â€œEphraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.â€ Hosea 7:8
In the past centuries God often used letters to bring great blessings to His children. Among famous letter writers were John Newton, Fenelon, Gerhard Tersteegen and Samuel Rutherford.
The following comes from a letter by Samuel Rutherford who was a non-conformist Scottish Puritan, who was banished from Edinburgh for refusing to comply with the dictates of the ruling prelates, and forced to live in Aberdeen where he was not allowed to preach. The banishment was not welcomed and hard to endure, but in his difï¬culties he discovered an understanding of God and His ways that would not have been possible in any other context. In this letter he extolls Godâ€™s gracious care and blessing in his â€œconï¬nement,â€ concluding that his prison had â€œneither lock nor door.â€ This was obviously true since he was free to move about, but he was speaking to the greater reality of God not only bringing blessings no matter what was going on, but also God bringing special blessings. Eventually Rutherford was condemned to death for his non-conformist views, but he was spared the execution, for he died of illness before it was carried out. However, he was looking forward to dying for Jesus. I think we need to adopt Rutherfordâ€™s attitude towards our trials and begin viewing them through the lens of Godâ€™s love and perfect keeping, for our situations have â€œneither lock nor doorâ€ in our day.
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! â€œWhat 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 Ephraimâ€™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 ï¬‚atter 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 faithâ€¦. Therefore we wrong Christ who sigh, and fear, and doubt, and despond in them. Our sufferings are washed in Christâ€™s blood, as well as our souls; for Christâ€™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….
I bless the Lord, that all our troubles come through Christâ€™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