Monday, September 23, 2019

Rutherford Revised (336)

336. To Lady Ralston From St. Andrews Oct 1651  

(Lady Ralston, whose maiden name was Ursula Mure, was daughter to William Mure of Glanderston, a respectable family in the county of Renfrew, and wife of William Ralston of that ilk. Mr. Alexander Dunlop, minister of Paisley, was married to one of her sisters, and Mr. John Carstairs to another. Lady Ralston was a woman of distinguished piety. Mr. Dunlop, who was most impartial in his judgment of persons of worth,” spoke in the highest terms of her Christian character. One day, commending her to Mrs. Hastie, wife of Mr. Alexander Hastie, minister of Glasgow, he spoke so much to her commendation that Mr. Hastie said to him, I wonder to hear you speak so much to the praise of that lady; I think you speak more of her than of your own wife.” He answered, Sanders, I love truly to be just to everybody. I think my wife is truly a good woman, and all the rest of the sisters are good women; but I must say, Lady Ralston is a person more than ordinary. I know very few come her length; yea, Sanders, I truly think shame to even myself to be a Christian beside her, when I look to her carriage. She is a very odd [singular] woman(WodrowAnalecta).Mr. John Carstairs also bears testimony to her Christian excellence, and to the kindness she had shown to him and his family, particularly after his ejection from his church in Glasgow, in 1662, for conscience’ sake.)

Right Worthy Esteemed in your Excellent Lord Jesus,With much desire I have longed to hear how you were, since I heard of your being so near the harbour, as seemed; and now, to my great satisfaction, I am informed of your recovery. As for yourself, I grant, to have entered in at the gates of the mansions of glory had been best by far; but, yet to stay a little longer here is much more comfortable to yours. Therefore, Mistress, dearly respected in the Lord, you are even heartily welcome, though to share yet further with Zion in her manifold troubles. Yes, I believe yourself thinks it no disadvantage, but rather one great addition of honour, to come back and bear His reproach yet more, in a world of opposition to Him. For (to speak so) it is an advantage that is not to be had in heaven itself; for, although the inhabitants of that land agree in one to sing the song of the Lambs praise and commendation, so it is here, and here only, where we have occasion to endure shame and contradiction for His worthy sake. Considering, therefore, the honour of the cross with the glory of the life to come, the saints are hereby made completely happy and honourable. Its much selfishness (as I judge it when I get seen best into the mystery of our Lords cross) to make speed to be in the land of rest, when a storm of persecution is rising for Christ; for the sluggard and peevish spirit loves rest upon any terms, though never so dishonourable. It is in effect, then, far more honourable to seek conformity to Christ in His cross, than to participate in desiring to be like Him in glory, and despise and fly away from His sufferings. We use to say they are very unworthy of the sweet who will not endure the sour. I think Christs pilgrim weeds (He being a Man of sorrows and griefs) are more honourable than ever it became the like of us to wear; especially considering our poor base descent, whom He will have honoured with conformity to Himself. Woes me that I, and many the like of me within the land, look so contrarily on Christs cross, as though it were not His love-allowance to all His followers! Its plainly our gross ignorance that is the cause of it. Faith, I grant, would suffer trouble for Him with good-will, rather than the least evil should be committed; but sense loves no resrictions. For faith, keeping the sway, puts oft-times the carnal man in bondage, and that occasions strife between the flesh and the spirit. The spirit smells no freedom or deliverance but that which comes from above; the flesh would yes have deliverance, without examination of the terms, or from where it comes. As it is the mark of Christs sheep, that they will hear His voice, and will not acknowledge a stranger, so it is the mark of faith, that it will only receive orders from heaven. When He declares His mind for imprisonment, it submits to imprisonment, not replying objections to the contrary; and again, when He says, Show yourselves, you prisoners of hope,” it discovers time and way, and obeys to come out, but not until then. But the flesh ever  speeds, and the first and nearest ease is yes its best choice. The Lord keep His dear people from wanting of any exercise that is measured out by Him to them, now when He hides His face, lest we be turned aside to strange gods! And when He shows Himself again (as He will assuredly do), we know our change. It is far safer to dwell a little in faiths prison than in senses fairest liberty. I see nothing so comfortable an evidence of Gods staying into, and healing of, this broken and poor land, than that faithful testimony of His precious servants (and strengthened only by Him) against the late and sore defection. Yet, if the Lord had not left us a remnant, we had been as Sodom and like to Gomorah. And exalted be our God, only wise and free in His love, that ever any testimony was given! for the hour of temptation was very dark to all once. But to some He showed much light, and helped them with a little help. Others, also, able and dear to Him, He has let, as yet, remain under the cloud. But the mystery of His wisdom is so high in this, that I profess it may render all flesh humble in the dust, and to glory henceforth in nothing but in His upholding strength and free love. Always, when His due time comes, He will make His servants see that which they do not now see. But, alas! in the meantime, there is no harder matter of our trouble to be looked to than the grievous differences of judgments and affections among the Lords servants; which I know is much pondered by you. And I trust that all our worthy dear friends will labour to the utmost, according to Christs command, to have the breach made up again, that Satan get not advantage therethrough; for I think nothing makes more for his ends than the defacing of union amongst the Lords dear ones. I think it should be amongst our many requests to Him in whom all the building use to be fitly framed together in love;” yes, the obtaining of this request was a great advantage to the poor church. And if the Lord takes pleasure in us, there is yet hope in Israel concerning this thing; but if not, it is like to prove a probable token, amongst some others, of Christs taking down His tent in this land: which, if He do, we will have sad days. But the consid-eration of His pitiful compassion holds forth ground to believe otherwise; upon which ground it is like that He will give us a door of hope, though He does not give full deliverance yet. For our hope is not perished yet from the Lord, because men and carnal reason say so; for none of these are limis or rules to the Almighty! Yes, Zions lowest ebb will be the first step to her rise. I have no other reason to give but the zeal of the Lord of hosts [will] perform it” (Isa. 9:7); and in confidence of it, I remain,
   Yours in all trouble,  S. R.
Tender my respects to your dear husband, who is indeed precious in the account of the honest here, for his faithfulness in the hour of temptation.

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