At the end of 2014, I decided to read a short (~100 pages), spiritually nourishing book each month during 2015. About half of the books I lined up are ones I have read before, but they’re the sort of books that a man ought to come back to again and again throughout his life.
Being as I was on a blogging hiatus in January, I didn’t record my thoughts from January’s book of the month (Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle– it’s one of my all-time favorites), but I’d like to do so from here on out– “and this will we do, if God permit.”
February’s book was one I hadn’t read before: The Loveliness of Christ, by Samuel Rutherford. It’s a collection of excerpts from his Letters, and most of them are only a line or two (the excerpts, not the letters). It’s very encouraging. Rutherford seems to have suffered much in his life, or been around people who suffered much, because most of the saying in this little book concern trials, crosses, scourges, deep waters, and the like.
I see two prominent themes from these pages: Christ’s nearness to his people in their sufferings, and the strange and wonderful ever-newness of Christ to those who seek him.
The way Rutherford talks about Christ’s nearness to his people in their sufferings is so comforting and so encouraging. Consider these gems:
He delighteth to take up fallen bairns [children] and to mend broken brows: binding up of wounds is his office.
There is no sweeter fellowship with Christ than to bring our wounds and our sores to him.
He taketh the bairns in his arms when they come to a deep water; at least, when they lose ground, and are put to swim, then his hand is under their chin.
It is our heaven to lay many weights and burdens upon Christ. Let him find much employment for his calling with you; for he is such a Friend as delighteth to be burdened with suits and employments; and the more homely ye be with him, the more welcome.
I could go on– there is so much in these brief pages of the sweetness of Christ, his tender healing hand, his eagerness to take the sorrows of sinners up into himself and to soothe them!
Equally, Rutherford’s descriptions of how new Christ is every day and how fathomless is the knowledge of Christ awakens wonder and worship in my soul. Him again:
Every day we may see some new thing in Christ. His love hath neither brim nor bottom.
There are infinite plies [folds] in his love that the saints will never win to unfold.
I think I see more of Christ than ever I saw; and yet I see but little of what may be seen.
I am sure that the saints at their best are but strangers to the weight and worth and the incomparable sweetness of Christ. He is so new, so fresh in excellency, every day of new, to these that search more and more in him, as if heaven could furnish as many new Christs (if I may speak so) as there are days betwixt him and us, and yet he is one and the same.
O, we love an unknown lover when we love Christ.
I am glad I read Rutherford in February– I’ve needed him this month. I’m not much for books of quotations or pithy sayings, but The Loveliness of Christ is well worth it to read a saying or two with your Bible reading in the morning, or on your lunch break, or before you go to sleep at night. Let the Spirit use his gospel words to cause faith to rise within your heart. You’ll be glad you did.