is the same day-light when the sun breaketh forth out of the east, and at noon-day in the highestmeridian. Though we change places when we die, we change not husbands.
2. We stand here by free grace. (Rom. 5:2.) Repentance and remission of sins are freely given here to Israel, by the exalted Prince Christ Jesus. (Acts 5:31.) Our tears are bought with that common ransom; so the high inns of the royal court of heaven is a free and open house, and no bill put upon the inhabitants; neither fine, nor stent, nor excise, nor assessment, nor taxation; all is upon the royal charges of the Prince of the kings of the earth. There is no more hire, merit, wages, or fees there than here; the income of glory for eternity, and the life-rent of ages of blessedness, is all the goodwill of Him who sitteth on the throne.
…every sip, every drop of the sea and river of life, is the purchase of the blood of the Lamb that is in the midst of them.
(3.) They be as poor without Christ who are there [in heaven], as we are [here on earth]. Glory is grace, and their dependency for ages of ages is, that the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, does feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of waters, and God wipeth away all tears from their eyes. (Rev. 7:17.) Then they cannot walk there alone, but as the Lamb leadeth them; and if Christ were not there, or if he should take grace, glory, and all his own jewels and ornaments from Moses and Enoch, there should remain no more there but poor nature.
As good angels do therefore not fall, because in Christ, the Head of angels, they are confirmed…
…and if they lacked this confirming grace, they might yet fall, and become apostate devils, so the glorified in heaven do therefore stand, and are confirmed in the inheritance, not by free-will there, more than here; but by immediate dependence of grace on the Lamb, whom they follow whithersoever he goeth.
Grace, then, for his children, is as good as heaven. Glory, glory to our ransom-payer!
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600 – 30 March 1661) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.
Rutherford was educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and Edinburgh University, where he became Regent of Humanity (Professor of Latin) in 1623. In 1627 he was settled as minister of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire,Galloway, where it was said of him ‘he was always praying, always,preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying’, and from where he was banished to Aberdeen for nonconformity, ‘being very powerful on the side of the Reformed faith and of God living’, there in Aberdeen, ‘his writing desk’, was said to be, ‘perhaps the most effective and widely resounding pulpit then in Christendom’. His patron in Galloway was John Gordon, 1st Viscount of Kenmure. On the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1638 he was made Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.
Rutherford was chosen as one of the four main Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London taking part in in formulating the Westminster Confession of Faith completed in 1647, and after his return to Scotland he became Rector of St. Mary’s College at St. Andrews in 1651. Rutherford was a staunch Protester during the controversy in the Scottish Presbyterian church between the Resolutioners and Protesters in the 1650s, and at the Restoration of Charles II his Lex Rex was burnt by the hand of the common hangman, and the “Drunken Parliament” deprived him of all his offices and voted that he not be permitted to die in the college.
His epitaph on his tombstone concluded ‘Acquainted with Immanuel’s song’.
Rutherford’s has been described as ‘Prince of Letter writers’ and C. H. Spurgeon described Rutherford’s letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men, continuing in an 1891 review of Rutherford’s (posthumously published Letters (1664) ‘when we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men’. Andrew Thomson, a Scottish minister, in a 19th-century biography observed ‘the letters flash upon the reader with original thoughts and abound in lofty feeling clothed in the radiant garb of imagination in which there is everything of poetry but the form. Individual sentences that supplied the germ-thought of some of the most beautiful spiritual in modern poetry’ continuing ‘a bundle of myrrh whose ointment and perfume would revive and gladden the hearts of many generations, each letter full of hope and yet of heartbreak, full of tender pathos of the here and the hereafter.’ Rutherford was also known for other spiritual and devotional works, such as Christ Dying and drawing Sinners to Himself, “The Trial and Triumph of Faith”.