Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vintage Rutherford

 This past week I began reading through a printed EEBO edition of Samuel Rutherford's Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself (1647). For those like myself who absolutely need to get their hands on a hard copy in order to read a volume like this (even if the Kindle version is much cleaner), you can find one on Amazon. Below are some of the highlights from the sections I've been reading through thus far (with a few minor alterations of punctuation and spelling for enhanced accessibility). Enjoy!
[Christ] received an acquittance of justification, never a pardon of grace; 1 Tim. 3:16. Justified in the Spirit. [p. 7]
 If my soul or your souls, O redeemed of the Lord, could be valued every one of them worth ten thousand millions of souls, and as many heavens, they could not over-weigh the soul of God [in Christ]; the soul that lodges in a glorious union with God; and the loss of heaven to the troubled soul of this noble, and high and lofty one, though but for a time, was more, and infinitely greater than my loss of heaven and hte loss of all the elect for eternity. [p. 7]
 You sin (saith the Love of loves) and I suffer. You did the wrong, I make the amends. You sin and sing in your carnal joys, I weep for your joy. The fairest face that ever was, was foul with weeping for your sinful rejoicing. It was fitting that free-love in the bowels of Christ should contrive the way to heaven through free-love. We should never in heaven cast down our crowns at the feet of him that sits on the throne with such fear and admiration if we had come to the crown by law-doing and not by gospel-confiding on a rich Ransom-payer. [p. 8]
 We complain in our soul-trouble of Christ's departure from us, but he is not gone; our sense is not our Bible, nor a good rule; there is an error in this compass. [p. 11]
 If I had any hell on me, I should choose an innocent hell, like Christ's. Better [to] suffer ill a thousand times than sin. [p. 11]
The six days of creation hath been travailing and shouting for pain, and the child is not born yet, Rom. 8:22. This poor woman hath been groaning under the bondage of vanity, and shall not be brought to bed [until] Jesus come the second time to be Mid-wife to the birth. [p. 12]
Soft and childish saints take it not well that they are not every day feasted with Christ's love, that they lie not all the night between the Redeemer's breasts, and are not dandled on his knee... But they forget the difference between the inns of clay and the home of glory. Our fields here are sown with tears, grief grows in every furrow of this low-land. You shall lay soul and head down in the bosom and between the breasts of Jesus Christ; that bed must be soft and delicious; it's perfumed with uncreated glory. The thoughts of all your now soul-troubles shall be as shadows that passed away ten thousand years ago, when Christ shall circle his glorious arm about your head, and you rest in an infinite compass of surpassing glory; or when glory, or ripened grace, shall be within you, and without you, above, and below, when feet of clay shall walk upon pure surpassing glory: The street of the city was pure gold: There is no gold there, but glory only; gold is but a shadow to all that is there. [p. 13]
 If the ransom [Christ] gave had been [too] little, he would have given more. [p. 14]
 O Love of heaven, and fairest of Beloveds, the flower of Angels, why camest thou so low down, as to be-spot and under-rate the spotless love of all loves, with coming nigh to black sinners? Who could have believed that lumps of hell and sin could be capable of the warmings and sparkles of so high and princely a Love? Or that there could be place in the breast of the High and Lofty One for forlorn and guilty clay. [p 15]
 We would either have a silken, a soft, a perfumed cross, sugared and honeyed with the consolations of Christ, or we faint; and providence must either brew a cup of gall and wormwood mastered in the mixing with joy and songs, else we cannot be disciples. But Christ's cross did not smile on him, his cross was a cross, and his ship sailed in blood, and his blessed soul was sea-sick and heavy even to death. [p. 15]
 The peace that the Lord bringeth out of the womb of war is better than the rotten peace that we had in the superstitious days of the prelates.
Heaven is the more heaven that to Christ it was a purchase of blood. [p. 16]
We cannot have a paper-cross; except we would take on us to... put the creation in a new frame and take the world and make it a great leaden vessel, melt it in the fire, and cast a new mold of it. [p. 16]
 Many nowadays give out [that] they have so much of the Lord Jesus, that they are Christed and swallowed up in his love, yet should I think it all happiness, if I could but tell Christ's name [Prov. 30:4], and were so deeply learned as to know how they call him [Isa. 53:8]. [To the Reader]
 In this learned age, when Antinomians write book after book of Christ, I should say, for all their crying, O the Gospel-Spirit, the Gospel-Strain of Preaching, the Mystery of free grace (which few of them know), that one ounce, one grain of the spiritual and practical knowledge of Christ is more to be valued than talent-weights, yea, ship-loads or mountains of knowledge of the dumb school-letter. They say, the saints are perfect, and their works perfect. I slander them not: read Master Towne, M. Eaton, and Saltmarsh. But how ignorant they are of the gospel, how ill read and little versed in Christ. Yea, as Luther said, Take away sin, and ye take away Christ a Saviour of sinners. How little acquainted with and how great strangers to their own hearts are they in writing so. [To the Reader]

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rutherford's Refreshing Optimism

"Christ’s way of administration is a growing way; his kingdom is not a standing, nor a sitting, nor a sleeping kingdom, but it is walking and posting: ‘Thy kingdom come’: an increasing kingdom, a growing peace, ‘Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.’ … Despise not the day of small things. God’s beginning of great works is small. What could be said of a poor woman’s throwing of a stool at the man who did first read the new service book in Edinburgh? It was not looked at as any eminent passage of divine providence; yet it grew, till it came up to armies of men, the shaking of three kingdoms, the sound of a trumpet, the voice of the alarm, the lifting up of the Lord’s standard, destruction upon destruction, garments rolled in blood; – and goeth on in strength, that the vengeance of the Lord, and the vengeance of his temple, may pursue the land of graven images, and awake the kings of the earth to rise in battle against the great whore of Babylon, that the Jews may return to their Messiah, and Israel and Judah ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, weeping as they go; that the forces of the Gentiles, and the kingdoms of the world, may become the kingdoms of God and of his Son Jesus Christ. And this act of a despised woman, was one of the first steps of Omnipotency… And who knoweth but Christ is in the act of conquering, to create a new thing on the earth, and subdue the people to himself? Omnipotency can derive a sea, a world of noble and glorious works, from as small a fountain as a straw, a ram-horn, yea, [the] jaw-bone of a dead ass. God can put forth Omnipotency in all its flowers and golden branches of overpowering and incomparable excellencies, upon mere nothing: the wind is an empty unsolid thing, the sea a fluid and soft and ebbing creature; yet the wind is God’s chariot, he rideth on it; and the sea his walk, his paths are in the great waters.” [Samuel Rutherford, The Trial and Triumph of Faith, pp. 267-269]

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Communion Frequency and "the unhappy Independents"

The following is excerpted from the preface to A Scottish Communion (1882) by Scottish Reformed Presbyterian minister, Rev. William Milroy. No real agenda here on my part, except this: that we might all be self-consciously aware of the historical origin of (and rationale for) many of our contemporary communion practices. These are matters on which there is a measure of disagreement even within my own denomination and so let me emphasize that it is my desire to stir up fresh thought and dialogue, not strife or criticism. Hopefully this post proves in some way edifying to us in this regard. Kudos to the likeminded brother who brought this particular excerpt to my attention. Enjoy!
The Westminster Directory was drawn up by the Scottish Commissioners. Baillie informs us that they had a good deal of opposition to encounter, and speaks strongly of the Independents. "The unhappy Independents would mangle that Sacrament. No catechising nor preparation before; no thanksgiving after; no sacramental doctrine nor chapters in the day of celebration; no coming up to any table, but a carrying of the elements to all in their seats athort [throughout] the church." Elsewhere he says, -- "they have the communion every Sabbath, without any preparation before or thanksgiving after, little examination of people, -- their very prayers and doctrine before the sacrament uses [tends] not to be directed to the use of the sacrament." [p. xv]

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

J.G. Vos on the Covenanters and the Establishment Principle

"The fact that the Covenanters always opposed Erastianism, and scorned all compromise of the principle of Christ's sole headship over the Church, does not mean that they were opposed to the idea of an established or national Church, or that they believed in the separation of Church and State as it is commonly understood in America today. A reading of the Solemn League and Covenant is sufficient to show that that document is based upon the philosophy of Christian civil government and presupposes the idea of an established Church. The modern idea that the State has nothing to do with religion and the Church has nothing to do with politics, the Covenanters would have utterly abhorred and anathematized.

"The conception of the relation between the Church and State held by the Covenanters was, in brief, that both are divine institutions, each independent and supreme in its own sphere, united in an alliance of mutual support and helpfulness: the Church to teach the Christian doctrine of the civil magistrate, and the State to establish the Church by appropriate legislation and to provide for its financial support out of the national resources. According to this view, the fact that the Church is established by the State as the national Church, does not imply that the State has the right to dictate the policy or review the decisions of the Church. The Church is subject only to Christ, though by law established as the national Church." [J. G. Vos, The Scottish Covenanters, p. 210]

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rutherford on "the most desirable life in the world"

The following was excerpted from Samuel Rutherford's The Trial and Triumph of Faith, Sermon 20. Enjoy!
 If in justification, sins be blotted out, cast in the depths of the sea, and removed, as if they never had been, the state of justification must be a condition of sound blessedness, the most desirable life in the world, even as David also described the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." (Rom. iv, 6, 7) For, consider,
1. What an act of grace it is in a prince, to take a condemned malefactor from under the axe, the rack, the wheel, and so many hours' torture, before he end his miserable life. Or,
 2. Suppose he were condemned to be tortured leisurely, and his life continued and prorogated, that bones, sinews, lungs, joints, might be pained for twenty or thirty years, so much of his flesh cut off every day, such a flesh restored, that he might, for thirty years' space, every day be dying, and yet never die. Or,
3. Imagine a man could be kept alive in torment in this case, from sleep, ease,  food, clothing, five hundred years, or a thousand years, and boiling all the time in a cauldron full of melted lead; and say the soul could dwell in a body under the rack, the wheel, the lashes and scourges of scorpions, and whips of iron, the man bleeding, crying, in the act of dying for pain, gnawing his tongue for ten hundred years: Now suppose a mighty prince, by an act of free grace, could and would deliver this man from all this pain and torture, and give him a life in perfect health, in ten hundred paradises of joy, pleasure, worldly happiness, and a day all the thousand years without a night, a summer all this time, without cloud, storm, winter; all the honour, acclamations, love, and service of a world of men and angels, -- clothe this man with all the most complete delights, perfections, and virtues of mind and body -- set him ten thousand degrees of elevation, to the top of all imaginable happiness, above Solomon in his highest royalty, or Adam in his first innocency, or angels in their most transcendent glory and happiness: Yea,
 4. In our conception, we may extend the former misery and pain, and all this happiness, to the length of ten thousand years; -- this should be thought incomparably the highest act of grace and love that any creature could extend to his fellow-creature. And yet, all this were but a shadow of grace, in comparison of the love and rich grace of God in Christ, in the justification of a sinner.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Jesus Hath Done All Things Well

This past summer I purchased a used book entitled, The Sympathy of Christ with Man: Its Teaching and Its Consolation, by Octavius Winslow. At the end of chapter two, Winslow unleashes this wonderfully moving (and presumably original) poem. Enjoy!
I'll sing of Jesus crucified
The Lamb of God who bled and died,
A healing balm, a crimson tide
Flow'd from His head, His feet, His side.
Above the rest this note shall swell,
'My Jesus hath done all things well.'

He sought me in the wilderness,
And found me there in deep distress;
He changed and wash'd this heart of mine,
And fill'd me with His love Divine.
Above the rest this note shall swell,
'My Jesus hath done all things well.'

For what the Lord hath done for me,
For boundless grace so rich and free,
For all His mercies that are past,
I'll praise Him while my life shall last.
Above the rest this note shall swell,
'My Jesus hath done all things well.'

When sorrow's waves around me roll,
His promises my mind console;
When earth and hell my soul assail,
His grace and mercy never fail.
Above the rest this note shall well,
'My Jesus hath done all things well.'

When death shall steal upon my frame,
To damp and quench the vital flame,
I'll look into my Saviour's breast,
And there recline and sweetly rest.
Above the rest this note shall swell,
'My Jesus hath done all things well.'

And when we join the ransom'd throng,
To chant the sweet immortal song,
With tuneful heart, and voice, and tongue,
We'll roll the lofty note along.
Above the rest this note shall swell,
'My Jesus hath done all things well.'

To Him who wash'd us in His blood,
And made us kings and priests to God;
Hosanna we will ever sing,
And make the heavenly arches ring.
Above the rest this note shall swell,
'My Jesus hath done all things well.'

[Now go sing Psalm 23 to Crimond!]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Most Striking Words I Encountered in 2013

Throughout the past year, I've sought to share with you some of the more compelling quotations that I've run across in my studies. Upon reflection, there was one quote in particular that I would say was far and away the most striking (and personally convicting) among them. It comes from the pen of Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) in the introductory dedication to one of his classic works against Antinomianism, a series of sermons (on Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician Woman) entitled, The Trial and Triumph of Faith. And so, without any further ado, here's the quote: 
"Many are friends to the success of reformation, not to reformation."
[Here's to all the edifying quotations we will encounter and post in 2014 (d.v.)!]