Her husband, to whom Rutherford expresses his obligations at the close of the letter, was Sheriff of Ayrshire and represented it in the Scottish Parliament. He was one of three commissioners sent by Parliament on behalf of the Covenant to Newcastle in 1641. In 1649 he commanded a troop of Horse.
MISTRESS, -- I long to know how matters stand betwixt Christ and your soul. Time cannot change Him in His love. Ye yourself may ebb and flow, rise and fall, wax and wane; but your Lord is this day as He was yesterday. And it is your comfort that your salvation is not rolled upon wheels of your own making, neither have ye to do with a Christ at your own shaping. God has singled out a Mediator, strong and mighty: if ye and your burdens were as heavy as ten hills or hells, He is able to bear you, and to save you to the uttermost. Your often seeking to Him cannot make you a burden to Him. I know that Christ compassioneth you, and maketh a moan for you, in all your dumps, and under your down castings; but it is good for you that He hideth Himself sometimes. It is not niceness, dryness, nor coldness of love, that causeth Christ to withdraw, and slip in under a curtain and a vail, that ye cannot see Him; but He knoweth that ye could not bear with upsails, a fair gale, a full moon, and a high spring-tide of His felt love, and always a fair summer-day and a summer-sun of a felt and possessed and embracing Lord Jesus. His kisses and His visits to His dearest ones are thin-sown. He could not let out His rivers of love upon His own, but these rivers would be in hazard of loosening a young plant at the root; and He knoweth this of you. Ye should, therefore, frist Christ's kindness, as to its sensible and full manifestations, till ye and He be above sun and moon. That is the country where ye will be enlarged for that love which ye dow not now contain.
Cast the burden of your sweet babes upon Christ, and lighten your heart, by laying your all upon Him: He will be their God. I hope to see you up the mountain yet, and glad in the salvation of God. Frame yourself for Christ, and gloom not upon His cross. I find Him so sweet, that my love, suppose I would charge it to remove from Christ, would not obey me: His love has stronger fingers than to let go its grips of us bairns, who cannot go but by such a hold as Christ. It is good that we want legs of our own, since we may borrow from Christ; and it is our happiness that Christ is under an act of cautionary for heaven, and that Christ is booked in heaven as the principal debtor for such poor bodies as we are.
I request you, give the laird, your husband, thanks for his care of me, in that he has appeared in public for a prisoner of Christ. I pray and write mercy, and peace, and blessings to him and his.
Grace, grace be with you for ever.
XLII. To THE REV. JOHN FERGUSON OF OCHILTREE
MY VERY DEAR BROTHER, -- I would have looked for larger and more particular letters from you, for my comfort in this; for your words before have strengthened me. I pray you to mend this; and be thankful and painful, while ye have a piece or corner of the Lord's vineyard to dress. Oh, would to God that I could have leave to follow you, to break the clods! But I wish I could command my soul to be silent, and to wait upon the Lord. I am sure that while Christ lives, I am well enough friend-stead. I hope that He will extend His kindness and power for me; but God be thanked it is not worse with me than a cross for Christ and His truth. I know that He might have pitched upon many more choice and worthy witnesses, if He had pleased; but I seek no more (be what timber I will, suppose I were made of a piece of hell) than that my Lord, in His infinite art, hew glory to His name, and enlargement to Christ's kingdom, out of me. Oh that I could attain to this, to desire that my part of Christ might be laid in pledge for the heightening of Christ's throne in Britain! Let my Lord redeem the pledge, or, if He please, let it sink and drown unredeemed. But what can I add to Him? Or what way can a smothered and borne-down prisoner set out Christ in open market, as a lovely and desirable Lord to many souls? I know that He seeth to His own glory better than my ebb thoughts can dream of; and that the wheels and paces of this poor distempered kirk are in His hands; and that things shall roll as Christ will have them: -- only, Lord, tryst the matter so, as Christ may be made a householder and lord again in Scotland, and wet faces for His departure may be dried at His sweet and much-desired welcome-home!
I desire you to contribute your help to see if I cannot be restored to my wasted and lost flock.
Grace be (as it is) your portion.
XLIII. To ROBERT BROWN OF CARSLUTH
Robert Brown of Carsluth owned considerable property in Galloway.
WORTHY SIR, -- I beseech you in the Lord to give your soul no rest till ye have real assurance, and Christ's rights confirmed and sealed to your soul. Take pains for your salvation; for in that day when ye shall see many men's labours and conquests and idol-riches lying in ashes, when the earth and all the works thereof shall be burnt with fire, oh how dear a price would your soul give for God's favor in Christ! It will not be time to cry for a lamp when the Bridegroom is entered into His chamber and the door shut. Look into those depths (without a bottom) of loveliness, sweetness, beauty, excellency, glory, goodness, grace, and mercy, that are in Christ; and ye shall then cry down the whole world, and all the glory of it, even when it is come to the summer-bloom; and ye shall cry, Up with Christ, up with Christ's Father, up with eternity of glory!' Sir, there is a great deal less sand in your glass than when I saw you, and your afternoon is nearer even-tide now than it was. As a flood carried back to the sea, so does the Lord's swift post, Time, carry you and your life with wings to the grave. Ye eat and drink, but time standeth not still; ye laugh, but your day fleeth away; ye sleep, but your hours are reckoned and put by hand. Oh how soon will time shut you out of the poor, and cold, and hungry inn of this life! And then what will yesterday's short-born pleasures do to you, but be as a snow-ball melted away many years since? O blessed conquest, to lose all things, and to gain Christ! I know not what ye have, if ye want Christ! Alas! How poor is your gain, if the earth were all yours in free heritage, holding it of no man of clay, if Christ be not yours!
I recommend Christ and His love to your seeking; and yourself to the tender mercy and rich grace of our Lord. Remember my love in Christ to your wife. I desire her to learn to make her soul's anchor fast upon Christ Himself. Few are saved.
Your soul's eternal well-wisher.
XLIV. To CASSIN CARRIE
MUCH HONORED SIR, -- Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. I have been too long in writing to you. I am confident that ye have learned to prize Christ, and His love and favor, more than ordinary professors who scarce see Christ with half an eye, because their sight is taken up with eyeing and liking the beauty of this over-gilded world, that promiseth fair to all its lovers, but in the push of a trial, when need is, can give nothing but a fair beguile.
I know that ye are not ignorant that men come not to this world, as some do to a market, to see and to be seen; or as some come to behold a May-game, and only to behold, and to go home again. Ye come hither to treat with God, and to tryst with Him in His Christ for salvation to your soul, and to seek reconciliation with an angry, wrathful God, in a covenant of peace made to you in Christ; and this is more than ordinary sport, or the play that the greatest part of the world give their heart unto. And, therefore, worthy Sir, I pray you, by the salvation of your soul, and by the mercy of God, and your compearance before Christ, do this in sad earnest, and let not salvation be your by-work or your holy-day's talk only, or a work by the way. For men think that this may be done on three days' space on a feather bed, when death and they are fallen in hands together, and that with a word or two they shall make their soul-matters right. Alas! This is to sit loose and unsure in the matters of our salvation. Know and try in time your holding of Him, and the rights and charters of heaven, and upon what terms ye have Christ and the Gospel, and what Christ is worth in your estimation, and how lightly ye esteem of other things, and how dearly of Christ. I am sure, if you see Him in his beauty and glory, you will see Him to be that incomparable jewel which you should seek, howbeit you should sell, wadset and forfeit your few years' portion of this life's joys. Oh happy soul for evermore, who can rightly compare this life with that long-lasting life to come, and can balance the weighty glory of the one, with the light golden vanity of the other! The day of the Lord is at hand, and all men shall come out in their blacks and whites as they are; there shall be no borrowed colors in that day. Men now borrow the lustre of Christianity, but how many counterfeit masks will be burnt in the day of God, in the fire that shall consume the earth and the works that are on it! And howbeit Christ have the hardest part of it now, yet, in the presence of my Lord, whom I serve in the Spirit, I would not differ or exchange Christ's prison, bonds, and chains, with the golden chains and lordly rents of the men of this world. Worthy, worthy for evermore is Christ, for whom the saints of God suffer the short pains of this life!
Sir, I wish your soul may be more acquainted with the sweetness of Christ. Grace, grace be with you.
XLV. To JOHN LENNOX, Laird of Catty
MUCH HONORED SIR, -- Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. -- I long to hear how your soul prospereth. I have that confidence that your soul mindeth Christ and salvation. I beseech you, in the Lord, to give more pains and diligence to fetch heaven than the country-sort of lazy professors, who think their own faith and their own godliness, because it is their own, best; and content themselves with a cold rife custom and course, with a resolution to summer and winter in that sort of profession which the multitude and the times favor most; and are still shaping and clipping and carving their faith, according as it may best stand with their summer sun and a whole skin; and so breathe out hot and cold in God's matters, according to the course of the times. This is their compass which they sail towards heaven by, instead of a better. Worthy and dear Sir, separate yourself from such, and bend yourself to the utmost of your strength and breath, in running fast for salvation; and, in taking Christ's kingdom, use violence. It cost Christ and all His followers sharp showers and hot sweats, see they won to the top of the mountain; but still our soft nature would have heaven coming to our bedside when we are sleeping, and lying down with us that we might go to heaven in warm clothes. But all that came there found wet feet by the way, and sharp storms that did take the hide off their face, and found tos and fros and ups and downs, and many enemies by the way.
It is impossible that a man can take his lusts to heaven with him; such wares as these will not be welcome there. Oh, how loath are we to forego our packalds and burdens, that hinder us to run our race with patience! It is no small work to displease and anger nature, that we may please God. Oh, if it be hard to win one foot, or half an inch, out of our own will, out of our own wit, out of our own ease and worldly lusts (and so to deny ourself, and to say, It is not I but Christ, not I but grace, not I but God's glory, not I but God's love constraining me, not I but the Lord's word, not I but Christ's commanding power as King in me!'), oh, what pains, and what a death it is to nature, to turn me, myself, my lust, my ease, my credit, over into, My Lord, my Savior, my King, and my God, my Lord's will, my Lord's grace!' But, alas! that idol, myself, is the master idol we all bow to. What made Eve miscarry? And what hurried her headlong upon the forbidden fruit, but that wretched thing herself? What drew that brother-murderer to kill Abel? That wild himself. What drove the old world on to corrupt their ways? Who, but themselves, and their own pleasure? What was the cause of Solomon's falling into idolatry and multiplying of strange wives? What, but himself, whom he would rather pleasure than God? What was the hook that took David and snared him first in adultery, but his self-lust? and then in murder, but his self-credit and self-honour? What led Peter on to deny his Lord? Was it not a piece of himself, and self-love to a whole skin? What made Judas sell his Master for thirty pieces of money, but a piece of self-love, idolizing of avaricious self? What made Demas to go off the way of the Gospel, to embrace this present world? Even self-love and love of gain for himself. Every man blameth the devil for his sins; but the great devil, the house-devil of every man, that lieth and eateth in every man's bosom, is that idol that killeth all, himself. Blessed are they who can deny themselves, and put Christ in the room of themselves. O sweet word! (Gal. 2.1O) I live no more, but Christ liveth in me!' Worthy Sir, pardon this my freedom of love. God is my witness, that it is out of an earnest desire after your soul's eternal welfare, that I use this freedom of speech. Your sun, I know, is lower, and your sun-setting and evening sky nearer, than when I saw you last: strive to end your task before night, and to make Christ yourself, and to acquaint your heart and your love with the Lord. Sir, I remember you in my prayers to the Lord, according to my promise: help me with your prayers, that our Lord would be pleased to bring me amongst you again, with the Gospel of Christ. Grace, grace, be with you.