(Rutherford, Selected letters. part 5)

Inheriting considerable property from his father, Stuart was lavishly
generous in support of those suffering persecution for conscience'
sake. Later, owing to the ravages of plague he lost much of his money.
He joined with Blair (Letter XVI) in the frustrated attempt to
emigrate to America, which is referred to in the next letter. See also
Letter XLIX.

MUCH HONORED AND DEAREST IN CHRIST, - Grace, mercy, and peace from God
our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, be upon you.
 I expected the comfort of a letter to a prisoner from you, see now. I
am here, Sir, putting off a part of my inch of time; and when I awake
first in the morning (which is always with great heaviness and
sadness), this question is brought to my mind, 'Am I serving God or
not? ' Not that I doubt of the truth of this honorable cause wherein I
am engaged; I dare venture into eternity, and before my Judge, that I
now suffer for the truth - because that I cannot endure that my
Master, who is a freeborn King, should pay tribute to any of the
shields or potsherds of the earth. Oh that I could hold the crown upon
my princely King's head with my sinful arm, howbeit it should be
struck from me in that service, from the shoulder-blade. But my closed
mouth, my dumb Sabbaths, the memory of my communion with Christ, in
many fair, fair days in Anwoth, whereas now my Master getteth no
service of my tongue as then, has almost broken my faith in two
halves. Yet in my deepest apprehensions of His anger, I see through a
cloud that I am wrong. And beside, He has visited my soul and watered
it with His comforts.
 The great men, my friends that did for me, are dried up like
winter-brooks of water. All say, 'No dealing for that man; his best
will be to be gone out of the kingdom.' So I see they tire of me. But,
believe me, I am most gladly content that Christ breaketh all my idols
in pieces. It has put a new edge upon mv blunted love to Christ; I see
that He is jealous of my love, and will have all to Himself. In a
word, these six things are my burden: 1. I am not in the vineyard as
others are; it may be, because Christ thinketh me a withered tree, not
worth its room. But God forbid! 2. Woe, woe is coming upon my
harlot-mother, this apostate kirk! The time is coming when we shall
wish for doves' wings to flee and hide us. Oh, for the desolation of
this land! 3. I see my dear Master Christ going His lone (as it were)
mourning in sackcloth. His fainting friends fear that King Jesus shall
lose the field. But He must carry the day. 4. My guiltiness and the
sins of youth are come up against me, and they would come into the
plea in my sufferings, as deserving causes in God's justice; but I
pray God, for Christ's sake, that He may never give them that room. 5.
Woe is me, that I cannot get my royal, dreadful, mighty, and glorious
Prince of the kings of the earth set on high. Sir, ye may help me and
pity me in this; and bow your knee, and bless His name, and desire
others to do it, that He has been pleased, in my sufferings, to make
Atheists, Papists, and enemies about me say, 'It is like that God is
with this prisoner.' Let hell and the powers of hell (I care not) be
let loose against me to do their worst, so being that Christ, and my
Father, and His Father, be magnified in my sufferings. 6. Christ's
love has pained me: for howbeit His presence has shamed me, and
drowned me in debt, yet He often goes away when my love to Him is
burning. He seemeth to look like a proud wooer, who will not look upon
a poor match that is dying of love. I will not say He is lordly. But I
know He is wise in hiding Himself from a child and a fool, who maketh
an idol and a god of one of Christ's kisses, which is idolatry. I fear
that I adore His comforts more than Himself, and that I love the
apples of life better than the tree of life.
 Sir, write to me. Commend me to your wife. Mercy be her portion.
Grace be with you.
     Yours, in his dearest Lord Jesus.


XXX. To JOIN STUART, Provost of Ayr

WORTHY AND DEAR BELOVED IN OUR LORD, - Grace, mercy, and peace be to
you. I was refreshed and comforted by your letter. What I wrote to you
for your comfort, I do not remember. I wish I could help you to praise
His great and holy name, who keepeth the feet of His saints and has
numbered all your goings. I know our dearest Lord will pardon and pass
by our honest errors and mistakes when we mind His honor; yet I know
none of you have seen the other half and the hidden side of your
wonderful return home to us again. I am confident you shall yet say
that God's mercy blew your sails back to Ireland again.
 Worthy and dear sir, I cannot but give you an account of my present
state that you may go an errand for me to my high and royal Master.
First, I am very often turning both the sides of my cross, especially
my dumb and silent Sabbaths; not because I desire to find a defect in
my Lord's love, but fear of guiltiness is a tale-bearer between me and
Christ, and is still whispering ill thoughts of my Lord, to weaken my
faith. I would rather a cloud went over my comforts than that my faith
should be hurt; for if my Lord get no wrong by me, I verily desire
grace not to care what becomes of me. Hence these thoughts awake with
me in the morning and go to bed with me. O what service can a dumb
body do in Christ's house! O I am a dry tree! If I might but speak to
three or four herd boys of my worthy Master, I would be satisfied to
be the meanest and most obscure of all the pastors in this land, and
to live in any place, in any of Christ's basest outhouses! But He
saith, 'Sirrah, I will not send you, I have no errands for you
thereaway.' My desire to serve Him is sick of jealousy, lest He be
unwilling to employ me Secondly, This is seconded by another. Oh! all
that I have done in Anwoth, the fair work that my Master began there,
is like a bird dying in the shell; and what will I then have to show
of all my labour, in the day of my compearance before Him, when the
Master of the vineyard calleth the laborers, and giveth them their
hire? Thirdly, But truly, when Christ's sweet wind is in the right
airth, I repent, and I pray Christ to take law burrows of my
quarrelous unbelieving sadness and sorrow. But I wish He would give me
grace to learn to go on my own feet and to learn to do without His
comforts, and to give thanks and believe, when the sun is not in my
firmament, and when my Well-beloved is from home, and gone another
 Now, for any resolution to go to any other kingdom, I dare not speak
one word. My hopes of enlargement are cold, my hopes of reentry to my
Master's ill-dressed vineyard again are far colder. I have no seat for
my faith to sit upon but bare omnipotence and God's holy arm and
goodwill. Here I desire to stay and ride at anchor and winter, while
God send fair weather again. But there will be sad days see it come to
that. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you.


XXXI. To NINIAN MURE, a parishioner

LOVING FRIEND, - I received your letter. I entreat you now, in the
morning of your life, to seek the Lord and His face. Beware of the
follies of dangerous youth, a perilous time for your soul. Love not
the world. Keep faith and truth with all men in your covenants and
bargains. Walk with God, for He seeth you. Do nothing but that which
ye may and would do if your eye-strings were breaking, and your breath
growing cold. Ye heard the truth of God from me, my dear heart, follow
it, and forsake it not. Prize Christ and salvation above all the
world. To live after the guise and course of the rest of the world
will not bring you to heaven; without faith in Christ, and repentance,
ye cannot see God. Take pains for salvation; press forward toward the
mark for the prize of the high calling. If ye watch not against evils
night and day, which beset you, ye will come behind. Beware of lying,
swearing, uncleanness, and the rest of the works of the flesh; because
'for these things the wrath of God comets upon the children of
disobedience'. How sweet soever they may seem for the present, yet the
end of these courses is the eternal wrath of God, and utter darkness,
where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Grace be with you.
     Your loving pastor.



 John Gordon, the elder, laird of Cardoness, was a very difficult
parishioner, and a man of strong passions. His estate was heavily
burdened by debt. Part of the purpose of this letter is a protest
against the attempt to meet his debts by an inequitable raising of the
rents of the farms and cottages on the estate. And there was a son (to
whom a later letter is addressed, letter XXXIV), who was following the
example of his father's wild youth. See also Letters XXXVI and XLVI.

MUCH HONORED SIR, - I long to hear how your soul prospereth. I wonder
that ye write not to me; for the Holy Ghost beareth me witness, that I
cannot, I dare not, I do not, forget you, nor the souls of those with
you, who are redeemed by the blood of the great Shepherd. Ye are in my
heart in the night-watches; ye are my joy and crown in the day of
Christ. O Lord, bear me witness, if my soul thirsteth for anything out
of heaven, more than for your salvation.
 Love heaven; let your heart be on it. It were time that your soul
cast itself, and all your burdens, upon Christ. I beseech you by the
wounds of your Redeemer, and by your compearance before Him, and by
the salvation of your soul, lose no more time; run fast, for it is
late. Ye are now upon the very border of the other life. Your Lord
cannot be blamed for not giving you warning. I have taught the truth
of Christ to you, and delivered unto you the whole counsel of God, and
I have stood before the Lord for you, and I will yet still stand.
Awake, awake to do righteously. Think not to be eased of the burdens
and debts that are on your house by oppressing any, or being rigorous
to those that are under you. Remember how I endeavored to walk before
you in this matter, as an example. 'Behold, here am 1, witness against
me, before the Lord and His Anointed: whose ox or whose ass have I
taken? Whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed?' (I Sam. 12.3).
Who knoweth how my soul feedeth upon a good conscience, when I
remember how I spent this body in feeding the lambs of Christ?
 The Lord is my witness above that I write my heart to you. I never
knew by my nine years' preaching so much of Christ's love as He has
taught me in Aberdeen by six months' imprisonment. I charge you in
Christ's name to help me to praise; and show that people and country
the loving kindness of the Lord to my soul, that so my sufferings may
someday preach to them when I am silent. He has made me to know now
better than before what it is to be crucified to the world.
 I would not exchange my sighs for the laughing of my adversaries, for
He has sealed my sufferings with the comforts of His Spirit on my
soul. Now, Sir, I have no earthly comfort, but to know I have
espoused, and shall present a bride to Christ in that congregation.
The Lord has given you much, and therefore He will require much of you
again; number your talents, and see what you have to render back
again; you cannot be enough persuaded of the shortness of your time. I
charge you to write to me, and in the fear of God, be plain with me,
whether or not you have made your salvation sure: I am confident, and
hope the best; but I know, your reckonings with your Judge are many
and deep. Sir, be not beguiled, neglect not the one thing, your one
necessary thing, 'the good part that shall not be taken from you';
look beyond time; things here are but moonshine; they have but
children's wit, who are delighted with shadows, and deluded with
feathers flying in the air.
 Desire your children in the morning of their life, to begin and seek
the Lord, and 'to remember their Creator in the days of their youth ',
to 'cleanse their way, by taking heed thereto, according to God's
word'. Youth is a glassy age. Satan too often finds a 'swept chamber
', and a 'garnished lodging' for himself and his train, in youthhood.
Let the Lord have the flower of their age; the best sacrifice is due
to Him; instruct them in this, that they have a soul, and that this
life is nothing in comparison of eternity; they will have much need of
God's conduct in this world, to guide them bye those rocks upon which
most men split; but far more need when it comets to the hour of death,
and their compearance before Christ. Oh that there were such an heart
in them, to fear the name of the great and dreadful God, who has laid
up great things for those that love and fear Him! I pray that God may
be their portion. Show others of my parishioners, that I write to them
my best wishes, and the blessings of their lawful pastor. Say to them
from me, that I beseech them, by the bowels of Christ, to keep in mind
the doctrine of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which I taught them;
so that they may lay hold on eternal life, striving together for the
faith of the Gospel, and making sure salvation to themselves. Walk in
love, and do righteousness: seek peace; love one another. Wait for the
coming of our Master and Judge. Receive no doctrine contrary to that
which I delivered to you. If ye fall away, and forget it, and that
Catechism which I taught you, and so forsake your own mercy, the Lord
be Judge betwixt you and me. I take heaven and earth to witness, that
such shall eternally perish. But if they serve the Lord, great will
their reward be when they and I shall stand before our Judge. Set
forward up the mountain, to meet with God; climb up, for your Savior
calleth on you. It may be that God will call you to your rest, when I
am far from you; but ye have my love, and the desires of my heart for
your soul's welfare. He that is holy, keep you from falling, and
establish you, till His own glorious appearance.
     Your affectionate and lawful pastor.


XXXIII. To JOHN CLARK, a parishioner

LOVING BROTHER, - Hold fast Christ without wavering and contend for
the faith, because Christ is not easily gotten nor kept. The lazy
professor has put heaven as it were at the next door, and thinketh to
fly up to heaven in his bed and in a night-dream; but, truly, that is
not so easy a thing as most men believe. Christ Himself did sweat ere
He wan this city, howbeit He was the freeborn heir. It is
Christianity, my heart, to be sincere, unfeigned, honest and upright
hearted before God, and to live and serve God, suppose there was not
one man nor woman in all the world dwelling beside you, to eye you.
Any little grace that ye have, see that it be sound and true.
 Ye may put a difference betwixt you and reprobates, if ye have these
marks. - 1. If ye prize Christ and His truth so as ye will sell all
and buy Him; and suffer for it. 2. If the love of Christ keepeth you
back from sinning, more than the law, or fear of hell. 3. If ye be
humble, and deny your own will, wit, credit, ease, honor, the world,
and the vanity and glory of it. 4. Your profession must not be barren
and void of good works. 5. Ye must in all things aim at God's honor;
ye must eat, drink, sleep, buy, sell, sit, stand, speak, pray, read,
and hear the word, with a heart-purpose that God may be honored. 6. Ye
must show yourself an enemy to sin, and reprove the works of darkness,
such as drunkenness, swearing, and lying, albeit the company should
hate you for so doing. 7. Keep in mind the truth of God, that ye heard
me teach, and have nothing to do with the corruptions and new guises
entered into the house of God. 8. Make conscience of your calling, in
covenants, in buying and selling. 9. Acquaint yourself with daily
praying; commit all your ways and actions to God, by prayer,
supplication, and thanksgiving; and count not much of being mocked;
for Christ Jesus was mocked before you.
 Persuade yourself, that this is the way of peace and comfort which I
now suffer for. I dare go to death and into eternity with it, though
men may possibly see another way. Remember me in your prayers, and the
state of this oppressed church. Grace be with you.
     Your soul's well-wisher.



 See the note on his father (Letter XXXII). The son, to whom this
letter was addressed, was an uncivilized loose liver, and made his
home a misery. Like his others to the same address, Rutherfurd's
letter is outspoken and straight to the point. Nor could he ignore the
fact that though the young man continued to attend church at times he
came late and strode out before the service was over, behaving with
the utmost irreverence and as if he was deliberately trying to insult
his minister.

MUCH HONORED SIR, - I long to hear whether or not your soul be
hand-fasted with Christ. Lose your time no longer: flee the follies of
youth: gird up the loins of your mind, and make you ready for meeting
the Lord. I have often summoned you, and now I summon you again, to
compear before your Judge, to make a reckoning of your life. While ye
have time, consider your ways. Oh that there were such an heart in
you, as to think what an ill conscience will be to you, when ye are
upon the border of eternity, and your one foot out of time! Oh then,
ten thousand thousand floods of tears cannot extinguish these flames,
or purchase to you one hour's release from that pain! Oh, how sweet a
day have ye had! But this is a fair-day that runneth fast away. See
how ye have spent it, and consider the necessity of salvation! And
tell me, in the fear of God, if ye have made it sure. I am persuaded
that ye have a conscience that will be speaking somewhat to you. Why
will ye die, and destroy yourself? I charge you in Christ's name, to
rouse up your conscience in time, while salvation is in your offer.
This is the accepted time, this is the day of salvation. Therefore,
let me again beseech you to consider, in this your day, the things
that belong to your peace, before they be hid from your eyes. Dear
brother, fulfill my joy, and begin to seek the Lord while He may be
found. Forsake the follies of deceiving and vain youth: lay hold upon
eterna] life. Shoring, night-drinking, and the misspending of the
Sabbath, and neglecting of prayer in your house, and refusing of an
offered salvation, will burn up your soul with the terrors of the
Almighty, when your awakened conscience shall flee in your face. Be
kind and loving to your wife: make conscience of cherishing her, and
not being rigidly austere. Sir, I have not a tongue to express the
glory that is laid up for you in your Father's house, if ye reform
your doings, and frame your heart to return to the Lord. Ye know that
this world is but a shadow, a short living creature, under the law of
time. Within less than fifty years, when ye look back to it, ye shall
laugh at the evanishing vanities thereof, as feathers flying in the
air, and as the houses of sand within the sea-mark, which the children
of men are building. Give up with courting of this vain world: seek
not the bastard's moveables, but the son's heritage in heaven. Take a
trial of Christ. Look unto Him, and His love will so change you, that
ye shall be taken with Him, and never choose to go from Him. There is
nothing that will make you a Christian indeed, but a taste of the
sweetness of Christ. 'Come and see', will speak best to your soul. I
would fain hope good of you. Be not discouraged at broken and spilled
resolutions; but to it, and to it again! Use the means of profiting
with your conscience: pray in your family and read the Word. Remember
how our Lord's day was spent when I was among you. It will be a great
challenge to you before God if ye forget the good that was done within
the walls of your house on the Lord's day; and if ye turn aside after
the fashions of this world, and if ye go not in time to the kirk, to
wait on the public worship of God, and if ye tarry not at it, till all
the exercises of religion be ended. Give God some of your time both
morning and evening and afternoon; and in so doing, rejoice the heart
of a poor, oppressed prisoner. Rue upon your own soul and from your
heart fear the Lord.
 Now He that brought again from the dead the great Shepherd of His
sheep, by the blood Of the eternal covenant, establish your heart with
grace, and present you before His presence with joy.
     Your affectionate and loving pastor.


XXXV. To JOHN FULLERTON of Carleton in Galloway

WORTHY AND MUCH HONORED, - Grace, mercy and peace be to you. I
received your letter from my brother, to which I now answer
 I confess two things of myself: First, woe is me, that men should
think there is anything in me. He is my witness, before whom I am as
crystal, that the secret house-devils that bear me too often company,
and that this sink of corruption which I find within, make me go with
low sails. And if others saw what I see, they would look by me, but
not to me.
 Secondly, I know that this shower of free grace behaved to be on me,
otherwise I should have withered. I know, also, that I have need of a
buffeting tempter, that grace may be put to exercise, and I kept low.
 Worthy and dear brother in the Lord Jesus, I write that from my heart
which ye now read. I avouch that Christ, and sweating and sighing
under His cross, is sweeter to me by far, than all the kingdoms in the
world could possibly be. If you, and my dearest acquaintance in
Christ, reap any fruit by my suffering, let me be weighed in God's
even balance, if my joy be not fulfilled. What am I, to carry the
marks of such a great King! I have gotten the wale and choice of
Christ's crosses, even the tithe and the flower of the gold of all
crosses, to bear witness to the truth; and herein find I liberty, joy,
access, life, comfort, love, faith, submission, patience and
resolution to take delight in on waiting. And, withal, in my race He
has come near me and let me see the gold and crown. Let no man think
he shall lose at Christ's hands in suffering for Him.
 I doubt not but my Lord is preparing me for heavier trials. I am most
ready at the good pleasure of my Lord, in the strength of His grace,
for anything He will be pleased to call me to; neither shall the black
faced messenger, Death, be holden at the door when it shall knock. If
my Lord will take honor of the like of me, how glad and joyful will my
soul be. Let Christ come out with me to a hotter battle than this, and
I will fear no flesh. I know that my Master shall win the day, and
that He has taken the order of my suffering into His own hand. I have
not yet resisted to blood.
 Oh, how often am I laid in the dust, and urged by the tempter (who
can ride his own errands upon our lying apprehensions) to sin against
the unchangeable love of my Lord! When I think upon the sparrows and
swallows that build their nests in the kirk of Anwoth, and of my dumb
Sabbaths, my sorrowful, bleated eyes look asquint upon Christ, and
present Him as angry. But in this trial (all honor to our princely and
royal King!) faith saileth fair before the wind, with topsail up, and
carrieth the passenger through. I lay inhibitions upon my thoughts,
that they receive no slanders of my only, only Beloved.
 Now my dearest in Christ, the great Messenger of the Covenant, the
only wise and all-sufficient Jehovah, establish you to the end. I hear
that the Lord has been at your house, and has called home your wife to
her rest. I know, Sir, that ye see the Lord loosing the pins of your

(continued in part 5...)

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