By Samuel Rutherford
XXI. To MR WILLIAM DALGLEISH, minister of the Gospel
Dalgleish was minister of a neighbouring parish and was responsible for the parish of Anwoth also until Rutherford took charge of it. He later became minister of Cramond, from which he was ejected in 1662. See also Letter XXXVIII.
REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, -- Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. -- I am well. My Lord Jesus is kinder to me than ever He was.
Brother, this is His own truth I now suffer for. He has sealed my sufferings with His own comforts, and I know that He will not put His seal upon blank paper. His seals are not dumb nor delusive, to confirm imaginations and lies. Go on, my dear brother, in the strength of the Lord, not fearing man who is a worm, nor the son of man that shall die. Providence has a thousand keys, to open a thousand sundry doors for the deliverance of His own, when it is even come to a "conclamatum est". Let us be faithful, and care for our own part, which is to do and suffer for Him, and lay Christ's part on Himself, and leave it there. Duties are ours, events are the Lord's. When our faith goeth to meddle with events, and to hold a court (if I may so speak) upon God's providence, and beginneth to say, How wilt Thou do this and that?' we lose ground. We have nothing to do there. It is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm. There is nothing left to us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we may roll the weight of our weak souls in well-doing upon Him who is God Omnipotent: and when what we thus essay miscarrieth, it will be neither our sin nor cross.
Brother, remember the Lord's word to Peter; Simon, lovest thou me? -- Feed my sheep.' No greater testimony of our love to Christ can be, than to feed carefully and faithfully His lambs.
I am in no better neighborhood with the ministers here than before: they cannot endure that any speak of me, or to me. Thus I am, in the meantime, silent, which is my greatest grief.
I hope, brother, that ye will help my people; and write to me what ye hear the Bishop is to do with them. Grace be with you. Your brother in bonds.
XXII. To MR HUGH MACKAIL, minister of the Gospel at Irvine
REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, -- I bless you for your letter. He is come down as rain upon the mown grass; He has revived my withered root, and He is as the dew of herbs. I am most secure in this prison. Salvation is for walls in it, and what think ye of these walls? He maketh the dry plant to bud as the lily, and to blossom as Lebanon. The great Husbandman's blessing cometh down upon the plants of righteousness: who may say this, my dear brother, if I, His poor exiled stranger and prisoner, may not say it? Though all the world should be silent, I cannot hold my peace. No preaching, no book, no learning, could give me that which it behaved me to come and get in this town. But what of all this, if I were not misted and confounded and astonished how to be thankful, and how to get Him praised for evermore!
Some have written to me that I am possibly too joyful at the cross; but my joy overleapeth the cross, it is bounded and terminated upon Christ. I know that the sun will overcloud and eclipse, and that I shall again be put to walk in the shadow: but Christ must be welcome to come and go, as He thinketh meet. I hope, when a change cometh, to cast anchor at midnight upon the Rock which He has taught me to know in this daylight; whither I may run, when I must say my lesson without book, and believe in the dark. I am sure it is sin to tarrow at Christ's good meat, and not to eat when He saith, Eat, O well-beloved, and drink abundantly.' If He bear me on His back, or carry me in His arms over this water, I hope for grace to set down my feet on dry ground, when the way is better. But this is slippery ground: my Lord thought good I should go by a hold, and lean on my Well-beloved's shoulder. It is good to be ever taking from Him. I desire that He may get the fruit of praises, for dawting and thus dandling me on His knee: and I may give my bond of thankfulness, so being I have Christ's back-bond again for my relief, that I shall be strengthened by His powerful grace to pay my vows to Him. But, truly, I find that we have the advantage of the brae upon our enemies: we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us; and they know not wherein our strength lieth.
Pray for me. Grace be with you.
Your brother in Christ.
XXIII. To JOHN EWART, Bailie of Kirkcudbright
Me VERY WORTHY AND DEAR FRIEND, -- I cannot but most kindly thank you for the expressions of your love. Your love and respect to me is a great comfort to me.
I bless His high and glorious name, that the terrors of great men have not affrighted me from openly avouching the Son of God. Nay, His cross is the sweetest burden that ever I bare; it is such a burden as wings are to a bird, or sails are to a ship, to carry me forward to my harbor. I have not much cause to fall in love with the world; but rather to wish that He who sitteth upon the floods would bring my broken ship to land, and keep my conscience safe in these dangerous times; for wrath from the Lord is coming on this sinful land.
It were good that we prisoners of hope know of our stronghold to run to, before the storm come on; therefore, Sir, I beseech you by the mercies of God and comforts of His spirit, by the blood of your Savior, and by your compearance before the sin-revenging Judge of the world, keep your garments clean, and stand for the truth of Christ, which ye profess. When the time shall come that your eye strings shall break, your face wax pale, your breath grow cold, and this house of clay shall totter, and your one foot shall be over the march, in eternity, it will be your comfort and joy that ye gave your name to Christ. The greatest part of the world think heaven at the next door, and that Christianity is an easy task; but they will be beguiled. Worthy sir, I beseech you, make sure work of salvation. I have found my experience, that all I could do has had much ado in the day of my trial; and, therefore, lay up a sure foundation for the time to come.
I cannot requite you for your undeserved favors to me and my now afflicted brother. But I trust to remember you to God. Remember me heartily to your kind wife.
Yours, in his only Lord Jesus.
ABERDEEN, March 13, 1637
XXIV. To WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE
Probably one of his Anwoth parishioners.
MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, -- I rejoice to hear that Christ has run away with your young love, and that ye are so early in the morning matched with such a Lord; for a young man is often a dressed lodging for the devil to dwell in. Be humble and thankful for grace; and weigh it not so much by weight, as if it be true. Christ will not cast water on your smoking coal; He never yet put out a dim candle that was lighted at the Sun of Righteousness. I recommend to you prayer and watching over the sins of your youth; for I know that missive letters go between the devil and young blood. Satan has a friend at court in the heart of youth; and there pride, luxury, lust, revenge, forgetfulness of God, are hired as his agents. Happy is your soul if Christ man the house, and take the keys Himself, and command all, as it suiteth Him full well to rule wherever He is. Keep Christ, and entertain Him well. Cherish His grace; blow upon your own coal; and let Him tutor you.
Now for myself: know that I am fully agreed with my Lord. Christ has put the Father and me into each other's arms. Many a sweet bargain He made before, and He has made this among the rest. I reign as king over my crosses. I will not flatter a temptation, nor give the devil a good word: I defy hell's iron gates. God has passed over my quarreling of Him at my entry here, and now He feedeth and feasteth with me. Praise, praise with me; and let us exalt His name together. Your brother in Christ.
ABERDEEN, March 13, 1637
XXV. To MR GEORGE GILLESPIE
Gillespie died in 1648, at the age of 36. In spite of his youth he had been sent as one of the four ministerial Commissioners of the Church of Scotland to the Westminster Assembly in 1643, where his learning and effective speaking made a great impression. At the time of this letter he had been quite recently ordained.
REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER, -- I received your letter. As for my case, brother, I bless His glorious name, that my losses are my gain, my prison a palace, and my sadness joyfulness. At my first entry, my apprehensions so wrought upon my cross, that I became jealous of the love of Christ, as being by Him thrust out of the vineyard, and I was under great challenges, as ordinarily melted gold casteth forth a drossy scum, and Satan and our corruption form the first words that the heavy cross speaketh, and say, God is angry, He loveth you not.' But our apprehensions are not canonical, they indite lies of God and Christ's love. But since my spirit was settled, and the clay has fallen to the bottom of the well, I see better what Christ was doing. And now my Lord is returned with salvation under His wings. I see not how to be thankful, or how to get help to praise that Royal King, who raiseth up those that are bowed down. And, therefore, let no man scant at Christ's cross, or raise an ill report upon Him or it; for He beareth the sufferer and it both.
Brother, remember our old covenant and pray for me, and write to me your case. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit.
ABRDEEN, March 13, 1637