Rutherford’s Christian Directory, Part One (oh, hi guys)

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The following few posts (oh, and hey guys) are excerpts from a letter which Samuel Rutherford wrote while in prison. They are far better than anything the author speaking could arrange, so they serve as a worthy placeholder for me while I work on new content. I’ve taken a rather long, but intentional break. But whether or not people are benefited by my writing, I won’t to press on for the value of the exercise it is to my mind; I hope, with God’s glory in mind.

I wish I could satisfy your desires, in drawing up and framing for you a Christian Directory. But the learned have done it before me, more judiciously than I can; especially Messrs. Rogers,35 Greenham,36 and Perkins.37 Notwithstanding, I will show you what I would have been at myself although I came always short of my purpose.

1. That hours of the day, less or more time, for the Word and prayer, be given to God, not sparing the twelfth hour or mid-day, although it should then be a shorter time.

2. In the midst of worldly employments there should be some thoughts of sin, judgment, death, and eternity, with a word or two (at least) of ejaculatory prayer to God.

3. To beware of wandering of heart in private prayers.

4. Not to grudge, although you come from prayer without sense of joy. Down casting, sense of guiltiness and hunger are often best for us.

5. That the Lord’s Day, from morning to night, be spent always either in private or public worship.

6. That words be observed, wandering and idle thoughts be avoided, sudden anger and desire of revenge, even of such as persecute the truth, beguarded against; for we often mix our zeal with our own wild-fire.

7. That known, discovered and revealed sins that are against the conscience, be avoided, as most dangerous preparatives to hard- ness of heart.

8. That in dealing with men, faith and truth in covenants and trafficking be regarded; that we deal with all men in sincerity; that conscience be made of idle and lying words; and that our carriage be such as that they who see it may speak honourably of our sweet Master and profession.

These are his direction, which are followed by an illustration of the challenges he faced, which I hope to post soon

Note to Self: Continued…

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Note To self:
You are prayed for. You have friends, family, Elders and Brothers who make it their constant business to bring your poor little, wretched soul before the Lord; more importantly, you have a faithful and just High Priest, who ever lives to make intercession for you: indeed, you have the ministry also of the Holy Spirit, who prays even with groaning that cannot be uttered. Therefore, arm yourself! Watch and pray as well, lest you fall into temptation: make much of the offices of Christ and the Spirit on your behalf, by penetrating into the veil-less temple wherein God resides in the most Holy Place. And as Christ said, “Herein my Father works, and I work…” so endeavor to so remain in that Temple all through the day in the golden cabinet of your mind, that you may indeed say that every act of life is done before the most Holy Altar, a sacrifice of continual obedience.

And what is the substance of these prayers? much will be found in that sweet passage of Colosians 1:9-14, the substance of which is Paul praying that you would both know Christ and serve Him: this is indeed the especial matter of the whole letter.
I advise you, take all the substance of your earthly bliss, and everything you hold dear. Take your longing for emotional fulfillment, your favorite music, indeed, your desire to do and live well, your desire for human attention, approval; take your bizarre and selfish attachment to your own feelings of shame, and your circular patterns of sin and misery. Take this all, I say: do not merely throw it in the fire, without at least sitting down to add up the cost. No, put it all in the balance of Living for Christ. Weigh it all against charging on to know Him as well as you may, and to love Him as much as you are able. Weigh it against the cross that He compels you to bear (keep in mind, I pray you, the full devastation of your transgressions that He bore on Himself); weigh it against counting it all as loss, to know Him.
Go further, will you not? Whatever you hold dear, (in all honesty with yourself) put it on the scale against He in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; Who is the brightness of His Father’s glory, and the express image of His person, the One who declares the God which no man has seen; the One who shaped the world, shaped your heart, supplies your next breath; the One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily, and the One of whom so much more is said, said so much more could be said! (for if we wrote all He did and was just upon earth, all the books in the world would be all taken up.
You would have bad math, indeed, if you continually see the deathly concoctions with which you afflict yourself as somehow above the worthy of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
There is much more about which you need advising. Among the rest, I ought address to you this fearsome habit of deviating away from your first subject matter. But more later.

Faber on Prayer

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Here’s a poem on prayer. It was the first that I alighted upon in the book The Christian Book of Mystical Verse, compiled by Tozer. You should read it carefully, and with a comtemplative spirit and feeling of need. Listen to what Faber writes:

Ah dearest Lord, I cannot pray,

My fancy is not free;

Unmannerly distractions come,

And force my thoughts from Thee

~

The world that looks so dull all day,

Glows bright on me in prayer,

And plans that ask no thought but then,

Wake up and meet me there.

~

All nature one full fountain seems,

Of dreamy sight and sound,

Which, when I kneel breaks up its deeps,

And makes a deluge round.

~

Old voices murmer in my ear,

New hopes start to life,

And past and future gaily blend,

In one bewitching strife.

~

My very flesh has restless fits,

My changeful limbs conspire,

With all these phantoms of the mind,

My inner self to tire.

~

I cannot pray, yet Lord, Thou knowest

The pain it is to me,

To have my vainly struggling thoughts
Thus torn away from Thee.

~

Sweet Jesus! teach me how to prize

These tedious hours when I

Foolish and mute before Thy face,

In helpless worship lie.

~

Prayer was not meant for luxery,

Or selfish pastime sweet;

It is the prostrate creature’s place

At his Creator’s feet.

~

Had I, Dear Lord! no pleasure found,

But in the thought of Thee,

Prayer would have come unsought, and been

A truer liberty.

~

Yet Thou art oft most present Lord

In weak distracted prayer:

A sinner out of heart with self

Most often finds Thee there.

~

For prayer that humbles sets the soul

From all illusions free,

And teaches it how utterly,

Dear Lord! it hangs on Thee.

~

The heart that on self-sacrifice

Is covetously bent,

Will bless Thy chastening hand that makes

Its prayer its punishment.

~

My Saviour! why should I complain?

And why fear aught but sin?

Distractions are but outward things;

Thy peace dwells far within.

~

These surface troubles come and go,

Like rufflings of the sea;

The deeper depth is out of reach,

To all, my God, but Thee.

~~

Fredrick William Faber