Samuel Rutherford’s Word of Comfort for the Grief of a Child

Letter 310, to Lady Kenmure, on the occasion of the death of her infant daughter.
Written by, Samuel Rutherford

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MADAM,

Saluting your Ladyship with grace and mercy from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. I was sorry, at my departure, leaving your Ladyship in grief, and would be still grieved at it if I were not assured that ye have one with you in the furnace whose visage is like unto the Son of God.

I am glad that ye have been acquainted from your youth with the wrestlings of God, knowing that if ye were not dear to God, and if your health did not require so much of Him, He would not spend so much physic upon you. All the brethren and sisters of Christ must be conform to His image and copy in suffering (Rom. 8.29). And some do more vividly resemble the copy than others. Think, Madam, that it is a part of your glory to be enrolled among those whom one of the elders pointed out to John, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

Ye have lost a child: nay she is not lost to you who is found to Christ. She is not sent away, but only sent before, like unto a star, which going out of our sight doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere. We see her not, yet she doth shine in another country. If her glass was but a short hour, what she wanteth of time that she hath gotten of eternity; and ye have to rejoice that ye have now some plenishing up in heaven. Build your nest upon no tree here; for ye see God hath sold the forest to death; and every tree whereupon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may fly and mount up, and build upon the Rock, and dwell in the holes of the Rock.

What ye love besides Jesus, your husband, is an adulterous lover. Now it is God’s special blessing to Judah, that He will not let her find her paths in following her strange lovers. ‘Therefore, behold I will hedge up thy way with thorns and make a wall that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them’ (Hos. 2.6-7). O thrice happy Judas, when God buildeth a double stone wall betwixt her and the fire of hell! The world, and the things of the world, Madam, is the lover ye naturally affect beside your own husband Christ. The hedge of thorns and the wall which God buildeth in your way, to hinder you from this lover, is the thorny hedge of daily grief, loss of children, weakness of body, iniquity of the time, uncertainty of estate, lack of worldly comfort, fear of God’s anger for old unrepented-of sins. What lose ye, if God twist and plait the hedge daily thicker? God be blessed, the Lord will not let you find your paths.

Return to your first husband. Do not weary, neither think that death walketh towards you with a slow pace. Ye must be riper ere ye be shaken. Your days are no longer than Job’s, that were ’swifter than a post, and passed away as the ships of desire, and as the eagle that hasteth for the prey’ (Job 9. 25, 26, margin). There is less sand in your glass now than there was yesternight. This span-length of ever-posting time will soon be ended. But the greater is the mercy of God, the more years ye get to advise, upon what terms, and upon what conditions, ye cast your soul in the huge gulf of never-ending eternity.

The Lord hath told you what ye should be doing till He come; ‘wait and hasten (saith Peter,) for the coming of the Lord’; all is night that is here, in respect of ignorance and daily ensuing troubles, one always making way to another, as the ninth wave of the sea to the tenth; therefore sigh and long for the dawning of that morning, and the breaking of that day of the coming of the Son of man, when the shadows shall flee away.

Persuade yourself the King is coming; read His letter sent before Him, ‘Behold, I come quickly.’ Wait with the wearied night-watch for the breaking of the eastern sky, and think that you have not a morrow. I am loath to weary you; show yourself a Christian, by suffering without murmuring; — in patience possess your soul: they lose nothing who gain Christ. I commend you to the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus.

ANWOTH, Jan, 15, 1629

In Loving Memory of Samuel Rutherford: Professor, Pastor, Counselor, Friend.

(c) University of St Andrews; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationThat legislative body otherwise known as Drunken Parliament…

…which began January 1, 1661, under King Charles II, did something more than pass laws which were fraught with mischief and misery. It determined to send to a violent death the leaders in the Protesting section of the Church, the men whose advocacy of the Covenant was most unfaltering and outspoken. Four of these leaders were marked for execution “Samuel Rutherford; the Marquis of Argyll; James Guthrie; and Archibald Johnston, Lord Wariston. The first and the last of the four eluded the doom intended for them: the one because the finger of God beckoned him, before his enemies could accomplish their purpose; the other because he contrived to hide himself until Middleton’s power was vanishing, although in this instance the scaffold was merely postponed, and the infliction of the sentence came at the hands of those who had ousted the Commissioner from his place. As for the Marquis and the minister of Stirling, they were crowned at once with the thorny crown which the Parliament had twined for their brows.

Ever since the Restoration Samuel Rutherford must have guessed the punishments which his enemies designed for him. Three months after Charles’s return, the Committee of Estates in Edinburgh [Parliament] issued a proclamation, worthy in its rage and impotence of the angriest of the Popes. It decreed that all copies of the Lex Rex which could be found should be gathered before the middle of October, and burned at the Mercat Cross in the capital and at the gates of the New College in St. Andrews. The thing was duly done; but, “full of seditious and treasonable matter” as the Lex Rex was announced to be, its teaching lives to this hour.

Lex Rex is the plea of the Covenanters for the majesty of the people; for the truth that the law, and no autocrat on the throne, is king; for the creed that limitless sovereignty is the property of God alone.

The Stuart monarch could not check the advance of these principles by bonfires in the streets of Edinburgh and St. Andrews. Much of the book, it has been said, is “the constitutional inheritance of all countries in modern times.”

Through forty-four chapters, or “Questions,” Rutherford develops his argument. The book, says Dr. Hume Brown, is “tediously pedantic”; and no doubt it is so, if one should attempt to read it in its entirety. There are too many minute details, and the hard and syllogistic method of the debater is over much in evidence. But, every little while, the underlying enthusiasm mounts to the surface, and refuses to be quite concealed. With all the strength of his conviction and all the fire of his zeal the author fights on behalf of the liberties of the nation. Prince and beggar, he reminds us, spring of one clay; yet he grants that government has a divine sanction, and is necessary and inevitable.

Ay, but to whom does government belong?

Not to a royal James or Charles, but to the men and women of their realm. They are the true rulers. They can delegate their authority to this representative or to that, selecting whom they please. They may measure it by ounce-weight or by pound-weight. They may limit and moderate and set its banks and march to its exercise. They can take it to themselves again, if the conditions on which they bestowed it are disregarded and broken.

The king, beyond dispute, has his special dignity and stately privilege; but, when all is said and done, the commonwealth is more excellent than the king; and he is ordained to serve it as its shepherd, its captain, its leader. Is not the pilot less than the passengers, the tutor less than the children, the physician less than the patients, the master less than the scholars? He who by his very office is obliged to expend himself and, in the last resort, to sacrifice his life, for the safety of those who are denominated his subjects, must in reality be inferior to them. If they invest him with politic honours and prerogatives, they keep to themselves natural prerogatives and honours which they never can surrender.

These are axioms of the Lex Rex: “The law is not the king’s own, but is given to him in trust”; “Power is a birthright of the people borrowed from them; they may let it out for their good, and resume it when a man is drunk with it”; “A limited and mixed monarchy hath glory, order, unity from a monarch; from the government of the most and wisest it hath safety of counsel, stability, strength; from the influence of the Commons it hath liberty, privileges, promptitude of obedience.” These are the axioms on which our regulated freedoms of to-day are broad-based.

Looking back to Rutherford, we see his forehead lighted with the prophecy of the better era, and we know that, almost three centuries since, he recognized

what health there is
In the frank Dawn’s delighted eyes.

In the autumn of 1660 the book received its martyrdom, and in the early spring of 1661 the Privy Council and the Parliament were eager to have its author martyred too. He had been denuded of his offices in the University of St. Andrews, and deprived of his pastoral charge; but these confiscations were not enough. He was cited to appear at the bar of the House on a charge of treason. The messengers carried the citation across the Firth of Forth. But God had forestalled them.

For weeks, as Rutherford wrote in a letter, “a daily menacing disease” had been hanging over him; and he lay now on his deathbed.

It was a wasted hand which received the document the emissaries brought; but the voice had parted with none of its fire. “Tell them,” he said,” that I have a summons already from a superior Judge and judicatory, and I am behoved to answer my first summons; and, ere your day arrives, I will be where few kings and great folks come.” When they reported his condition, the Council declared with feeble malice that he must not be permitted to die within the College walls; but, even in the hostile court, one member had grace and fortitude to befriend him. Lord Burleigh rose and said, “Ye have voted that honest man out of his College, but ye cannot vote him out of heaven.” Nothing could be truer than those courageous words.

While he waited till it was time to “answer his first summons,” Samuel Rutherford must have been visited by moving memories. He was one of the most extraordinary men in an age of heroes; and he had many marvels to recall, as he tarried immediately outside the joys of what he loved to delineate as the Upper Garden of God.

He saw himself in the unprofitable half of his life “the little child in the Border village of Nisbet or Crailing, surrounded even then by miracles; the student and boyish Professor of Latin in Edinburgh; the offender, with whom the University officials quarreled because of some irregularity in his youthful marriage, the nature of which it is not easy now to unravel. These were the acid ingredients in the cup of recollection.

For it was the sorrow of his later years, as it was St. Augustine’s, that he allowed himself to reach manhood before he yielded his heart to God. “Like a fool as I was,” he says,” I suffered my sun to be high in the heaven, and near afternoon.”

Few things in the Letters are more beautiful than the earnestness with which he beseeches the young to consecrate their freshest hours to eternity. “It were a sweet and glorious thing for your daughter Grissel to give herself up to Christ, that He may write upon her His Father’s name and His Own new name.” “I desire Patrick to give Christ the flower of his love; it were good to start soon to the way.” To Earlston, when he was leaving boyhood behind, he writes: “There is not such a glassy, icy, and slippery piece of way betwixt you and heaven as youth  the devil findeth in youth dry sticks and dry coals and a hot hearthstone; and how soon can he with his flint cast fire, and with his bellows blow it up!”

He is as vivid and as solicitous, when he addresses Lord Boyd: “It is easy to master an arrow and to set it right ere the string be drawn; but, when once it is shot and in the air and the flight begun, then ye have no more power at all to command it. And therefore O what a sweet couple are Christ and a young man! This is a meeting not to be found in every town.” Was it the thought of his own delays which stirred this yearning over others? He would have no one imitate him, “loitering on the road too long, and trifling at the gate.”

But this vision passed, and the dying man saw himself the minister of Anwoth. For nine years, from 1627 to 1636, he was the spiritual father of the quiet parish, lying round the Water of Fleet, among the soft green hills of Galloway. There was his manse, the Bush o’ Bield, where he rose each morning at three, to spend the day’s commencement in prayer and study. To its door, one unforgotten Saturday, Archbishop Ussher turned aside in the disguise of a traveller, to be hospitably entertained, and catechised, and reproved for his seeming ignorance of a fact so elementary as the number of statutes written by God’s finger on the Tables of Stone ” an ignorance explained when he spoke, next morning, in the Presbyterian kirk, on the new commandment of Jesus, “That ye might love one another.”

From the rooms of the Anwoth manse, the mistress of the home and more than one of the children went to God; “an afflicted life,” the husband and father wrote, “looks very like the way that leads to the Kingdom.” Close to the Bush o’ Bield stood the tiny sanctuary, as tiny as George Herbert’s in Bemerton; the visitor may still walk round its ivied and ruined walls. What a centre of zealous labour it was!” For such a piece of clay as Mr. Rutherford,” said James Urquhart, minister in Kinloss, “I never knew one in Scotland like him. He seemed to be always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always teaching in the schools, always writing treatises, always reading and studying.” The Sabbath was his crowning day. He had a “strange utterance, a kind of a screech.” But the shrillness of the voice could not hide the heart’s fervours, and the hearers hung upon him listening. Often, one of them confessed, he fancied the minister “would have flown out of the pulpit, when he came to speak of Christ, the Rose of Sharon”; then, indeed, he was “as a fish in the ocean, never in his right element but when he was commending his Lord.”

In Anwoth the sermons were prepared and spoken, which afterwards were given to the world under the title of The Trial and Triumph of Faith ” a retelling and expansion of the immortal story of that pleading and prevailing mother from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, who enmeshed Jesus in the net of His Own promises, and clung about His feet until she had obtained all her desire; those other sermons too, which were to be known in their printed form as Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself. Both volumes, in spite of the dull yellow paper and the dim and faded ink, palpitate still with their author’s affection for his divine Master. “We but play,” he protests in the preface to one of them, “about the borders and margent of knowledge of Christ, as children do with the golden covering and silken ribbons of an Arabic Bible that they cannot read.” Even the Middle Ages, he thinks, encrusted with superstition as they were, put their more prosaic and less exuberant successors to shame. “O, how rarely do the needle-eyed schoolmen write of Christ!

O, how subtle and eagle-eyed seem they to be in speculations –grave-deep, or rather hell-deep, touching His grave-linens, what became of them when He rose from the dead, and the chestnut colour of His hair, and the wood of His Cross, and the three nails that wedged Him to the Tree, and the adoring of anything that touched His body!” But the glow of the saint and singer who poured forth his soul in the Jesu ! dulcis memoria influenced every look and tone and gesture of the Covenanting preacher, and no mediaeval recluse was more rapt in his devotion.

His parishioners, the herd boys as well as the Viscount Kenmure, revered the “little fair man.” They recounted his untiring charities. In his very gait they detected his communion with God; “when he walked, it was observed he held aye his face upward and heavenward.” The home, the church, the “blessed birds” of Anwoth, the path among the trees which he paced talking with his unseen Friend –he beheld them again in dying, and thanked God for them.

Then, once more, his dream changed. He was a prisoner in Aberdeen. Thomas Sydserf, who had come from the northern diocese of Brechin to be Bishop of Galloway, was no lover of Samuel Rutherford; and his repugnance was heightened when the preacher published his book against the Arminians:  Exercitationes pro Diuina Gratia he called it. He hauled him before the High Commission Court, in Wigtown and in Edinburgh, and had him deposed and exiled to the northern city, far enough distant from the familiar hills and tides. “I go,” the banished man said, “to my King’s palace at Aberdeen; tongue, pen, and wit cannot express my joy.”

But, if he carried music in his heart, he had his experiences of depression during his eighteen months of seclusion. It was hard for the impassioned servitor of Jesus to maintain silence. “I had but one eye,” he mourned,” and they have put it out.” Yet, long before he came to his deathbed, he saw that God’s purpose was one of purest grace.

A new field of work had been disclosed. If his lips were shut, his pen was busy. Two hundred and twenty of the Letters, those amaranthine Letters, whose glow and tenderness and pungency are the best demonstration of his spiritual genius, were sent from Aberdeen.

It is easy doubtless to deride the tropical luxuriance which marks the style of “Joshua Redivivus.” The clever, but supercilious, author of A Literary History of Scotland is only amused by the faults of taste and tact and discretion which the Letters reveal. Few will question that there are faults in the Letters, when they are appraised by literary canons alone. But, even before this tribunal, their grandeurs and sublimities are as conspicuous as their mistakes. And they have spoken to ten thousand souls, in the rhythm and cadence of the better country which is the heavenly. In “the little flock named after God’s own heart ” their writer needs no defense; for its members crowned him long ago. This, therefore, was the divine necessity for the loneliness and hatred to which Rutherford was subjected.

Perhaps another dream followed…

He was in the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster, one of the Scottish commissioners to the Assembly of Divines. “For the great parts God had given him,” wrote Robert Baillie with the pride of a countryman, ” Mr. Samuel’s presence was very necessary.” Again, in his thoughts, he debated the doctrine of the Church’s freedom against those captains of Erastianism, Lightfoot and Selden.

Again he argued with the Independents; although now, more than ever, he felt that they were “gracious men,” and, “of all that differed from us, came nearest to walking with God.” Again he busied himself in writing his Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery and his Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication.

Again he did his emphatic part in framing the Confession, and the Directory, and the Catechisms. Did he recall, too, the fresh and poignant home-griefs of these London years? “I had two children,” so he had related the sorrow when it was new, “and both are dead since I came hither. The good Husbandman may pluck His roses and gather His lilies in the beginning of the first summer months. What is that to you or to me? The Creator of time and of winds did a merciful injury, if I may borrow the words, in landing the passenger so early.”

Samuel Rutherford was at Westminster from the middle of 1643 to the end of 1647; and he was glad when, at length, he could set his face northward to his students and congregation and childless home –glad with that emotion which the poet calls a “bitter-sweet” delight.

To his students he returned; for, since the close of the Anwoth ministry in 1639, he had been Professor in St. Andrews. And there, in labours more abundant than any of his compeers, he lived the remainder of his life. They made him Principal of the New College and Rector of the University. Since Alexander Henderson had gone, he was the senior member of Scottish thinkers and teachers. Edinburgh tried, in 1649, to secure him for its own; and other lands coveted him.

Twice Utrecht sent him a call to occupy its chair of theology. But the tempest- driven Kirk, with its unhappy controversies and those dangers that loomed ahead, had thrown its hoops of steel about his soul.

He could not go away. “I had rather be in Scotland with angry Jesus Christ,” he said, “than in any Eden or garden in the earth.” So he continued in St. Andrews, until the Earl of Middleton bade him answer for his fearless witness against all arbitrary power in Church and State.

In that tumultuous Scotland which tugged so constrainingly at his heart-strings, he had, from the early days in Anwoth to the last hours in St. Andrews, made every class and rank in the community his debtors. We are surprised not by the number only but by the variety of his friends. There are godly women, like Marion M’Naught, the wife of William Fullerton, Provost of Kirkcudbright, to whom, because of her rare insight, he could lay open his very soul; or like Lady Jane Campbell, the Viscountess Kenmure, whom in her illnesses and depressions he comforted with many words of cheer; or like the mother of John Brown of Wamphray, most redoubtable of Calvinists and most learned of theologians. There are Churchmen famous in the transactions of the General Assembly, and humbler ministers scattered throughout the land, and young students of divinity to whom he commends not so much the erudition of the schools as the practice of personal sanctification.

Congregations appeal to him in their perplexities, and he never fails to send them a message as shrewd and penetrating as it is high pitched and spiritual. The nobles of Scotland, some of them headstrong and turbulent, others temporizing and disposed to halt between two opinions, are often in his thought and prayer; and he has for each a discriminating advice and a definite command. To Lord Lothian he says, “to want temptations is the greatest temptation of all”; to Lord Loudoun, “Events are God’s; let Him sit at his Own helm”; to Cassillis,” The Earldom of Cassillis is but a shadow in comparison of the city not made with hands; it is no wisdom to be silent, when they are casting lots for a better thing than Christ’s coat”; to Craighall, “Fear your light, stand in awe of it, for it is from God. Kings cannot heal broken consciences; it is common for men to make doubts when they have a mind to desert the truth.” He passes through life, giving to everyone who crosses his path a word in season and a veritable pronouncement from the King of kings.

Yet Rutherford was not himself a perfect man. There were defects both in his creed and in his character. His temper was fiery, and too frequently he made no serious effort to moderate its energy; “I am made of extremes,” he wrote to his friend, David Dickson. Dialectician and polemic all his days, he had scant mercy for those who saw the truth from other angles than his own. Towards the Resolutioners he showed, on many occasions, an acrimoniousness which was far from admirable. Perhaps it was inevitable that it should be so.

“The intellectual gladiator, the rejoicing and remorseless logician, the divider of words, the distinguisher of thoughts, the hater of doubt and ambiguity, the scorner of compromise and concession, the incessant and determined disputant, the passionate admirer of sequence and system and order in small things as in great “in the corner of an argument as in the mighty world outside”: thus Dr. Taylor Innes paints him in a portrait as masterly as any of Mr. Sargent’s; and so intent and vehement an ecclesiastic forgets at times the urbanities of thought and the courtesies of speech. But, when these deductions are made, he still rises to a stature attained by only the select few in Christ’s dazzling host” by a St. Bernard, a Madame Guyon, a Brainerd. Dr. Taylor Innes is as felicitous in depicting the more celestial side. This man, he says, was “impatient of earth, intolerant of sin, rapt into the continual contemplation of one unseen Face, finding his history in its changing aspect and his happiness in its returning smile.”

That is Rutherford’s glory, his absorption in Christ

…Christ, whom he lauds as “the outset, the master flower, the uncreated garland of heaven, the love and joy of men and angels.” Many temperaments, many goals; but for him there is only one Goal, and no other is worth the mentioning.

Samuel Rutherford went to sleep with Christ for his pillow; he awoke in Christ.

Doubtless he loved both the girl-wife of his youth and the home-companion of his riper years, although in him, as in others of his Covenanting kin, we note a certain detachment from the ties and tendernesses of the family; but, while he could endure widowhood, he would have refused the offering of life without his Christ. His heart, as he said, was not his own; Jesus had run away to heaven with it.

Christ had been near him in infancy, though he was a man before he confessed his Lover’s grace. Playing once with the boys of Crailing, the child stumbled into a deep well; and his frightened comrades ran to acquaint his father and mother. They hurried out, fearing that they would not see their Samuel alive. But they discovered him “sitting on a hillock, a little from the well, all wet and cold,” but unharmed and safe. How had he got there? they asked, and he answered, ” A bonnie white Man drew me forth and set me down.” The old story-teller adds, “It is thought it was an angel.” But we may surmise that, in later years, the boy ascribed his deliverance to One more excellent than the angels, their Lord, Who had “come riding on the rainbow and clouds” to rescue him.

And, if Christ was the Beginning, the End was Christ, beheld with clearest intelligence and firmest faith and consuming love. The Analecta preserves some “words that dropped from him at several times,” as, in that March of 1661, Rutherford lay in his room and looked for his Master. “I shall shine; I shall see Him as He is. I shall see Him reign, and all the fair company with Him, and I shall have my large share. Mine eyes shall see my Redeemer, and noe other forme. This seems to be a wide word; but it’s noe fancy nor delusion: it’s treu, it’s treu!”

These, too, were his exultations: “My blessed Master ! My kingly King ! Let my Lord’s name be exalted; and, if He will, let my name be ground to pieces, that He may be all and in all. If He should slay me ten thousand times ten thousand times, I’ll trust.”

Often he repeated the text, Thy Word was found, and I did eat it, and it was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart. “It’s no easy thing to be a Christian,” he said to one; “but, for me, I have gotten the victory, and Christ is holding out both His arms to embrace me.”

When the end drew near, Robert Blair asked, “What think you now of Christ?” “I shall live and adore Him,” he replied; and in whispers he was heard saying again and again, “Glory to Him in Emanuel’s land!”

That One Face was more and more his Universe.

Someone alluded to his own work of faith; but he was quick to interrupt: “I disclaim all. The port I would be in at is redemption and salvation through His blood.” To four of his brethren who visited him, he gave the counsel: “Pray for Christ; preach for Christ; do all for Christ; beware of men-pleasing.”

Once or twice he cried for “a well-tuned harp,” as if already he would participate in the strains of the worshippers within the veil. On the afternoon before he died, he predicted: “This night will close the door, and fasten my anchor; and I shall go away in a sleep by five in the morning.” And thus it happened; for at that hour on the morning of the 29th of March “the daybreak hour which, as Henry Vaughan sings, “best doth chime” with the glory of the divine Bridegroom, God hid Samuel Rutherford with Himself from the wrangling and cruelty of wicked men.

Between the Parliament in Edinburgh and the deathbed in St. Andrews there is more than the distance which separates earth from heaven.

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Taken and Adapted from, Men of the Covenant, Vol 1.
Written by, ALEXANDER SMELLIE, M.A., D.D.

Edited for thought, sense and space

 

The LORD’s Steadfast Love Despite the Changing faces of Providence

Edited and adapted from “Trial and Triumph of Faith.”
Written by Samuel Rutherford

gods-providence
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

–Psalm 25:10 (ESV)
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Consider the art of Providence here…

1st, The devil sometimes shapes, and our wise Lord sews; Babylon kills, God makes alive; sin, hell, and death, are made a chariot to carry on the Lord’s excellent work.

2nd, The Providence of God has two sides; one black and sad, another white and joyful.

Heresy takes strength, and is green before the sun; God’s clearing of necessary and seasonable truths, is a fair side of that same providence.

illustration001Adam’s first sin, was the devil and hell digging a hole through the comely and beautiful frame of the creation of God; and that is the dark side of Providence: but the flower of Jesse springing up, to take away sin, and to paint out to men and angels the glory of a heaven, and a new world of free grace—that is a lightsome side of Providence.

Christ scourged; Christ in a case, that he cannot command a cup of water; Christ dying, shamed, forsaken, is black: but Christ, in that same work redeeming the captives of hell, opening to sinners forfeited paradise, that is fair and white.  

Joseph, weeping in the prison for no fault, is foul and sad; but Joseph brought out to reign as half a king, to keep alive the Church of God in great famine, is joyful and glorious.

The apostles whipped, imprisoned, killed all the day long, are sad and heavy: but sewed with this, that God causes them always to triumph, and show the distinctive quality of the knowledge of Christ; and Paul triumphing in his iron chains, and exalting Christ in the gospel, through the court of bloody Nero,—makes up a fair and comely contexture of divine Providence.

WylieAttack3rd, God, in all his works, now, when he raineth from heaven a sad shower of blood on the three kingdoms, has his one foot on justice, that wrath may fill to the brim the cup of malignants, prelates, and papists; and his other foot on mercy, “to wash away the filth of the daughter of Zion, and to purge the blood of Jerusalem in the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” [Isa. 4:4.] And this is God’s way and ordinary path-road, (Psalm 25:10.) And in one and the same motion, God can walk both to the east and to the west, and to the north and the south.

APPLICATION—It is our fault, that we look upon God’s ways and works by halves and pieces; and so, we see often nothing but the black side, and the dark part of the moon. We mistake all, when we look upon men’s works by parts; a house in the building, lying in a hundred pieces; here timber, here a rafter, there a spar, there a stone; in another place, half a window, in another place, the side of a door: there is no beauty, no face of a house here. Have patience a little, and see them all by art compacted together in order, and you will see a fair building. When a painter draws the half of a man; the one side of his head, one eye, the left arm, shoulder, and leg, and hath not drawn the other side, nor filled up with colors all the members, parts, limbs, in its full proportion, it is not like a man. So do we look on God’s works by halves or parts; and we see him bleeding his people, scattering parliaments, chasing away nobles and prelates, as not willing they should have a finger in laying one stone of his house: yet do we not see, that in this dispensation, the other half of God’s work makes it a fair piece.

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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”.

 

I long to know how matters stand between Christ and your soul…

Written by, Samuel Rutherford, (1600-1661).
Taken from, “A Selection from his Letters.”
Written to, The Lady Gaitgirth.
Where and when, Aberdeen, 1637.
Edited for thought and sense.

imagesTime cannot change Him in His love.

Ye yourself may ebb and flow, rise and fall, wax and wane; but your Lord is this day as He was yesterday. And it is your comfort that your salvation is not rolled upon wheels of your own making, neither have ye to do with a Christ at your own shaping. God has singled out a Mediator, strong and mighty: if ye and your burdens were as heavy as ten hills or hells, He is able to bear you, and to save you to the uttermost.

Your often seeking to Him cannot make you a burden to Him.

I know that Christ has compassion for you, and feels and groans in heaven for you, in all your moods, and under your down castings; but it is good for you that He hideth Himself sometimes. It is not niceness, dryness, nor coldness of love, that causeth Christ to withdraw, and slip in under a curtain and a veil, that ye cannot see Him; but He knoweth that ye could not bear with furled sails, a fair gale, a full moon, and a high spring-tide of His fully felt love, and always a fair summer-day and a summer-sun of a felt and possessed and embracing Lord Jesus.

His kisses and His visits to His dearest ones are thin-sown.

He could not let out His rivers of love upon His own, but these rivers would be in hazard of loosening a young plant at the root; and He knoweth this of you. Ye should, therefore, understand Christ’s kindness, as to its sensible and full manifestations, till ye and He be above sun and moon. That is the country where ye will be enlarged for that love which ye do not now contain.

Cast the burden of your sweet babes upon Christ, and lighten your heart, by laying your all upon Him: He will be their God.

I hope to see you up the mountain yet, and glad in the salvation of God. Frame yourself for Christ, and gloom not upon His cross. I find Him so sweet, that my love, suppose I would charge it to remove from Christ, would not obey me: His love has stronger fingers than to let go its grips of us children, who cannot go but by such a hold as Christ. It is good that we want legs of our own, since we may borrow from Christ; and it is our happiness that Christ is under an act of cautionary for heaven, and that Christ is booked in heaven as the principal debtor for such poor bodies as we are.

I request you, give the laird, your husband, thanks for his care of me, in that he has appeared in public for a prisoner of Christ. I pray and write mercy, and peace, and blessings to him and his.

Grace, grace be with you for ever.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Samuel Rutherford (c.1600 – 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 w

Thoughts on Grace, Covenant Relationship, and the Nature of Sin, Including the Unpardonable Sin

 Written by Samuel Rutherford.
Edited for thought and sense by Michael Pursley.

caananite-woman“But he answered, and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. And Jesus answered, and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt: and her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”—MATTHEW 15:26-28.

“And when she came to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.”—MARK 7:30.

.

THE dispute between Christ and the woman goes on:

Christ brings a strong reason, (verse 26,) why he should not heal her daughter; because she, and all her nation, are not in a covenant with God, as are the Jews. But the church of God, are but dogs, and profane, and unworthy of Christ, which is the bread ordained for the children.

When Christ humbles, he may put us in remembrance of our nation, and national sins: “Look to the rock whence ye were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye were digged,” (Isa. 51:1). “I alone called Abraham, he was an idolater,” (Hos. 9:10). I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; they should have been wild grapes rotting in the wilderness, had I not put them in my basket. “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abomination,” (Ezek. 16:2). How? Make them know the stock they came of, ‘And say, Thus saith the Lord unto Jerusalem, thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite,’ (verse 3). When the Jew was to offer the first fruits to the Lord; “And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and went down to Egypt to sojourn there,” (Deut. 26:5). Thus, the forgetting what we are by nature, adds to our guiltiness: “And in all thine abominations, and thy whoredoms, thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou was naked and bare, and was polluted in thy blood,” (Ezek. 16:22). So the Ephesians must be told how unfit they were by nature for Christ, being the very workhouse and shop of the devil, in which he wrought, (Eph. 2:1-3).

National sins have influence in their guilt and contagion on believers:

(1.) When they mourn not for them (National sins): God’s displeasure should be our sorrow.

(2.) When they (Christians) stand not in the gap (give intercessory prayer) to turn away wrath, (Ezek. 22:30).

There were godly men that departed from ill (wrong), (Isa. 59), but God’s quarrel was, that there was no intercessor, (verse 15). Who sorrows for the blood of malignants and rebels?—for their oaths, mocking, scoffing, massing? The sins of the land, idolatry, superstitious days, vain ceremonies, etc., have influence on a believer’s conscience in his approach to God.

But we are here to consider, that Christ does two great and contrary works at once:

(1.) He humbles the believing woman, in reproaching her as a profane dog, unworthy of the children’s bread, that she will may be more broken for believing; And

(2.) He tries and tempts her, to see if she can, by reproaches, be taken off from Christ.

A broken will is a broken heart, for will is the iron sinew in the heart.

Many think, the troubled conscience should not be further humbled. They say, ‘There is nothing for such a soul, but the honey and sweetness of consolations in the gospel.’ Nay, but often that which troubles them, is subtle and invisible pride; he’ll not believe for want of self-worthiness:—‘Oh! I dare not rest on Christ, nor apply the promises, because of my sinful unworthiness.’ Now, if this be humility, it is the proudest humility in the world; for the soul thus troubled, saith, ‘I am not good enough, nor rich enough for Christ and his fine gold.’ But though thou should try to buy Christ, the Father will not sell him. Christ is disposed to a sinner as a free gift, not as a wage or a hire. There is a difference between down-casting and saving humiliation. Down-casting may exceed measure, in the too much apprehension of the law-curses, and may be conjoined with much pride and self-love: but right and saving humiliation conjoined with faith, cannot overpass bounds; it arises often from the sense of grace rather than from the law; God gives grace to the humble, and he gives humility to the gracious, under the sense of rich grace, (1 Tim. 1:15; Eph. 3:8; Titus 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 1:9). Nothing humbles us more than an opinion of the power and excellency of grace. Grace known and apprehended in its worth, layeth down proud nature on the earth. Christ’s grace, was Christ’s account book to Paul; “But by the grace of God I am that I am,” (1 Cor. 15:9,10).

And Christ, under the notion of tempting and trying, offers this thought to the woman: That she was too daring and bold, being a dog, to presume to ask for the children’s bread.

Hence have we to consider, how far the conscience of sin ought to stand in our way toward Christ:

(1.) Conscience of sin is to humble any; that seeks to turn to Christ. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” spoken by Christ brought Paul down off his high horse, and laid his soul in the dust. “Now we know, that what things whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:19.) It is a speech taken from a malefactor, arraigned and paneled upon his head. When the judge objects, ‘What say you? This and this treason is witnessed against you.’ Alas! the poor man stands speechless and dumb; his mouth is stopped, “That thou mayest remember thy old shame, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame.” (Ezek. 16:63.) Christ, then, hath the sinner’s neck under his axe. What justice and law may do, that Christ may do. The captive taken in war, may be killed by the laws of war, if he refuse to submit.

(2.) No sin is unpardonable treason, but the sin against the Holy Ghost, and final impenitence. The gospel is a treaty of peace between parties in war; none are excepted but these two.

(3.) But what then, if a soul come to this,—‘I have either sinned against the Holy Ghost, or certainly am on the borders of it, because Christ knocked long: and a year ago, or a long time from this, I remember of his farewell rap, when Christ knocking, took his last good night, with this word, ‘He that is filthy, let him be filthy still,’ and said, he would never come again. I grant an ill conscience can speak prophecy; (Exod. 10:28, 29). So Pharaoh did prophesy, and Cain also, (Gen. 4:13, 14). But [2.] I can yield, that there be some farewell knockings of Christ, after which, Christ is never seen or heard at the door of some men’s hearts. Paul speaketh so to the Jews, “But seeing you put the gospel from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46.) The like is Christ’s language to them: “Then said Jesus to them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come.” (John 8:21.)

I doubt if any can sin the sin against the Holy Ghost, and the sinner only, and no other complain of it; that sin breaketh out in prodigious acts of wickedness, as blood and persecution. Though if it were true, that you were upon the borders of hell, yet the gospel, though it except you from actual mercy, yet excepts you not from the duty of believing and coming to Christ; and though such think and imagine, that they believe Christ is able to save and redeem them, only they doubt of his will, yet the truth is, the doubt of unbelief is more of the power of mercy and infinite grace in Christ than of his will; and my reason is, “that whosoever believeth, hath set to his seal that God is true;” (John 3:33;) and “He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” (1 John 5:10.)

Now, it is not God’s testimony, nor any gospel truth, that such as sin against the Holy Ghost shall be pardoned.

Yet these that sin against the Holy Ghost are condemned for unbelief, as all other unbelievers are. (John 3:18, 36.) If he that sins against the Holy Ghost, could believe the power of infinite mercy, he should also believe the will and inclination of infinite mercy, for the power of mercy is the very power of a merciful will. I shall not then be afraid that that soul is lost, which hath high and capacious apprehensions of the worth, value, dignity, and power of that dear ransom, and of infinite mercy. It is faith to believe this gospel truth, which is, “That Christ is able to save to the utmost all that come to him.” (Heb. 7:25.) If I believe soundly what free grace can do, I believe soundly what free grace will do. It is true, Christ can save many, whom he never will save; but the faith of the power of mercy, and of his will to save, is of a far other consideration. It must then be the prevailing of a temptation, not to dare to come to Christ, because I am a dog, and unworthy,

(1.) Because sin is no porter to watch the door of Christ’s house of free grace: mercy keeps the keys. Sin may object my evil deserving, but it cannot object Christ’s rich deserving.

(2.) That which makes me unworthy, and graceless, and unfit to be saved, may make Christ worthy, and gracious to save; my sin may be the object of Christ’s rich grace. Though sin makes me unworthy of Christ, yet it makes me a fit passive object for the physician Christ to work on, and makes not Christ unworthy to save.

If I feel sin, it then saith…

…Thou art the very person by name that Christ seeketh. Therefore is the sense of sin required as a condition in all that come to Christ, whether it be before conversion, or after conversion, when acts of faith are renewed.

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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.

The young lad of five years old had been playing with some friends around a well when he tragically fell into it. The other children ran to his parents for help. They came, expecting him to be dead, but he was found cold and wet, sitting on a nearby   hill. Puzzled over his escape, they asked him how he climbed out of the deep well. He answered that “a bonny white Man drew me forth and set me down.” No other explanation was ever given as to who or what  this rescuer was, but his deliverance of young Samuel Rutherford preserved for time one of the stalwarts of the Reformed and Presbyterian faith in Scotland and England.

Samuel Rutherford was born in 1600 in the village of Nesbit, Scotland, to a prosperous farmer and his wife. Because of this background, Samuel was able to receive a good education, one which culminated at the University of Edinburgh, where he attended from 1617 to 1621. His prowess in Latin enabled him to immediately enter the teaching profession there at the University.

But it was as a pastor that he showed the spiritual gifts which would influence many a Covenanting heart to grow spiritually in the things of the Lord. Going to Anwoth in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, in 1627, he began to show his caring approach for the spiritual needs of the people. It was said by the members of his congregation that “he was always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying.” To do all this, Pastor Rutherford rose up each day at 3 a.m. to engage in prayer and meditation.

His marriage at a young age brought both happiness and sorrow. His wife was often sick, once for thirteen months. She did eventually die, but not before bearing Samuel two children, though both of them followed their mother to death’s dark door.   He would marry again a “delightful” wife, but the personal sorrows continued, with only one of seven children surviving into adulthood. God clearly allowed these personal sorrows so as to make him a comforter of suffering saints.

These were perilous times in Scotland. Preaching against the errors of Arminianism did not please the Anglican clergy. On July 27, 1636, Rutherford was barred from ministering to his parish upon the threat of rebellion if he continued. Exiled to Aberdeen, Scotland, and sorrowing over not just his loss of family, but also of God’s family, this was a difficult time indeed. But God often allows a hard experience so as to make one of his children a comforter to others in similar circumstances. It was at this time that Rutherford wrote numerous letters to other Christians, letters which helped them bear up through incredibly difficult times. These letters were eventually published by The Banner of Truth Trust. He was to stay in Aberdeen for 18 months.

In 1638, there occurred a reversal in the political situation, during which Presbyterianism was restored in Scotland.  Samuel Rutherford was appointed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to a Professorship at St. Andrews University. He went there with the condition that he be allowed to preach at least once a week. His heart was in the pastorate. Five  years later, he went to London, England to participate as a Commissioner in the Westminster Assembly, where, along with the other four Scottish commissioners, he influenced that august gathering in a great way, even though he could not vote. [the Scottish commissioners were all of non-voting status in the Assembly.]  It was said of his four years there in London, that he was especially well-remembered by all for his work on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Rutherford’s magnum opus was titled Lex Rex. In this work he dealt with the subject of government and so effectively argued for limited government, that it was judged to be a direct attack on the divine right of kings.  When King Charles II read this book, he ordered it to be burned and a charge of high treason to be laid against Samuel Rutherford. Though summoned to appear before the king, Rutherford was at that time confined to bed with illness. He  turned down the summons, saying “I  must answer my first summons; and before your day arrives, I will be where few kings and great folks come.”  Samuel Rutherford died March 20:1661.

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 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”.

When It Seems that God has Forsaken You, and is No Longer Listening To Your Prayers… Come To Him Anyway.

Written by Samuel Rutherford.
Edited for thought and sense by Michael Pursley.

images (2)And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, 
and cried to him, saying, Have mercy on me, 
O Lord, you son of David; 
my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 
             —Matthew 15:22
“Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.”—Vs. 25.

It seems that Christ had denied her to be his…

…but she will not deny but Christ is her’s: see how a believer is to carry himself towards Christ when it feels that he is deserting, or frowning.

Christ, here

  1. Answered her not one word. 
  2. He gave an answer but to the disciples, not to the woman. Oh dreadful! Christ refuseth to give her one word that may go between her, and hell and despair. 
  3. The answer that he giveth is sadder and heavier than no answer; it is as much as, Woman, I have nothing to do with thee; I quit my part of thee

Yet,

  1. She is patient. 
  2. She believeth. 
  3. She waiteth on a better answer. 
  4. She continueth in praying. 
  5. Her love is not abated; she cometh and adoreth. 
  6. Acknowledgeth her own misery; “Lord, help me,” and putteth Christ as God in his own right to be adored. 
  7. She taketh Christ aright up, and seeth the temptation to be a temptation. 
  8. She runneth to Christ; she came nearer to him, and runneth not from him; she clingeth to Christ, though Christ had cast her off. 

Patient submission to God when you cannot see him, is sweet.

What though I saw no reason why I cry and shout, and God answereth not?  –His comforts and his answers are his own free graces; he may do with his own what he thinks good, and grace is no debt. “Hear, O Lord, for thy own sake.” (Dan. 9:19.)

Infinite sovereignty may lay silence upon all hearts:

Good Hezekiah, “What shall I say? He hath spoken unto me, and himself hath done it.” (Isa. 38:15.) It is an act of Heaven; I bear it with silence.

She believeth.

There is a high and noble commandment laid upon the sad spirit: “He that walketh in darkness, and seeth no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” (Isa. 50:10.)

Fill the field with faith, double or frequent acts of faith: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). Two faiths are a double breastwork against the forts of hell. (Eph. 6:16; 1 Thes. 5:8.)

In the greatest extremity believe, even as David in the borders of hell: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” (Psalm 23:4.) It is a litote; I will believe good. It is a cold and a dark shadow to walk at death’s right side, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15.) See Stephen dying and believing both at once: Christ’s very dead corpse and his grave in a sort believing: “My flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:9.) How sweet to take faith’s back band, subscribed by God’s own hand, into the cold grave with thee, as Christ did; “Thou wilt not leave my soul in the grave.” (verse 10.)

Faith saith, sense is a liar: fancy, sense, the flesh will say, “His archers compassed me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare, and poureth out my gall on the ground:” (Job 16:13:) but faith saith, “I have a friend in heaven; also, now, my witness is in heaven.” (verse 19.) Sense maketh a lie of God; “He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and taketh me for his enemy.” (Job 19:11.) No, Job, thou art the friend of God: see how his faith cometh above the water, “I know that my friend by blood, or my Redeemer liveth.” (verse 25.)

She waits in hope, and took not the first nor second answer:

Hope is long breathed, and at midnight prophesieth good of God: “Though I fall, I shall rise again:” (Mic. 7:9). “Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight, yet I will look toward thy holy temple.” (Jonah 2:4.) There is a seed of heaven in hope. When God did hide his face from Job, (Job 13:24;) yet, “He also shall be my salvation:” (verse 16). There is a negative, and over-clouded hope in the soul at the saddest time; the believer dares not say, Christ will never come again: if he say it, it is in hot blood, and in haste, and he will take his word again. (Isa. 8:17.)

She continueth in praying:

She cried, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy upon me;” she has no answer; she crieth again, till the disciples are troubled with her shouts: she getteth a worse answer than no answer, yet she cometh and prayeth. We know the holy willfulness of Jacob, “I will not let thee go till thou bless me.” (Gen. 32:26.) Rain calmeth the stormy wind: to vent out words in a sad time, is the way of God’s children: “Thy wrath lieth hard upon me: My eye mourneth by reason of mine affliction.” (Psalm 88:7, 9.) And what then? “Lord, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands to thee.” (Psalm 22:2.) Christ in the borders of hell, prayed, and prayed again, and died praying.

She hath still love to Christ, and is not put from the duty of adoring.

“Whom having not seen, yet ye love.” (1 Pet. 1:8.) The deserted soul seeth little: there must be love to Christ, where there is, faith in the dark; faith is with child of love. Where the believer is willing that his pain and his hell may be matter of praising God: “Who is so great a god as our God?” (Psalm 77:13). 

She putteth Christ in his chair of state, and adoreth him: the deserted soul saith, Be I what I will, He is Jehovah the Lord.

Confession is good in saddest desertion, “I have sinned; what shall I do to thee, O preserver of man?” (Job 7:20). The seed of Jacob is in a hard case before God, (Lam. 1:17,) and under wrath, (verses 12-14). Yet, “The Lord is righteous, for I have sinned:” (verse 16:) this maketh the soul charitable of God, how sad soever the dispensation be.

She seeth it is a trial, as is clear by her instant pursuing after Christ, after many repulses.

It is great mercy, that God cometh not behind backs, and striketh not in the dark. “And I said, this is my infirmity:” (Psalm 77:10:) he gathereth his scattered thoughts, and taketh himself in the temptation. It is mercy, To see the trial in the face. Some lie under a dumb and a deaf trial that wanteth all the five senses; God’s immediate hand is more to be looked at, than all trials and other temptations. Hence the conscience is timorous, and traverseth its ways under the trial. When a night traveler dare not trust the ground he walketh on, he is in a sad condition; he is under two evils, and hath neither comfort nor confidence. “He that walketh in darkness, and hath no light,” (but some glimmering of star-light, or half moon under the earth, and knoweth not the ground he walketh on,) “let him trust in the name of the Lord.” (Isa. 50:10.)

She runneth not away from Christ though she believes that she is under desertion; but she cometh to him.

It is a question of what souls that feel forsaken shall do in that case. See, that you run not from Christ. It was a feeling of desertion that Saul was under, and a sad one we read of; but he maketh confession of his condition to the devil; a sad word; “I am sore distressed:” (1 Sam. 28:15,) there is a heavy and lamentable reason given why; “the Philistines make war against me.” Why, that is not much; they make war always against the people of God: Nay, but here is the marrow and the soul of all vengeance, “God is departed from me.” Why, foolish man, what availeth it thee to tell the devil, God is departed from thee? Judas was under a total desertion; he went not to Christ, but to the murderers of Christ, to open his wound. “I have sinned:” fool! say that to the Saviour of sinners. The Church forsaken, betaketh herself to Christ, and searcheth him out: “Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?” (Cant. 1:5). It is a bad token, when men, conceiving themselves to be in calamity, make lies and policy their refuge. 

“But she came and worshipped.”

A heavier trial cannot befall a soul tender of Christ’s love, than to cry to God and not be answered; and to cry, and receive a flat and downright renouncing of the poor supplicant. Yet this doth not thrust her from a duty; she cometh, and worshippeth, and prayeth. It is a blessed mark, when a temptation thrusteth not off a soul from a duty. And (1.) When the danger and sad trial is seen, it is good to go on. Christ knew before, he should suffer; and when they would apprehend him, yet he went to the garden to spend a piece of the night in prayer. It was told Paul by Agabus, if he went to Jerusalem, the Jews should bind him, and deliver him to the Gentiles: it was his duty to go, thither he professeth he will go: “What mean ye to weep and break my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but to die for the name of Jesus.” (Acts 21:13.) Dying could not thrust him from a duty. Esther ran the hazard of death to go in to the king; yet conscience of a duty calling, she goeth on in faith; “If I perish, I perish.” (2.) In the act of suffering: Christ on the cross prayeth and converteth the thief; Paul, with an iron chain upon his body, preacheth Christ before Agrippa and his enemies, and preaching Christ was the crime: Paul and Silas, with bloody shoulders, must sing psalms in the stocks. (3.) Indefinitely. After the trial, and when the temptation is on, yet the saints go on: “All this is come on us,” (Psalm 44:17,) there is the temptation: the duty, “Yet we have not forgotten thee, neither dealt falsely in thy covenant.” “Princes did speak against me,” there is a temptation: yet here is a duty: “But thy servant did meditate on thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:23.) “My soul fainteth for thy salvation, but I hope in thy word.” (verse 81.) “The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I erred not from thy precepts.” (verse 110.) “Many are my persecutors and mine enemies, yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.” (verse 157.) “They fought against me without a cause:” (Psalm 109:3.) “For my love they were my adversaries, but I gave myself to prayer.” (verse 4.)

It is a sign of a sweet humbled servant, who can take a buffet…

…and yet go about his master’s service; and when a soul can pass through fire and water to be at a duty; for then, the conscience of the duty hath more prevailing power to act obedience, than the salt and bitterness of the temptation hath force to subdue and vanquish the spirit: it is likely grace hath the day, and better of corruption.  “They prevented me in the day of my calamity;” (Psalm 18:18). “I was upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.” (verse 23.) The devil hath a friend within us: now there be degrees of friends, some nearer of blood than other some; the man’s own predominant is the dearer friend to Satan, than any other sin; if pride be the predominant, it is so Satan’s first-born, he agents his business by pride. As grace appeareth the more gracious and active, if it hath an adversary; as fire and water, put forth their greatest strength when they actually conflict together.

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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”.

On the Nature of Sheep, and Thoughts regarding the Sheep of His Pasture

Written by Samuel Rutherford.
Edited for thought and sense.

untitledThe sheep are passive creatures, and can do little for themselves; so can believers in the work of their salvation: as,

 

They have not of themselves more knowledge of the saving way than sheep…

…and so cannot walk, but as they are taught and led. “Teach me, O Lord.” (Psalm 119:33.) “Lead me in thy truth.” (Psalm 25:5.) (1.) Like a blind man holding out his hand to his guide, so they: “Lord, lead me in thy righteousness.” (Psalm 5:8.) (2.) It is not common leading, but the leading of children learning to go by a hold. “When Ephraim was a child, I loved him.” (Hosea 11:1.) “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms;” but Ephraim, like a child, knew not his leader: “But they know not,” saith the Lord, “that I healed them.” (verse 3.)

Leading may suppose some willingness; but we must be drawn:

“No man can come to me, except the Father draw him,” (John 6:44). “Draw me, we will run after thee.” (Cant. 1:4.) (4.) There is a word of special grace, which is more than teaching, leading, drawing; and that is, Leaning: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?” (Cant. 8:5.) (5.) There is a word yet more, and that is Bearing: when the good shepherd hath found the lost sheep, “He layeth it on his shoulders with joy.” (Luke 15:5.) “Hearken to me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are born (by me) from the belly and carried from the grey hairs:” (Isa. 46:3:) So also, “God beareth them on eagles’ wings.” (Deut. 32:11.) Grace, grace is a noble guide and tutor.

The life of sheep, is the most dependent life in the world:

No such dependent creatures as sheep: all their happiness is the goodness, care, and wisdom of their shepherd; wolves, lions, leopards, need none to watch over them. Briers and thorns grow alone; the vine tree, the noble vine, is a tender thing, must be supported. Christ must bear the weak and lambs in his bosom. (Isa. 40:11.)

The shepherd’s bosom and his legs, are the legs of the weak lamb.

Even the habit of grace is a creature, and no independent thing; and so, in its creation, in its preservation, it depends on Christ: grace is as the new-born bird; its life is the heat and warmness of the body, and wings of the dam. It is like a chariot; though it have four wheels, yet it moves only, as drawn by the strength of horses without it. It is a plough of timber only, without iron and steel it breaks up no earth. The new seed of God acts, as acted by God: hence repenting Ephraim, “Turn thou me and I shall be turned.” (Jer. 31:18.) Renewed David is often at this: “Quicken me, quicken me:” Solomon says of the swooning Church; “Stay me with flagons, and comfort me with apples.” (Cant. 2:5.) 3. Sheep are docile creatures. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27.) 

There are two things here considerable; one within, and another without.

How knoweth the lamb its mother amongst a thousand of the flock? Natural instinct teaches it. From what teacher or art is it, that the swallow builds its clay house and nest, and every bee knoweth its own cell and waxen house? So the instinct of grace knoweth the voice of the Beloved amongst many voices, (Cant. 2:8). And this discerning power is in the subject. There is another power in the object. Of many thousand millions of men, since the creation, not one, in figure and shape, is altogether like another; some visible difference there is: amongst many voices, no voice like man’s tongue: amongst millions of divers tongues of men, every voice hath an audible difference printed on it, by which it is discerned from all other. To the new creature, there is in Christ’s word some character, some sound of heaven, that is in no voice in the world, but in his only: in Christ represented to a believer’s eye of faith, there is a shape, and a stamp of divine majesty: no man knoweth it but the believer; and in heaven and earth Christ hath not a marrow [match] like himself. Suppose there were a hundred counterfeit moons, or fancied suns in the heaven; a natural eye can discern the true moon, and the natural sun from them all. The eye knoweth white, not to be black nor green. Christ is offered to the eye of faith, and stamps on faith’s eye little images of Christ, that the soul dare go to death and to hell with it, that this, this only was Christ, and none other but he only. 4. Sheep are simple: fancy leadeth them much, therefore they are straying creatures. (Isa. 53:6; Psalm 119:176; 1 Peter 2:25.) There is nothing of the notion of death, or of another life in the fancy of sheep; a mouthful of green grass carries the sheep on to a pit, and the mouth and teeth of lions and wolves.

Fancy is often the guide of weak believers, rather than faith:

…little care we by nature, what we shall be in the next generation. Fancy and nature cannot out-see time, nor see over or beyond death. Fair and green-like are our hopes of gain; for to us, they are to us the very hope of good: but we see two moons in one heaven. There is a way that seems good, yet it deceives us; for black death is in the night lodging of it.

Alas! we are journeying, and know not our night-inns, and where we shall lodge when the sun is going down: poor soul! where shall you be all night? Faith is leisurely to look to Christ, in bringing his work out of the mold, and taking the new ship off the stocks as a perfected vessel.

We conceive erroneously that faith only eyes Christ as pardoning; and that it has no eye, no activity and no influence on our own gracious acts wrought in us by Christ. But faith is an agent, and it is patient, and joins with Christ and with free will, to be an active agent in the purifying of the heart: it believes heaven, and works the work of heaven.

We often go on, imagining that we are in a way of backsliding.

Deserted souls not conscious of the reflex acts of believing and longing for Christ, think themselves apostates, when they are advancing in their way. In great water-works, where there be a great multitude of wheels, the standing of some five or six is the advancing of the work in other twenty, or forty wheels. In desertion, some wheels are at a stand, and move not; as often acts of feeling, joy, self-delight in the actual beholding of Christ, are at a stand; and then it is thus:—“I said, I am cast out of his sight;” yet other wheels are moving, as (1.) Humble and base thoughts of himself. (2.) Broad and large thoughts of Christ, and his grace. (3.) Hunger and longing for Christ. (4.) Self-diffidence is much. (5.) Care and love-sickness: “Saw you him whom my soul loves?” is vehement. (6.) Sense of sin, and of wants and spiritual poverty, increases now. (7.) Sense of the misery of the combat, is much more than before: “O miserable man that I am!” (8.) Believing under hope, and against hope, is strongest now. (9.) There is more tenderness and humble fear now than before. (10.) A stronger resolution to entertain Christ more kindly, when he shall return again in his fullness of presence. (11.) Sorrow, that remembering, he said, “My head is full of dew, and my locks with the drops of the night,” (Cant. 5:6,) yet the sleeping soul kept him at the door.

We are to adore that dispensation, which will have us not stepping one foot to heaven, but upon grace, and upon grace’s charges.

He could make saints to be sinless angels: but what haste? We should then, not yet being habituated with glory, nor confirmed in heaven, and think little of Christ.

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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”.