(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


 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

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
 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
 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
 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

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
 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


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


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
 The God of peace be with your Ladyship, and keep you blameless till
the day of our Lord Jesus.



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
 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...)

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