Christ, Christ, Nothing but Christ
The true principle behind reformation
Just as light has a way of dispelling darkness, so authenticity has a way of dispelling hypocrisy. Once you are confronted with “the real thing,” whatever it may be — real virtue, real godliness, real courage, real wisdom — you can’t help but also notice how hollow your pretence is by comparison. This was Peter’s experience when he encountered Christ on the shores of Gennesaret; it was Isaiah’s when he saw a vision of the Lord “high and lifted up;” and it was mine, to a lesser degree, this morning while reading one of Rutherford’s letters. The man’s love for Christ, his longing for the joys of heaven, his willingness to count, and suffer, the cost of faithfulness left me feeling almost like a shadow: having form without substance.
But God doesn’t give shining lights such as Rutherford simply to make the rest of us feel guilty. Perhaps we should feel guilty, but, having seen our shortcoming, we should quickly “press on to make it our own,” since Christ has made us His own (Phil. 3:12). Belonging to Christ Jesus, we should join in imitating men like Rutherford, “keeping our eyes” on those who walk according to the example set by the apostles (Phil. 3:17).
Reformation and revival won’t come if we’re content to pat ourselves on the back for petty accomplishments. At some point, we need to leave the nest and learn how to fly.
So read. Be encouraged. Be humbled. But then get to work. We’ve got a lot of building to do.
It is violence to corrupt nature for a man to be holy, to lie down under Christ’s feet, to quit will, pleasure, worldly love, earthly hope, and an itching of heart after this farded and over-gilded world, and to be content that Christ trample upon all. Come in, come in to Christ, and see what ye want, and find it in him. He is the short cut (as we used to say) and the nearest way to an outgate of all your burdens. I dare avouch that ye shall be dearly welcome to him. My soul would be glad to take part of the joy ye should have in him. I dare say that angels’ pens, angels’ tongues, nay, as many worlds of angels as there are drops of water in all the seas and fountains and rivers of the earth, cannot paint him out to you. I think his sweetness since I was a prisoner hath swelled upon me to the greatness of two heavens. O for a soul as wide as the utmost circle of the highest heaven that containeth all, to contain his love!
And yet I could hold little of it. O world’s wonder! Oh, if my soul might but lie within the smell of his love, suppose I could get no more but the smell of it! Oh, but it is long to that day when I shall have a free world of Christ’s love! O what a sight to be up in heaven, in that fair orchard of the new paradise, and to see and smell and touch and kiss that fair field-flower, that ever-green Tree of Life! His bare shadow were enough for me. A sight of him would be the earnest of heaven to me. Fy, fy upon us! that we have love lying rusting beside us or, which is worse, wasting upon some loathsome objects, and that Christ should lie his lone. Woe, woe is me! that sin hath made so many madmen, seeking the fool’s paradise, fire under ice, and some good and desirable things, without and apart from Christ. Christ, Christ nothing but Christ can cool our love’s burning languor! O thirsty love! wilt thou set Christ, the well of life, to thy head, and drink thy fill? Drink and spare not; drink love and be drunken with Christ! Nay, alas! the distance betwixt us and Christ is a death. O, if we were clasped in other’s arms! We should never twin [separate] again, except heaven twinned and sundered us; and that cannot be.
— Samuel Rutherford