My Prison Hath Neither Lock Nor Door
“Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.” Hosea 7:8
I never believed, till now, that there was so much to be found in Christ on this side of death and of heaven. Oh, the ravishments of heavenly joy that may be had here, in the small gleanings of comforts that fall from Christ! “What fools are we who know not, and consider not the weight and the telling that is in the very earnest-penny, and the first fruits of our hoped-for harvest! How sweet, how sweet is our infeftment (old Scottish word referring to taking possession of property, in this case of the blessings found in Christ)! Oh, what then must personal possession be!
I find that my Lord Jesus hath not miscooked or spilled this sweet cross; He hath an eye on the fire and the melting gold, to separate the metal and the dross. Oh how much time would it take me to read my obligations to Jesus my Lord, who will neither have the faith of His own to be burnt to ashes, nor yet will have a poor believer in the fire to be half raw, like Ephraim’s unturned cake! This is the wisdom of Him who hath His fire in Zion, and furnace in Jerusalem. I need not either bud or ﬂatter temptations and crosses, nor strive to buy the devil or this malicious world by, or redeem their kindness with half a hairbreadth of truth. He who is surety for His servant for good doth powerfully overrule all that. I see my prison hath neither lock nor door: I am free in my bonds, and my chains are made of rotten straw; they shall not bide one pull of faith…. Therefore we wrong Christ who sigh, and fear, and doubt, and despond in them. Our sufferings are washed in Christ’s blood, as well as our souls; for Christ’s merits brought a blessing to the crosses of the sons of God. And Jesus hath a back-bond of all our temptations, that the free-warders shall come out by law and justice, in respect of the infinite and great sum that the Redeemer paid.
Our troubles owe us a free passage through them. Devils, and men, and crosses, are our debtors, death and all storms are our debtors, to blow our poor tossed bark over the water fraught-free (free of cares), and to set the travelers on their own known ground. Therefore we shall die, and yet live. We are over the water some way already. We are married, and our tocher-good (old Scottish word for dowry) is paid. We are already more than conquerors.
If the devil and the world knew how the court with our Lord shall go, I am sure they would hire death to take us off their hand. Our sufferings are only the wreck and ruin of the black kingdom; and yet a little, and the Antichrist must play himself with bones and slain bodies of the Lamb’s followers; but withal we stand with the hundred forty and four thousand, who are with the Lamb, upon the top of Mount Zion. Antichrist and his followers are down in the valley ground—we have the advantage of the hill; our temptations are always beneath. Our waters are beneath our breath (Our “Head” is high enough above the waters to let us breathe): “as dying, and behold we live.” I never heard before of a living death, or a quick death, but ours: our death is not like the common death. Christ’s skill, His handiwork, and a new cast of Christ’s admirable art, may be seen in our quick death.
I bless the Lord, that all our troubles come through Christ’s fingers, and that He casteth sugar among them, and casteth in some ounce-weights of heaven, and of the Spirit of glory that resteth on suffering believers, into our cup, in which there is no taste of hell.
My dear brother, ye know all these better than I. I send water to the sea, to speak of these things to you; but it easeth me to desire you to help me to pay my tribute of praise to Jesus. Oh what praises I owe Him! I would I were in my free heritage, that I might begin to pay my debts to Jesus. I entreat for your prayers and praises. I forget not you.
Your brother and fellow-sufferer in and for Christ,
Aberdeen, Sept. 17, 1637
Samuel Rutherford was a Puritan Pastor from Scotland who was banished from Edinburgh to Aberdeen where he was forbidden to preach. Though his banishment and forced silence was unwelcomed and hard to endure, he discovered new blessings in his trials that he had not previously experienced, and began praising God that his enemies had actually banished him to God’s banqueting house. He wrote many letters during his time of banishment, one of which is shared above. At the end of his life he was condemned for his obedience to Jesus over the mandates of the king and the church that was in charge at that time, and was to be executed, but died before the sentence was carried out.