(Rutherford, Selected letters. part 9) cursed self, and cry up the price of Christ, and double, and triple, and augment, and heighten to millions the price and worth of Christ. But we are still ill scholars, and will go in at heaven's gates wanting the half of our lesson; and shall still be bairns, so long as we are under time's hands, and till eternity cause a sun to arise in our souls that shall give us wit. We may see how we spill and mar our own fair heaven and our salvation, and how Christ is every day putting in one bone or other, in these fallen souls of ours, in the right place again; and that on this side of the New Jerusalem, we shall still have need of forgiving and healing grace. I find crosses Christ's carved work that He markets out for us, and that with crosses He figureth and portrayeth us to His own image, cutting away pieces of our ill and corruption. Lord cut, Lord carve, Lord wound, Lord do anything that may perfect Thy Father's image in us, and make us meet for glory. Pray for me (I forget you not) that our Lord would be pleased to lend me house-room to preach His righteousness, and tell what I have heard and seen of Him. Forget not Zion that is now in Christ's caums, and in His forge. God bring her out new work. Grace, grace be with you. ABERDEEN, Jan 4, 1638 LIX. To THE HONORABLE, REVEREND, AND WELL-BELOVED PROFESSORS OF CHRIST AND HIS TRUTH IN SINCERITY, IN IRELAND At the time of this letter the Presbyterian Church of Ireland was in a very depressed condition. In 1632, as we have seen, Robert Blair and other ministers were deposed for nonconformity. In the autumn of 1636 the same thing happened to five more. All were obliged to leave the country. In consequence the Church was deprived of many of its best ministers. Rutherfurd's letter was intended to confirm them in adherence to the cause for which they and their ministers were suffering. DEARLY BELOVED IN THE LORD, AND PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING.- Grace, mercy, and peace be to you, from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. I always, but most of all now in my bonds (most sweet bonds for Christ my Lord) rejoice to hear of your faith and love; and that persecutions and dockings of sinners have not chased away the Wooer from the house. I persuade you in the Lord that the men of God, now scattered and driven from you, put you upon the right scent and pursuit of Christ; and my salvation on it (if ten heavens were mine) if this way, this way that I now suffer for, this way that the world nicknameth and reproacheth, and no other way, be not the King's gate to heaven. And I shall never see God's face (and, alas, I were a beguiled wretch if it were so!) if this be not the only saving way to heaven. Oh that you would take a prisoner for Christ's word for it (nay, I know you have the greatest King's word for it), that it shall not be your wisdom to speer out another Christ, or another way of worshipping Him, than is now savingly revealed to you. Therefore, though I never saw your faces, let me be pardoned to write to you, if possibly I could, by any weak experience, confirm and strengthen you in this good way, everywhere spoken against. I can with the greatest assurance (to the honor of our highest, and greatest, and dearest Lord, let it be spoken!) assert (though I be but a child in Christ, and scarce able to walk but by a hold, and the meanest, and less than the least of saints), that we do not come nigh, by twenty degrees, to the due love and estimation of that fairest among the sons of men. Therefore, faint not in your sufferings and hazards for Him. Where can we find a match to Christ, or an equal, or a better than He, among created things? Oh this world is out of all conceit, and all love, with our Well-beloved. Oh that I could sell my laughter, joy, ease, and all for Him, and be content with a straw bed, and bread by weight, and water by measure, in the camp of our weeping Christ! I know that His sackcloth and ashes are better than the fool's laughter, which is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. But, alas! we do not harden our faces against the cold north storms which blow upon Christ's fair face. We love well summer-religion, and to be that which sin has made us, even as thin-skinned as if we were made of white paper; and would fain be carried to heaven in a close-covered chariot, wishing from our hearts that Christ would give us surety, and His handwrite, and His seal, or nothing but a fair summer until we be landed in at heaven's gates! How many of us have been here deceived, and have fainted in the day of trial! Amongst you there are some of this stamp. I shall be sorry if my acquaintance A.T. has left you: I will not believe that he dare to stay away from Christ's side. I desire that ye show him this from me; for I loved him once in Christ, neither can I change my mind suddenly of him. But the truth is, that many of you, and too many also of your neighbor Church of Scotland, have been like a tenant that sitteth mail-free and knoweth not his holding whill his rights be questioned. And now I am persuaded, that it will be asked at every one of us, on what terms we brook Christ; for we have sitten long mail-free. Many take but half a grip of Christ, and the wind bloweth them and Christ asunder. Indeed, when the mast is broken and blown into the sea, it is an art then to swim upon Christ to dry land. It is even possible that the children of God, in a hard trial, lay themselves down as hidden in the lee-side of a bush whill Christ their Master be taken, as Peter did; and lurk there, whill the storm be over-past. All of us know the way to a whole skin; and the singlest heart that is has a by-purse that will contain the denial of Christ, and a fearful backsliding. Oh, how rare a thing it is to be loyal and honest to Christ, when He has a controversy with the shields of the earth! I wish all of you would consider, that this trial is from Christ; it is come upon you unbought. Do not now joule, or bow, or yield to your adversaries in a hair-breadth. Christ and His truth will not divide; and His truth has not latitude and breadth, that ye may take some of it and leave other some of it. It is not possible to twist and compound a matter betwixt Christ and Antichrist; and, therefore, ye must either be for Christ, or ye must be against Him. I know and am persuaded that Christ shall again be high and great in this poor, withered and sun-burnt Kirk of Scotland; and that the sparks of our fire shall fly over the sea and round about to warm you and other sister churches; and that this tabernacle of David's house, that is fallen, even the Son of David's waste places, shall be built again. And I know the prison, crosses, persecutions and trials of the two slain witnesses that are now dead and buried (Rev. 11.9) and of the faithful professors, have a back-door and back-entry of escape; and that death and hell and the world and the tortures shall all cleave and split in twain, and give us free passage and liberty to go through toll-free: and we shall bring all God's good metal out of the furnace again, and leave behind us but our dross and scum. We may then beforehand proclaim Christ to be victorious. He is crowned King of Mount Zion: God did put the crown upon His head (Ps. 2.6; 21.3) and who dare take it off again? Two special things ye are to mind: First, try and make sure your profession; that ye carry not empty lamps. Alas! security, security is the bane and wrack of the most part of the world. Oh how many professors go with a golden lustre, and are gold-like before men (who are but witnesses to our white skin) and yet are but bastard and base metal! False under water, not seen, is dangerous, and that is a leak and rift in the bottom of an enlightened conscience; often failing and sinning against light. Woe is me that the holy profession of Christ is made a stage garment by many, to bring home a vain fame, and Christ is made to serve men's ends. Know, secondly, except men martyr and slay the body of sin in sanctified self-denial, they shall never be Christ's martyrs and faithful witnesses. Oh if I could be master of that house-idol myself, my own mind, my own will, wit, credit, and ease, how blessed were I! Oh, but we have need to be redeemed from ourselves, rather than from the devil and the world! O wretched idol, myself! when shall I see thee wholly decourted, and Christ wholly put in thy room? Oh, if Christ, Christ had the full place and room of myself, that all my aims, purposes, thoughts, and desires would coast and land upon Christ, and not upon myself! And howbeit we cannot attain to this denial of me and mine, that we can say, 'I am not myself, myself is not myself, mine own is no longer mine own', yet our aiming at this in all we do shall be accepted: for alas! I think I shall die but minting and aiming to be a Christian. Is it not our comfort, that Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, is come betwixt us and God in the business, so that green and young heirs, the like of sinners, have now a Tutor that is God! And now, God be thanked, our salvation is bottomed on Christ. Sure I am, the bottom shall never fall out of heaven and happiness to us. I would give over the bargain a thousand times, were it not that Christ's free grace has taken our salvation in hand. Pray, pray and contend with the Lord, for your sister church; for it would appear that the Lord is about to speer for His scattered sheep, in the dark and cloudy day. Oh that it would please our Lord to set up again David's old wasted and fallen tabernacle in Scotland, that we might see the glory of the second temple in this land! And, howbeit He has caused the blossom to fall off my one poor joy, that was on this side of heaven, even my liberty to preach Christ to His people, yet I am dead to that now, so that He would hew and carve glory, glory for evermore, to my royal King out of my silence and sufferings. I entreat you earnestly for the aid of your prayers, for I forget not you; and I salute, with my soul in Christ, the faithful pastors, and honorable and worthy professors in that land. Now the God of peace, that brought again our Lord Jesus from the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight. Grace, grace be with you. ABERDEEN, Feb. 4, 1638 LX. To LADY KENMURE, on the death of her son, John, second Viscount Kenmure MADAM, - Grace, mercy, and peace, be to you. I know that you are near many comforters, and that the promised Comforter is near at hand also; yet because I found your Ladyship comfortable to myself in my sad days, that are not yet over my head, it is my part, and more in many respects (howbeit I can do little, God knoweth, in that kind), to speak to you in your wilderness-lot. I know, dear and noble lady, this loss of your dear child came upon you one piece and part of it after another; and that you were looking for it, and that now the Almighty has brought on you that which you feared; and that your Lord gave you lawful warning: and I hope for his sake who brewed and masked this cup in heaven, you will gladly drink, and salute and welcome the cross. I am sure it is not your Lord's mind to feed you with judgment and wormwood, and to give you waters of gall to drink (Jer. 9.15). I know that your cup is sugared with mercy; and that the withering of the bloom, the flower, even the white and red of worldly joys, is for no other end, but to secure the reversion of your heart and love. Madam, subscribe to the Almighty's will: put your hand to the pen, and let the cross of your Lord Jesus have your submissive and resolute amen. If you ask and try whose this cross is, I dare say that it is not all your own, the best half of it is Christ's. If Christ and ye be halvers of this suffering, and He say, 'Half Mine', what should ail you? And I am sure that I am here right upon the style of the word of God: 'The fellowship of Christ's sufferings' (Phil. 3.1O); 'Tho remnant of the afflictions of Christ' (Col. 1.24); 'The reproach of Christ' (Heb. 11.26). It were but to shift the comforts of God, to say, 'Christ had never such a cross as mine: He had never a dead child, and so this is not His cross; neither can He, in that meaning, be the owner of this cross.' But the word maketh no exception. 'In all their afflictions He was afflicted' (Isa. 63.9). It may be, that ye think not many of the children of God in such a hard case as yourself; but what would ye think of some, who would exchange afflictions? But I know that yours must be your own alone, and Christ's together. I confess it seemed strange to me, that your Lord should have done that which seemed to ding out the bottom of your worldly comforts; but we see not the ground of the Almighty's sovereignty. 'He goeth by on our right hand, and on our left hand, and we see Him not.' We see but pieces of the broken links of the chains of His providence; and he coggeth the wheels of His own providence, that we see not. Do not wonder to see the Judge of the world weave, into one web, your mercies and the judgments of the house of Kenmure. He can make one web of contraries. I would gladly plead for the Comforter's part of it, not against you, Madam, but against your grief, which will have its own violent incursions in your soul: and I think it be not in your power to help it. But I must say, there are comforts allowed upon you; and, therefore, want them not. It is a Christian art to comfort yourself in the Lord; to say, I was obliged to render back again this child to the Giver: and if I have had four years' loan of him, and Christ eternity's possession of him, the Lord has kept condition with me. If my Lord would not have him and me to tryst both in one hour at death's door-threshold together, it is His wisdom so to do; I am satisfied. My tryst is suspended, not broken off, nor given up.' Madam, I would that I could divide sorrow with you, for your ease. But I am but a beholder: it is easy to me to speak; the God of comfort speak to you, and allure you with His feasts of love. My removal from my flock is so heavy to me, that it maketh my life a burden to me; I had never such a longing for death. The Lord help and hold up sad clay. Madam, desire my Lord Argyle to see for provision to a pastor for his poor people. Grace be with you. KIRKCUDBRIGHT, Oct, 1, 1639 LXI. To MR JAMES WILSON DEAR BROTHER, - Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied upon you. - I bless our rich and only wise Lord, who careth so for His new creation that He is going over it again, and trying every piece in you, and blowing away the motes of His new work in you. Alas! I am not so fit a physician as your disease requireth. Sweet, sweet, lovely Jesus be your physician, where His under-chirurgeons cannot do anything for putting in order the wheels, paces, and goings of a marred soul. I have little time; but yet the Lord has made me so to concern myself in your condition, that I dare not be altogether silent. First: ye doubt, from II Cor. 13.5, whether ye be in Christ or not? And so, whether you are a reprobate or not? I answer two things to the doubt. - I. Ye owe charity to all men, but most of all to lovely and loving Jesus, and some also to your self; especially to your renewed self, because your new self is not yours, but another Lord's, even the work of His own Spirit. Therefore, to slander His work is to wrong Himself. Love thinketh no evil: if ye love grace, think not ill of grace in yourself. The great Advocate pleadeth hard for you; be upon the Advocate's side, O poor feared client of Christ! He pleadeth for you, whereof your letter (though too, too full of jealousy) is a proof. For, if ye were not His, your thoughts (which, I hope, are but the suggestions of His Spirit, that only bringeth the matter into debate to make it sure to you) would not be such nor so serious as these, 'Am I His?' or 'Whose am I?' 2. Dare ye forswear your Owner and say in cold blood, 'I am not His'? What nature or corruption saith at starts in you, I regard not. Your thoughts of yourself, when sin and guiltiness round you in the ear, and when you have a sight of your deserving, are Apocrypha and not Scripture, I hope. I charge you by the mercies of God, be not that cruel to grace and the new birth as to cast water on your own coal by misbelief. Secondly: Ye say, that ye know not what to do. Your Head once said the same word, or not far from it. 'Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say?' (John 12.27). And faith answered Christ's 'What shall I say?' with these words: 'O tempted Savior, askest Thou, "What shall I say?" Say, "Pray, Father, save Me from this hour."' What course can ye take but pray and frist Christ His own comforts? 'Oh,' say ye, 'I cannot pray'? Answer - Honest sighing is faith breathing and whispering him in the ear. The life is not out of faith where there is sighing, looking up with the eyes, and breathing toward God. 'But what shall I do in spiritual exercises?' ye say. Answer - I. In my weak judgment, ye should first say, 'I would glorify God in believing David's salvation, and the Bride's marriage with the Lamb, and love the church's slain Husband, although I cannot for the present believe mine own salvation.' 2. Say 'I will not pass from my claim: suppose Christ should pass from His claim to me, I shall not go back upon my side. Howbeit my love to Him be not worth a drink of water, yet Christ shall have it, such as it is.' 3. Say, 'I shall rather spill twenty prayers, than not pray at all. Let my broken words go up to heaven: when they come up into the Great Angel's golden censer, that compassionate Advocate will put together my broken prayers, and perfume them.' Words are but the accidental of prayer. 'Oh,' say ye, 'I am slain with hardness of heart, and troubled with confused and melancholious thoughts.' Answer - My dear brother, what would you conclude thence? Down in Christ's hospital, where sick and distempered souls are under cure, it is not worth a straw. Give Christ time to end His work in your heart. I charge you to make psalms of Christ's praises for His begun work of grace. Make Christ your music and your song; for complaining and feeling of want does often swallow up your praises. Borrow joy and comfort from the Comforter. Bid the Spirit do His office in you; and remember that faith is one thing and the feeling and notice of faith another. But alas! dear brother, it is easy for me to speak words and syllables of peace. There is but one Creator, ye know. Oh that ye may get a letter of peace sent to you from heaven! Pray for me, and for grace to be faithful, and for gifts to be able, with tongue and pen, to glorify God. I forget you not. ST ANDREWS, Jan. 8, 1640 LXII. To LADY BOYD MADAM, - I received your Ladyship's letter; but because I was still going through the country for the affairs of the church, I had no time an answer it. I had never more cause to fear than I have now, when my Lord has restored me to my second created heaven on earth, and has turned my apprehended fears into joys, and great deliverance to His church, whereof I have my share and part. Alas! that weeping prayers, answered and sent back from heaven with joy, should not have laughing praises! Oh that this land would repent, and lay burdens of praises upon the top of the fair Mount Zion! Madam, except this land be humbled, a Reformation is rather my wonder than belief, at this time. But surely it must be a wonder, and what is done already is a wonder. Your Ladyship is blessed with children who are honored to build up Christ's waste places again. I believe that your Ladyship will think them well bestowed on that work, and that Zion's beauty is your joy. This is a mark and evidence from heaven, which helpeth weak ones to hold their grip, when other marks fail them. I hope that your Ladyship is at a good understanding with Christ, and that, as becometh a Christian, ye take Him up aright: for many mistake and misshape Christ in His comings and goings. Your wants and falls proclaim that ye have nothing of your own but what ye borrow; nay, yourself is not your own, but Christ has given Himself to you. Put Christ to the bank, and heaven shall be your interest and income. Love Him, for ye cannot over-love Him. Take up your house in Christ. Let Him dwell in you, and abide in Him; and then ye may look out of Christ, and laugh at the clay-heavens that the sons of men are seeking after on this side of the water. Christ mindeth to make your losses grace's great advantage. If I had known long since, as I do now (though still, alas! I am ignorant) what was in Christ, I would not have been so late in starting to the gate to seek Him. Oh what can I do or say to Him who has made the North render me back again! But when my faith was asleep, Christ was awake; and now, when I am awake, I say He did all things well. O infinite wisdom! O incomparable loving-kindneses! Alas, that the heart I have is so little and worthless for such a Lord as Christ is! I put all the favors which ye have bestowed on my brother upon Christ's score; in whose books are many such counts, and who will requite them. I wish you to be builder more and more upon the stone laid in Zion, and then ye shall be the more fit to have a hand in rebuilding our Lord's fallen tabernacle in this land; in which ye shall find great peace when ye come to grips with death, the king of terrors. The God of peace be with your Ladyship, and keep you blameless till the day of our Lord Jesus. ST ANDREWS LXIII. To LADY FINGASK MADAM, - Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. - Though not acquainted, yet, at the desire of a Christian, I make bold to write a line or two unto you, by way of counsel, howbeit I be most unfit for that. I hear, and I bless the Father of lights for it, that ye have a spirit set to seek God, and that the posture of your heart is to look heavenward, which is a work and cast of the Mediator Christ's right hand, who putteth on the heart a new frame. For the which I would have your Ladyship to see a tie and bond of obedience laid upon you, that all may be done, not so much from obligation of law, as from the tie of free love; that the law of ransom-paying by Christ may be the chief ground of all our obedience, seeing that ye are not under the law, but under grace. Withal, know that unbelief is a spiritual sin, and so not seen by nature's light; and that all which conscience saith is not Scripture. Suppose that your heart bear witness against you for sins done long ago: yet, because many have pardon with God that have not peace with themselves, ye are to stand and fall by Christ's esteem and verdict of you, and not by that which your heart saith. Let faith hing by this small thread, that He loved you before He laid the corner-stone of the world, and therefore He cannot change His mind; because He is God and resteth in His love. Neither is sin in you a good reason wherefore ye should doubt of Him, or think, because sin has put you in the courtesy and reverence of justice, that therefore He is wrath with you: neither is it presumption in you to lay the burden of your salvation on One mighty to save, so being that ye lay aside all confidence in yourself, your worth and righteousness. True faith is humble, and seeth no way to escape but only in Christ. And I believe that ye have put an esteem and high price upon Christ: and they cannot but believe and so be saved, who love Christ and to whom He is precious. And it were not like God, if ye should choose Him as your liking and He not choose you again. Nay, He has prevented you in that, for ye have not chosen Him, but He has chosen you. And the more your Ladyship drink of this love, there is the more room, and the greater delight and desire for this love. Be homely, and hunger for a feast and fill of His love; for that is the borders and march of heaven. Nothing has a nearer resemblance to the color and hue and lustre of heaven than Christ loved. Remember what He is. When twenty thousand millions of heaven's lovers have worn their hearts threadbare of love, all is nothing, yea, less than nothing, to His matchless worth and excellency. Oh so broad and so deep as the sea of His desirable loveliness is! Glorified spirits, triumphing angels, the crowned and exalted lovers of heaven, stand without His loveliness and cannot put a circle on it. Alas! what do I? I but spill and lose words in speaking highly of Him who will bide and be above the music and songs of heaven, and never be enough praised by us all; to whose boundless and bottomless love I recommend your Ladyship. ST ANDREWS, March 27, 1640 LXIV. To MR DAVID DICKSON, on the death of his son REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, - Ye look like the house whereof ye are a branch: the cross is a part of the life rent that lieth to all the sons of the house. I desire to suffer with you, if I could take a lift of your house-trial off you; but ye have preached it ere I knew anything of God. Your Lord may gather His roses, and shake His apples, at what season of the year He pleaseth. Each husbandman cannot make harvest when he pleaseth, as He can do. Ye are taught to know and adore His sovereignty, which He exerciseth over you, which yet is lustred with mercy. The child has but changed a bed in the garden, and is planted up higher, nearer the sun, where he shall thrive better than in this outfield muir-ground. Ye must think your Lord would not want him one hour longer; and since the date of your loan of him was expired (as it is, if ye read the lease), let Him have His own with gain, as good reason were. I read on it an exaltation and a richer measure of grace, as the sweet fruit of your cross; and I am bold to say, that that college where your Master has set you now shall find it. Dearest brother, go on and faint not. Something of yours is in heaven, beside the flesh of your exalted Savior; and ye go on after your own. Time's thread is shorter by one inch than it was. An oath is sworn and past the seals, whether afflictions will or not, ye must grow and live and triumph and reign and be more than a conqueror. For your Captain who leadeth you on, is more than conqueror, and He maketh you partaker of His conquest and victory. Did not love to you compel me, I would not fetch water to the well, and speak to one who knoweth better than I can do what God is doing with him. Remember my love to your wife, to Mr John and all friends there. Let us be helped by your prayers, for I cease not to make mention of you to the Lord, as I can. ST ANDREW, May 28, 1640 LXV. To LADY BOYD, on the loss of several friends MADAM, - Impute it not to a disrespective forgetfulness of your Ladyship, who ministered to me in my bonds, that I write not to you. I wish that I could speak or write what might do good to your Ladyship; especially now when I think we cannot but have deep thoughts of the deep and bottomless ways of our Lord, in taking away, with a sudden and wonderful stroke, your brethren and friends. Ye may know, that all who die for sin die not in sin; and that 'none can teach the Almighty knowledge.' No man can say 'What does Thou?' It is true that your brethren saw not many summers; but adore and fear the sovereignty of the great Potter, who maketh and marreth His clay-vessels when and how it pleaseth Him. The under-garden is absolutely His own, and all that growth in it. His absolute liberty is law-abiding. The flowers are His own. If some be but summer apples, He may pluck them down before others. Oh what wisdom is it to believe, and not to dispute; to subject the thoughts to His court, and not to repine at any act of His justice? He has done it: all flesh be silent! It is impossible to be submissive and religiously patient, if ye stay your thoughts down among the confused rollings and wheels of second causes; as, 'Oh the place!' 'Oh the time!' 'Oh if this had been, this had not followed!' Oh the linking of this accident with this time and place! Look up to the master motion and the first wheel. 'How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!' His providence halteth not, but goeth with even and equal legs. Yet are they not the greatest sinners upon whom the tower (continued in part 10...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01: rutle-09.txt .