Samuel Rutherford - and some of his correspondents
by Alexander Whyte
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Transcribed from the 1894 Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier edition by David Price, email







'He sent me as a spy to see the land and to try the ford.' Rutherford.

Samuel Rutherford, the author of the seraphic Letters, was born in the south of Scotland in the year of our Lord 1600. Thomas Goodwin was born in England in the same year, Robert Leighton in 1611, Richard Baxter in 1615, John Owen in 1616, John Bunyan in 1628, and John Howe in 1630. A little vellum-covered volume now lies open before me, the title-page of which runs thus:—'Joshua Redivivus, or Mr. Rutherford's Letters, now published for the use of the people of God: but more particularly for those who now are, or may afterwards be, put to suffering for Christ and His cause. By a well-wisher to the work and to the people of God. Printed in the year 1664.' That is all. It would not have been safe in 1664 to say more. There is no editor's name on the title-page, no publisher's name, and no place of printing or of publication. Only two texts of forewarning and reassuring Scripture, and then the year of grace 1664.

Joshua Redivivus: That is to say, Moses' spy and pioneer, Moses' successor and the captain of the Lord's covenanted host come back again. A second Joshua sent to Scotland to go before God's people in that land and in that day; a spy who would both by his experience and by his testimony cheer and encourage the suffering people of God. For all this Samuel Rutherford truly was. As he said of himself in one of his letters to Hugh Mackail, he was indeed a spy sent out to make experiment upon the life of silence and separation, banishment and martyrdom, and to bring back a report of that life for the vindication of Christ and for the support and encouragement of His people. It was a happy thought of Rutherford's first editor, Robert M'Ward, his old Westminster Assembly secretary, to put at the top of his title-page, Joshua risen again from the dead, or, Mr. Rutherford's Letters written from his place of banishment in Aberdeen.

In selecting his twelve spies, Moses went on the principle of choosing the best and the ablest men he could lay hold of in all Israel. And in selecting Samuel Rutherford to be the first sufferer for His covenanted people in Scotland, our Lord took a man who was already famous for his character and his services. For no man of his age in broad Scotland stood higher as a scholar, a theologian, a controversialist, a preacher and a very saint than Samuel Rutherford. He had been settled at Anwoth on the Solway in 1627, and for the next nine years he had lived such a noble life among his people as to make Anwoth famous as long as Jesus Christ has a Church in Scotland. As we say Bunyan and Bedford, Baxter and Kidderminster, Newton and Olney, Edwards and Northampton, Boston and Ettrick, M'Cheyne and St. Peter's, so we say Rutherford and Anwoth.

His talents, his industry, his scholarship, his preaching power, his pastoral solicitude and his saintly character all combined to make Rutherford a marked man both to the friends and to the enemies of the truth. His talents and his industry while he was yet a student in Edinburgh had carried him to the top of his classes, and all his days he could write in Latin better than either in Scotch or English. His habits of work at Anwoth soon became a very proverb. His people boasted that their minister was always at his books, always among his parishioners, always at their sick-beds and their death-beds, always catechising their children and always alone with his God. And then the matchless preaching of the parish church of Anwoth. We can gather what made the Sabbaths of Anwoth so memorable both to Rutherford and to his people from the books we still have from those great Sabbaths: The Trial and the Triumph of Faith; Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself; and such like. Rutherford was the 'most moving and the most affectionate of preachers,' a preacher determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, but not so much crucified, as crucified and risen again—crucified indeed, but now glorified. Rutherford's life for his people at Anwoth has something altogether superhuman and unearthly about it. His correspondents in his own day and his critics in our day stumble at his too intense devotion to his charge; he lived for his congregation, they tell us, almost to the neglect of his wife and children. But by the time of his banishment his home was desolate, his wife and children were in the grave. And all the time and thought and love they had got from him while they were alive had, now that they were dead, returned with new and intensified devotion to his people and his parish.

Fair Anwoth by the Solway, To me thou still art dear, E'en from the verge of heaven I drop for thee a tear.

Oh! if one soul from Anwoth Meet me at God's right hand, My heaven will be two heavens In Immanuel's Land.

This then was the spy chosen by Jesus Christ to go out first of all the ministers of Scotland into the life of banishment in that day, so as to try its fords and taste its vineyards, and to report to God's straitened and persecuted people at home.

To begin with, it must always be remembered that Rutherford was not laid in irons in Aberdeen, or cast into a dungeon. He was simply deprived of his pulpit and of his liberty to preach, and was sentenced to live in silence in the town of Aberdeen. Like Dante, another great spy of God's providence and grace, Rutherford was less a prisoner than an exile. But if any man thinks that simply to be an exile is a small punishment, or a light cross, let him read the psalms and prophecies of Babylon, the Divine Comedy, and Rutherford's Letters. Yes, banishment was banishment; exile was exile; silent Sabbaths were silent Sabbaths; and a borrowed fireside with all its willing heat was still a borrowed fireside; and, spite of all that the best people of Aberdeen could do for Samuel Rutherford, he felt the friendliest stairs of that city to be very steep to his feet, and its best bread to be very salt in his mouth.

But, with all that, Samuel Rutherford would have been but a blind and unprofitable spy for the best people of God in Scotland, for Marion M'Naught, and Lady Kenmure, and Lady Culross, for the Cardonesses, father, and mother, and son, and for Hugh Mackail, and such like, if he had tasted nothing more bitter than borrowed bread in Aberdeen, and climbed nothing steeper than a granite stair. 'Paul had need,' Rutherford writes to Lady Kenmure, 'of the devil's service to buffet him, and far more, you and me.' I am downright afraid to go on to tell you how Satan was sent to buffet Samuel Rutherford in his banishment, and how he was sifted as wheat is sifted in his exile. I would not expose such a saint of God to every eye, but I look for fellow-worshippers here on these Rutherford Sabbath evenings, who know something of the plague of their own hearts, and who are comforted in their banishment and battle by nothing more than when they are assured that they are not alone in the deep darkness. 'When Christian had travelled in this disconsolate condition for some time he thought he heard the voice of a man as going before him and saying, "Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no ill, for Thou art with me." Then he was glad, and that for these reasons:—Firstly, because he gathered from thence that some one who feared God was in this valley as well as himself. Secondly, for that he perceived that God was with them though in that dark and dismal state; and why not, thought he, with me? Thirdly, for that he hoped, could he overtake them, to have company by and by.' And, in like manner, I am certain that it will encourage and save from despair some who now hear me if I just report to them some of the discoveries and experiences of himself that Samuel Rutherford made among the siftings and buffetings of his Aberdeen exile. Writing to Lady Culross, he says:—'O my guiltiness, the follies of my youth and the neglects of my calling, they all do stare me in the face here; . . . the world hath sadly mistaken me: no man knoweth what guiltiness is in me.' And to Lady Boyd, speaking of some great lessons he had learnt in the school of adversity, he says, 'In the third place, I have seen here my abominable vileness, and it is such that if I were well known no one in all the kingdom would ask me how I do. . . . I am a deeper hypocrite and a shallower professor than any one could believe. Madam, pity me, the chief of sinners.' And, again, to the Laird of Carlton: 'Woe, woe is me, that men should think there is anything in me. The house-devils that keep me company and this sink of corruption make me to carry low sails. . . . But, howbeit I am a wretched captive of sin, yet my Lord can hew heaven out of worse timber than I am, if worse there be.' And to Lady Kenmure: 'I am somebody in the books of my friends, . . . but there are armies of thoughts within me, saying the contrary, and laughing at the mistakes of my many friends. Oh! if my inner side were only seen!' Ah no, my brethren, no land is so fearful to them that are sent to search it out as their own heart. 'The land,' said the ten spies, 'is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; the cities are walled up to heaven, and very great, and the children of Anak dwell in them. We were in their sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in our own sight.' Ah, no! no stair is so steep as the stair of sanctification, no bread is so salt as that which is baked for a man of God out of the wild oats of his past sin and his present sinfulness. Even Joshua and Caleb, who brought back a good report of the land, did not deny that the children of Anak were there, or that their walls went up to heaven, or that they, the spies, were as grasshoppers before their foes: Caleb and Joshua only said that, in spite of all that, if the Lord delighted in His people, He both could and would give them a land flowing with milk and honey. And be it recorded and remembered to his credit and his praise that, with all his self-discoveries and self- accusings, Rutherford did not utter one single word of doubt or despair; so far from that was he, that in one of his letters to Hugh M'Kail he tells us that some of his correspondents have written to him that he is possibly too joyful under the cross. Blunt old Knockbrex, for one, wrote to his old minister to restrain somewhat his ecstasy. So true was it, what Rutherford said of himself to David Dickson, that he was 'made up of extremes.' So he was, for I know no man among all my masters in personal religion who unites greater extremes in himself than Samuel Rutherford. Who weeps like Rutherford over his banishment from Anwoth, while all the time who is so feasted in Christ's palace in Aberdeen? Who loathes himself like Rutherford? Not Bunyan, not Brea, not Boston; and, at the same time, who is so transported and lost to himself in the beauty and sweetness of Christ? As we read his raptures we almost say with cautious old Knockbrex, that possibly Rutherford is somewhat too full of ecstasy for this fallen, still unsanctified, and still so slippery world.

It took two men to carry back the cluster of grapes the spies cut down at Eshcol, and there is sweetness and strength and ecstasy enough for ten men in any one of Rutherford's inebriated Letters. 'See what the land is, and whether it be fat or lean, and bring back of the fruits of the land.' This was the order given by Moses to the twelve spies. And, whether the land was fat or lean, Moses and all Israel could judge for themselves when the spies laid down their load of grapes at Moses' feet. 'I can report nothing but good of the land,' said Joshua Redivivus, as he sent back such clusters of its vineyards and such pots of its honey to Hugh Mackail, to Marion M'Naught, and to Lady Kenmure. And then, when all his letters were collected and published, never surely, since the Epistles of Paul and the Gospel of John, had such clusters of encouragement and such intoxicating cordials been laid to the lips of the Church of Christ.

Our old authors tell us that after the northern tribes had tasted the warmth and the sweetness of the wines of Italy they could take no rest till they had conquered and taken possession of that land of sunshine where such grapes so plentifully grew. And how many hearts have been carried captive with the beauty and the grace of Christ, and with the land of Immanuel, where He drinks wine with the saints in His Father's house, by the reading of Samuel Rutherford's Letters, the day of the Lord will alone declare.

Oh! Christ He is the Fountain, The deep sweet Well of love! The streams on earth I've tasted, More deep I'll drink above. There to an ocean fulness His mercy doth expand, And glory, glory dwelleth In Immanuel's Land.


'I am made of extremes.'—Rutherford.

A story is told in Wodrow of an English merchant who had occasion to visit Scotland on business about the year 1650. On his return home his friends asked him what news he had brought with him from the north. 'Good news,' he said; 'for when I went to St. Andrews I heard a sweet, majestic- looking man, and he showed me the majesty of God. After him I heard a little fair man, and he showed me the loveliness of Christ. I then went to Irvine, where I heard a well-favoured, proper old man with a long beard, and that man showed me all my own heart.' The little fair man who showed this English merchant the loveliness of Christ was Samuel Rutherford, and the proper old man who showed him all his own heart was David Dickson. Dr. M'Crie says of David Dickson that he was singularly successful in dissecting the human heart and in winning souls to the Redeemer, and all that we know of Dickson bears out that high estimate. When he was presiding on one occasion at the ordination of a young minister, whom he had had some hand in bringing up, among the advices the old minister gave the new beginner were these:—That he should remain unmarried for four years, in order to give himself up wholly to his great work; and that both in preaching and in prayer he should be as succinct as possible so as not to weary his hearers; and, lastly, 'Oh, study God well and your own heart.' We have five letters of Rutherford's to this master of the human heart, and it is in the third of these that Rutherford opens his heart to his father in the Gospel, and tells him that he is made up of extremes.

In every way that was so. It is a common remark with all Rutherford's biographers and editors and commentators what extremes met in that little fair man. The finest thing that has ever been written on Rutherford is Mr. Taylor Innes's lecture in the Evangelical Succession series. And the intellectual extremes that met in Rutherford are there set forth by Rutherford's acute and sympathetic critic at some length. For one thing, the greatest speculative freedom and theological breadth met in Rutherford with the greatest ecclesiastical hardness and narrowness. I do not know any author of that day, either in England or in Scotland, either Prelatist or Puritan, who shows more imaginative freedom and speculative power than Rutherford does in his Christ Dying, unless it is his still greater contemporary, Thomas Goodwin. And it is with corresponding distress that we read some of Rutherford's polemical works, and even the polemical parts of his heavenly Letters. There is a remarkable passage in one of his controversial books that reminds us of some of Shakespeare's own tributes to England: 'I judge that in England the Lord hath many names and a fair company that shall stand at the side of Christ when He shall render up the kingdom to the Father; and that in that renowned land there be men of all ranks, wise, valorous, generous, noble, heroic, faithful, religious, gracious, learned.' Rutherford's whole passage is worthy to stand beside Shakespeare's great passage on 'this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.' But persecution from England and controversy at home so embittered Rutherford's sweet and gracious spirit that passages like that are but few and far between. But let him away out into pure theology, and, especially, let him get his wings on the person, and the work, and the glory of Christ, and few theologians of any age or any school rise to a larger air, or command a wider scope, or discover a clearer eye of speculation than Rutherford, till we feel exactly like the laird of Glanderston, who, when Rutherford left a controversial passage in a sermon and went on to speak of Christ, cried out in the church—'Ay, hold you there, minister; you are all right there!' A domestic controversy that arose in the Church of Scotland towards the end of Rutherford's life so separated Rutherford from Dickson and Blair that Rutherford would not take part with Blair, the 'sweet, majestic-looking man,' in the Lord's Supper. 'Oh, to be above,' Blair exclaimed, 'where there are no misunderstandings!' It was this same controversy that made John Livingstone say in a letter to Blair that his wife and he had had more bitterness over that dispute than ever they had tasted since they knew what bitterness meant. Well might Rutherford say, on another such occasion, 'It is hard when saints rejoice in the sufferings of saints, and when the redeemed hurt, and go nigh to hate the redeemed.' Watch and pray, my brethren, lest in controversy—ephemeral and immaterial controversy—you also go near to hate and hurt one another, as Rutherford did.

And then, what strength, combined with what tenderness, there is in Rutherford! In all my acquaintance with literature I do not know any author who has two books under his name so unlike one another, two books that are such a contrast to one another, as Lex Rex and the Letters. A more firmly built argument than Lex Rex, an argument so clamped together with the iron bands of scholastic and legal lore, is not to be met with in any English book; a more lawyer-looking production is not in all the Advocates' Library than just Lex Rex. There is as much emotion in the multiplication table as there is in Lex Rex; and then, on the other hand, the Letters have no other fault but this, that they are overcharged with emotion. The Letters would be absolutely perfect if they were only a little more restrained and chastened in this one respect. The pundit and the poet are the opposites and the extremes of one another; and the pundit and the poet meet, as nowhere else that I know of, in the author of Lex Rex and the Letters.

Then, again, what extremes of beauty and sweetness there are in Rutherford's style, too often intermingled with what carelessness and disorder. What flashes of noblest thought, clothed in the most apt and well-fitting words, on the same page with the most slatternly and down-at- the-heel English. Both Dr. Andrew Bonar and Dr. Andrew Thomson have given us selections from Rutherford's Letters that would quite justify us in claiming Rutherford as one of the best writers of English in his day; but then we know out of what thickets of careless composition these flowers have been collected. Both Gillespie and Rutherford ran a tilt at Hooker; but alas for the equipment and the manners of our champions when compared with the shining panoply and the knightly grace of the author of the incomparable Polity.

And then, morally, as great extremes met in Rutherford as intellectually. Newman has a fine sermon under a fine title, 'Saintliness not forfeited by the Penitent.' 'No degree of sin,' he says, 'precludes the acquisition of any degree of holiness, however high. No sinner so great, but he may, through God's grace, become a saint ever so great.' And then he goes on to illustrate that, and balance that, and almost to retract and deny all that, in a way that all his admirers only too well know. But still it stands true. A friend of mine once told me that it was to him often the most delightful and profitable of Sabbath evening exercises just to take down Newman's sermons and read their titles over again. And this mere title, I feel sure, has encouraged and comforted many: 'Saintliness not forfeited by the Penitent.' And Samuel Rutherford's is just another great name to be added to the noble roll of saintly penitents we all have in our minds taken out of Scripture and Church History. Neither great Saintliness nor great service was forfeited by this penitent; and he is constantly telling us how the extreme of demerit and the extreme of gracious treatment met in him; how he had at one time destroyed himself, and how God had helped him; how, where sin had abounded, grace had abounded much more. In one of the very last letters he ever wrote—his letter to James Guthrie in 166l—he is still amazed that God has not brought his sin to the Market Cross, to use his own word. But all through his letters this same note of admiration and wonder runs—that he has been taken from among the pots and his wings covered with silver and gold. Truly, in his case the most seraphic Saintliness was not forfeited, and we who read his books may well bless God it was so.

And then, experimentally also, what extremes met in our author! Pascal in Paris and Rutherford in Anwoth and St. Andrews were at the very opposite poles ecclesiastically from one another. I do not like to think what Rutherford would have said of Pascal, but I cannot embody what I have to say of Rutherford's experimental extremes better than just by this passage taken from the Thoughts: 'The Christian religion teaches the righteous man that it lifts him even to a participation in the divine nature; but that, in this exalted state, he still bears within him the fountain of all corruption, which renders him during his whole life subject to error and misery, to sin and death, while at the same time it proclaims to the most wicked that they can still receive the grace of their Redeemer.' And again, 'Did we not know ourselves full of pride, ambition, lust, weakness, misery and injustice, we were indeed blind. . . . What then can we feel but a great esteem for a religion that is so well acquainted with the defects of man, and a great desire for the truth of a religion that promises remedies so precious.' And yet again, what others thought of him, and how they treated him, compared with what he knew himself to be, caused Rutherford many a bitter reflection. Every letter he got consulting him and appealing to him as if he had been God's living oracle made him lie down in the very dust with shame and self-abhorrence. Writing on one occasion to Robert Blair he told him that his letter consulting him about some matter of Christian experience had been like a blow in the face to him; it affects me much, said Rutherford, that a man like you should have any such opinion of me. And, apologising for his delay in replying to a letter of Lady Boyd's, he says that he is put out of all love of writing letters because his correspondents think things about him that he himself knows are not true. 'My white side comes out on paper—but at home there is much black work. All the challenges that come to me are true.' There was no man then alive on the earth so much looked up to and consulted in the deepest matters of the soul, in the secrets of the Lord with the soul, as Rutherford was, and his letters bear evidence on every page that there was no man who had a more loathsome and a more hateful experience of his own heart, not even Taylor, not even Owen, not even Bunyan, not even Baxter. What a day of extremest men that was, and what an inheritance we extreme men have had left us, in their inward, extreme, and heavenly books!

Once more, hear him on the tides of feeling that continually rose and fell within his heart. Writing from Aberdeen to Lady Boyd, he says: 'I have not now, of a long time, found such high springtides as formerly. The sea is out, and I cannot buy a wind and cause it to flow again; only I wait on the shore till the Lord sends a full sea. . . . But even to dream of Him is sweet.' And then, just over the leaf, to Marion M'Naught: 'I am well: honour to God. . . . He hath broken in upon a poor prisoner's soul like the swelling of Jordan. I am bank and brim full: a great high springtide of the consolations of Christ hath overwhelmed me.' . . . But sweet as it is to read his rapturous expressions when the tide is full, I feel it far more helpful to hear how he still looks and waits for the return of the tide when the tide is low, and when the shore is full, as all left shores are apt to be, of weeds and mire, and all corrupt and unclean things. Rutherford is never more helpful to his correspondents than when they consult him about their ebb tides, and find that he himself either has been, or still is, in the same experience.

But why do we disinter such texts as this out of such an author as Samuel Rutherford? Why do we tell to all the world that such an eminent saint was full of such sad extremes? Well, we surely do so out of obedience to the divine command to comfort God's people; for, next to their having no such extremes in themselves, their next best comfort is to be told that great and eminent saints of God have had the very same besetting sins and staggering extremes as they still have. If the like of Samuel Rutherford was vexed and weakened with such intellectual contradictions and spiritual extremes in his mind, in his heart and in his history, then may we not hope that some such saintliness, if not some such service as his, may be permitted to us also?


'O woman beloved of God.'—Rutherford.

'The world knows nothing of its greatest men,' says Sir Henry Taylor in his Philip Van Artevelde; and it knows much less of its greatest women. I have not found Marion M'Naught's name once mentioned outside of Samuel Rutherford's Letters. But she holds a great place—indeed, the foremost place—in that noble book, to be written in which is almost as good as to be written in heaven.

Rutherford's first letter to Marion M'Naught was written from the manse of Anwoth on the 6th of June 1627, and out of a close and lifelong correspondence we are happy in having had preserved to us some forty-five of Rutherford's letters to his first correspondent. But, most unfortunately, we have none of her letters back again to Anwoth or Aberdeen or London or St. Andrews. It is much to be wished we had, for Marion M'Naught was a woman greatly gifted in mind, as well as of quite exceptional experience even for that day of exceptional experiences in the divine life. But we can almost construct her letters to Rutherford for ourselves, so pointedly and so elaborately and so affectionately does Rutherford reply to them.

Marion M'Naught is already a married woman, and the mother of three well- grown children, when we make her acquaintance in Rutherford's Letters. She had sprung of an ancient and honourable house in the south of Scotland, and she was now the wife of a well-known man in that day, William Fullarton, the Provost of Kirkcudbright. It is interesting to know that Marion M'Naught was closely connected with Lady Kenmure, another of Rutherford's chief correspondents. Lord Kenmure was her mother's brother. Kenmure had lived a profligate and popularity-hunting life till he was laid down on his death-bed, when he underwent one of the most remarkable conversions anywhere to be read of—a conversion that, as it would appear, his niece Marion M'Naught had no little to do with. As long as Kenmure was young and well, as long as he was haunting the purlieus of the Court, and selling his church and his soul for a smile from the King, the Provost of Kirkcudbright and his saintly wife were despised and forgotten; but when he was suddenly brought face to face with death and judgment, when his ribbons and his titles were now like the coals of hell in his conscience, nothing would satisfy him but that his niece must leave her husband and her children and take up her abode in Kenmure Castle. The Last and Heavenly Speeches of Lord Kenmure was a classic memoir of those days, and in that little book we read of his niece's constant attendance at his bedside, as good a nurse for his soul as she was for his body.

Samuel Rutherford's favourite correspondent was, to begin with, a woman of quite remarkable powers of mind. We gather that impression powerfully as we read deeper and deeper into the remarkable series of letters that Rutherford addressed to her. To no one does he go into deeper matters both of Church and State, both of doctrinal and personal religion than to her, and the impression of mental power as well as of personal worth she made on Rutherford, she must have made on many of the ablest and best men of that day. Robert Blair, for instance, tells us that when he was on his way home from London to Ireland he visited Scotland chiefly that he might see Rutherford at Anwoth and Marion M'Naught at Kirkcudbright, and when he came to Kirkcudbright he found Rutherford also there. And when Rutherford was in exile in Aberdeen, and in deep anxiety about his people at Anwoth, he wrote beseeching Marion M'Naught to go to Anwoth and give his people her counsel about their congregational and personal affairs. But, above all, it is from the depth and the power of Rutherford's letters to herself on the inward life that we best gather the depth and the power of this remarkable woman's mind.

There is no other subject of thought that gives such scope for the greatest gifts of the human mind as does the life of God in the soul. There is no book in all the world that demands such a combination of mental gifts and spiritual graces to understand it aright as the Bible. The history and the biography of the Bible, the experimental parts of the Bible, the doctrines of grace deduced by the apostles out of the history and the experience recorded in the Bible, and then the personal, the most inward and most spiritual bearing of all that,—what occupation can be presented to the mind of man or woman to compare with that? True religion, really true religion, gives unequalled and ever-increasing scope for the best gifts of mind and for the best graces of heart and character. 'In truth, religious obedience is a very intricate problem, and the more so the farther we proceed in it.' And he has poor eyes and a poor heart for true religion, and for its best fruits both in the mind and the heart and the character, who does not see those fruits increasing letter by letter as Rutherford writes to Marion M'Naught.

Her public spirit also made Marion M'Naught to be held in high honour. Her husband was a public man, and his intelligent fidelity to truth and justice in that day made his name far more public than ever he wished it to be. And in all his services and sufferings for the truth he had a splendid wife in Marion M'Naught. 'Remember me to your husband,' Rutherford writes; 'tell him that Christ is worthy to be suffered for not only to blows but to blood. He will find that innocence and uprightness will hold his feet firm and make him happy when jouking will not do it.' And again, 'Encourage your husband and tell him that truth will yet keep the crown of the causey in Scotland.' And when the petition is being got up for his being permitted to return to Anwoth, Rutherford asks his correspondent to procure that three or four hundred noblemen, gentlemen, countrymen and citizens shall be got to subscribe it—a telling tribute, surely, to her public spirit and her great influence.

But an independent mind and a public spirit like hers could not exist in those days, or in any day this world has yet seen, without raising up many and bitter enemies. And both she and her husband suffered heavily, both in name and in estate, from the malice and the hatred that their fearless devotion to truth and justice stirred up. So much so, that some of the finest passages in Rutherford's early letters to her are those in which he counsels her and her husband to patience, and meekness, and forgiveness of injuries. 'Keep God's covenant in all your trials. Hold you by His blessed word, and sin not; flee anger, wrath, grudging, envying, fretting. Forgive an hundred pence to your fellow-servant, for your Lord has forgiven you ten thousand talents.' And again: 'Be patient; Christ went to heaven with many a wrong. His visage was more marred than that of any of the sons of men. He was wronged and received no reparation, but referred all to that day when all wrongs shall be righted.' And again: 'You live not upon men's opinion. Happy are you if, when the world trampleth upon you in your credit and good name, you are yet the King's gold and stamped with His image. Pray for the spirit of love, for love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Forgive, therefore, your fellow-servant his one talent. Always remember what has been forgiven you.' And on every page of the Kirkcudbright correspondence we see that, amid all these temptations and trials, no man had a better wife than the provost, and no children a better mother than Grizel and her two brothers. Her talents sought no nobler sphere for their exercise and increase than her own fireside; and her public spirit was better seen in her life at home than anywhere out of doors. Hers was truly a public spirit, and like a spirit it inspired and animated both her own and her husband's life with interest in and with care for the best good, both of the Church and the State. Her public spirit was not incompatible with great personal modesty and humility, and great attention to her domestic duties, all rooted in a life hid with Christ in God.

And then, all this—her birth, her station, her talents, and her public spirit—could not fail to give her a great influence for good. In a single line of Rutherford's on this subject, we see her whole lifetime: 'You are engaged so in God's work in Kirkcudbright that if you remove out of that town all will be undone.' What a tribute is that to the provost's wife! And again, far on in the Letters he writes to Grizel Fullarton: 'Your dear mother, now blessed and perfected with glory, kept life in that place, and my desire is that you succeed her in that way.' What a pride to have such a mother; and what a tradition for a daughter to take up! So have we all known in country towns and villages one man or one woman who kept life in the place. Out of the memories of my own boyhood there rises up, here a minister and there a farmer, here a cloth- merchant and there a handloom weaver, here a blacksmith's wife and there a working housekeeper, who kept life in the whole place. It is not station that does it, nor talent, though both station and talent greatly help; it is character, it is true and genuine godliness. True and genuine godliness—especially when it is purged of pride, and harsh judgment, and too much talk, and is adorned with humility and meekness, and all the other fruits of holy love—true and pure godliness in a most obscure man or woman will find its way to a thousand consciences, and will impress and overawe a whole town, as Marion M'Naught's rare godliness impressed and overawed all Kirkcudbright. Just as, on the other hand, the ignorance, the censoriousness, the bitterness, the intolerance, that too often accompany what would otherwise be true godliness, work as widespread mischief as true godliness works good. 'One little deed done for God's sake, and against our natural inclination, though in itself only of a conceding or passive character, to brook an insult, to face a danger, or to resign an advantage, has in it a power outbalancing all the dust and chaff of mere profession—the profession whether of enlightened benevolence or candour, or, on the other hand, of high religious faith and fervent zeal;' or, as Rutherford could write to Marion M'Naught's daughter: 'There is a wide and deep difference between a name of godliness and the power of godliness.' Even the schoolboys of Kirkcudbright could quite well distinguish the name from the reality; and long after they were Christian men they would tell with reverence and with love when, and from whom, they took their first and never-to-be-forgotten impressions. It was, they would say to their children, from that woman of such rare godliness as well as public spirit, Marion M'Naught.

It was all this, and nothing other and nothing less than all this, that made Marion M'Naught Rutherford's favourite correspondent. Her mind and her heart together early and often drew her across the country to Rutherford's preaching. Marion M'Naught had a good minister of her own at home; but Rutherford was Rutherford, and he made Anwoth Anwoth. I think I can understand something of her delight on Communion forenoons, when his text was Christ Dying, in John xii. 32, or the Syro-Phoenician woman, in Matt. xv. 28. And then the feasts on the fast-days at Kirkcudbright, over the cloud of witnesses, in Heb. xii. 1, and all tears wiped away, in Rev. xxi. 4, and the marriage of the Lamb, in xix. 7. And then, on the other hand, Rutherford is not surely to be blamed for loving such a hearer. His Master loved a Mary also of His day, for that also among other good reasons. If a good hearer likes a good preacher, why should a good preacher not like a good hearer? Take a holiday, and give us another day soon of such and such a preacher, our people sometimes say to us. And why should that preacher not also say to us, Give me a day soon again of your good hearers? As a matter of fact, our good preaching friends do say that to us. And why not? Fine hearers, deep hearers, thoroughly well-prepared hearers, hearers of genius are almost as scarce as fine, deep, thoroughly well-prepared preachers and preachers of genius. And who shall blame Rutherford for liking to see Marion M'Naught coming into the church on a Sabbath morning as well as she liked to see him coming into the pulpit? 'I go to Anwoth so often,' she said, 'because, though other ministers show me the majesty of God and the plague of my own heart, Mr. Samuel does both these things, but he also shows me, as no other minister ever does, the loveliness of Christ.' It is as great a mistake to think that all our Christian people are able to take in a sermon on the loveliness of Christ as it is that all ordained men can preach such a sermon. There are diversities of gifts among hearers as well as among preachers; and when the gifts of the pulpit meet the corresponding graces in the pew, you need not wonder that they recognise and delight in one another. Jesus Christ was Rutherford's favourite subject in the pulpit, and thus it was that he was Marion M'Naught's favourite preacher, as she, again, was his favourite hearer in the church and his favourite correspondent in the Letters. To how many in this house to-night could a preacher say that he wished them all to be 'over head and ears in love to Christ'? What preacher could say a thing like that in truth and soberness? And how many could hear it? Only a preacher of the holy passion of Rutherford, and only a hearer of the intellect and heart and rare experience of Marion M'Naught. 'O the fair face of the man Jesus Christ!' he cries out. And again: 'O time, time, why dost thou move so slowly! Come hither, O love of Christ! What astonishment will be mine when I first see that fairest and most lovely face! It would be heaven to me just to look through a hole of heaven's door to see Christ's countenance!' No wonder that the congregations were few, and the correspondents who could make anything of a man of such a 'fanatic humour' as that! But, then, no wonder, on the other hand, that, when two fanatics so full of that humour as Samuel Rutherford and Marion M'Naught met, they corresponded ever after with one another in their own enraptured language night and day.


'Build your nest, Madam, upon no tree here, for God hath sold this whole forest to death.'—Rutherford.

Lady Kenmure was one of the Campbells of Argyll, a family distinguished for the depth of their piety, their public spirit, and their love for the Presbyterian polity; and Lady Jane was one of the most richly-gifted members of that richly-gifted house. But, with all that, Lady Jane Campbell had her own crosses to carry. She had the sore cross of bad health to carry all her days. Then she had the sad misfortune to make a very bad marriage in the morning of her days; and, partly as the result of all that, and partly because of her peculiar mental constitution, her whole life was drenched with a deep melancholy. But, as we are told in John Howie and elsewhere, all these evils and misfortunes were made to work together for good to her through the special grace of God, and through the wise and wistful care of her lifelong friend and minister and correspondent, Samuel Rutherford. Lady Jane Campbell had very remarkable gifts of mind. We would have expected that from her distinguished pedigree; and we have abundant proof of that in Rutherford's sheaf of letters to her. His dedication of that most remarkable piece, The Trial and Triumph of Faith, is sufficient of itself to show how highly Rutherford esteemed Lady Kenmure, both as to her head and her heart. Till our theological students have been led to study The Trial and Triumph of Faith: Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself—which, to my mind, is by far the best of Rutherford's works—The Covenant of Grace and The Influences of Grace, they will have no conception of the intellectual rank of Samuel Rutherford himself, or of the intelligence and the attainments of his hearers and readers and correspondents. Thomas Goodwin was always telling the theological students of Oxford in those days to thicken their too thin homilies with more doctrine: Rutherford's very thinnest books are almost too thick, both with theology and with thought.

How ever a woman like Jane Campbell came to marry a man like John Gordon will remain a mystery. It was not that he was a man of no mind; he was a man of no worth or interest of any kind. He was a rake and a lick-spittle, the very last man in Scotland for Jane Campbell to throw herself away upon. And she was too clever and too good a woman not to make a speedy and a heart-breaking discovery of the fatal mistake she had committed. Poor Jane Campbell soon wakened up to the discovery that she had exchanged the name and the family of a brave and noble house for the name and the house of a poltroon. No wonder that Rutherford's letters to her are so often headed: 'To Lady Kenmure, under illness and depression of mind.' Could you have kept quite well had you been a Campbell with John Gordon for a husband? Think of having to nurse your humbug of a husband through a shammed illness. Think of having to take a hand in sending in a sham doctor's certificate because your husband was too much of a time-server to go to Edinburgh to give his vote for a persecuted church. Think of having to wear the title and decoration your husband had purchased for you at the cost of his truth and honour and manhood. Lady Kenmure needed Samuel Rutherford's very best letters to help to keep her in bare life all the time the county dames were green with envy at the dear-bought honours. And Kenmure himself had to be brought to his death-bed before he became a husband worthy of his wife. We still read in his Last Speeches how God made Lord Gordon's sins to find him out, and with what firmness and with what tenderness Rutherford handled the soul of the dying man till all his cowardice, title-hunting, and truth- betraying life came back to his death-bed with a sharper sting in them than even his grossest sins. Whoredom and wine after all are but the lusts of a man, whereas time-serving and truth-selling are the lusts of a devil. 'Dig deeper,' said Rutherford to the dying courtier, and Kenmure did dig deeper, till he came down to the seals and the titles and the ribbons for which he had sold his soul. But he that confesses and forsakes his sins even at the eleventh hour shall always find mercy, and so it was with Lord Kenmure.

'Between the stirrup and the ground Mercy I sought and mercy found.'

We do not grudge Viscount Kenmure all the grace he got from God; we shall need as much grace and more ourselves; but we do somewhat grudge such a man a place of honour among the Scots worthies. We are tempted to throw down the book and to demand what right John Gordon has to stand beside such men as Patrick Hamilton, and John Knox, and John Wishart, and Archibald Campbell, and Hugh M'Kail, and Richard Cameron, and Alexander Shields? But Lochgoin answers us that God sometimes accepts the late will for the whole timeous deed, and the bravery and loyalty of the wife for the meanness and poltroonery of the husband. 'Have you a present sense of God's love?' 'I have, I have,' said the dying Viscount. As Rutherford continued in prayer, Kenmure was observed to smile and look upwards. About sunset Lord Kenmure died, at the same instant that Rutherford said Amen to his prayer. The Last and Heavenly Speeches is a rare pamphlet that will well repay its price to him who will seek it out and read it.

This was the correspondent, then, to whom Samuel Rutherford wrote such counsels and encouragements as these: 'Therefore, madam, herein have comfort, that He who seeth perfectly through all your evils, and who 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 gracious hand. Never believe that your tender-hearted Saviour will mix your cup with one drachm-weight of poison. Drink, then, with the patience of the saints: wrestle, fight, go forward, watch, fear, believe, pray, and then you have all the infallible symptoms of one of the elect of Christ within you' (Letter III.). On the death of her infant daughter, Rutherford writes to the elect lady: 'She is only sent on before, like unto a star, which, going out of our sight, doth not die and vanish, but still shineth in another hemisphere. What she wanted of time she hath gotten of eternity, and you have now some plenishing up in heaven. Build your nest upon no tree here, for God hath sold the whole forest to death' (Letter IV.). 'Madam, when you are come to the other side of the water and have set down your foot on the shore of glorious eternity, and look back to the water and to your wearisome journey, and shall see in that clear glass of endless glory nearer to the bottom of God's wisdom, you shall then be forced to say, "If God had done otherwise with me than He hath done, I had never come to the enjoying of this crown of glory"' (Letter XL). 'Madam, tire not, weary not; for I dare find you the Son of God caution that when you are got up thither and have cast your eyes to view the golden city and the fair and never-withering Tree of Life that beareth twelve manner of fruits every month, you shall then say, "Four-and-twenty hours' abode in this place is worth threescore and ten years' sorrow upon earth"' (Letter XIX.). 'Your ladyship goeth on laughing and putting on a good countenance before the world, and yet you carry heaviness about with you. You do well, madam, not to make them witnesses of your grief who cannot be curers of it' (Letter XX.). 'Those who can take the crabbed tree of the cross handsomely upon their backs and fasten it on cannily shall find it such a burden as its wings are to a bird or its sails to a ship' (Letter LXIX.). 'I thought it had been an easy thing to be a Christian, and that to seek God had been at the next door; but, oh, the windings, the turnings, the ups and downs He hath led me through!' (Letter CIV.) 'I may be a book-man and yet be an idiot and a stark fool in Christ's way! The Bible beguiled the Pharisees, and so may I be misled' (Letter CVI.). 'I find you complaining of yourself, and it becometh a sinner so to do. I am not against you in that. The more sense the more life. The more sense of sin the less sin' (Letter CVI.). 'Seeing my sins and the sins of my youth deserved strokes, how am I obliged to my Lord who hath given me a waled and chosen cross! Since I must have chains, He would put golden chains on me, watered over with many consolations. Seeing I must have sorrow (for I have sinned, O Preserver of men!), He hath waled out for me joyful sorrow—honest, spiritual, glorious sorrow' (Letter CCVI.). There are hundreds of passages as good as these scattered up and down the forty-seven letters we have had preserved to us out of the large and intimate correspondence that passed between Samuel Rutherford and Lady Kenmure.


'Think it not easy.'—Rutherford.

What a lasting interest Samuel Rutherford's pastoral pen has given to the hoary old castle of Cardoness! Those nine so heart-winning letters that Rutherford wrote from Aberdeen to Cardoness Castle will still keep the memory of that old tower green long after its last stone has crumbled into dust. Readers of Rutherford's letters will long visit Cardoness Castle, and will musingly recall old John Gordon and Lady Cardoness, his wife, who both worked out each their own salvation in that old fortress, and found it a task far from easy. For nine faithful years Rutherford had been the anxious pastor of Cardoness Castle, and then, after he was banished from his pulpit and his parish, he only ministered to the Castle the more powerfully and prevailingly with his pen. After reading the Cardoness correspondence, we do not wonder to find the stout old chieftain heading the hard-fought battles which the people of Anwoth made both against Edinburgh and St. Andrews, when those cities and colleges attempted to take away their minister.

Rough old Cardoness had a warm place in his heart for Samuel Rutherford. The tough old pagan did not know how much he loved the little fair man with the high-set voice and the unearthly smile till he had lost him; and if force of arms could have kept Rutherford in Anwoth, Cardoness would soon have buckled on his sword. He was ashamed to be seen reading the letters that came to the Castle from Aberdeen; he denied having read them even after he had them all by heart. The wild old laird was nearer the Kingdom of Heaven than any one knew; even his Christian lady did not know all that Rutherford knew, and it was a frank sentence of Rutherford's in an Aberdeen letter that took lifelong hold of the old laird, and did more for his conversion and all that followed it than all Rutherford's sermons and all his other letters. 'I find true religion to be a hard task; I find heaven hard to be won,' wrote Rutherford to the old man; and that did more for his hard and late salvation than all the sermons he had ever heard. 'A hard task, a hard task!' the serving-men and the serving-women often overheard their old master muttering, as he alighted from the hunt and as he came home from his monthly visit to Edinburgh. 'A hard task!' he was often heard muttering, but no one to the day of his death ever knew all that his muttering meant.

'Read over your past life often,' Rutherford wrote to the old man. And Cardoness found that to be one of the hardest tasks he had ever tried. He had not forgotten his past life; there were things that came up out of his past continually that compelled him to remember it. But what Rutherford meant was that his old parishioner should willingly, deliberately and repeatedly open the stained and torn leaves of his past life and read it all over in the light of his old age, approaching death, and late-awakened conscience. Rutherford wished Cardoness to sit down as Matthew Henry says the captives sat down by the rivers of Babylon, and weep 'deliberate tears.' There were pages in his past life that it was the very pains of hell to old Cardoness to read; but he performed the hard task, and thus was brought much nearer salvation than even his old pastor knew. 'It will take a long lance to go to the bottom of your heart, my friend,' wrote Rutherford, faithfully, and, at the same time, most respectfully, to the old man. 'Human nature is lofty and head-strong in you, and it will cost you far more suffering to be mortified and sanctified than it costs the ordinary run of men.' And, instead of that plain speech offending or angering the old laird, it had the very opposite effect; it softened him, and humbled him, and encouraged him, and gave him new strength for the hard task on which he was day and night employed.

Cardoness was a small property, heavily bonded, and some of the leaves that were hardest to read in the diary of Gordon's early manhood told the bitter history of some added bonds. Sin would need to be sweet, for it is very dear. And then had come years of rack-renting of his tenants; the virtuous tenantry had to pay dearly for the vices of their lord. Rutherford had not been silent to old Cardoness about this matter in conversation, and he was not silent in his letters. 'You are now upon the very borders of the other life. I told you, when I was with you, the whole counsel of God in this matter, and I tell it you again. Awake to righteousness. Do not lay the burden of your house on other people; do not compel honest people to pay your old debts. Commit to memory 1 Sam. xii. 3, and ride out among your tenantry, my dear people, repeating, as you pass their stables and their cattle-stalls, "Behold, I am old and grey-headed; behold, here I am: whose ox have I taken? Whose ass have I taken? Whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed?" I charge you to write to me here at once, and be plain with me, and tell me whether your salvation is sure. I hope for the best; but I know that your reckonings with the righteous Judge are both many and deep.' That was a hard task to set to a tyrannical old landlord who had been used to call no man master, or God either, to take such commands from a poor banished minister! But Cardoness did it. He mastered his rising pride and resentment and did it; and though he found it a hard task to go through with his reductions at next rent-day, yet he did it. Such boldness in the Day of Judgment will a good conscience give a man, as when old Cardoness actually stood up before the parishioners in the kirk of Anwoth and read to them, after the elders had conducted the exercises, a letter he had received last week from their silenced minister. It is one of Rutherford's longest and most passionate letters. Take a sentence or two out of it: 'My soul longeth exceedingly to hear whether there be any work of Christ in the parish that will bide the trial of fire and water. I think of my people in my sleep. You know how that, out of love to your souls, and out of the desire I had to make an honest account of you, I often testified my dislike of your ways, both in private and in public. Examine yourselves. I never knew so well what sin is as since I came to Aberdeen, though I was preaching about it every day to you. It would be life to me if you would read this letter to my people, and if they would profit by it. And now I write to thee, whoever thou art, O poor broken- hearted believer of the free salvation. Let Christ's atoning blood be on thy guilty soul. Christ has His heaven ready for thee, and He will make good His word before long. The blessing of a poor prisoner be upon you.'

Salvation was all this time proving itself to be a hard and ever harder task to John Gordon, with his proud neck, with his past life to read, with his debts and bonds and increasing expenditure, and with old age heavy upon him and death at his door. And Lady Cardoness was not finding her salvation to be easy either in all these untoward circumstances. 'Think it not easy,' wrote Rutherford to her. And to make her salvation sure, and to lead her to help her burdened husband with his hard task, Rutherford made bold to touch, though always tenderly and scripturally, upon the family cross. Their burdened and crowded estate lay between the whole Cardoness family and their salvation. Rutherford had seen that from the first day he arrived in Anwoth, and Cardoness and its difficulties lay heavy upon his heart in his prison in Aberdeen. And he could not write consolations and comforts and promises to Lady Cardoness till he had told her the truth again as he had told her husband. 'The kingdom of God and His righteousness is the one thing needful for you and for Cardoness and for your children,' wrote Rutherford. 'Houses, lands, credit, honour may all be lost if heaven is won. See that Cardoness and you buy the field where the pearl is. Sell all and buy that field. I beseech you to make conscience of your ways. Deal kindly with your tenants. I have written my mind at length to your husband, and my counsel to you is that, when his passion overcometh him, a soft answer will turn away wrath. God casteth your husband often in my mind; I cannot forget him.'

What a power for good is in Samuel Rutherford's pen! At a few touches it carries us across Scotland to the mouth of the Fleet, and back two hundred and fifty years, and summons up Cardoness Castle, and peoples the hoary old keep again with John Gordon and his wife and children. We see the castle; we see the rack-rented farms lying around the rock on which the castle stands; we see Anwoth manse and pulpit empty and silenced; and then we see Rutherford dreaming about Cardoness as he sleeps in his far- off prison. The stout old laird rises before our eyes with more than his proper share of human nature—a mass of sinful manhood, strong in will, hot in temper, burdened with debt—debt in Edinburgh, and a deeper and darker debt elsewhere. The old lion lay, taken in a net of trouble, and the more he struggled the more entangled he became. And then her ladyship, a religious woman; yes, really a religious woman, only, like so many religious women, more religious than moral; more emotional than practically helpful in everyday life. All who have only heard of Samuel Rutherford and his letters will feel sure that he was just the effusive minister, and that his letters were just the soft stuff, to foster a piety that came out in feminine moods and emotions rather than in well- kept accounts and a well-managed kitchen and nursery. But we who have read Rutherford know better than that. Lady Cardoness is told, in kindest and sweetest but most unmistakable language, that she has to work out a not easy salvation in Cardoness Castle, and that, if her husband fails in his hard task, no small part of his blood will lie at her door.

But as we stand and look at Cardoness Castle, with its hard tasks for eternal life, a divine voice says to ourselves, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; and at that voice the old keep fades from our eyes, and our own house in modern Edinburgh rises up before us. Here, too, are old men with hard tasks between them and their salvation—a past life to read, to repent of, to redress, to reform, to weep deliberate and bitter tears over. There are debts and many other disorders that have to be put right; there are those under us—tenants and servants and poor relations—whose cases have to be dealt with considerately, justly, kindly, affectionately. There are things in those we love best—in a father, in a mother, in a husband, in a wife—that we have to be patient and forbearing with, and to command ourselves in the presence of Salvation was not easy in Cardoness Castle, with such a master, and such a mistress, and such children, and such tenants, and with such debts and straits of all kinds; and Cardoness Castle is repeated over and over again in hundreds of Edinburgh houses to-night.


'Grace groweth best in winter.'—Rutherford.

Elizabeth Melville was one of the ladies of the Covenant. It was a remarkable feature of a remarkable time in Scotland that so many ladies of birth, intellect and influence were found on the side of the persecuted Covenanters. I do not remember any other period in the history of the Church of Christ, since the day when the women of Galilee ministered of their substance to our Lord Himself, in which noble women took such a noble part as did Lady Culross, Lady Jane Campbell, the Duchess of Hamilton, the Duchess of Athol, and other such ladies in that eventful time. We had something not unlike it again in the ten years' conflict that culminated in the Disruption; and in the social and religious movements of our own day, women of rank and talent are not found wanting. At the same time, I do not know where to find such a cloud of witnesses for the faith of Christ from among the eminent women of any one generation as Scotland can show in her ladies of the Covenant.

Lady Culross's name will always be held in tender honour in the innermost circles of our best Scottish Christians, for the hand she had in that wonderful outpouring of God's grace at the kirk of Shotts on that Thanksgiving Monday in 1636. Under God, that Covenanters' Pentecost was more due to Lady Culross than to any other human being. True, John Livingstone preached the Thanksgiving Sermon, but it was through Lady Culross's influence that he was got to preach it; and he preached it after a night of prayer spent by Lady Culross and her companions, such that we read of next day's sermon and its success as a matter of course. I cannot venture to tell a heterogeneous audience the history of that night they spent at Shotts with God. It is so unlike what we have ever seen or heard of. There may be one or two of us here who have spent whole nights in prayer at some crisis in our life, going from one promise to another, when, in the Psalmist's words, the sorrows of death compassed us, and the pains of hell gat hold upon us. And we, one or two of us, may have had miracles from heaven forthwith performed upon us, fit to match in a private way with the hand of God on the kirk of Shotts. But even those of us who have such secrets between us and God, we, I fear, never spent a whole Communion night, never shutting our eyes but to pray for a baptism of spiritual blessing upon to-morrow's congregation. What a mother in Israel was Lady Culross, with five hundred children born of her travail in one day!

I have not found any of Lady Culross's letters to Samuel Rutherford, but John Livingstone's literary executors have published some eight letters she wrote to Livingstone, her close and lifelong friend. And Lady Culross's first letter to John Livingstone is in every point of view, a remarkable piece. It has a strength, an irony, and a tenderness in it that at once tell the reader that he is in the hands of a very remarkable writer. But it is not Lady Culross's literature that so much interests us and holds us, it is her religion; and it is its depth, its intensity, and the way it grows in winter. After a long and racy introduction, sometimes difficult to decipher, from its Fife idioms and obsolete spelling, she goes on thus: 'Did you get any heart to remember me and my bonds? As for me, I never found so great impediment within. Still, it is the Lord with whom we have to do, and He gives and takes, casts down and raises up, kills and makes alive as pleases His Majesty. . . . My task at home is augmented and tripled, and yet I fear worse. Sin in me and in mine is my greatest cross. I would, if it were the Lord's will, choose affliction rather than iniquity.—Yours in C., E. MELVIL.'

It was now winter with John Livingstone. The persecution had overtaken him, and this is how her ladyship writes to him:—

'My very worthy and dear brother: Courage, dear brother: it is all in love, all works together for the best. You must be hewn and hammered and drest and prepared before you can be a Leiving-ston fit for His building. And if He is minded to make you meet to help others, you must look for another manner of strokes than you have yet felt, . . . but when you are laid low, and are vile in your own eyes, then He will raise you up and refresh you with some blinks of His favourable countenance, that you may be able to comfort others with those consolations wherewith you have been comforted of Him. . . . Since God has put His work in your weak hands, look not for long ease here: you must feel the full weight of your calling: a weak man with a strong God. The pain is but a moment, the pleasure is everlasting, . . . cross upon cross: the end of one with me is but the beginning of another: but guiltiness in me and in mine is my greatest cross.' And after midnight one Sabbath she writes again to Livingstone: 'You cannot but say that the Lord was with you to-day; therefore, not only be content, but bless His name who put His word in your heart and in your mouth, and has overcome you with mercy when you deserved nothing but wrath, and has not only forgiven your many sins, but has saved you from breaking out, as it may be better men have done; but He has covered you and restrained you; has loved you freely and has made His saints to love you; who will guide you also with His counsel, and afterwards receive you to His glory.'

It was from his silent prison in Aberdeen that Samuel Rutherford wrote to Lady Culross the letter in which this sentence stands: 'I see that grace groweth best in winter.' Rutherford had had but a short and unsettled summer among the birds at Anwoth. His wife and his two children had been taken from him there, and now that which he loved more than wife or child had been taken from him too—his pulpit and pastoral work for Jesus Christ. He felt his banishment all the more keenly that he was the first of the evangelical ministers of Scotland to be so silenced. He will have plenty of companions in tribulation soon, if that will be any comfort to him; but, as it is, he confesses to Lady Culross that it was a peculiar pang to him to be 'the first in the kingdom put to utter silence.' The bitterness of banishment has been sung in immortal strains by Dante, whose grace under banishment also grew to a fruitfulness we still partake of to this day:—

'Thou shall leave each thing Beloved most dearly: this is the first shaft Shot from the bow of exile. Thou shall prove How salt the savour is of other's bread, How hard the passage to descend and climb By other's stairs. But that shall gall thee most Will be the worthless and vile company With whom thou must be thrown into these straits.'

But all this, to use a figure familiar among the Puritans of that day, only made Rutherford's true life return, like sap in winter, into its proper root, till we read in his later Aberdeen letters a rapture and a richness that his remain-at-home correspondents are fain to tone down.

Not only does true grace grow best in winter, but winter is the best season for planting grace. 'I was to be married, and she died,' was a young man's explanation to me the other day for proposing to sit down at the Lord's Table. The winter cold that carried off his future wife saw planted in his ploughed-up heart the seeds of divine grace; and, no doubt, all down the coming winters, with such short interludes of summers as may be before him in this cold climate, the grace that was planted in winter will grow. It is not a speculation, it is a personal experience that hundreds here can testify to, that the Bible, the Sabbath, the Supper, all became so many means of grace to them after some great affliction greatly sanctified. The death of a bride, the death of a wife, the death of a child; some blow from bride or wife or child worse than death; a lost hope quenched for ever—these, and things like these, are needful, as it would seem, to be suffered by most men before they will wholly open their hearts to the grace of God. 'Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word.'

At the same time, good and necessary as all such wintry experiences are, their good results on us do not last for ever. In too many cases they do not last long. It is rather a start in grace we take at such seasons than a steady and deep growth in it. The growth in grace that comes to us in connection with some sore affliction is apt to be violent and spasmodic; it comes and it goes with the affliction; it is not slow, constant, steady, sure, as all true and natural growth is. If one might say so, an unbroken winter in the soul, a continual inward winter, is needed to keep up a steady, deep and fruitful growth in grace. Now, is there anything in the spiritual husbandry of God that can be called such a winter of the soul? I think there is. The winter of our outward life—trials, crosses, sickness and death are all the wages of sin; and it is among these things that grace first strikes its roots. And what is the continual presence of sin in the soul but the true winter of the soul, amid which the grace that is planted in an outbreak of winter ever after strikes deeper root and grows? Once let a man be awakened of God to his own great sinfulness; and that not to its fruits in outward sorrow, but to its malignant roots that are twisted round and round and through and through his heart, and that man has thenceforth such a winter within him as shall secure to him a lifelong growth in the most inward grace. Once let a poor wretch awake to the unbroken winter of his own sinfulness, a sinfulness that is with him when he lies down and when he rises up, when he is abroad among men and when he is at home with himself alone: an incessant, increasing, agonising, overwhelming sense of sin,—and how that most miserable of men will grow in grace, and how he will drink in all the means of grace! How he will hear the word of grace preached, mixing it no longer with fault-finding, as he used to do, but with repentance and faith under any and every ministry. How he will examine himself every day; or, rather, how every day will examine, accuse, expose and condemn him; and how meekly he will accept the exposures and the condemnations! That man will not need you to preach to him about the sanctifying of the Sabbath, or about waiting on this and that means of grace. He will grow with or without the means of grace, but he will be of all men the most diligent in his devotion to them. He will almost get beyond the Word and within the Sacrament, so close up will his corruptions drive him to Christ and to God. Till, having provided for that man so much grace and so much growth in grace, God will soon have to give him glory, if only to satisfy him and pacify him and lift him out of the winter of his discontent. And then, 'Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw herself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.'


'Be sorry at corruption.'—Rutherford.

Out of various published and unpublished writings of her day we are able to gather an interesting and impressive picture of Lady Boyd's life and character. But there was a carefully written volume of manuscript, that I much fear she must have burned when on her death-bed, that would have been invaluable to us to-night. Lady Boyd kept a careful diary for many years of her later life, and it was not a diary of court scandal or of social gossip or even of family affairs, it was a memoir of herself that would have satisfied even John Foster, for in it she tried with all fidelity to 'discriminate the successive states of her mind, and so to trace the progress of her character, a progress that gives its chief importance to human life.' Lady Boyd's diary would, to a certainty, have pleased the austere Essayist, for she was a woman after his own heart, 'grave, diligent, prudent, a rare pattern of Christianity.'

Thomas Hamilton, Lady Boyd's father, was an excellent scholar and a very able man. He rose from being a simple advocate at the Scottish Bar to be Lord President of the Court of Session, after which, for his great services, he was created Earl of Haddington. Christina, his eldest daughter, inherited no small part of her father's talents and strength of character. By the time we know her she has been some ten years a widow, and all her children are promising to turn out an honour to her name and a blessing to her old age. And, under the Divine promise, we do not wonder at that, when we see what sort of mother they had. For with all sovereign and inscrutable exceptions the rule surely still holds, 'Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.' All her days Lady Boyd was on the most intimate terms with the most eminent ministers of the Church of Scotland. We find such men as Robert Bruce, Robert Blair, John Livingstone, and Samuel Rutherford continually referring to her in the loftiest terms. But it was not so much her high rank, or her great ability, or her fearless devotion to the Presbyterian and Evangelical cause that so drew those men around her; it was rather the inwardness and the intensity of her personal religion. You may be a determined upholder of a Church, of Presbytery against Prelacy, of Protestantism against Popery, or even of Evangelical religion against Erastianism and Moderatism, and yet know nothing of true religion in your own heart. But men like Livingstone and Rutherford would never have written of Lady Boyd as they did had she not been a rare pattern of inward and spiritual Christianity.

I have spoken of Lady Boyd's diary. 'She used every night,' says Livingstone, 'to write what had been the state of her soul all day, and what she had observed of the Lord's doing.' When all her neighbours were lying down without fear, her candle went not out till she had taken pen and ink and had called herself to a strict account for the past day. Her duties and her behaviour to her husband, to her children, to her servants, and to her many dependants; the things that had tried her temper, her humility, her patience, her power of self-denial; any strength and wisdom she had attained to in the government of her tongue and in shutting her ears from the hearing of evil; as, also, every ordinary as well as extraordinary providence that had visited her that day, and how she had been able to recognise it and accept it and take good out of it. Thus the Lady Boyd prevented the night-watches. When the women of her own rank sat down to write their promised letters of gossip and scandal and amusement she sat down to write her diary. 'We see many things, but we observe nothing,' said Rutherford in a letter to Lady Kenmure. All around her God had been dealing all that day with Lady Boyd's neighbours as well as with her, only they had not observed it. But she had not only an eye to see but a mind and a heart to observe also. She had a heart that, like the fabled Philosopher's Stone, turned all it touched and all that touched it immediately to fine gold. Riding home late one night from a hunting supper-party, young Lord Boyd saw his mother's candle still burning, and he made bold to knock at her door to ask why she was not asleep. Without saying a word, she took her son by the hand and set him down at her table and pointed him to the wet sheet she had just written. When he had read it he rose, without speaking a word, and went to his own room, and though that night was never all their days spoken of to one another, yet all his days Lord Boyd looked back on that night of the hunt as being the night when his soul escaped from the snare of the fowler. I much fear the diary is lost, but it would be well worth the trouble of the owner of Ardross Castle to cause a careful search to be made for it in the old charter chests of the family.

Till Lady Boyd's lost diary is recovered to us let us gather a few things about this remarkable woman out of the letters and reminiscences of such men as Livingstone and Rutherford and her namesake, Principal Boyd of Trochrig. Rutherford, especially, was, next to her midnight page, her ladyship's confidential and bosom friend. 'Now Madam,' he writes in a letter from Aberdeen, 'for your ladyship's own case.' And then he addresses himself in his finest style to console his correspondent, regarding some of the deepest and most painful incidents of her rare and genuine Christian experience. 'Yes,' he says, 'be sorry at corruption, and be not secure about yourself as long as any of it is there.' Corruption, in this connection, is a figure of speech. It is a kind of technical term much in vogue with spiritual writers of the profounder kind. It expresses to those unhappy persons who have the thing in themselves, and who are also familiar with the Scriptural and experimental use of the word—to them it expresses with fearful truth and power the sinfulness of their own hearts, as that sinfulness abides and breaks out continually. Now, how could Lady Boyd, being the woman she was, but be sorry and inconsolably sorry to find all that in her own heart every day? No wonder that she and her son never referred to what she had written and he had read in his mother's lockfast book that never- to-be-forgotten night.

'Be sorry at corruption, and be not secure.' How could she be secure when she saw and felt every day that deadly disease eating at her own heart? She could not be secure for an hour; she would have been anything but the grave and prudent woman she was—she would have been mad—had she for a single moment felt secure with such a corrupt heart. You must all have read a dreadful story that went the round of the newspapers the other day. A prairie hunter came upon a shanty near Winnipeg, and found—of all things in the world!—a human foot lying on the ground outside the door. Inside was a young English settler bleeding to death, and almost insane. He had lost himself in the prairie-blizzard till his feet were frozen to mortification, and in his desperation he had taken a carving-knife and had hacked off his most corrupt foot and had thrown it out of doors. And then, while the terrified hunter was getting help, the despairing man cut off the other corrupt foot also. I hope that brave young Englishman will live till some Winnipeg minister tells him of a yet more terrible corruption than ever took hold of a frozen foot, and of a knife that cuts far deeper than the shanty carver, and consoles him in death with the assurance that it was of him that Jesus Christ spoke in the Gospel long ago, when He said that it is better to enter into life halt and maimed, rather than having two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. There was no knife in Ardross Castle that would reach down to Lady Boyd's corrupt heart; had there been, she would have first cleansed her own heart with it, and would then have shown her son how to cleanse his. But, as Rutherford says, she also had come now to that 'nick' in religion to cut off a right hand and a right foot so as to keep Christ and the life everlasting, and so had her eldest son, Lord Boyd. As Bishop Martensen also says, 'Many a time we cannot avoid feeling a deep sorrow for ourselves because of the bottomless depth of corruption which lies hidden in our heart—which sorrow, rightly felt and rightly exercised, is a weighty basis of sanctification.'

To an able woman building on such a weighty basis as that on which Lady Boyd had for long been building, Rutherford was quite safe to lay weighty and unusual comforts on her mind and on her heart. 'Christ has a use for all your corruptions,' he says to her, to her surprise and to her comfort. 'Beata culpa,' cried Augustine; and 'Felix culpa,' cried Gregory. 'My sins have in a manner done me more good than my graces,' said holy Mr. Fox. 'I find advantages of my sins,' said that most spiritually-minded of men, James Fraser of Brea. Those who are willing and able to read a splendid passage for themselves on this paradoxical- sounding subject will find it on page xii. of the Address to the Godly and Judicious Reader in Samuel Rutherford's Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself.

What Rutherford was bold to say to Lady Boyd about her corruptions she was able herself to say to Trochrig about her crosses. 'Right Honourable Sir,—It is common to God's children and to the wicked to be under crosses, but their crosses chase God's children to God. O that anything would chase me to my God!' There speaks a woman of mind and of heart who knows what she is speaking about. And, like her and her correspondents, when all our other crosses have chased us to God, then our master cross, the corruption of our heart, will chase us closer up to God than all our other crosses taken together. We have no cross to be compared with our corruptions, and when they have chased us close enough and deep enough into the secret place of God, then we will begin to understand and adorn the dangerous doxologies of Augustine and Gregory, Fraser and Fox. Yes; anything and everything is good that chases us up to God: crosses and corruptions, sin and death and hell. 'O that anything would chase me to my God!' cried saintly Lady Boyd. And that leads her ladyship in another letter to Trochrig to tell him the kind of preaching she needs and that she must have at any cost. 'It will not neither be philosophy nor eloquence that will draw me from the broad road of perdition: I must have a trumpet to tell me of my sins.' That was a well-said word to the then Principal of Glasgow University who had so many of the future ministers of Scotland under his hands, all vying with one another as to who should be the best philosopher and the most eloquent preacher. Trochrig was both an eloquent preacher and a philosophic principal and a spiritually- minded man, but he was no worse to read Lady Boyd's demand for a true minister, and I hope he read her letter and gave his students her name in his pastoral theology class. 'Lady Boyd on the broad road of perdition!' some of his students would exclaim. 'Why, Lady Boyd is the most saintly woman in all the country.' And that would only give the learned Principal an opportunity to open up to his class, as he was so well fitted to do, that saying of Rutherford to Lady Kenmure: that 'sense of sin is a sib friend to a spiritual man,' till some, no doubt, went out of that class and preached, as Thomas Boston did, to 'terrify the godly.' Such results, no doubt, came to many from Lady Boyd's letter to the Principal as to the preaching she needed and must at any cost have: not philosophy, nor eloquence, but a voice like a trumpet to tell her of her sin.

Rutherford was in London attending the sittings of the Westminster Assembly when his dear friend Lady Boyd died in her daughter's house at Ardross. The whole Scottish Parliament, then sitting at St. Andrews, rose out of respect and attended her funeral. Rutherford could not be present, but he wrote a characteristically comforting letter to Lady Ardross, which has been preserved to us. He reminded her that all her mother's sorrows were comforted now, and all her corruptions healed, and all her much service of Christ and His Church in Scotland far more than recompensed.

Children of God, take comfort, for so it will soon be with you also. Your salvation, far off as it looks to you, is far nearer than when you believed. You will carry your corruptions with you to your grave; 'they lay with you,' as Rutherford said to Lady Boyd, 'in your mother's womb,' and the nearer you come to your grave the stronger and the more loathsome will you feel your corruptions to be; but what about that, if only they chase you the closer up to God, and make what is beyond the grave the more sure and the more sweet to your heart. Lady Boyd is not sorry for her corruptions now. She is now in that blessed land where the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick. Take comfort, O sure child of God, with the most corrupt heart in all the world; for it is for you and for the like of you that that inheritance is prepared and kept, that inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Take comfort, for they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.


'That famous saint, the Lady Robertland, and the rare outgates she so often got.'—Livingstone's Characteristics.

The Lady Robertland ranks in the Rutherford sisterhood with Lady Kenmure, Lady Culross, Lady Boyd, Lady Cardoness, Lady Earlston, Marion M'Naught and Grizel Fullarton. Lady Robertland, like so many of the other ladies of the Covenant, was not only a woman of deep personal piety and great patriotism, she was also, like Lady Kenmure, Lady Boyd, and Marion M'Naught, a woman of remarkable powers of mind. For one thing, she had a fascinating gift of conversation, and, like John Bunyan, it was her habit to speak of spiritual things with wonderful power under the similitude and parable of outward and worldly things. At the time of the famous 'Stewarton sickness' Lady Robertland was of immense service, both to the ministers and to the people. Robert Fleming tells us that the profane rabble of that time gave the nickname of the Stewarton sickness to that 'extraordinary outletting of the Spirit' that was experienced in those days over the whole of the west of Scotland, but which fell in perfect Pentecostal power on both sides of the Stewarton Water. 'I preached often to them in the time of the College vacation,' says Robert Blair, 'residing at the house of that famous saint, the Lady Robertland, and I had much conference with the people, and profited more by them than I think they did by me; though ignorant people and proud and secure livers called them "the daft people of Stewarton."' The Stewarton sickness was as like as possible, both in its manifestations and in its results, to the Irish Revival of 1859, in which, when it came over and awakened Scotland, the Duchess of Gordon, another lady of the Covenant, acted much the same part in the North that Lady Robertland acted in her day in the West. Many of our ministers still living can say of Huntly Lodge, 'I resided often there, and preached to the people, profiting more by them than they could have done by me.'

Outgate is an old and an almost obsolete word, but it is a word of great expressiveness and point. It bears on the face of it what it means. An outgate is just a gate out, a way of redemption, deliverance and escape. And her rare outgates does not imply that Lady Robertland's outgates were few, but that they were extraordinary, seldom matched, and above all expectation and praise. Lady Robertland's outgates were not rare in the sense of coming seldom and being few; for, the fact is, they filled her remarkable life full; but they were rare in the sense that she, like the Psalmist in Mr. James Guthrie's psalm, was a wonder unto many, and most of all unto herself. But a gate out, and especially such a gate as the Lady Robertland so often came out at, needs a key, needs many keys, and many keys of no common kind, and it needs a janitor also, or rather a redeemer and a deliverer of a kind corresponding to the kind of gate and the kind of confinement on which the gate shuts and opens. And when Lady Robertland thought of her rare outgates—and she thought more about them than about anything else that ever happened to her—and as often as she could get an ear and a heart into which to tell them, she always pictured to her audience and to herself the majestic Figure of the first chapter of the Revelation. She often spoke of her rare outgates to David Dickson, and Robert Blair, and John Livingstone, and to her own Stewarton minister, Mr. Castlelaw, whose name written in water on earth is written in letters of gold in heaven. 'Not much of a preacher himself, he encouraged his people to attend Mr. Dickson's sermons, and he often employed Mr. Blair to preach at Stewarton, and accompanied him back and forward, singing psalms all the way.' Her ladyship often told saintly Mr. Castlelaw of her rare outgates, and always so spoke to him of the Amen, who has the keys of hell and of death, that he never could read that chapter all his days without praising God that he had had the Lady Robertland and her rare outgates in his sin-sick parish.

But it is time to turn to some of those special and rare outgates that the Amen with the keys gave to His favoured handmaiden, the Lady Robertland; and the first kind of outgate, on account of which she was always such an astonishment to herself, was what she would call her outgate from providential disabilities, entanglements, and embarrassments. She was wont to say to William Guthrie, who best understood her witty words and her wonderful history, that the wicked fairies had handicapped her infant feet in her very cradle. She could use a freedom of speech with Guthrie, and he with her, such as neither of them could use with Livingstone or with Rutherford. Rutherford could not laugh when his heart was breaking, as Lady Robertland and the witty minister of Fenwick were often overheard laughing. 'Yes, but your Ladyship has won the race with all your weights,' Guthrie would laugh and say. 'One of my many races,' she would answer, with half a smile and half a sigh; 'but I have a long race, many long races, still before me. It seemed conclamatum est with me,' she would then say, quoting a well- known expression of Samuel Rutherford's, which is, being interpreted, It's all over and gone with me, 'but Providence, since the Amen took it in hand, has a thousand and more keys wherewith to give poor creatures like me our rare outgates.' There were few alive by that time who had known Lady Robertland in her early days, and she seldom spoke of those days; only, on the anniversary of her early marriage, she never forgot her feelings when her life as a Fleming came to an end and her new life as a Robertland began. There was a famous preacher of her day who sometimes spoke familiarly of the 'keys of the cupboard, that the Master carried at His girdle,' and she used sometimes to take up his homely words and say that she had had all the sweetest morsels and most delicate dainties of earth's cupboard taken out from under lock and key and put into her mouth. 'He ties terrible knots,' she would say, 'just to have the pleasure of loosing them off from those He loves. He lays nets and sets traps only that He may get a chance of healing broken bones and setting the terrified free.' No wonder that Wodrow calls her 'a much- exercised woman,' with such ingates and outgates, and with such miracles of an interposing Providence filling her childhood, her youth, her married and her widowed life. The Analecta is full of remarkable providences, but Lady Robertland's exercises and outgates are too wonderful even for the pages of that always wonderful and sometimes too awful book.

'My Master hath outgates of His own which are beyond the wisdom of man,' writes Rutherford, in her own language, to Lady Robertland from 'Christ's prison in Aberdeen.' Rutherford's letters are full of more or less mysterious allusions to the rare outgates that God in Christ had given him also from the snares and traps into which he had fallen by the sins and follies of his unregenerate youth. Whatever trouble came on Rutherford all his days—the persecution of the bishop, his banishment to Aberdeen, the shutting of his mouth from preaching Christ, the loss of wife and child, and the poignant pains of sanctification—he gathered them all up under the familiar figure of a waled and chosen cross. 'Seeing that the sins of my youth deserved strokes, how am I obliged to my Lord, who, out of many possible crosses, hath given me this waled and chosen cross to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ. Since I must have chains, He has put golden chains on me. Seeing I must have sorrow, for I have sinned, O Preserver of mankind, Thou hast waled and selected out for me a joyful sorrow—an honest, spiritual, glorious sorrow. Oh, what am I, such a rotten mass of sin, to be counted worthy of the most honourable rod in my Father's house, even the golden rod wherewith the Lord the Heir was Himself stricken. Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though Thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.' Rutherford also was forgiven, and the only vengeance that God took of his inventions, the irregularities of his youth, was taken in the form of a 'waled cross.' 'I might have been proclaimed on the crown of the causey,' says Rutherford, 'but He has so waled my cross and His vengeance that I am suffering not for my sin but for His name.' What a life hid with Christ in God he must live, who, like Rutherford, takes all his trials on earth as a transmuted and substituted cross for his sins: and who is able to take all his deserved and demanded chastisements in the shape of inward and spiritual and sanctifying pain. O sweet vengeance of grace on our sinful inventions! O most intimate and most awful of all our secrets, the secrets of a love-waled, love-substituted cross! O rare outgate from the scorn of the causeway to the smelting-house of 'Him who hath His fire in Zion!'

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