(Rutherford, Selected letters. part 4) Scottish Parliament. MUHH HONORED SIR, - Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. I received your letter, which refreshed me. Except from your son, and my brother, I have seen few letters from my acquaintance in that country; which maketh me heavy. But I have the company of a Lord who can teach us all to be kind, and has the right gate of it. It pleaseth Him to come and dine with a sad prisoner, and a solitary stranger. But I verily think now, that Christ has led me up to a nick in Christianity that I was never at before. I think all before was but childhood and bairn's play. I look back to what I was before, and I laugh to see the sand-houses I built when I was a child. At first the remembrance of many fair feast-days with my Lord Jesus in public, which are now changed into silent Sabbaths, raised a great tempest, and (if I may speak so) made the devil ado in my soul. The devil came in, and would prompt me to lay the blame on Him as a hard master. But now these mists are blown away, and I am not only silenced as to all quarreling, but fully satisfied. Christ beareth me good company. He has eased me, when I saw it not, lifting the cross off my shoulders, so that I think it to be but a feather, because underneath are everlasting arms. Nothing breaketh my heart, but that I cannot get the daughters of Jerusalem to tell them of my Bridegroom's glory. I charge you in the name of Christ that ye tell all that ye come to of it, and yet it is above telling and understanding. Oh, if all the kingdom were as I am, except my bonds! I write now what I have seen as well as heard. Now and then my silence burneth up my spirit; but Christ has said, 'Thy stipend is running up with interest ill in heaven, as if thou wert preaching'; and this from a King's mouth rejoiceth my heart. At other times I am sad, dwelling in Kedar's tents. There are none (that I yet know of) but two persons in this town that I dare give my word for. And the Lord has removed my brethren and my acquaintance far from me; and it may be, that I shall be forgotten in the place where the Lord made me the instrument to do some good. But I see that this is vanity in me; let Him make of me what He pleaseth. Sir, write to me, I beseech you. I pray you also be kind to my afflicted brother. Remember my love to your wife; and the prayer and blessing of the prisoner of Christ be on you. Frequent your meetings for prayer and communion with God, they would be sweet meetings to me. Yours in the Lord Jesus. ABERDEEN, Feb. 16, 1637 XIX. To LADY KENMURE MADAM, - I hope that ye are wrestling and struggling on, in this dead age, wherein folks have lost tongue, and legs, and arms for Christ. I urge upon you, Madam, a nearer communion with Christ, and a growing communion. There are curtains to be drawn by in Christ, that we never saw, and new foldings of love in Him. I despair that ever I shall win to the far end of that love, there are so many plies in it. Therefore, dig deep; and sweat, and labour, and take pains for Him; and set by as much time in the day for Him as you can. He will be won with labour. Now, Madam, I assure you, the greatest part but play with Christianity; they put it by-hand easily. I thought it had been an easy thing to be a Christian, and that to seek God had been at the next door; but O, the windings and turnings that He has led me through! And I see yet much way to the ford. I pray God I may not look to the world for my joys, and comforts, and confidence - that were to put Christ out of His office. Now, the presence of the great Angel of the covenant be with you and that sweet child. Yours in the Lord Jesus. ABERDEEN, March 7, 1637 XX. To lady KENMURE MADAM, - Upon the offered opportunity of this worthy bearer, I could not omit to answer the heads of your letter. Firstly, I think not much to set down on paper some good things agent Christ, and to feed my soul with raw wishes to be one with Christ; for a wish is but broken and half love. But verily to obey this, 'Come and see', is a harder matter! Oh, I have smoke rather than fire, and guessing rather than real assurances of Him. I cannot believe without a pledge. I cannot take God's word without a caution. But this is my way; for His way is, 'After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. 1: 13). Secondly, Ye write, 'that I am filled with knowledge, and stand not in need of these warnings.' But certainly my light is dim when it comets to handy-grips. And how many have full coffers and yet empty bellies! Light, and the saving use of light, are far different. Oh, what need then have I to have the ashes blown away from my dying-out fire! I may be a bookman and (yet) be an idiot and stark fool in Christ's way. Learning will not beguile Christ. Thirdly, I find you complaining of yourself. And it becometh a sinner so to do. I am not against you in that; the more sense of sin, the less sin. I would love my pain, and soreness, and my wounds, howbeit these should bereave me of my night's sleep, better than my wounds without pain. Fourthly, Be not afraid for little grace. Christ soweth His living seed, and He will not lose His seed. If He have the guiding of my flock and state, it shall not miscarry. Our spilled works, losses, deadness, coldness, wretchedness, are the ground upon which the Good Husbandman laboureth. Fifthly, Ye write, 'that His compassions fail not, notwithstanding that your service to Christ miscarrieth.' To which I answer: God forbid that there were buying and selling, and blocking for as good again, betwixt Christ and us; for then free grace might go to play. But we go to heaven with light shoulders; and the vessels, great and smalls that we have, are fastened upon the sure Nail (Isa. 22.23-24). The only danger is, that we give grace more to do than God gives it; that is by turning God's grace into wantonness. Sixthly, Ye write, 'few see your guiltiness; and you cannot be free with many as with me'. I answer, Blessed be God, Christ and we are not heard before men's courts: it is at home, betwixt Him and us, that our pleas are taken away. Grace be with you. Yours in the Lord Jesus. ABERDEEN XXI. To MR WILLIAM DALGLEISH, minister of the Gospel Dalgleish was minister of a neighbouring parish and was responsible for the parish of Anwoth also until Rutherfurd took charge of it. He later became minister of Cramond, from which he was ejected in 1662. See also Letter XXXVIII. REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, - Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. - I am well. My Lord Jesus is kinder to me than ever He was. Brother, this is His own truth I now suffer for. He has sealed my sufferings with His own comforts, and I know that He will not put His seal upon blank paper. His seals are not dumb nor delusive, to confirm imaginations and lies. Go on, my dear brother, in the strength of the Lord, not fearing man who is a worm, nor the son of man that shall die. Providence has a thousand keys, to open a thousand sundry doors for the deliverance of His own, when it is even come to a "conclamatum est". Let us be faithful, and care for our own part, which is to do and suffer for Him, and lay Christ's part on Himself, and leave it there. Duties are ours, events are the Lord's. When our faith goeth to meddle with events, and to hold a court (if I may so speak) upon God's providence, and beginneth to say, 'How wilt Thou do this and that?' we lose ground. We have nothing to do there. It is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm. There is nothing left to us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we may roll the weight of our weak souls in well-doing upon Him who is God Omnipotent: and when what we thus essay miscarrieth, it will be neither our sin nor cross. Brother, remember the Lord's word to Peter; 'Simon, lovest thou me? - Feed my sheep.' No greater testimony of our love to Christ can be, than to feed carefully and faithfully His lambs. I am in no better neighborhood with the ministers here than before: they cannot endure that any speak of me, or to me. Thus I am, in the meantime, silent, which is my greatest grief. I hope, brother, that ye will help my people; and write to me what ye hear the Bishop is to do with them. Grace be with you. Your brother in bonds. ABERDEEN XXII. To MR HUGH MACKAIL, minister of the Gospel at Irvine REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER,- I bless you for your letter. He is come down as rain upon the mown grass; He has revived my withered root, and He is as the dew of herbs. I am most secure in this prison. Salvation is for walls in it, and what think ye of these walls? He maketh the dry plant to bud as the lily, and to blossom as Lebanon. The great Husbandman's blessing cometh down upon the plants of righteousness: who may say this, my dear brother, if I, His poor exiled stranger and prisoner, may not say it? Though all the world should be silent, I cannot hold my peace. No preaching, no book, no learning, could give me that which it behaved me to come and get in this town. But what of all this, if I were not misted and confounded and astonished how to be thankful, and how to get Him praised for evermore! Some have written to me that I am possibly too joyful at the cross; but my joy overleapeth the cross, it is bounded and terminated upon Christ. I know that the sun will overcloud and eclipse, and that I shall again be put to walk in the shadow: but Christ must be welcome to come and go, as He thinketh meet. I hope, when a change comets, to cast anchor at midnight upon the Rock which He has taught me to know in this daylight; whither I may run, when I must say my lesson without book, and believe in the dark. I am sure it is sin to tarrow at Christ's good meat. and not to eat when He saith, 'Eat, O well-beloved, and drink abundantly.' If He bear me on His back, or carry me in His arms over this water, I hope for grace to set down my feet on dry ground, when the way is better. But this is slippery ground: my Lord thought good I should go by a hold, and lean on my Well-beloved's shoulder. It is good to be ever taking from Him. I desire that He may get the fruit of praises, for dawting and thus dandling me on His knee: and I may give my bond of thankfulness, so being I have Christ's back-bond again for my relief, that I shall be strengthened by His powerful grace to pay my vows to Him. But, truly, I find that we have the advantage of the brae upon our enemies: we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us; and they know not wherein our strength lieth. Pray for me. Grace be with you. Your brother in Christ. ABERDEEN XXIII. To JOHN EWART, Bailie of Kirkcudbright Me VERY WORTHY AND DEAR FRIEND, - I cannot but most kindly thank you for the expressions of your love. Your love and respect to me is a great comfort to me. I bless His high and glorious name, that the terrors of great men have not affrighted me from openly avouching the Son of God. Nay, His cross is the sweetest burden that ever I bare; it is such a burden as wings are to a bird, or sails are to a ship, to carry me forward to my harbor. I have not much cause to fall in love with the world; but rather to wish that He who sitteth upon the floods would bring my broken ship to land, and keep my conscience safe in these dangerous times; for wrath from the Lord is coming on this sinful land. It were good that we prisoners of hope know of our stronghold to run to, before the storm come on; therefore, Sir, I beseech you by the mercies of God and comforts of His spirit, by the blood of your Savior, and by your compearance before the sin-revenging Judge of the world, keep your garments clean, and stand for the truth of Christ, which ye profess. When the time shall come that your eye strings shall break, your face wax pale, your breath grow cold, and this house of clay shall totter, and your one foot shall be over the march, in eternity, it will be your comfort and joy that ye gave your name to Christ. The greatest part of the world think heaven at the next door, and that Christianity is an easy task; but they will be beguiled. Worthy sir, I beseech you, make sure work of salvation. I have found my experience, that all I could do has had much ado in the day of my trial; and, therefore, lay up a sure foundation for the time to come. I cannot requite you for your undeserved favors to me and my now afflicted brother. But I trust to remember you to God. Remember me heartily to your kind wife. Yours, in his only Lord Jesus. ABERDEEN, March 13, 1637 XXIV. To WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE Probably one of his Anwoth parishioners. MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, - I rejoice to hear that Christ has run away with your young love, and that ye are so early in the morning matched with such a Lord; for a young man is often a dressed lodging for the devil to dwell in. Be humble and thankful for grace; and weigh it not so much by weight, as if it be true. Christ will not cast water on your smoking coal; He never yet put out a dim candle that was lighted at the Sun of Righteousness. I recommend to you prayer and watching over the sins of your youth; for I know that missive letters go between the devil and young blood. Satan has a friend at court in the heart of youth; and there pride, luxury, lust, revenge, forgetfulness of God, are hired as his agents. Happy is your soul if Christ man the house, and take the keys Himself, and command all, as it suiteth Him full well to rule wherever He is. Keep Christ, and entertain Him well. Cherish His grace; blow upon your own coal; and let Him tutor you. Now for myself: know that I am fully agreed with my Lord. Christ has put the Father and me into each other's arms. Many a sweet bargain He made before, and He has made this among the rest. I reign as king over my crosses. I will not flatter a temptation, nor give the devil a good word: I defy hell's iron gates. God has passed over my quarreling of Him at my entry here, and now He feedeth and feasteth with me. Praise, praise with me; and let us exalt His name together. Your brother in Christ. ABERDEEN, March 13, 1637 XXV. To MR GEORGE GILLESPIE Gillespie died in 1648, at the age of 36. In spite of his youth he had been sent as one of the four ministerial Commissioners of the Church of Scotland to the Westminster Assembly in 1643, where his learning and effective speaking made a great impression. At the time of this letter he had been quite recently ordained. REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, - I received your letter. As for my case, brother, I bless His glorious name, that my losses are my gain, my prison a palace, and my sadness joyfulness. At my first entry, my apprehensions so wrought upon my cross, that I became jealous of the love of Christ, as being by Him thrust out of the vineyard, and I was under great challenges, as ordinarily melted gold casteth forth a drossy scum, and Satan and our corruption form the first words that the heavy cross speaketh, and say, 'God is angry, He loveth you not.' But our apprehensions are not canonical, they indite lies of God and Christ's love. But since my spirit was settled, and the clay has fallen to the bottom of the well, I see better what Christ was doing. And now my Lord is returned with salvation under His wings. I see not how to be thankful, or how to get help to praise that Royal King, who raiseth up those that are bowed down. And, therefore, let no man scant at Christ's cross, or raise an ill report upon Him or it; for He beareth the sufferer and it both. Brother, remember our old covenant and pray for me, and write to me your case. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit. ABRDEEN, March 13, 1637 XXVI. To JOHN GORDON OF RUSSO in the parish of Anwoth MY WORTHY AND DEAR BROTHER,- Misspend not your short sand-glass, which runneth very fast, seek your Lord in time. Let me obtain of you a letter under your hand, for a promise to God, by His grace, to take a new course of walking with God. Heaven is not at the next door; I find it hard to be a Christian. There is no little thrusting and thronging to thrust in at heaven's gates; it is a castle taken by force; - 'Many shall strive to enter in, and shall not be able.' I beseech and obtest you in the Lord, to make conscience of rash and passionate oaths, of raging and sudden avenging anger, of night drinking, of needless companionry, of Sabbath-breaking, of hurting any under you by word or deed, of hating your very enemies. 'Except ye receive the kingdom of God as a little child,' and be as meek and sober-minded as a babe, 'ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' That is a word which should touch you near, and make you stoop and cast yourself down, and make your great spirit fall. I know that this will not be easily done, but I recommend it to you, as you tender your part of the kingdom of heaven. Brother, I may, from new experience, speak of Christ to you. Oh, if ye saw in Him what I see! A river of God's unseen joys has flowed from bank to brae over my soul since I parted with you. I wish that I wanted part, so being ye might have; that your soul might be sick of love for Christ, or rather satiated with Him. This clay-idol, the world, would seem to you then not worth a fig; time will eat you out of possession of it. When the eye-strings break, and the breath growth cold, and the imprisoned soul looketh out of the windows at the clay-house, ready to leap out into eternity, what would you then give for a lamp full of oil? Oh seek it now. I desire you to correct and curb banning, swearing, lying, drinking, Sabbath-breaking, and idle spending of the Lord's day in absence from the kirk, as far as your authority reacheth in that parish. I hear that a man is to be thrust into that place, to the which I have God's right. I know that ye should have a voice by God's word in that (Acts 1.15, 16, to the end; 6.3-5). Ye would be loath that any prelate should rout you out of your possession earthly; and this is your right. What I write to you, I write to your wife. Grace be with you. Your loving pastor. ABERDEEN, March 14, 1637 XXVII. To LADY HALHILL DEAR AND CHRISTIAN LADY, - I longed much to write to your Ladyship; but now the Lord offering a fit occasion I would not omit to do it. I cannot but acquaint your Ladyship with the kind dealing of Christ to my soul, in this house of my pilgrimage, that your Ladyship may know that He is as good as He is called. For at my first entry into this trial (being cast down and troubled with challenges and jealousies of His love, whose name and testimony I now bear in my bonds), I feared nothing more than that I was casten over the dyke of the vineyard, as a dry tree. But, blessed be His dear name, the dry tree was in the fire, and was not burnt; His dew came down and quickened the root of a withered plant. And now He is come again with joy, and has been pleased to feast His exiled and amicted prisoner with the joy of His consolations. Now I weep, but am not sad; I am chastened, but I die not; I have loss, but I want nothing; this water cannot drown me, this fire cannot burn me, because of the good-will of Him that dwelt in the Bush. The worst things of Christ, His reproaches, His cross, are better than Egypt's treasures. I would not give, nor exchange, my bonds for the prelates' velvets; nor my prison for their coaches; nor my sighs for all the world's laughter. This clay-idol, the world, has no great court in my soul. Christ has come and run away to heaven with my heart and my love, so that neither heart nor love is mine: I pray God, that Christ may keep both without reversion. Remember my service to the laird, your husband. and to your son, my acquaintance. I wish that Christ had his young love, and that in the morning he would start to the gate, to seek that which the world knoweth not and therefore does not seek it. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. ABERDEEN, March 14, 1637 XXVIII. To PATRICK CARSEN DEAR AND LOVING FRIEND, - I cannot but, upon the opportunity of a bearer, exhort you to resign the love of your youth to Christ; and in this day, while your sun is high and your youth serveth you, to seek the Lord and His face. For there is nothing out of heaven so necessary for you as Christ. And ye cannot be ignorant but your days will end, and the night of death shall call you from the pleasures of this life: and a doom given out in death standeth for ever - as long as God liveth! Youth, ordinarily, is a post and ready servant for Satan, to run errands; for it is a nest for lust, cursing, drunkenness, blaspheming of God, lying, pride, and vanity. Oh, that there were such an heart in you as to fear the Lord, and to dedicate your soul and body to His service! When the time comets that your poor soul look out at your prison house of clay, to be set at liberty; then a good conscience, and your Lord's favor, shall be worth all the world's glory. Seek it as your garland and crown. Grace be with you. ABERDEEN, March 14, 1637 XXIX. To JOHN STUART, Provost of Aye (continued in part 5...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01: rutle-04.txt .