Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the dawn of heaven breaks

As well remembered here, today marks the 350th anniversary of Samuel Rutherford's death 29 March 1661.

Rutherford wrote in his book Christ Dying:

When the sun riseth first, the beams over-gild the tops of green mountains that look toward the east, and the world cannot hinder the sun to rise: some are so near heaven, that the everlasting Sun hath begun to make an everlasting day of glory on them; the rays that come from his face that sits on the throne, so over-goldeth the soul, that there is no possibility of clouding peace, or of hindering daylight in the souls of such.

We believe that he had such himself upon the date mentioned above. Howie gives an account of it as follows.

Mr Blair, whose praise is in the Churches, being present, when he took a little wine in a spoon to refresh himself, being then very weak, said to him, "Ye feed on dainties in heaven, and think nothing of our cordials on earth." He answered, "They are all but dung; but they are Christ's creatures, and, out of obedience to His command, I take them. Mine eyes shall see my Redeemer; I know He shall stand the last day upon the earth, and I shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air, and I shall ever be with Him; and what would you have more? there is an end." And stretching out his hands, he said again, "there is an end." And a little after, he said, "I have been a single man, but I stand at the best pass that ever a man did; Christ is mine, and I am His;" and spoke much of the white stone and new name. Mr Blair, who loved with all his heart to hear Christ commended, said to him again—" What think ye now of Christ?" To which he answered, "I shall live and adore Him. Glory! glory to my Creator and my Redeemer for ever! Glory shines in Immanuel's land." In the afternoon of that day, he said, "Oh! that all my brethren in the land may know what a Master I have served, and what peace I have this day. I shall sleep in Christ, and when I awake I shall be satisfied with His likeness. This night shall close the door, and put my anchor within the vail; and I shall go away in a sleep by five of the clock in the morning;" which exactly fell out. Though he was very weak, he had often this expression, "Oh! for arms to embrace Him! Oh! for a well-tuned harp!"

When some spoke to him of his former painfulness and faithfulness in the ministry, he said, "I disclaim all that; the port that I would be at is redemption and forgiveness through His blood; 'Thou shalt show me the path of life, in Thy sight is fulness of joy:' there is nothing now betwixt me and the resurrection, but "to-day thou shalt be with Me in paradise."' Mr Blair saying, "Shall I praise the Lord for all the mercies He has done and is to do for you?" He answered, "Oh ! for a well-tuned harp." To his child he said, "I have again left you upon the Lord; it may be you will tell this to others, that 'the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; I have got a goodly heritage.' I bless the Lord that He gave me counsel."

Thus, by five o'clock in the morning, as he himself foretold, it was said unto him, "Come up hither;" and he gave up the ghost, and the renowned eagle took its flight unto the mountains of spices.

Thus died the famous Samuel Rutherford, who may justly be accounted among the sufferers of that time; for surely he was a martyr, both in his own design and resolution, and by the design and determination of men. Few men ever ran so long a race without cessation; so constantly, so unweariedly, and so unblameably. Two things rarely to be found in one man, were eminent in him, viz., a quick invention and sound judgment; and these accompanied with a homely but clear expression, and graceful elocution; so that such as knew him best, were in a strait whether to admire him most for his penetrating wit, and sublime genius in the schools, and peculiar exactness in disputes and matters of controversy, or for his familiar condescension in the pulpit, where he was one of the most moving and affectionate preachers in his time, or perhaps in any age of the Church. To sum up all in a word, he seems to have been one of the most resplendent lights that ever arose in this horizon.

Rutherford's epitaph, composed by William Wilson, (see Thomson, Martyr Graves p.208) may not be the highest poetry but expresses things very well.

Most constantly he did contend,
Until his time was at an end.
At last he won to full fruition
Of that which he had seen in vision.