Dangers of Youth & Early Decision

April 11th, 2007 | Add Comment | General Topics Dangers of Youth & Early Decision |  Facebook

This is a letter from Samuel Rutherford to John Gordon of Cardoness, the Younger. (Letter CXCIX, Aberdeen, in the year 1637)

Dearly beloved in our Lord, – Grace, mercy, and peace be to you.

I long exceedingly to hear of the case of your soul, which hath a large share both of my prayers and careful thoughts. Sir, remember that a precious treasure and prize is upon this short play that ye are now upon. Even the eternity of well or wo to your soul standeth upon the little point of your well or ill-employed, short, and swift-posting sand-glass. Seek the Lord while He may be found; the Lord waiteth upon you. Your soul is of no little price. Gold or silver of as much bounds as would cover the highest heaven round about, cannot buy it. To live as others do, and to be free of open sins that the would crieth shame upon, will not bring you to heaven. As much civility and country discretion as would lie between you and heaven will not lead you one foot, or one inch, above condemned nature. And therefore take pains upon seeking of salvation, and give your will, wit, humour, the green desires of youth’s pleasures off your hand, to Christ. It is not possible for you to know, till experience teach you, how dangerous a time youth is. It is like green and wet timber. When Christ casteth fire on it, it taketh not fire. There is need here of more than ordinary pains, for corrupt nature hath a good back-friend of youth. And sinning against light will put out your candle, and stupify your conscience, and bring upon it more coverings and skin, and less feeling and sense of guiltiness; and when that id done, the devil is like a mad horse that hath broken his bridle, and runneth away with his rider whither he listeth. Learn to know that which the apostle knew, the deceitfulness of sin. Strive to make prayer, and reading, and holy company, and holy conference your delight; and when delight cometh in, ye shall by little and little smell the sweetness of Christ, till at length your soul be over head and ears in Christ’s sweetness. Then shall ye be taken up to the top of the mountain with the Lord, to know the ravishments of spiritual love, and the glory and excellency of a seen, revealed, felt, and embraced Christ: and then ye shall not be able to loose yourself off Christ, and to bind your soul to old lovers. Then, and never till then, are all the paces, motions, walkings, and wheels of your soul in a right tune, and in a spiritual temper.

But if this world and the lusts thereof be your delight, I know not what Christ can make of you; ye cannot be metal to be a vessel of glory and mercy. As the Lord liveth, thousand thousands are beguiled with security, because God, and wrath, and judgment are not terrible to them. Stand in awe of God, and of the warnings of a checking and rebuking conscience. Maker others to see Christ in you, moving, doing, speaking, and thinking. Your actions will smell of Him, if He be in you. There is an instinct in the new-born babes of Christ, like the instinct of nature that leads birds to build their nests, and bring forth their young, and love such and such places, as woods, forests, and wildernesses, better than other places. The instinct of nature maketh a man love his mother-country above all countries; the instinct of renewed nature, and supernatural grace, will lead you to such and such works, as to love your country above, to sight to be clothed with your house not made with hands, and to call your borrowed prison here below a borrowed prison and to look upon it servant-like and pilgrim-like. And the pilgrim’s eye and look is a disdainful-like, discontented cast of his eye, his heart crying after his eye, “Fy, fy, this is not like my country.”

I recommend to you the mending of a hold, the reforming of a failing, one or other, every week; and put off a sin, or a piece of it, as anger, wrath, lust, intemperance, every day, that ye may more easily master the remnant of your corruption. God hath given you a wife; love her, and let her breasts satisfy you; and. for the Lord’s sake, drink no waters but out of your own cistern. Strange wells are poison. Strive to learn some new way against your corruptions from the man of God, Mr. W. D., or other servants of God. Sleep not sound, till ye find yourself in that case that ye dare look death in the face, and durst hazard your soul upon eternity. I am sure that many ells and inches of the short thread of your life are by-hand since I saw you; and that thread hath an end; and ye have no hands to cast a know, and add one day, or a finger-breadth, to the end of it. When hearing, and seeing, and the other walls of the clay house shall fall down, and life shall render the besieged castle of clay to death and judgment, and ye find your time worn ebb, and run out, what thoughts will you then have of idol-pleasure, that possibly are not sweet? What bud or hire would you then give for th eLord’s favour? and what price would you then give for pardon? It were not amiss to think, “What if I were to receive a doom, and to enter into a furnace of fire and brimstone? What if it come to this, that I shall have no portion but utter darkness? And what if I be brought to this, to be banished from the presence of God, and to be given over to God’s serjeants, the devil and the power of the second death?” Put your soul, by supposition, in such a case, and consider what horror would take hold of you, and what ye would then esteem of pleasing yourself in the course of sin. Oh, dear Sir, for the Lord’s sake awake to live righteously, and love your poor soul! And after ye have seen this my letter, say with yourself, “The Lord will seek an account of this warning which I have received.”

Lodge Christ in your family. Receive no stranger hireling as your pastor. I bless your children. Grace be with you.
Your lawful and loving pastor,
Samuel Rutherford.

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