(Rutherford, Selected letters. part 6)

tabernacle, and wooing your love from this plastered and over-gilded
world, and calling upon you to be making yourself ready to go to your
father's country, which shall be a sweet fruit of that visitation. Ye
know 'to send the Comforter' was the King's word when He ascended on
high. Ye have claim to, and interest in, that promise.
 All love, all mercy, all grace and peace, all multiplied saving
consolations, all joy and faith in Christ, all stability and
confirming strength of grace, and the goodwill of Him that dwelt in
the Bush be with you.
     Your unworthy brother.

 ABERDEEN, June 15, 1637


MUCH HONORED AND DEAREST IN MY LORD, Grace, mercy, and peace be to
you. My soul longeth exceedingly to hear how matters go betwixt you
and Christ; and whether or not there be any work of Christ in that
parish, that will bide the trial of fire and water. Let me be weighed
of my Lord in a just balance, if your souls lie not weighty upon me.
Ye go to bed and ye rise with me: thoughts of your soul, my dearest in
our Lord, depart not from me in my sleep. Ye have a great part of my
tears, sighs, supplications, and prayers. Oh, if I could buy your
soul's salvation with any suffering whatsoever, and that ye and I
might meet with joy up in the rainbow, when we shall stand before our
 Sir, show the people this; for when I write to you, I think I write
to you all, old and young. Fulfill my joy and seek the Lord. Sure I
am, that once I discovered my lovely, royal princely Lord Jesus to you
all. Woe, woe shall be your part of it for evermore, if the Gospel be
not the savor of life to you. Believe me, I find heaven a city hard to
be won.
 I know your accounts are many, and will take telling and laying, and
reckoning betwixt you and your Lord. Fit your accounts, and order
them. Lose not the last play, whatever ye do, for in that play with
death your precious soul is the prize: for the Lord's sake spill not
the play, and lose not such a treasure. Ye know that, out of love
which I had to your soul, and out of desire which I had to make an
honest account of you, I testified my displeasure and disliking of
your ways very often, both in private and public. I am not now a
witness of your doings, but your Judge is always your witness. I
beseech you by the mercies of God, by the salvation of your soul,
after the sight of this letter to take a new course with your ways and
now, in the end of your day, make sure of heaven. I never knew so well
what sin was as since I came to Aberdeen, howbeit I was preaching of
it to you. To feel the smoke of hell's fire in the throat for half an
hour; to stand beside a river of fire and brimstone broader than the
earth; and to think to be bound hand and foot, and casten into the
midst of it quick, and then to have God locking the prison door, never
to be opened to all eternity! O how it will shake a conscience that
has any life in it!
 Look up to Him and love Him. O, love and live! It were life to me if
you would read this letter to the people and if they did profit by it.
My dearest in the Lord, stand fast in Christ, keep the faith, contend
for Christ. Wrestle for Him and take men's feud for God's favor; there
is no comparison betwixt them. O that the Lord would fulfill my joy
and keep the young bride that is at Anwoth to Christ!
 Now, worthy Sir, now my dear people, my joy and my crown in the Lord,
let Him be your fear. Seek the Lord, and His face: save your souls.
Doves! flee to Christ's windows. Pray for me, and praise for me. The
blessing of my God, the prayers and blessing of a poor prisoner, and
your lawful pastor, be upon you.
     Your lawful and loving pastor.

 ABERDEEN, June 16, 1637

XXXVII. To EARLSTON, the younger
See also Letter LVI.

to you. Your letters give a dash to my laziness in writing.
 I must first tell you, that there is not such a glassy, icy, and
slippery piece of way betwixt you and heaven, as Youth; and I have
experience to say with me here, and to seal what I assert. The old
ashes of the sins of my youth are new fire of sorrow to me. I have
seen the devil, as it were, dead and buried, and yet rise again, and
be a worse devil than ever he was: therefore, my brother, beware of a
green young devil, that has never been buried. Yet I must tell you,
that the whole saints now triumphant in heaven, and standing before
the throne, are nothing but a pack of redeemed sinners.
 I shall be loath to put you off your fears, and your sense of
deadness: I wish it were more. There be some wounds of that nature,
that their bleeding should not be soon stopped. Ye must take a house
beside the Physician. It will be a miracle if ye be the first sick man
whom He put away uncured, and worse than He found you. 'Him that
comets unto Me I will in no wise cast out' (John 6.37). Take ye that.
It cannot be presumption to take that as your own, when you find that
your wounds stound you. He that can tell his tale and send such a
letter to heaven as he has sent to Aberdeen, it is very like he will
come speed with Christ. It bodeth God's mercy to complain heartily for
 Now for myself; alas! I am not the man I go for in this nation: men
have not just weights to weigh me in. Oh, but I am a silly, feckless
body, and overgrown with weeds; corruption is rank and fat in me. Oh,
if I were answerable to this holy cause, and to that honorable
Prince's love for whom I now suffer! If Christ should refer the matter
to me (in His presence I speak it), I might think shame to vote my own
salvation. I think Christ might say, 'Thinkest thou not shame to claim
heaven, who does so little for it?' I am very often so, that I know
not whether I sink or swim in the water.
     Grace be with you,

 ABERDEEN, June 16, 1637


REVEREND AND WELL-BELOVED BROTHER, Grace, mercy, and peace be unto
you. I have heard somewhat of your trials in Galloway. My witness is
above, my dearest brother, that ye have added much joy to me in my
bonds, when I hear that ye grow in the grace and zeal of God for your
Master. Our ministry, whether by preaching or suffering, will cast a
smell through the world both of heaven and hell (II Cor. 2.15, 16). I
persuade you, my dear brother, that there is nothing out of heaven,
next to Christ, dearer to me than my ministry.
 And, let me speak to you now, how kind a fellow prisoner is Christ to
me! Believe me, this kind of cross (that would not go by my door, but
would needs visit me) is still the longer the more welcome to me. It
is true, my silent Sabbaths have been, and still are, as glassy ice,
whereon my faith can scarce hold its feet, and I am often blown on my
back, and off my feet, with a storm of doubting; yet truly, my bonds
all this time cast a mighty and rank smell of high and deep love in
Christ. I cannot, indeed, see through my cross to the far end; yet I
believe I am in Christ's books, and in His decree (not yet unfolded to
me), a man triumphing, dancing, and singing, on the other side of the
Red Sea, and laughing and praising the Lamb, over beyond time, sorrow,
deprivation, prelates' indignation, losses, want of friends, and
 Woe is me, my dear brother, that I say often, 'I am but dry bones,
which my Lord will not bring out of the grave again'; and that my
faithless fears say, 'Oh, I am a dry tree, that can bear no fruit: I
am a useless body, who can beget no children to the Lord in His
house!' Hopes of deliverance look cold and uncertain and afar off, as
if I had done with it. If my sufferings could do beholders good and
edify His kirk and proclaim the incomparable worth of Christ's love to
the world, then would my soul be overjoyed and my sad heart be cheered
and calmed!
 Dear brother, I cannot tell what is become of my labours among that
people! If all that my Lord builded by me be casten down, and the
bottom be fallen out of the profession at that parish, and none stand
by Christ, whose love I once preached as clearly and plainly as I
could (though far below its worth and excellence) to that people; if
so, how can I bear it! And if another make a foul harvest, where I
have made a painful and honest sowing, it will not soon digest with
me. But I know that His ways pass finding out. Yet my witness, both
within me and above me, knoweth. And my pained breast upon the Lord's
Day at night, my desire to have had Christ awful, and amiable, and
sweet to that people, is now my joy. It was my desire and aim to make
Christ and them one; and, if I see my hopes die in the bud, see they
bloom a little, and come to no fruit, I die with grief.
 But, my dear brother, go on in the strength of His rich grace, whom
ye serve. Stand fast for Christ. Deliver the Gospel off your hand, and
your ministry to your Master with a clean and undefiled conscience.
Let us make our part of it good, that it may be able to abide the
fire, when hay and stubble shall be burned to ashes. Nothing, nothing,
I say, nothing, but sound sanctification can abide the Lord's fan.
 Now, remember my love to all my friends, and to my parishioners, as
if I named each one of them particularly. I recommend you, and God's
people, committed by Christ to your trust, to the rich grace of our
all-sufflcient Lord. Remember my bonds. Praise my Lord, who beareth me
up in my sufferings. As you find occasion, according to the wisdom
given you, show our acquaintance what the Lord has done for my soul.
This I seek not, verily, to hunt my own praise, but that my dearest
Master may be magnified.

 ABERDEEN, June 17, 1637


DEARLY BELOVED IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, - Grace, mercy, and peace be
to you. Few know the heart of a stranger and prisoner. I am in the
hands of mine enemies. I would that honest and lawful means were
essayed for bringing me home to my charge, now when Mr A. R. and Mr H.
R. are restored. It concerneth you of Galloway most, to use
supplications and addresses for this purpose, and try if by fair means
I can be brought back again. As for liberty, without I be restored to
my flock, it is little to me; for my silence is my greatest prison.
However it be, I wait for the Lord; I hope not to rot in my
sufferings: Lord, give me submission to wait on. My heart is sad that
my days flee away, and I do no service to my Lord in His house, now
when His harvest and the souls of perishing people require it. But His
ways are not like my ways, neither can I find Him out. Oh that He
would shine upon my darkness, and bring forth my morning light from
under the thick cloud that men have spread over me!
 But that day that my mouth was most unjustly and cruelly closed, the
bloom fell off my branches and my joy did cast the flower. O that I
might preach His beauty and glory as once I did, and my branches be
watered with the dew of God, and my joy in His work grow green again
and bud and send out a flower! O, that I may wait for Him till the
morning of this benighted kirk break out! This poor, afflicted kirk
had a fair morning, but her night came upon her before her noonday,
and she was like a traveler forced to take house in the morning of his
journey. And now her adversaries are the chief men in the land; her
ways mourn; her gates languish; her children sigh for bread. O, that
my Lord would bring me again amongst you with abundance of the Gospel
of Christ.
 Remember my love in the Lord to your husband; God make him faithful
to Christ! And my blessing to your three children. Faint not in prayer
for this kirk. Desire my people not to receive a stranger and intruder
upon my ministry. Let me stand in that right and station that my Lord
Jesus gave me. Grace, grace, be with you.


XL. To ROBERT STEWART, on his decision for Christ

MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, - You are heartily welcome to my world of
suffering, and heartily welcome to my father's house; God give you
much joy of your new Master. If I have been in the house before you, I
were not faithful to give the house an ill name, or to speak evil of
the Lord of the family: I rather wish God's Holy Spirit (O Lord,
breathe upon me with that Spirit!) to tell you the fashions of the
house (Ezek. 43.11). One thing I can say, by on-waiting, ye will grow
a great man with the Lord of the house. Hang on, till ye get some good
from Christ. Take ease yourself, and let Him bear all; lay all your
weights and your loads, by faith, on Christ; He can, He will bear you.
I rejoice that He has come, and has chosen you in the furnace; it was
even there where He and ye set tryst. He keepeth the good old fashion
with you that was in Hosea's days (Hos. 2.14). 'Therefore, behold I
will allure her, and bring her to the wilderness, and speak
comfortably to her.' There was no talking to her heart while she was
in the fair flourishing city, and at ease, but out in the cold,
hungry, waste wilderness, He allureth her; He whispered news into her
ear there, and said, 'Thou art Mine'. What would ye think of such a
bode? Ye may soon do worse than say, 'Lord, hold all; Lord Jesus, a
bargain be it, it shall not go back on my side'.
 Ye have gotten a great advantage in the way of heaven, that ye have
started to the gate in the morning. Like a fool, as I was, I suffered
my sun to be high in the heaven, and near afternoon, before I ever
took the gate by the end. I pray you now keep the advantage ye have.
My heart, be not lazy; set quickly up the bras on hands and feet, as
if the last pickle of sand were running out of your glass, and death
were coming to turn the glass. And be very careful to take heed to
your feet, in that slippery and dangerous way of youth that ye are
walking in. Dry timber will soon take fire. Be covetous and greedy of
the grace of God, and beware that it be not a holiness which comets
only from the cross; for too many are that way disposed. 'When He slew
them, then they sought Him, and they returned and inquired early after
God.' 'Nevertheless, they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they
lied unto Him with their tongues' (Ps. 78.34,36). It is part of our
hypocrisy, to give God fair, white words when He has us in His grips
(if I may speak so), and to flatter Him till He win to the fair fields
again. Try well green godliness, and examine what it is that ye love
in Christ. If ye love but Christ's sunny side, and would have only
summer weather and a land-gate, not a sea-way to heaven, your
profession will play you a slip, and the winter-well will go dry again
in summer.
 Make no sport nor bairn's play of Christ; but labour for a sound and
lively sight of sin, that ye may judge yourself an undone man, a
damned slave of hell and of sin, one dying in your own blood, except
Christ come and rue upon you, and take you up. And, therefore, make
sure and fast work of conversion. Cast the earth deep; and down, down
with the old work, the building of confusion, that was there before;
and let Christ lay new work, and make a new creation within you. Look
if Christ's rain goes down to the root of your withered plants, and if
His love wound your heart whill it bleed with sorrow for sin, and if
ye can pant and fall aswoon, and be like to die for that lovely one,
Jesus. I know that Christ will not be hid where He is; grace will ever
speak for itself, and be fruitful in well-doing. The sanctified cross
is a fruitful tree, it bringeth forth many apples.
 If I should tell you by some weak experience, what I have found in
Christ, ye or others could hardly believe me. I thought not the
hundredth part of Christ long since, that I do now, though, alas! my
thoughts are still infinitely below His worth. And for Christ's cross,
especially the garland and flower of all crosses, to suffer for His
name, I esteem it more than I can write or speak to you. And I write
it under mine own hand to you, that it is one of the steps of the
ladder up to our country; and Christ (whoever be one) is still at the
heavy end of this black tree, and so it is but as a feather to me. I
need not run at leisure, because of a burden on my back; my back never
bare the like of it; the more heavily crossed for Christ, the soul is
still the lighter for the journey.
 Now, would to God that all cold-blooded, faint-hearted soldiers of
Christ, would look again to Jesus, and to his love; and when they
look, I would have them to look again and again, and fill themselves
with beholding Christ's beauty: and, I dare say, then He would be
highly esteemed of many. It is my daily growing sorrow, that He does
so great things for my soul, and He never yet got any thing of me
worth speaking of. Sir, I charge you, help me to praise Him. If men
could do no more, I would have them to wonder - if we cannot be filled
with Christ's love, we may be filled with wondering. To Him and His
rich grace I recommend you. I pray you, pray for me, and forget not to

 ABERDEEN, June 17, 1637


Her husband, to whom Rutherfurd expresses his obligations at the close
of the letter, was Sheriff of Ayrshire and represented it in the
Scottish Parliament. He was one of three commissioners sent by
Parliament on behalf of the Covenant to Newcastle in 1641. In 1649 he
commanded a troop of Horse.

MISTRESS, - I long to know how matters stand betwixt Christ and your
soul. Time cannot change Him in His love. Ye yourself may ebb and
flow, rise and fall, wax and wane; but your Lord is this day as He was
yesterday. And it is your comfort that your salvation is not rolled
upon wheels of your own making, neither have ye to do with a Christ at
your own shaping. God has singled out a Mediator, strong and mighty:
if ye and your burdens were as heavy as ten hills or hells, He is able
to bear you, and to save you to the uttermost. Your often seeking to
Him cannot make you a burden to Him. I know that Christ compassioneth
you, and maketh a moan for you, in all your dumps, and under your down
castings; but it is good for you that He hideth Himself sometimes. It
is not niceness, dryness, nor coldness of love, that causeth Christ to
withdraw, and slip in under a curtain and a vail, that ye cannot see
Him; but He knoweth that ye could not bear with upsails, a fair gale,
a full moon, and a high spring-tide of His felt love, and always a
fair summer-day and a summer-sun of a felt and possessed and embracing
Lord Jesus. His kisses and His visits to His dearest ones are
thin-sown. He could not let out His rivers of love upon His own, but
these rivers would be in hazard of loosening a young plant at the
root; and He knoweth this of you. Ye should, therefore, frist Christ's
kindness, as to its sensible and full manifestations, till ye and He
be above sun and moon. That is the country where ye will be enlarged
for that love which ye dow not now contain.
 Cast the burden of your sweet babes upon Christ, and lighten your
heart, by laying your all upon Him: He will be their God. I hope to
see you up the mountain yet, and glad in the salvation of God. Frame
yourself for Christ, and gloom not upon His cross. I find Him so
sweet, that my love, suppose I would charge it to remove from Christ,
would not obey me: His love has stronger fingers than to let go its
grips of us bairns, who cannot go but by such a hold as Christ. It is
good that we want legs of our own, since we may borrow from Christ;
and it is our happiness that Christ is under an act of cautionary for
heaven, and that Christ is booked in heaven as the principal debtor
for such poor bodies as we are.
 I request you, give the laird, your husband, thanks for his care of
me, in that he has appeared in public for a prisoner of Christ. I pray
and write mercy, and peace, and blessings to him and his.
 Grace, grace be with you for ever.



MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, - I would have looked for larger and more
particular letters from you, for my comfort in this; for your words
before have strengthened me. I pray you to mend this; and be thankful
and painful, while ye have a piece or corner of the Lord's vineyard to
dress. Oh, would to God that I could have leave to follow you, to
break the clods! But I wish I could command my soul to be silent, and
to wait upon the Lord. I am sure that while Christ lives, I am well
enough friend-stead. I hope that He will extend His kindness and power
for me; but God be thanked it is not worse with me than a cross for
Christ and His truth. I know that He might have pitched upon many more
choice and worthy witnesses, if He had pleased; but I seek no more (be
what timber I will, suppose I were made of a piece of hell) than that
my Lord, in His infinite art, hew glory to His name, and enlargement
to Christ's kingdom, out of me. Oh that I could attain to this, to
desire that my part of Christ might be laid in pledge for the
heightening of Christ's throne in Britain! Let my Lord redeem the
pledge, or, if He please, let it sink and drown unredeemed. But what
can I add to Him? Or what way can a smothered and borne-down prisoner
set out Christ in open market, as a lovely and desirable Lord to many
souls? I know that He seeth to His own glory better than my ebb
thoughts can dream of; and that the wheels and paces of this poor
distempered kirk are in His hands; and that things shall roll as
Christ will have them: - only, Lord, tryst the matter so, as Christ
may be made a householder and lord again in Scotland, and wet faces
for His departure may be dried at His sweet and much-desired
 I desire you to contribute your help to see if I cannot be restored
to my wasted and lost flock.
 Grace be (as it is) your portion.



 Robert Brown of Carsluth owned considerable property in Galloway.

WORTHY SIR, - I beseech you in the Lord to give your soul no rest till
ye have real assurance, and Christ's rights confirmed and sealed to
your soul. Take pains for your salvation; for in that day when ye
shall see many men's labours and conquests and idol-riches lying in
ashes, when the earth and all the works thereof shall be burnt with
fire, oh how dear a price would your soul give for God's favor in
Christ! It will not be time to cry for a lamp when the Bridegroom is
entered into His chamber and the door shut. Look into those depths
(without a bottom) of loveliness, sweetness, beauty, excellency,
glory, goodness, grace, and mercy, that are in Christ; and ye shall
then cry down the whole world, and all the glory of it, even when it
is come to the summer-bloom; and ye shall cry, 'Up with Christ, up
with Christ's Father, up with eternity of glory!' Sir, there is a
great deal less sand in your glass than when I saw you, and your

(continued in part 7)

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