May 19, 2012

To the Viscountess of Kenmure, on occasion of illness and spiritual depression. -Samuel Rutherford

Madam,—All dutiful obedience in the Lord remembered. I have heard of your Ladyship’s infirmity and sickness with grief; yet I trust ye have learned to say, “It is the Lord, let Him do whatsoever seemeth good in His eyes.” It is now many years since the apostate angels made a question, whether their will or the will of their Creator should be done; and since that time, froward mankind hath always in that same suit of law compeared to plead with them against God, in daily repining against His will. But the Lord being both party and judge, hath obtained a decreet, and saith, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isa. xlvi. 10). It is then best for us, in the obedience of faith, and in an holy submission, to give that to God which the law of His almighty and just power will have of us. Therefore, Madam, your Lord willeth you, in all states of life, to say, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven:” and herein shall ye have comfort, that He, who seeth perfectly through all your evils, and knoweth the frame and constitution of your nature, and what is most healthful for your soul, holdeth every cup of affliction to your head, with His own gra- cious hand. Never believe that your tender-hearted Saviour, who knoweth the strength of your stomach, will mix that cup with one drachm-weight of poison. Drink then with the patience of the saints, and the God of pa- tience bless your physic.

I have heard your Ladyship complain of deadness, and want of the bestirring power of the life of God. But courage! He who walked in the garden, and made a noise that made Adam hear His voice, will also at some times walk in your soul, and make you hear a more sweet word. Yet, ye will not always hear the noise and the din of His feet, when He walketh. Ye are, at such a time, like Jacob mourning at the supposed death of Joseph, when Joseph was living. The new creature, the image of the second Adam, is living in you; and yet ye are mourning at the supposed death of the life of Christ in you. Ephraim is bemoaning and mourning (Jer. xxxi. 18), when he thinketh God is far off and heareth not; and yet God is like the bridegroom (Song ii. 9), standing only behind a thin wall and laying to His ear; for He saith Himself, “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself.” I have good confidence, Madam, that Christ Jesus, whom your soul through forests and mountains is seeking, is within you. And yet I speak not this to lay a pillow under your head, or to dissuade you from a holy fear of the loss of your Christ, or of provoking and “stirring up the Beloved before He please,” by sin. I know, in spiritual confidence, the devil will come in, as in all other good works, and cry “Half mine;” and so endeavour to bring you under a fearful sleep, till He whom your soul loveth be departed from the door, and have left off knocking. And, therefore, here the Spirit of God must hold your soul’s feet in the golden mid-line, betwixt confident resting in the arms of Christ, and presumptuous and drowsy sleeping in the bed of fleshly security. Therefore, worthy lady, so count little of yourself, because of your own wretchedness and sinful drowsiness, that ye count not also little of God, in the course of His un- changeable mercy. For there be many Christians most like unto young sailors, who think the shore and the whole land doth move, when the ship and they themselves are moved; just so, not a few do imagine that God moveth and saileth1 and changeth places, because their giddy souls are under sail, and subject to alteration, to ebbing and flowing. But “the foundation of the Lord abideth sure.” God knoweth that ye are His own. Wrestle, fight, go forward, watch, fear, believe, pray; and then ye have all the infallible symptoms of one of the elect of Christ within you.

Ye have now, Madam, a sickness before you; and also after that a death. Gather then now food for the journey. God give you eyes to see through sickness and death, and to see something beyond death. I doubt not but that, if hell were betwixt you and Christ, as a river which ye behoved to cross ere you could come at Him, but ye would willingly put in your foot, and make through to be at Him, upon hope that He would come in Himself, in the deepest of the river, and lend you His hand. Now, I believe your hell is dried up, and ye have only these two shallow brooks, sickness and death, to pass through; and ye have also a promise that Christ shall do more than meet you, even that He shall come Himself, and go with you foot for foot, yea and bear you in His arms. O then! O then! for the joy that is set before you; for the love of the Man (who is also “God over all, blessed for ever”), that is standing upon the shore to welcome you, run your race with patience. The Lord go with you. Your Lord will not have you, nor any of His servants, to exchange for the worse. Death in itself includeth both the death of the soul and the death of the body; but to God’s children the bounds and the limits of death are abridged and drawn into a more narrow compass. So that when ye die, a piece of death shall only seize upon you, or the least part of you shall die, and that is the dis- solution of the body; for in Christ ye are delivered from the second death; and, therefore, as one born of God, commit not sin (although ye cannot live and not sin), and that serpent shall but eat your earthly part. As for your soul, it is above the law of death. But it is fearful and dangerous to be a debtor and servant to sin; for the count of sin ye will not be able to make good before God, except Christ both count and pay for you.

I trust also, Madam, that ye will be careful to present to the Lord the present estate of this decaying kirk. For what shall be concluded in Parlia- ment anent2 her, the Lord knoweth. Sure I am, the decree of a most fearful parliament in heaven is at the very point of coming forth, because of the sins of the land. For “we have cast away the law of the Lord, and despised the words of the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. v. 24). “Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter” (Isa. lix. 14). Lo! the prophet, as if he had seen us and our kirk, resembleth Justice to be handled as an enemy holden out at the ports of our city [so is she banished!], and Truth to a person sickly and diseased, fallen down in a deadly swooning fit in the streets, before he can come to an house. “The priests have caused many to stumble at the law, and have corrupted the covenant of Levi” (Mal. ii. 3). “But what will they do in the end?” Therefore give the Lord no rest for Zion. Stir up your husband, your brother,3 and all with whom ye are in favour and credit, to stand upon the Lord’s side against Baal. I have good hope that your hus- band loveth the peace and prosperity of Zion. The peace of God be upon him, for his intended courses anent the establishment of a powerful ministry in this land. Thus, not willing to weary your Ladyship further, I commend you now, and always, to the grace and mercy of that God who is able to keep you, that ye fall not. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit.

Your Ladyship’s servant at all dutiful obedience in Christ,
Anwoth, July 27, 1628. S. R.

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