(Rutherford, Selected letters. part 8)

 ABERDEEN, Aug. 15, 1637


 Ellis was an Irish Presbyterian serving as a captain in the Scottish

WORTHY AND MUCH HONOURED IN OUR LORD, - Grace, mercy, and peace be to
 1. I am glad of our more than paper acquaintance. Seeing we have one
Father, it reckoneth the less, though we never see one another's face.
I profess myself most unworthy to follow the camp of such a worthy and
renowned Captain as Christ.
 2. As for our lovely and beloved church in Ireland, my heart bleedeth
for her desolation; but I believe that our Lord is only lopping the
vine-trees, but not intending to cut them down, or root them out. It
is but folly to measure the Gospel by summer or winter weather: the
summer-sun of the saints shineth not on them in this life. How should
we have complained, if the Lord had turned the same providence that we
now stomach at upside down, and had ordered matters thus, that first
the saints should have enjoyed heaven, glory, and ease, and then
Methuselah's days of sorrow and daily miseries? We would think a short
heaven no heaven. Certainly His ways pass finding out.
 3. Ye complain of the evil of heart-atheism: but it is to a greater
atheist than any man can be, that ye write of that. Oh, light findeth
not that reverence and fear which a plant of God's setting should find
in our soul! How do we by nature, as others, detain and hold captive
the truth of God in unrighteousness, and so make God's light a bound
prisoner? Certainly there comets great mist and clouds from the lower
part of our souls, our earthly affections, to the higher part, which
is our conscience, either natural or renewed: as smoke in a lower
house breaketh up, and defileth the house above. If we had more
practice of obedience, we should have more sound light. I think, lay
aside all other guiltiness, that this one, the violence done to God's
candle in our soul, were a sufficient ditty against us. There is no
helping of this but by striving to stand in awe of God's light. I see
there is a necessity that we protest against the doings of the Old
Man, and raise up a party against our worst half, to accuse, condemn,
sentence, and with sorrow bemoan, the dominion of sin's kingdom; and
withal make law, in the New Covenant, against our guiltiness. For
Christ once condemned sin in the flesh, and we are to condemn it over
again. And if there had not been such a thing as the grace of Jesus, I
should have long since given up with heaven, and with the expectation
to see God. But grace, grace, free grace, the merits of Christ for
nothing, white and fair, and large Saviour-mercy, have been, and must
be, the rock that we drowned souls must swim to. New washing, renewed
application of purchased redemption, by that sacred blood that sealeth
the free Covenant, is a thing of daily and hourly use to a poor
sinner. And even when we have won the castle, then must we eternally
sing, 'Worthy, worthy is the Lamb, who has saved us, and washed us in
His own blood.'

 ABERDEEN, Sept. 7, 1637

LII. To MR MATTHEW MOWAT, minister of Kilmarnock

 Mowat was one of seven leading ministers in the west of Scotland whom
Parliament after the Restoration brought before them to demand their
agreement to the establishment of episcopacy, thinking their agreement
would influence others. On their refusal they were imprisoned.

REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, - I am refreshed with your letters. I would
take all well at my Lord's hands that He has done, if I knew that I
could do my Lord any service in my suffering; suppose my Lord would
make a stop-hole of me, to fill a hole in the wall of His house, or a
pinning in Zion's new work. For any place of trust in my Lord's house,
as steward, or chamberlain, or the like, surely I think myself (my
very dear brother, I speak not by any proud figure or traps) unworthy
of it; nay, I am not worthy to stand behind the door. When I hear that
the men of God are at work, and speaking in the name of our Lord
Jesus, I think myself but an outcast, or outlaw, chased from the city
to lie on the hills, and live amongst the rocks and out-fields. Oh
that I might but stand in Christ's out-house, or hold a candle in any
low vault of His house! But I know this is but the vapors that arise
out of a quarrelous and unbelieving heart to darken the wisdom of God;
and your fault is just mine, that I cannot believe my Lord's bare and
naked word. I must either have an apple to play me with, and shake
hands with Christ, and have seal, caution, and witness to His word, or
else I count myself loose; howbeit, I have the word and faith of a
King! Oh, I am made of unbelief, and cannot swim but where my feet may
touch the ground!
 But surely, brother, ye shall have my advice (howbeit, alas! I cannot
follow it myself, not to contend with the honest and faithful Lord of
the house; for, go He or come He, He is aye gracious in His departure.
There are grace, and mercy, and loving-kindness upon Christ's back
parts; and when He goes away, the proportion of His face, the image of
that fair Sun that stayeth in eyes, senses, and heart, after He is
gone, leaveth a mass of love behind it in the heart. The sound of His
knock at the door of His Beloved, after He is gone and passed, leaveth
a share of joy and sorrow both. So we have something to feed upon till
He return: and He is more loved in His departure, and after He is
gone, than before, as the day in the declining of the sun, and towards
the evening, is often most desired.
 And as for Christ's cross, I never received evil of it, but what was
of mine own making: when I miscooked Christ's physic, no marvel that
it hurt me. For since it was on Christ's back, it has always a sweet
smell, and these 1600 years it keepeth the smell of Christ.
 I believe that our Lord once again will water with His dew the
withered hill of Mount Zion in Scotland. Remember our Covenant.
 Your excuse for advice to me is needless. Alas! Many sit beside
light, as sick folk beside meat, and cannot make use of it. Grace be
with you.
     Your brother in Christ.

 ABERDEEN, Sept. 7, 1637

LIII. To JAMES BAUTIE, theological student

LOVING BROTHER, - I received your letter and render you thanks for the
same; but I have not time to answer all the heads of it, as the bearer
can inform you.
 It is a sweet law of the New Covenant and a privilege of the new
burgh that citizens pay according to their means. For the New Covenant
saith not, 'So much obedience by ounce weights and no less, under the
pain of damnation.' Christ taketh as poor men may give. Where there is
a mean portion He is content with the less, if there be sincerity;
broken sums, and little, feckless obedience will be pardoned, and hold
the foot with Him. Know ye not that our kindly Lord retaineth His good
old heart yet? He breaketh not a bruised reed, nor quencheth the
smoking flax; if the wind but blow, He holdeth His hand about it till
it rise to a flame. The law comets on with three O-yeses, 'with all
the heart; with all the soul, and with all the strength'; and where
would poor folks, like you and me, furnish all these sums? It feareth
me (nay, it is most certain) that, if the payment were to come out of
our purse, when we should put our hand into our bag, we should bring
out the wind, or worse. But the New Covenant seeketh not heapmete, nor
stented obedience, as the condition of it, because forgiveness has
always place. Hence I draw this conclusion: that to think matters
betwixt Christ and us go back for want of heaped measure, is a piece
of old Adam's pride, who would either be at legal payment, or nothing.
We would still have God in our common, and buy His kindness with our
 No marvel, then, of whisperings, Whether you be in the covenant or
not? For pride maketh loose work of the covenant of grace, and will
not let Christ be full bargain maker. To speak to you particularly and
shortly: All the truly regenerated cannot determinately tell you the
measure of their dejections; because Christ beginneth young with many,
and stealth into their heart, see they wit of themselves, and becometh
homely with them, with little din or noise. I grant that many are
blinded, in rejoicing in a good-cheap conversion, that never cost them
a sick night. But for that; I would say, if other marks be found that
Christ is indeed come in, never make plea with him because he will not
answer, 'Lord Jesus, how camest Thou in? Whether in at door or
window?' Make Him welcome, since He is come. 'The wind bloweth where
it listeth'; all the world's wisdom cannot perfectly render a reason
why the wind should be a month in the east, six weeks possibly in the
west, and the space only of an afternoon in the south or north. You
will not find out all the steps of Christ's way with a soul, do what
ye can.
 You object, the truly regenerate should love God for Himself; and ye
fear that you love Him more for His benefits (as incitements and
motives to love Him) than for Himself. I answer, To love God for
Himself, as the last end; and also for His benefits, as incitements
and motives to love Him, may very well stand together; as a son loveth
his mother, because she is his mother, howbeit she be poor: and he
loveth her for an apple also. You will not say, I hope, that benefits
are the only reason and ground of your love: it seems there is a
better foundation for it.
 Comparing the state of one truly regenerate, whose heart is a temple
of the Holy Ghost, and yours, which is full of uncleanness and
corruption, ye stand dumb and discouraged, and dare not sometimes call
Christ heartsomely your own. I answer: 1. The best regenerate have
their defilements that will clog behind them all their days; and, wash
as they will, there will be filth in their bosom. But let not this put
you from the well. I answer: 2. Albeit there may be some squint look
to an idol, yet love in its own measure may be found. For glory must
purify and perfect our love, it never will till then be absolutely
pure. Yet if the idol reign, and have the whole of the heart, and the
keys of the house, and Christ only be made an underling to run
errands, all is not right; therefore, examine well.
 The assurance of Jesus' love, ye say, would be the most comfortable
news that ever ye heard. Oh, that ye knew and felt it, as I have done!
I wish you a share of my feast; sweet, sweet has it been to me. If my
Lord had not given me this love, I should have fallen through the
causeway of Aberdeen ere now! But for you, hang on, your feast is not
far off; ye shall be filled ere ye go. There is as much in our Lord's
pantry as will satisfy all His bairns, and as much wine in His cellar
as will quench all their thirst. Hunger on, for there is meat in
hunger for Christ. Never go from Him, but fash Him (who yet is pleased
with the importunity of hungry souls) with a dish-full of hungry
desire till He fill you.
 Ye crave my mind, whether sound comfort may be found in prayer, when
conviction of a known idol is present. I answer: An idol, as an idol,
cannot stand with sound comforts; for that comfort that is gotten at
Dagon's feet is a cheat or blaflume. Yet sound comfort, and conviction
of an eye to an idol, may as well dwell together as tears and joy. But
let this do you no ill; I speak it for your encouragement. that ye may
make the best of our joys as ye can, albeit you find them mixed with
 Brother, excuse my brevity, for time straiteneth me, that I get not
my mind said in these things, but must refer that to a new occasion,
if God offer it. Brother, pray for me. Grace be with you.


REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, - The reason ye give for not writing to me
affecteth me much, and giveth me a dash, when such an one as ye
conceive an opinion of me, or of anything in me. The truth is, when I
come home to myself, oh, what penury do I find, and how feckless is my
supposed stock, and how little have I! He to whom I am as crystal, and
who seeth through me, and perceiveth the least mote that is in me,
knoweth that I speak of what I think and am convinced of: but men cast
me through a gross and wide sieve. My very dear brother, the room of
the least of all saints is too great for the like of me. But lest this
should seem art to fetch home reputation, I speak no more of it. It is
my worth to be Christ's ransomed sinner and sick one. His relation to
me is, that I am sick, and He is the Physician of whom I stand in
need. Alas! How often play I fast and loose with Christ! He bindeth, I
loose; He buildeth, I cast down; He trimmeth up a salvation for me,
and I mar it; I cast out with Christ, and He agreeth with me again,
twenty times a-day; I forfeit my kingdom and heritage, I lose what I
had; but Christ is at my back, and following on, to stoop and take up
what falleth from me. For my faith and reputation with Christ is, that
I am a creature that God will not put any trust into. I was, and am,
bewildered with temptations, and wanted a guide to heaven. Oh what
have I to say of that excellent, surpassing, and supereminent thing,
they call, The Grace of God, the way of free redemption in Christ! And
when poor, poor I, dead in law, was sold, fettered, and imprisoned in
justice's closet-ward, which is hell and damnation; when I, a wretched
one, lighted upon noble Jesus, eternally kind Jesus, tender-hearted
Jesus (nay, when He lighted upon me first, and knew me), I found that
He scorned to take a price, or anything like hire, of angels, or
seraphim, or any of his creatures. And, therefore, I would praise Him
for this, that the whole army of the redeemed ones sit rent-free in
heaven. Our holding is better than blench: we are all freeholders. And
seeing that our eternal feu-duty is but thanks, oh woeful me! That I
have but spilled thanks, lame, and broken, and miscarried praises, to
give Him.
 My dear brother, I shall think it comfort, if ye speak my name to our
Well-beloved. Wherever ye are, I am mindful of you. Oh that the Lord
would yet make the light of the moon in Scotland as the light of the
sun, and the light of the sun sevenfold brighter. For myself, as yet I
have received no answer whither to go. I wait on. Oh that Jesus had my
love! Let matters frame as they list, I have some more to do with
Christ; yet I would fain we were nearer.
 Now the great Shepherd of the sheep, the very God of peace, establish
and confirm you till the day of His coming.

 ABERDEEN, Sept. 9, 1637


WORTHY AND DEAR BROTHER, - I forget you not in my bonds. I know that
you are looking to Christ; and I beseech you to follow your look. I
can say more of Christ now by experience (though He be infinitely
above and beyond all that can be said of Him), than when I saw you. I
am drowned over head and ears in His love. Sell, sell, sell all things
for Christ.
 Sir, make sure work of your salvation: build not upon sand; lay the
foundation upon the rock of Zion. Strive to be dead to this world, and
to your will and lusts; let Christ have a commanding power and a
king's throne in you. Walk with Christ, howbeit the world should take
the hide off your face: I promise you that Christ will win the field.
Your pastors cause you to err. Except you see Christ's word, go not
one foot with them. Countenance not the reading of that Romish
service-book. Keep your garments clean, as ye would walk with the Lamb
clothed in white. Learn to discern the Bridegroom's tongue, and to
give yourself to prayer and reading. Ye were often a hearer of me. I
would put my heart's blood on the doctrine which I taught, as the only
way to salvation: go not from it, my dear brother. What I write to
you, I write to your wife also. Mind heaven and Christ, and keep the
spunk of the love of Christ which you have gotten. Christ will blow on
it if ye entertain it; and your end shall be peace. There is a fire in
our Zion. I assure you, howbeit we be nicknamed Puritans, that all the
powers of the world shall not prevail against us. Remember, though a
sinful man write it to you, that those people shall be in Scotland as
a green olive-tree, and a field blessed of the Lord; and that it shall
be proclaimed, 'Up, up with Christ, and down, down with all contrary
 Sir, pray for me (I name you to the Lord), for further evil is
determined against me.

 ABERDEEN, Sept. 13, 1637

LVI. To EARLSTON, the younger

MUCH HONORED SIR, - Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. I am well.
Christ triumpheth in me, blessed be His name. I have all things. I
burden no man. I see that this earth and the fatness thereof is my
Father's. Sweet, sweet is the cross of my Lord. The blessing of God
upon the cross of my Lord Jesus! My enemies have contributed (beside
their design) to make me blessed. This is my palace, not my prison;
especially, when my Lord shineth and smileth upon His poor afflicted
and sold Joseph, who is separated from his brethren. But, oh, my
neglects! Oh, my unseen guiltiness! I imagined that a sufferer for
Christ kept the keys of Christ's treasure, and might take out his
heart-full of comforts when he pleased; but I see, a sufferer and a
witness shall be holden at the door, as well as another poor sinner,
and be glad to eat with the bairns, and to take the by-board.
 Sir, lay the foundation thus, and ye shall not soon shrink, nor be
shaken. Make tight work at the bottom, and your ship shall ride
against all storms, if withal your anchor be fastened on good ground;
I mean within the vail. And verily I think this is all, to gain
Christ. All other things are shadows, dreams, fancies, and nothing.
 Sir, remember my love to your mother. I pray for mercy and grace to
her; I wish her on-going toward heaven. As I promised to write, so
show her that I want nothing in my Lord's service. Christ will not be
in such a poor man's common as mine. Grace, grace be with you.

 ABERDEEN, Sept. 22, 1637


MADAM, - I would have written to your Ladyship ere now, but people's
believing there is in me that which I know there is not, has put me
out of love with writing to any.
 My Lord seeth me a tired man, far behind. I have gotten much love
from Christ, but I give Him little or none again. My white side comets
out on paper to men; but at home and within I find much black work,
and great cause of a low sail, and of little boasting.
 I wish all professors to fall in love with grace. All our songs
should be of His free grace. We are but too lazy and careless in
seeking of it; it is all our riches we have here, and glory in the
bud. I wish that I could set out free grace. I was the law's man, and
under the law, and under a curse; but grace brought me from under that
hard lord, and I rejoice that I am grace's freeholder. I pay tribute
to none for heaven, seeing my land and heritage holdeth of Christ, my
new King. Infinite wisdom has devised this excellent way of
free-holding for sinners. It is a better way to heaven than the old
way that was in Adam's days. It has this fair advantage, that no man's
emptiness and want layeth an inhibition upon Christ, or hindereth His
salvation; and that is far best for me. But our new Landlord putteth
the names of devours, and Adam's forlorn heirs, and beggars, and the
crooked and blind, in the free charters. Heaven and angels may wonder
that we have got such a gate of sin and hell. Such a back-entry out of
hell as Christ made, and brought out the captives by, is more than my
poor shallow thoughts can comprehend.
 I hear that the prelates are intending banishment for me; but, for
more grace, and no other hire, I would make it welcome. The bits of
this clay house, the earth, and the other side of the sea, are my
Father's. If my sweet Lord Jesus would bud my sufferings with a new
measure of grace, I were a rich man. But I have not now, of a long
time, found such high spring-tides as formerly. The sea is out, the
wind of His Spirit calm; and I cannot buy a wind, or, by requesting
the sea, cause it to flow again; only I wait on upon the banks and
shore-side, till the Lord send a full sea, that with upsails I may
lift up Christ. Yet sorrow for His absence is sweet; and sighs, with
'Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?' have their own delights. Oh that I
may gather hunger against His long-looked-for return! Well were my
soul, if Christ were the element (mine own element), and that I loved
and breathed in Him, and if I could not live without Him.
 Remember my service to my lord your son, who was kind to me in my
bonds, and was not ashamed to own me. I would be glad that Christ got
the morning service of his life, now in his young years. It would suit
him well to give Christ his young and green love. Christ's stamp and
seal would go far down in a young soul, if he would receive the thrust
of Christ's stamp. I would desire him to make search for Christ; for
nobles are now but dry friends to Christ.
 The grace of God our Father, and the goodwill of Him who dwelt in the
Bush, be with your Ladyship.



 Like many other of the great ladies of the Covenant, some of whom we
have already met in these letters, and others of whom are in the full
collection, Lady Robertland was a woman of deep personal faith and of
devoted service to the cause of Christ. She was noted, too, for her
witty and fascinating conversation and her way of illustrating
spiritual truth by most vivid and homely similes and parables.

MISTRESS, -  Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. - I shall be glad to
hear that your soul prospereth, and that fruit growth upon you, after
the Lord's husbandry and pains, in His rod that has not been a
stranger to you from your youth. It is the Lord's kindness that He
will take the scum off us in the fire. Who knoweth how needful
winnowing is to us, and what dross we must want ere we enter into the
kingdom of God? So narrow is the entry to heaven, that our knots, our
bunches and lumps of pride, and self-love, and idol-love, and
world-love, must be hammered off us, that we may thring in, stooping
low, and creeping through that narrow and thorny entry.
 And now for myself, I find it the most sweet and heavenly life to
take up house and dwelling at Christ's fireside, and set down my tent
upon Christ, that Foundationstone, who is sure and faithful ground and
hard under foot. I thank God that God is God, and Christ is Christ,
and the earth the earth, and the devil the devil, and the world the
world, and that sin is sin, and that everything is what it is; because
He has taught me in my wilderness not to shuffle my Lord Jesus, nor to
intermix Him with creature-vanities, nor to spin or twine Christ or
His sweet love in one web, or in one thread, with the world and the
things thereof. Oh, if I could hold and keep Christ all alone, and mix
Him with nothing! Oh, if I could cry down the price and weight of my

(continued in part 9...)

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