(Rutherford, Selected letters.  part 2)

it to drink of the cup that Christ drank of, if I knew not that there
is no poison in it. Pray that God would not lead my wife into
temptation. Woe is my heart, that I have done so little against the
kingdom of Satan in my calling; for he would fain attempt to make me
blaspheme God in His face. I believe, I believe, in the strength of
Him who hath put me in His work, he shall fail in that which he seeks.
I have comfort in this, that my Captain, Christ, hath said, I must
fight and overcome the world, and with a weak, spoiled, weaponless
devil, 'the prince of this world comets, and hath nothing in me'.
Desire Mr Robert to remember me, if he love me. Grace, grace be with
you, and all yours.
 Remember Zion. Hold fast that which you have, that no man take the
crown from you. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit.

 ANWOTH, Nov. 17, 1629


MADAM, - I have longed exceedingly to hear of your life, and health,
and growth in the grace of God. I entreat you, Madam, let me have two
lines from you, concerning your present condition. I know you are in
grief and heaviness; and if it were not so, you might be afraid,
because then your way would not be so like the way that our Lord saith
leadeth to the New Jerusalem. Sure I am, if you knew what were before
you, or if you saw some glances of it, you would, with gladness, swim
through the present floods of sorrow, spreading forth your arms out of
desire to be at land. If God have given you the earnest of the Spirit,
as part of the payment of the principal sum, ye have to rejoice; for
our Lord will not lose His earnest, neither will He go back, or repent
Him of His bargain. If you find, at some time, a longing to see God,
joy in the assurance of that sight (although the sight be but like the
pass over, that comets about only once in the year), peace of
conscience, liberty of prayer, the doors of God's treasury opened to
the soul, and a clear sight of Himself, saying, with a smiling
countenance, 'Welcome to me, afflicted soul'; this is the earnest
which He giveth sometimes, and which maketh glad the heart; and is an
evidence that the bargain will hold. But to the end ye may get this
earnest, it were good to come in terms of speech with God, both in
prayer and hearing of the word, for the Christ that saveth you is a
speaking Christ; the church knoweth Him by His voice (Song of Solomon
2.8), and can discern His tongue amongst a thousand. When our Lord
comets, He speaketh to the heart in the simplicity of the Gospel.
 I have neither tongue nor pen to express to you the happiness of such
as are in Christ. When ye have sold all that ye have, and bought the
field wherein this pearl is, ye will think it no bad market; for if ye
be in Him, all His is yours, and ye are in Him; therefore, 'because He
liveth, ye shall live also' (John 14.19). 'Father, I will that those
whom Thou hast given Me be with Me when I am, to behold My glory that
Thou hath given me' (John 17.24). Amen, dear Jesus, let it be
according to that word. I wonder that ever your heart should be cast
down, if ye believe this truth. I and they are not worthy at Jesus
Christ, who will not suffer forty years trouble for Him, since they
have such glorious promises. But we fools believe those promises as
the man that read Plato's writings concerning the immortality of the
soul: so long as the book was in his hand he believed all was true,
and that the soul could not die; but so soon as he laid by the book,
he began to imagine that the soul is but a smoke or airy vapor, that
perisheth with the expiring of the breath. So we at starts do assent
to the sweet and precious promises; but, laying aside God's book, we
begin to call all in question. It is faith indeed to believe without a
pledge, and to hold the heart constant at this work; and when we
doubt, to run to the Law and to the Testimony, and stay there. Madam,
hold you here: here is your Father's testament - read it; in it He
hath left you remission of sins and life everlasting. If all that you
have in this world be crosses and troubles, down-castings, frequent
desertions and departures of the Lord, still He purposeth to do you
good at your latter end, and to give you rest from the days of
adversity. 'It is good to bear the yoke of God in your youth.' Turn ye
to the strong hold, as a prisoner of hope. 'For the vision is for an
appointed time, but at the last it shall speak, and not lie: though it
tarry, wait for it: because it surely will come, it will not tarry.'
Hear Himself saying, 'Come, my people (rejoice, He calleth you), enter
thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as
it were for a little moment, till the indignation be past.' Believe,
then, believe and be ye saved: think it not hard, if ye get not your
will nor your delights in this life; God will have you to rejoice in
nothing but Himself. 'God forbid that ye should rejoice in any thing
but the cross of Christ.' Grace, grace be with you. The great
Messenger of the Covenant preserve you in body and spirit.
                           Yours in the Lord

 ANWOTH, Feb. 1, 1630


MADAM, - Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied upon you. I received
your Ladyship's letter, in the which I perceive your case in this
world smelleth of a fellowship and communion with the Son of God in
His sufferings. Ye cannot, ye must not, have a more pleasant or more
easy condition here, than He had, who 'through afflictions was made
perfect' (Heb. 2.10). We may indeed think, Cannot God bring us to
heaven with ease and prosperity? Who doubteth but He can? But His
infinite wisdom thinketh and decreeth the contrary; and we cannot see
a reason for it, yet He hath a most just reason. We never with our
eyes saw our own soul; yet we have a soul. We see many rivers, but we
know not their first spring and original fountain; yet they have a
beginning. Madam, when ye are come to the other side of the water, and
have set down your foot on the shore of glorious eternity, and look
back again to the waters and to your wearisome journey, and shall see,
in that clear glass of endless glory, nearer to the bottom of God's
wisdom, ye shall then be forced to say, 'If God had done otherwise
with me than He hath done, I had never come to the enjoying of this
crown of glory.' It is your part now to believe, and suffer, and hope,
and wait on; for I protest, in the presence of that all-discerning
eye, who knoweth what I write and what I think, that I would not want
the sweet experience of the consolations of God for all the bitterness
of affliction. Nay, whether God come to His children with a rod or a
crown, if He come Himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome,
Jesus, what way soever Thou come, if we can get a sight of Thee! And
sure I am, it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the
bedside and draw by the curtains, and say, 'Courage, I am thy
salvation ', than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never
to be visited of God
 My wife now, after long disease and torment, for the space of a year
and a month, is departed this life. The Lord hath done it; blessed be
His name. I have been diseased of a fever tertian for the space of
thirteen weeks, and am yet in the sickness, so that I preach but once
on the Sabbath with great difficulty. I am not able either to visit or
examine the congregation. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit.
 ANWOTH, June 26, 1630.

VI. To MARION MCNAUGHT, when persecuted for her principles

WELL-BELOVED SISTER, - I have been thinking, since my departure from
you, of the pride and malice of your adversaries; and ye may not
(since ye have had the Book of Psalms so often) take hardly with this;
for David's enemies snuffed at him, and through the pride of their
heart said, 'The Lord will not require it' (Ps. 10.13). I beseech you,
therefore, in the bowels of Jesus, set before your eyes the patience
of your forerunner Jesus, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again;
when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him who
judgeth righteously (I Pet. 2.23). And since your Lord and Redeemer
with patience received many a black stroke on His glorious back, and
many a buffet of the unbelieving world, and says of Himself, 'I gave
My back to the smilers, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the
hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting' (Isa. 50.6); follow
Him and think it not hard that you receive a blow with your Lord. Take
part with Jesus of His sufferings, and glory in the marks of Christ.
If this storm were over, you must prepare yourself for a new wound;
for, five thousand years ago, our Lord proclaimed deadly war betwixt
the Seed of the Woman and the seed of the Serpent.
 Be you upon Christ's side of it, and care not what flesh can do. Hold
yourself fast by your Savior, howbeit you be buffeted, and those that
follow Him. Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be. 'We are
troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not
in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not
destroyed' (II Cor. 4.8, 9). If you can possess your soul in patience,
their day is coming. Worthy and dear sister, know to carry yourself in
trouble; and when you are hated and reproached, the Lord shows it to
you - 'All this is come upon us, yet have we not forgotten Thee,
neither have we dealt falsely in Thy covenant' (Ps. 44.17). 'Unless
Thy law had been my delight, I had perished in mine affliction' (Ps.
119.92). Keep God's covenant in your trials; hold you by His blessed
word, and sin not; flee anger, wrath, grudging, envyving, fretting;
forgive a hundred pence to your fellow-servant, because your Lord hath
forgiven you ten thousand talents: for, I assure you by the Lord, your
adversaries shall get no advantage against you, except you sin, and
offend your Lord, in your sufferings. But the way to overcome is by
patience. forgiving and praying for your enemies, in doing whereof you
heap coals upon their heads, and your Lord shall open a door to you in
your trouble: wait upon Him, as the night watch waiteth for the
morning. He will not tarry. Go up to your watch-tower, and come not
down, but by prayer, and faith, and hope, wait on. When the sea is
full, it will ebb again; and so soon as the wicked come to the top of
their pride, and are waxed high and mighty, then is their change
approaching; they that believe make not haste.
 Now, again, I trust in our Lord, you shall by faith sustain yourself
and comfort yourself in your Lord, and be strong in His power; for you
are in the beaten and common way to heaven, when you are under our
Lord's crosses. You have reason to rejoice in it, more than in a crown
of gold; and rejoice and be glad to bear the reproaches of Christ. I
rest, recommending you and yours forever, to the grace and mercy of
God. Yours in Christ.

 ANWOTH, Feb, 11, 1631


MADAM, - I would not omit the opportunity of remembering your
Ladyship, still harping upon that string, which in our whole lifetime
is never too often touched upon (nor is our lesson well enough
learned), that there is a necessity of advancing in the way to the
kingdom of God, of the contempt of the world, of denying ourself and
bearing of our Lord's cross, which is no less needful for us than
daily food. And among many marks that we are on this journey, and
under sail toward heaven, this is one, when the love of God so filleth
our hearts, that we forget to love, and care not much for the having,
or wanting of, other things. For this cause God's bairns take well
with spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they have in
heaven a better and an enduring substance (Heb. 10.34). That day that
the earth and the works therein shall be burned with fire (II Pet.
3.10), your hidden hope and your life shall appear. And therefore,
since ye have not now many years to your endless eternity, and know
not how soon the sky above your head will rive, and the Son of man
will be seen in the clouds of heaven, what better and wiser course can
ye take, than to think that your one foot is here, and your other foot
in the life to come, and to leave off loving, desiring, or grieving,
for the wants that shall be made up when your Lord and ye shall meet.
Then shall ye rejoice 'with joy unspeakable and full of glory - and
your joy shall no one take from you.' It is enough that the Lord has
promised you great things; only let the time of bestowing them be His
own. It is not for us to set an hour-glass to the Creator of time. It
will be; for God has said it, bide His harvest. His day is better than
your day; He putteth not the hook in the corn, till it be ripe and
full-eared. The great Angel of the Covenant bear you company, till the
trumpet shall sound, and the voice of the archangel awaken the dead.
 Ye shall find it your only happiness, under whatsoever thing
disturbeth and crosseth the peace of your mind in this life, to love
nothing for itself, but only God for Himself. Our love to Him should
not begin on earth as it shall be in heaven; for the bride taketh not,
by a thousand degrees, so much delight in her wedding garments as she
does in her bridegroom; so we, in the life to come, howbeit clothed
with glory as with a robe, shall not be so much affected with the
glory that goeth about us, as with the Bridegroom's joyful face and
presence. Madam, if ye can win to this here, the field is won.
 Fearing to be tedious to you, I break off here, commending you (as I
trust to do while I live), your person, ways, burdens, and all that
concerneth you, to that Almighty who is able to bear you and your
burdens. I still remember you to Him who will cause you one day to

 ANWOTH, Jan. 14, 1632

VIII. To JOHN KENNEDY, on his deliverance from shipwreck

 John Stuart, Provost of Aye, another correspondent of Rutherfurd
(Letter XXIX), was told that a ship of his, bound from Rochelle to
Aye, had been captured by the Turks. The rumour proved incorrect, for
at length it arrived in the roads. Kennedy, an intimate friend of
Stuart, was so overjoyed that he went out to it in a small boat. But a
violent storm suddenly arose and he was driven out to sea and given up
for drowned. But three days later Kennedy, who had managed to land
safely on another part of the coast, returned home. Kennedy was member
for Aye of the Scottish Parliament from 1664 to 1666, and was then
Provost of the town. He was also a member of the General Assembly of
the Church for some years.

grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus
 I promised to write to you, and although late enough, yet I now make
it good. I heard with grief of your great danger of perishing by the
sea, and of your merciful deliverance with joy. Sure I am, brother,
that Satan will leave no stone unrolled, as the proverb is, to roll
you off your Rock, or at least to shake and unsettle you: for at that
same time the mouths of wicked men were opened in hard speeches
against you, by land, and the prince of the power of the air was angry
with you by sea. See then how much ye are obliged to that malicious
murderer, who would beat you with two rods at one time; but, blessed
be God, his arm is short; if the sea and wind would have obeyed him,
ye had never come to land. Thank your God, who saith, 'I have the keys
of hell and death (Rev 1.18); 'I kill, and I make alive' (Dent.
32.39): 'The Lord bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up' (I Sam.
2.6). Ye were knocking at these black gates, and ye found the doors
shut; and we do all welcome you back again.
 I trust that ye know that it is not for nothing that ye are sent to
us again. The Lord knew that ye had forgotten something that was
necessary for your journey; that your armour was not as yet thick
enough against the stroke of death. Now, in the strength of Jesus
dispatch your business; that debt is not forgiven, but fristed: death
has not bidden you farewell, but has only left you for a short season.
End your journey ere the night come upon you. Have all in readiness
against the time that ye must sail through that black and impetuous
Jordan; and Jesus, Jesus, who knoweth both those depths and the rocks,
and all the coasts, be your pilot. The last tide will not wait you for
one moment. If ye forget anything, when your sea is full, and your
foot in that ship, there is no returning again to fetch it. What ye do
amiss in your life to-day, ye may amend it to-morrow; for as many suns
as God maketh to arise upon you, ye have as many new lives; but ye can
die but once, and if ye mar or spill that business, ye cannot come
back to mend that piece of work again. No man sinneth twice in dying
ill; as we die but once, so we die but ill or well once. You see how
the number of your months is written in God's book; and as one of the
Lord's hirelings, ye must work till the shadow of the evening come
upon you, and ye shall run out your glass even to the last pickle of
sand. Fulfill your course with joy, for we take nothing to the grave
with us, but a good or evil conscience. And, although the sky clear
after this storm, yet clouds will engender another.
 Ye contracted with Christ, I hope, when first ye began to follow Him,
that ye would bear His cross. Fulfill your part of the contract with
patience, and break not to Jesus Christ. Be honest, brother, in your
bargaining with Him; for who knoweth better how to bring up children
than our God? For (to lay aside His knowledge, of the which there is
no finding out) He has been practiced in bringing up His heirs these
five thousand years; and His bairns are all well brought up, and many
of them are honest men now at home, up in their own house in heaven,
and are entered heirs to their Father's inheritance. Now, the form of
His bringing up was by chastisements, scourging, correcting,
nurturing; and see if He maketh exception of any of His bairns; no,
His eldest Son and His Heir, Jesus, is not excepted (Rev. 3.19; Heb.
12.7-8; 2.10). Suffer we must; ere we were born God decreed it, and it
is easier to complain of His decree than to change it. Forward then,
dear brother, and lose not your grips.
 Now I commend you, your whole soul, and body, and spirit, to Jesus
Christ and His keeping, hoping that ye will live and die, stand and
fall, with the cause of our Master, Jesus. The Lord Jesus Himself be
with your spirit. Your loving brother in our Lord Jesus.

 ANWOTH, Feb. 2, 1632

IX. To LADY KENMURE, on the perils of rank and prosperity

MADAM, - I determined, and was desirous also, to have seen your
Ladyship, but because of a pain in my arm I could not. I know ye will
not impute it to any unsuitable forgetfulness of your Ladyship, from
whom, at my first entry to my calling in this country (and since
also), I received such comfort in my affliction as I trust in God
never to forget, and shall labour by His grace to recompense in the
only way possible to me; and that is, by presenting your soul, person,
house, and all your necessities, in prayer to Him, whose I hope you
are, and who is able to keep you till that Day of Appearance, and to
present you before His face with joy.
 I am confident your Ladyship is going forward in the begun journey to
your Lord and Father's home and kingdom. Howbeit ye want not
temptations within and without. And who among the saints has ever
taken that castle without stroke of sword? The Chief of the house, our
Elder brother, our Lord Jesus, not being excepted, who won His own
house and home, due to Him by birth, with much blood and many blows.
Your Ladyship has the more need to look to yourself, because our Lord
has placed you higher than the rest, and your way to heaven lieth
through a more wild and waste wilderness than the way of many of your
fellow-travellers - not only through the midst of this wood of thorn,
the cumbersome world, but also through these dangerous paths, the
vain-glory of it; the consideration whereof has often moved me to pity
your soul, and the soul of your worthy and noble husband. And it is
more to you to win heaven, being ships of greater burden, and in the
main sea, than for little vessels, that are not so much in the mercy
and reverence of the storms, because they may come quietly to their
port by launching amongst the coast. For the which cause ye do much,
if in the midst of such a tumult of business, and crowd of
temptations, ye shall give Christ Jesus His own court and His own due
place in your soul. I know and am persuaded, that that lovely One,
Jesus, is dearer to you than many kingdoms; and that ye esteem Him
your Well-beloved, and the Standard-bearer among ten thousand (Song of
Sol. 5.1O). And it becometh Him full well to take the place and the
board head in your soul before all the world. I knew and saw Him with
you in the furnace of affliction; for there He wooed you to Himself,
and chose you to be His; and now He craveth no other hire of you but
your love, and that He get no cause to be jealous of you. And,
therefore, dear and worthy lady, be like to the fresh river, that
keepeth its own fresh taste in the salt sea.
      Madam, many eyes are upon you, and many would be glad your Ladyship
should spill a Christian, and mar a good professor. Lord Jesus, mar
their godless desires, and keey the conscience whole without a crack!
If there be a hole in it, so that it take in water at a leak, it will
with difficulty mend again. It is a dainty, delicate creature, and a
rare piece of the workmanship of your Maker; and therefore deal gently
with it, and keep it entire, that amidst this world's glory your
Ladyship may learn to entertain Christ. And whatsoever creature your
Ladyship findeth not to smell of Him, may it have no better relish to
you than the white of an egg.
 Madam, it is a part of the truth of your profession to drop words in
the ears of your noble husband continually of eternity, judgment,
death, hell, heaven, the honorable profession, the sins of his
father's house. He must reckon with God for his father's debt;
forgetting of accounts payeth no debt. Nay, the interest of a
forgotten bond runneth up with God to interest upon interest. I know
he looketh homeward, and loveth the truth; but I pity him with my
soul, because of his many temptations. Satan layeth upon men a burden
of cares, above a load (and maketh a pack horse of men's souls), when
they are wholly set upon this world. We owe the devil no such service.
It were wisdom to throw off that load into a mire, and cast all our
cares over upon God.
 Look for crosses, and while it is fair weather mend the sails of the
ship. Now hoping your Ladyship will pardon my tediousness, I recommend
your soul and person to the grace and mercy of our Lord, in whom I am
your Ladyship's obedient.

 ANWOTH, Nov, 15, 1633

X. To LADY KENMURE, on the death of her husband

MY VERY NOBLE AND WORTHY LADY, - So oft as I call to mind the comforts
that I myself, a poor friendless stranger, received from your Ladyship
here in a strange part of the country, when my Lord took from me the
delight of mine eyes (Ezek. 24.1), as the Word speaketh (which wound
is not yet fully healed and cured), I trust your Lord shall remember
that, and give you comfort now at such a time as this, wherein your
dearest Lord has made you a widow, albeit I must out of some
experience say, the mourning for the husband of your youth be, by
God's own mouth, the heaviest worldly sorrow (Joel 1.8). And though
this be the weightiest burden that ever lay upon your back; yet ye
know (when the fields are emptied and your husband now asleep in the
Lord), if ye shall wait upon Him who hideth His face for a while, that
it lieth upon God's honor and truth to fill the field, and to be a
Husband to the widow. Let your faith and patience be seen, that it may
be known your only beloved first and last has been Christ. And,

(continued in part 3...)

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