XI. To lady KENMURE, when he expected to be removed from Anwoth
MAIDAM, -- My humble obedience in the Lord remembered. Know it has pleased the Lord to let me see, by all appearance, that my labours in God's house here are at an end; and I must now learn to suffer, in the which I am a dull scholar. By a strange providence, some of my papers, anent the corruptions of this time, are come to the King's hand. I know, by the wise and well-affected I shall be censured as not wise nor circumspect enough; but it is ordinary, that that should be a part of the cross of those who suffer for Him. Yet I love and pardon the instrument; I would commit my life to him, howbeit by him this has befallen me. But I look higher than to him. I make no question of your Ladyship's love and care to do what ye can for my help, and am persuaded that, in my adversities, your Ladyship will wish me well. I seek no other thing but that my Lord may be honored by me in giving a testimony. I was willing to do Him more service; but seeing He will have no more of my labours, and this land will thrust me out, I pray for grace to learn to be acquaint with misery, if I may give so rough a name to such a mark of those who shall be crowned with Christ. And howbeit I will possibly prove a faint-hearted, unwise man in that, yet I dare say I intend otherwise; and I desire not to go on the lee-side or sunny side of religion, or to put truth betwixt me and a storm: my Savior did not do so for me, who in His suffering took the windy side of the hill. No farther; but the Son of God be with you.
ANWOTH, Dec. 5, 1634
XII. To lady KENMURE, on the eve of his banishment to Aberdeen
NOBLE AND ELECT LADY, -- That honor that I have prayed for these sixteen years, with submission to my Lord's will, my kind Lord has now bestowed upon me, even to suffer for my royal and princely King Jesus, and for His kingly crown, and the freedom of His kingdom that His Father has given Him. The forbidden lords have sentenced me with deprivation, and confinement within the town of Aberdeen. I am charged in the King's name to enter against the 20th day of August next, and there to remain during the Kings pleasure, as they have given it out. Howbeit Christ's green cross, newly laid upon me, be somewhat heavy, while I call to mind the many fair days sweet and comfortable to my soul and to the souls of many others, and how young ones in Christ are plucked from the breast, and the inheritance of God laid waste; yet that cross of Christ is accompanied with sweet refreshments, with the joy of the Holy Ghost, with faith that the Lord hears the sighing of a prisoner, with undoubted hope (as sure as my Lord liveth) after this night to see daylight, and Christ's sky to clear up again upon me, and His poor kirk; and that in a strange land, among strange faces, He will give favor in the eyes of men to His poor oppressed servant, who dow not but love that lovely One, that princely One, Jesus, the Comforter of his soul. All would be well, if I were free of old challenges for guiltiness, and for neglect in my calling, and for speaking too little for my Well-beloved's crown, honor, and kingdom. This is my only exercise, that I fear I have done little good in my ministry.
I apprehend no less than a judgment upon Galloway, and that the Lord shall visit this whole nation for the quarrel of the Covenant. But what can be laid upon me, or any the like of me, is too light for Christ. Christ dow bear more, and would bear death and burning quick, in His quick servants, even for this honorable cause that I now suffer for. Yet for all my complaints (and He knoweth that I dare not now dissemble), He was never sweeter and kinder than He is now. My dear worthy Lady, I give it to your Ladyship, under my own hand, my heart writing as well as my hand welcome, welcome, sweet, sweet and glorious cross of Christ; welcome, sweet Jesus, with Thy light cross. Thou hast now gained and gotten all my love from me; keep what Thou hast gotten! Only woe, woe is me, for my bereft flock, for the lambs of Jesus, that I fear shall be fed with dry breasts. But I spare now. Madam, I dare not promise to see your Ladyship, because of the little time I have allotted me; and I purpose to obey the King, who has power of my body; and rebellion to kings is unbeseeming Christ's ministers. Madam, bind me more (if more can be) to your Ladyship; and write thanks to your brother, my Lord of Lorn, for what he has done for me, a poor and unknown stranger to his Lordship. I shall pray for him and his house, while I live. Now, Madam, commending your Ladyship, and the sweet child, to the tender mercies of the Lord Jesus, and His good-will who dwelt in the Bush.
EDINBURGH, July 28, 1636
XIII. To LADY KENMURE
MY VERY HONORABLE AND DEAR LADY, -- Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. I cannot forget your Ladyship, and that sweet child. I desire to hear what the Lord is doing to you and him. To write to me were charity. I cannot but write to my friends, that Christ has trysted me in Aberdeen; and my adversaries have sent me here to be feasted with love banquets with my royal, high, high, and princely King Jesus. Madam, why should I smother Christ's honesty? I dare not conceal His goodness to my soul; He looked fremed and unco-like upon me when I came first here; but I believe Himself better than His looks. God forgive them that raise an ill report upon the sweet cross of Christ. It is but our weak and dim eyes, and our looking only to the black side that makes us mistake. Those who can take that crabbed tree handsomely upon their back, and fasten it on cannily, shall find it such a burden as wings unto a bird, or sails to a ship. Madam, rue not of your having chosen the better part. Upon my salvation, this is Christ's truth I now suffer for. If I found but cold comfort in my sufferings, I would not beguile others; I would have told you plainly. But the truth is, Christ's crown, His sceptre, and the freedom of His kingdom, is that which is now called in question; because we will not allow that Christ should pay tribute and be a vassal to the shields of the earth, therefore the sons of our mother are angry at us. But it becometh not Christ to hold any man's stirrup. It is little to see Christ in a book. They talk of Christ by the book and the tongue, and no more; but to come nigh Christ, and embrace Him, is another thing. Madam, I write to your honor, for your encouragement in that honorable profession Christ has honored you with. Ye have gotten the sunny side of the bras, and the best of Christ's good things; and howbeit you get strokes and sour looks from your Lord, yet believe His love more than your own feeling, for this world can take nothing from you that is truly yours, and death can do you no wrong. Your rock does not ebb and flow, but your sea. That which Christ has said, He will bide by it.
Madam, I find folks here kind to me; but in the night, and under their breath. My Master's cause may not come to the crown of the causeway. Others are kind according to their fashion. Many think me a strange man, and my cause not good; but I care not much for man's thoughts or approbation. I think no shame of the cross. The preachers of the town pretend great love, but the prelates have added to the rest this gentle cruelty (for so they think of it), to discharge me of the pulpits of this town. The people murmur and cry out against it; and to speak truly (howbeit) Christ is most indulgent to me otherwise), my silence on the Lord's day keeps me from being exalted above measure, and from startling in the heat of my Lord's love. Some people affect me, for the which cause, I hear the preachers here purpose to have my confinement changed to another place; so cold is northern love; but Christ and I will bear it. I have wrestled long with this sad silence. I said, what aileth Christ at my service? And my soul has been at a pleading with Christ, and at yea and nay. But I will yield to Him, providing my suffering may preach more than my tongue did; for I give not Christ an inch but for twice as good again. In a word, I am a fool, and He is God. I will hold my peace hereafter.
Let me hear from your Ladyship, and your dear child. Pray for the prisoner of Christ, who is mindful of your ladyship.
ABERDEEN, Nov. 22, 1636
XIV. To LADY KENMURE
MADAM, -- Grace, mercy and peace be to you. I received your Ladyship's letter. It refreshed me in my heaviness. The blessing and prayer of a prisoner of Christ come upon you. Nothing grieveth me but that I eat my feasts my lone, and that I cannot edify His saints. My silence eats me up, but He has told me He thanketh me no less than if I were preaching daily.
Your Ladyship wrote to me that ye are yet an ill scholar. Madam, ye must go in at heaven's gates, and your book in your hand, still learning. You have had your own large share of troubles, and a double portion; but it saith your Father counteth you not a bastard; full-begotten bairns are nurtured (Heb. 12.8). I long to hear of the child. I write the blessings of Christ's prisoner and the mercies of God to him.
Madam, it is not long since I did write to your Ladyship that Christ is keeping mercy for you; and I bide by it still, and now I write it under my hand. Love Him dearly. Win in to see Him; there is in Him that which you never saw. He is aye nigh; He is a tree of life, green and blossoming, both summer and winter. There is a nick in Christianity, to the which whosoever cometh, they see and feel more than others can do. Now the blessing of our dearest Lord Jesus, and the blessing of him that is 'separate from his brethren', come upon you. Yours, at Aberdeen, the prisoner of Christ.
XV To LADY BOYD
Lady Boyd, whose maiden name was Christian Hamilton, was the daughter of a distinguished lawyer and inherited his abilities and strength of character. She was a trusted friend of many of the leading ministers of the Church of Scotland in her day. When she died the whole Scottish Parliament suspended its sitting to attend her funeral. See also letters LVII, LXII and LXV.
MADAM, -- Grace, mercy and peace be unto you. The Lord has brought me to Aberdeen, where I see God in few. This town has been advised upon of purpose for me; it consisteth either of Papists, or men of Gallio's naughty faith. It is counted wisdom, in the most, not to countenance a confined minister; but I find Christ neither strange nor unkind; for I have found many faces smile upon me since I came hither. I am heavy and sad, considering what is betwixt the Lord and my soul, which none seeth but He. I find men have mistaken me; it would be no art (as I now see) to spin small and make hypocrisy a goodly web, and to go through the market as a saint among men, and yet steal quietly to hell, without observation: so easy is it to deceive men. I have disputed whether or no I ever knew anything of Christianity, save the letters of that name. Men see but as men, and they call ten twenty and twenty an hundred; but O! to be approved of God in the heart and in sincerity is not an ordinary mercy. My neglects while I had a pulpit, and other things whereof I am ashamed to speak, meet me now, so as God maketh an honest cross my daily sorrow. Like a fool, I believed, under suffering for Christ, that I myself should keep the key of Christ's treasures, and take out comforts when I listed, and eat and be fat: but I see now a sufferer for Christ will be made to know himself, and will be holden at the door as well as another poor sinner, and will be fain to eat with the bairns, and to take the by-board, and glad to do so. My blessing on the cross of Christ that has made me see this! Oh! if we could take pains for the kingdom of heaven! But we sit down upon some ordinary marks of God's children, thinking we have as much as will separate us from a reprobate; and thereupon we take the play and cry, Holiday!' and thus the devil casteth water on our fire, and blunteth our zeal and care. But I see heaven is not at the door; and I see, howbeit my challenges be many, I suffer for Christ, and dare hazard my salvation upon it; for sometimes my Lord cometh with a fair hour and O! but His love be sweet, delightful, and comfortable.
Madam, I know your Ladyship knoweth this, and that made me bold to write of it, that others might reap somewhat by my bonds for the truth; for I should desire, and I aim at this, to have my Lord well spoken of, and honored, howbeit He should make nothing of me but a bridge over a water.
Thus recommending your Ladyship, your son and children, to His grace, who has honored you with a name and room among the living in Jerusalem, and wishing grace to be with your Ladyship.