(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


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

     Yours in the Lord Jesus.

 ABERDEEN, March 7, 1637


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.


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.


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.


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


 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


 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

     Your loving pastor.

 ABERDEEN, March 14, 1637


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


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...)

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