Work of Reformation
BRITAIN AND IRELAND.
BY THE LATE REVEREND.
MR. SAMUEL RUTHERFOORD,
Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
A Short ACCOUNT of his LIFE,
with some of his Last Words.
Printed by J. & M. Robertson, [No. 18] Saltmarket.
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Τ Ε S Τ Ι Μ Ο Ν Υ
WORK OF REFORMATION
BRITAIN and IRELAND.
FEB. 28th, 1661.
THOUGH the Lord needeth not a Testimony from such a wretched man as I, and if all the world should be silent, the very stones would cry, it is more than debt, that I should confess Christ, before men and angels. It would satisfy me not a little, that the throne of the Lord Jesus were excited above the clouds, the Heaven of heavens, and on both sides of the sun ; and that all possible praise and glory were ascribed to him. That, by his grace, I might put my seal, such as it is, unto that song, even the new song of these, who with a loud voice sing, Rev. v. 9. 'Thou art worthy to make the book, and to open the seals thereof: For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: And we shall reign upon the earth.' And blessed were I, could I lay to my ear by faith, and say, Amen, to the Psalm 'of the many angels round about the Throne, and the beasts, and elders, whose number is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.' And if I heard 'every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth and such as are in the sea; and all that are in then (as John heard them) saying, Blessing, and honour and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth up on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.' I mean not any such visible reign of Christ on earth, as the Millenarians fancy. I believe (Lord help my unbelief) the doctrine of the holy Prophets, and the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ contained in the books of the Old and New Testament, to be the undoubted truth of God; and a perfect rule of faith, and the only way of salvation And I do acknowledge the sum of the Christian religion, exhibited in the Confessions and Catechism of the reformed protestant churches. And in the National Covenant, divers times sworn by the King Majesty, the state and church of Scotland, and sea ed by the testimony and subscriptions of the Noble Barons, Gentlemen, Citizens, Ministers and Professors of all ranks: as also in the Solemn League and Covenant, in the three kingdoms of Scotland England, and Ireland. And I do judge, and in my conscience believe, that no power on earth can absolve and liberate the people of God from the bond and sacred ties of the oath of God. I am persuaded, that Asa acted warrantably, in making a law that the people should stand to the covenant, and in receiving into the covenant such as were not his kingdom, 2 Chron. xv. 6, 10. As did also Hezekiah, in sending a proclamation through all the tribes, from Dan to Beersheba, that they should come and keep the passover unto the Lord at Jerusalem, 2 Chron. xxx. 6, 7. though their own principles did not come along with them: Yea, and it is nature's law, warranted by the word, That nations should encourage, and stir up on another, to seek the true God. It is also prophefied, that divers nations should excite one another this way, Isa. iii. 8. Many people shall go, and say, Come move, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways.' Zech. viii. 2. 'And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people, and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem ; and to pray before the Lord.' There is also a clear prophecy to be accomplished under the New Testament, That Israel and Judah shall go together and seek the Lord! they shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant, that shall not be forgotten,' Jer. 1. 4, 5. It is also foretold, that different nations shall confederate with the Lord, and with one another, Isa. xix. 23, 24, 25. 'In that day there shall be an highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come to Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day, shall Israel be the third with Egypt, and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.'
The Church of Scotland had once as much of the presence of Christ, as to the power and purity of Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government, as many we read of, since the Lord took his ancient people to be his covenanted Church. The Lord stirred up our nobles to attempt a reformation in the last age, through many difficulties, an against much opposition, from those in supreme authority: He made bare his holy arm; and carried on the work gloriously, like himself: his right hand getting him the victory, until the Idolatry of Rome, and her cursed Mass were dashed;——— hopeful Reformation was in some measure settled and a found Confession of Faith was agreed upon by the Lords of the Congregation. The people o God, according to the laudable custom of other ancient Churches, the Protestants in France and Holland, and the renowned princes of Germany, did carry on the work, in an innocent self-defensive war, which the Lord did abundantly bless. When our land and church were thus contending for that begun Reformation, these in authority did still oppose the work: And there were not wanting, men from among ourselves, men of prelatical spirits, who, with some other time-serving courtiers, did not a little undermine the building. And we doating too much upon found Parliaments, and lawfully constitute General Assemblies, fell from our first love, to self-seeking, secret-banding, and little-fearing the oath of God.
Afterwards, our work in public was too much in sequestration of estates, fining and imprisoning, more than in a compassionate mournfulness of spirit towards those whom we saw to oppose the work. In our Assemblies, we were more bent to set up a state opposite to a state: more upon forms, citations, leading of witnesses, suspensions from benefices, than spiritually to persuade, and work upon the conscience, with the meekness and gentleness of Christ. The glory and royalty of our princely Redeemer and King was trampled on, as any might have seen in our Assemblies. What way the army, and the sword, and the countenance of nobles and officers seemed to sway, that way were the censures carried. It had been better, had there been more days of humiliation in Afsemblies, Synods, Presbyteries, Congregations, Families, and far less adjourned commissions, new peremptory summons, and new drawn up processes. And if the meekness and gentleness of our Master had got so much place in our hearts, that we night have waited on gainsayers and parties contrary minded; and we might have driven gently, as our Master Christ, who loves not to over-drive, but carries the lambs in his bosom.
If the word of truth in the Old and New Testament be a sufficient rule, holding forth what is a Christian army, whether offensive or defensive; whether clean, or sinfully mixed,———then must we leave the question betwixt our public brethren and is to be determined by that rule: But if there be no such rule in the word, then the confederacies and associations of the people of God with the idolatrons, apostate Israelites, with the Egyptains and Assyrians, as that of Jehosaphat with Ahab, and these of Israel and Judah with Egypt and Assyria, shall not be condemned; but they are often reproved and condemned in scripture. To deny the scripture to be a sufficient rule in this case, were to accuse it of being imperfect dad defective:———an high and unjust reflection on the holy word of God! Beyond all question, the written word doth teach, what is a right constituted court, and what not, Psal. x; what is a right constituted house, and what not, Josh. xxiv. 15; what is a true church, and what is a synagogue of Satan, Rev. ii; what is a clean camp, and what is an unclean. We are not for an army of Saints, and free of all mixture of ill affected men: But it seems an high prevarication for churchmen to counsel and teach, That the weight and trust of the affairs of Christ, and his kingdom, should be laid upon the whole party of such as, have been enemies to our cause; contrary to the word of God, and the declarations, remonstrances, solemn warnings, and serious exhortations of his church, whose public protestations the Lord did admirably bless, to the encouragement of the godly, and the terror of all the opposers of the work.
Since we are very shortly to appear before our dreadful Master and Sovereign, we cannot pass from our protestation, trusting we are therein accepted of him; though we should ly under the imputation of dividing spirits, and unpeaceable men. We acknowledge all due obedience in the Lord to the King's Majesty; but we disown that ecclesiastic supremacy, in and over the church, which some ascribe to him; that power of commanding external worship not appointed in the word; and laying bonds upon the consciences of men, where Christ has made them free. We disown antichristian prelacy bowing at the name of Jesus, saints' days, canonizing of the dead, and other such corrupt inventions of men, and look on them as the high way to Popery. Alas! now there is no need of a spirit of prophecy to declare what shall be the woful condition of a land that hath broken covenant, first practically, and then legally, with the Lord our God; And what shall be the day of the silent, and dumb watchmen of Scotland? Where will we leave our glory? and what if Christ depart out of our land? We verily judge, they are most loyal to the King's Majesty, who desire the dross may be separated from the silver, and the throne established in righteousness and judgement. We are not our witness is in heaven) against his Majesty's tittle by birth to the Kingdom, and the right of the royal family: but that the controversy of wrath against the royal family may be removed; that the huge guilt of the throne may be mourned for before the Lord; and that his Majesty may stand constantly, all the days of his life, to the covenant of God, by oath, seal, and subscription, known to the world; that so peace and the blessings of heaven may follow his government; that the Lord may be his rock and shicid: that the just may flourish in his time; that men fearing God, hating covetousness, and of known integrity and godliness, may be judges and rulers under his Majesty:-and they are not really loyal and faithful to the supreme magistrate, who wish not such qualification in him. We are not, in this particular, contending that a prince, who is not a convert or a found believer, falls from his royal dominion; the scriptures of God warrant us to pray for and obey in the Lord, princes and supreme magistrates, that are otherwise wicked; and to render all due obedience to them, Rom. xii. 2, 5. 2 Tim. ii. 12. I Pet. ii. 18. Our souls should. be afflicted before the Lord, for the burning of the causes of God's wrath. A sad practice, too like the burning of the roll at Jehudi, Jer. xxxvi. 22. In these controversies, we should take special heed to this, that Christ is a free, independent Sovereign, King and Lawgiver. The Father hath appointed him his own King in mount Zion; and he cannot endure, that the powers of the world should encroach upon his royal prerogatives, and prescribe laws to him: This presumption is not far from that of citizens that hated him, Luke xix. 14. 'He shall not rule over us;' and from the intolerable pride of those who are for breaking asunder the bands of the Lord, and his anointed, and for casting away their cords from them, Psal. ii. 3. Especially seeing the man Christ would not take the office of a judge upon him, Luke xii. 14. and discharged his disciples, to exercise a civil lordship over their brethren. True it is, the godly magistrate may command the ministers of the gospel to do their duty, but not under the pain of ecclestiastic-censure, as if it were proper for him to call and uncal, depose and suspend from the holy ministry. The lordly spiritual government in and over the church, is given into Christ, and none else; he is the sole ecclesiastic lawgiver. It is proper to him to smite with the rod of his mouth; nor is there any other shoulder, in heaven or in earth, that is able to bear the government. As this hath been the great controversy betwixt our Lord Jesus and the powers of the world from the beginning; so it has ruined all that coped with him. Christ has proven a rock of offence to them: they have been dashed to pieces by the stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands, Dan. ii. 34, 45. And the other powers, that enter the lists with him, shall have the same dismal exit. Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; and on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind them to powder, Matth. xxi. 44. As the blessed prophets and apostles of our Lord contended not, a little with the rulers of the earth, that Christ should be head corner-stone: that Christ is the only head of his church, is as sure, as that he died, was buried, and rose again. It is a most victorious and prevailing truth, not only preached and attested by the ambassadors of the Lord of hosts, but confirmed by blood, martyrdom, and suffering.——— Many precious saints have thought it their honour and dignity, to suffer shame and reproach for the name of Jesus : And it is beyond doubt, that passive suffering for the precious name of Christ comes nearest to that noble sampler, wherein Christ, tho' a son, learned obedience by the things which he suffered, Heb. v. 8. Now blessed is the soul, who loves not his life to death, Rev. xii. 11. For on such rests the spirit of glory and of God, 1 Pet. iv. 14. We cannot but say, it is a sad time to our land at present, it is a day of darkness, and rebuke, and blasphemy. The Lord hath covered himself with a cloud in his anger, we looked for peace, but behold evil: Our souls rejoiced, when his majesty did swear the covenant of God, and put thereto his seal and subscription; and therefore confirmed it by his royal promise. So that the subjects' hearts blessed the Lord, and rested upon the healing word of a prince. But now, alas! the contrary is ennacted by law, the carved work is broken down, ordinances are defaced, and we are brought into the former bondage and chaos of prelatical confusions. The royal prerogative of Christ is pulled from his head, and, after all the days of sorrow we have seen, we have just cause to fear we shall be made to read and eat that book, wherein is written mourning, and lamentation, and wo. Yet we are to believe Christ will not so depart from the land, but a remnant shall be saved; and he shall reign a victorious conquering king to the ends of the earth. O that there were nations, kindreds, tongues, and all the people of Christ's habitable world, encompassing his throne with cries and tears for the spirit of supplication, to be poured down upon the inhabitants of Judah for that effect.
A Brief Account of Mr. RUTHERFOORD's
Life, with some of his last words.
MR. SAMUEL RUTHERFOORD, a gentleman by extraction, having spent some time at the grammar-school, went to the university of Edinburgh, where he was so much admired for his pregnancy of parts, and deservedly looked upon as one from whom some great things might be expected, that in a short time (though then but very young) he was made professor of philosophy in that university.
Some time after this he was called to be minister at Anwoth, in the shire of Galloway, unto which charge he entered by means of the then viscount of Kenmuir, without any acknowledgement or engagement to the bishops. There he laboured with great diligence and success, both night and day, rising usually by three o'clock in the morning, spending the whole time in reading, praying, writing, catechising, visiting and other duties belonging to the ministerial profession and employment.
Here he wrote his Exercitationes de gratia, &c. for which he was summoned (as early as June 1630) before the high commission-court, but the weather was so tempestuous as to obstruct the passage of the archbishop of St. Andrews hither, and Mr. Colvil, cne of the judges, having befriended him, the diet was defected. About the same time, his first wife died after a sore sickness of thirteen months, and he hinself was so ill of a tertian fever for thirteen weeks, that then he could not preach on the Sabbath day, without great difficulty.
Again in April 1634, he was threatened with another prosecution at the instance of the bishop of Galloway before the high commission-court; and neither were these threatenings all the reasons Mr. Rutherfoord had to lay his account with suffering, and as the Lord would not hide from his faithful servant Abraham the thing he was about to do, neither would be conceal from this son of Abraham what his purposes were concerning him; for in a letter to the provost's wife of Kirkudbright, dated April 20, 1633, he says, 'That upon the 17th and 18th of August, he got a full answer of his Lord to be a graced minister, and a chosen arrow hid in his quiver.' Accordingly the thing he looked for came upon him, for he was again summoned before the high commission-court for his non-conformity, his preaching against the five articles of Perth, and his forementioned book of exercitations apologetica por divina gratia, which book they alledged did reflect upon the church of Scotland ; but the truth was, says a late historian, (Stevenson,) The argument of that book did cut the sinews of Arminianism, and galled the Episcopal clergy to the very quick, and so bishop Sydserf could endure him no longer. When he came before the commission-court, he altogether declined it as a lawful judicatory, and would not give the chancellor (being a clergyman) and the bishops their titles by lording of them; yet some had the courage to befriend him, particularly the lord Lorn, (afterwards the famous marquis of Argyle) who did as much for him as was within his power; but the bishop of Galloway threatening that if he got not his will of him, he would write to the king; it was carried against him, and upon the 17th of July 1636, he was discharged to exercise any part of his ministry within the kingdom of Scotland, under pain of rebellion, and ordered within six months to confine himself within the city of Aberdeen, &c. during the king's pleasure;——— which sentence he obeyed, and forthwith went to the place of his confinement.
From Aberdeen he wrote many of his famous letters, from which it is evident that the consolation of the Holy Spirit did greatly abound with him in his sufferings, yea, in one of these letters, he expresses it in the strongest terms, when he says, 'I never knew before, his love was in such a measure. If he leave me, he leaves me in pain, and sick of love, and yet my sickness is my life and health. I have a fire within me, I defy all the devils in hell and all the prelates in Scotland to cast water on it.' Here he remained upwards of a year and a half, by which time he made the doctors of Aberdeen know that the puritans (as they called them) were clergymen as well as they. But upon notice, that the privy counsel had received in a declinature against the high commission-court in the year 1638, he ventured to return to his flock at Anwoth, where he again took great pains, both in public and private, amongst that people, who from all quarters resorted to his ministry, so that the whole countryside might account themselves his particular flock, and it being then in the dawning of the Reformation, found no small benefit by the gospel, that part of the ancient prophecy being further accomplished, In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desart, Isa. xxxv. 6.
He was before that venerable assembly held at Glasgow in 1638, and gave an account of all these his former proceedings with respect to his confinement, and the causes thereof. By them he was appointed to be professor of divinity at St. Andrews, and colleague in the ministry with worthy Mr. Blair who was translated hither about the same time.- And here God did again so second this his eminent and faithful servant, that, by his indefatigable pains both in teaching in the schools and preaching in the congregation, St. Andrews, the seat of the archbishop (and by that means the nursery of all superstition, error, and profaneness) soon became forth with a Lebanon, out of which were taken cedars for the building of the house of the Lord, almost through the whole land, many of whom he guided to heaven before himself, (who received the spiritual life by his ministry) and many others did walk in that light after him.
And as he was mighty in the public parts of religion, so he was a great practiser and encourager of the private duties thereof. Thus, in the year 1640, when a charge was foisted in before the general assembly at the instance of Mr. Henry Guthrie minister at Stirling, (afterward bishop of Dunkeld) against private society-meetings, (which were then abounding in the land) on which ensued much reasoning, the one side yielding that a paper before drawn up by Mr. Henderson should be agreed unto, concerning the order to be kept in these meetings, &c. but Guthrie and his adherents opposing this, Mr. Rutherfoord, with was never much disposed to speak in judicatories, threw in this syllogism, What the scriptures do warrant, no assembly may discharge, but private meetings for religious exercises the scriptures do warrant, Mal. v. 16. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, &c. James v. 6. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, &c. These things could not be done in public meetings, &c.' And altho' the earl of Seaforth there present, and those of Guthrie's faction, upbraided this good man for this, yet it had influence upon the majority of the members, so that all the opposite party got done, was an act anent the ordering of family-worship.
He was also one of the Scots comissioners appointed anno 1643, to the Westminster assembly, and was very much beloved there for his unparalleled faithfulness and zeal in going about his Master's business. It was during this time, that he published Lex Rex, and several other learned pieces against the Erastians, Anabaptists, Independents, and other sectaries that began to prevail and increase at that time, and none ever had the courage to take up the gauntlet of defiance thrown down this champion.
When the principal businefs of this assembly was pretty well settled, Mr. Rutherfoord, in October 24, 1647, moved that it might be recorded in the scribe's book, that the assembly had enjoyed the assistance of the commissioners of the church of Scotland, all the time they had been debating and perfecting these four things mentioned in the Solemn League, viz. Their composing a Directory for Worship, an uniform Confession of Faith, a Form of Church Government and Discipline, and the Public Catechism; which was done in about a week after he and the rest returned home.
Upon the death of the learned Delmatius, anno 1651, the magistrates of Utrecht in Holland, being abundantly satisfied as to the learning, piety, and true zeal of the great Mr. Rutherfoord, invited him to the divinity chair there; but he could not be persuaded. His reasons elsewhere (when dissuading another gentleman from going abroad) seem to be expressed in these words; 'Let me intreat you to be far from the thoughts of leaving this land. I see it and find it, that the Lord hath covered the whole land with a cloud in his anger; but though I have been tempted to the like. I had rather be in Scotland beside angry Jesus Christ, (knowing he mindeth no evil to us) than in any Eden or garden on the earth. From which it is evident, that he chose rather to susser affliction in his native country, than to leave his charge and flock in time of danger. He continued with them till the day of his death, in the free and faithful discharge of his duty.
When the unhappy difference full out between those called the protesters and the public resolutioners, anno 1650 and 1651, he espoused the protesters' quarrel, and gave faithful warnings against these public resolutions, and likewise during the time of Cromwell's usurpation, he contended against the prevailing sectaries that then ushered in with the Protector by virtue of his Toleration. And such was his unwearied assiduity and diligence, that he seemed to pray constantly, to preach constantly, to catechise constantly, and to visit the sick, exhorting them from house to house: to teach as such in the schools, and spend as much time with the students and young men in sitting them for the Ministry, as if he had been fequestrate from all the world besides, and yet withal to write as much, as if he had been constantly shut up in his study.
But no sonner did the restoration of Charles II. take place, than the face of affairs began to change, and after his fore-mentioned book Lex Rex was burnt at the cross of Edinburgh, and at the gates of the new college of St. Andrews, where he was professor of divinity, the parliament, in 1661, were to have an indictment laid before then against him, and such was their humanity, (when every body knew he was a-dying) that they caused summon him to appear before them at Edinburgh, to answer to a charge of high treason : But he had a higher tribunal to appear before, where his Judge was his friend, and was dead before that time same, being taken away from the evil to come.
When on his death-bed, he lamented much that he was withheld from bearing witness to the work of reformation, since the year 1638, and upon the 8th of Feb. he gave a large and faithful testimoy* against the sinful courses of that time: which testimony he subcribed twelve days before his death, being full of joy and peace in believing.
During the time of his last sickness, he uttered many savoury speeches, and often broke out in a kind of sacred rapture, exalting and commending the Lord Jesus, especially when his end drew near. He often called him his blessed Master, his kingly King. Some days before his death, he said, 'I shall shine; I shall see him as he is; I shall see him reign, and all his fair company with him, and I shall have my large share. Mine eyes shall see my Redeemer; these very eyes of mine; and none
* This Testimony is printed immediately preceding this Account of his Life. other for me. This may seem a wide word: but it is no fancy nor delusion: it is true.———Let my Lord's name be exalted, and, if he will, let my name be grinded to pieces, that he may be all in all. If he should slay me ten thousand times, I will truft.'———He often repeated Jer. xv. 16. The words were found of me, and I did eat them.
When exhorting one to diligence, he said, 'I is no easy thing to be a Christian. For me, I have got the victory, and Christ is holding out both him arms to embrace me.' At another time, to some friends present, he said, 'At the beginning of my sufferings, I had mine own fears, like other sinse men, lest I should faint, and not be carried creditably through, and I laid this before the Lord, and as sure as ever he spoke to me in his word, as sure as his Spirit witnesseth to my heart, he hath accepted my sufferings. He said to me, Fear not the outgate shall not be simply matter of prayer but matter of praise. I said to the Lord, If he should slay me five thousand times five thousand, would trust in him: and I speak with much trembling, fearing I should not make my part good but as really as ever he spake to me by his Spirit he witnessed to my heart, that his grace should be sufficient.' The Thursday night before his death being much grieved with the state of the public he had this expression, 'Horror hath taken hold on me.' And afterwards, falling on his own condition, he said, 'I renounce all that ever he made me will and do, as defiled and imperfect, as coming from me; I betake myself to Christ for fanctification as well as justification:-Repeating those words, He is made of God to me wisdom, righteousness, &c.———adding, I close with it, let him be so, he is my all in all.
March 17th, three gentlewomen came to see him, and, after exhorting them to read the word. to be much in prayer, and much in communion with God, he said, 'My honourable Master and lovely Lord, my great royal King hath not a match in heaven nor in earth. I have my own guilt, like other sinful men; but he hath pardoned, loved, washed, and given me joy unspeakable and full of glory. I repent not that ever I owned his cause. These whom ye call Protesters, are the witnesses of Jesus Christ. I hope never to depart from that cause, nor side with those that have burnt the causes of God's wrath. They have broken their covenant oftener than once or twice; but I believe the Lord will build Zion, and repair the waste places of Jacob. Oh ! to obtain mercy to wrestle with God, for their eternal salvation. As for this presbytery, it hath stood in opposition to me these years past. I have my record in heaven, I had no particular end in view, but was seeking the honour of God, the thriving of the gospel in this place, and the good of the new college, that society which I have left upon the Lord. What personal wrongs they have done me, and what grief they have occasioned to me, I heartily forgive them, and desire mercy to wrestle with God for mercy to them, and for the salvation of them all.'
The same day, Messrs. James M'Gill, John Wardlaw, William Vilant, and Alexander Wed- erburn, all members of the same presbytery with him, coming to visit him, he made them welcome, and said, 'My Lord and Master is the chief of ten housand; none is comparable to him in heaven or aith. Dear brethren, do all for him ; preach for Christ, pray for Christ, feed the flock committed your charge for Christ: do all for Christ: beware of men-pleasing ; there is too much of it amongst us. The new college hath broke my heart, can say nothing of it; I have left it upon the Lord of the house, and it hath been, and still is my desire, that he may dwell in this society, and that the youth may be fed with found knowledge.' ———After this, he said, 'Dear brethren, it may seem presumptuous in me a particular man, to send a commission to a presbytery ;'———and Mr. M Gill replying, It was no presumption, he continued.——— 'Dear brethren, take a commission from me, a dying man, to them to appear for God and his cause, and adhere to the doctrine of the covenant, and have a care of the flock committed to their charge, let them feed the flock out of love, preach for God, visit and catechize for God, and do all for God: beware of men-pleasing, the chief Shepherd will appear shortly, &c. I have been a sinful man, and have had mine own failings; but my Lord hath pardoned and accepted my labours. I adhere to the cause and covenant; and resolve never to depart from the protestation * against the controverted assemblies. I am the man I was. I am still for keeping the government of the kirk of Scotland entire, and would not, for a thousand worlds, have had the least hand in the burning of the causes of God's wrath. Oh! for grace to wrestle with God for their salvation.'
Mr. Vilant having prayed at his desire, as they took their leave, he renewed his charge to them to feed the flock out of love. The next morning as he recovered out of a fainting, in which they who looked on, expected his dissolution, he said 'I feel, I feel, I believe, I joy and rejoice, I feast on manna.' Mr. Blair (whose praise is in the churches) being present, he took a little wine in spoon to refresh himself, being then very weak he said to him, 'Ye feed on dainties in heaven
* This appears to be these papers, bearing the name of representation, propositions, protestations, &c. given in by him and Messrs. Cant and Livingston, to the Ministers and Elders met at Edinburgh, July 24, 1054.
answered, They are all but dung; but they are Christ's creatures, and, out of obedience to his command, I take them.———Mine eyes shall see my Redeemer, I know he shall stand at the last day upon the earth, and I shall be caught up in the clouds to meet him in the air, and I shall be ever with him; and what would you have more? there is an end.' And stretching out his hands, he said again. 'There is an end.'———And a little after, he said, 'I have been a single man, but I stand at the best pass that ever a man did: Christ is mine, and I am his.'———And spoke much of the white stone and new name. Mr. Blair (who loved with all his heart to hear Christ commended) said to him again.———What think ye now of Christ?' To which he answered, 'I shall live and adore him. Glory, glory to my Creator and my Redeemer for ever! Glory shines in Emmanuel's land.' In the afternoon of that day, he said, 'Oh! that all my brethren in the public may know what a Master I have served, and what peace I have this day. I shall sleep in Christ, and when I awake, I shall be satisfied with his likeness, This night shall close the door, and put my anchor within the vail, and I shall go away in a deep by five of the clock in the morning,' (which exactly fell out). Tho' he was very weak, he had often this expression, 'Oh! for arms to embrace him! Oh! for a well tuned harp!' He exhorted Dr. Colvil (a man who complied with Prelacy afterward) to adhere to the government of the church of Scotland, and to the doctrine of the covenant, and to have a care to feed the youth with sound knowledge. And the doctor being the professor of the new college, he told him, That he heartily forgave him all the wrongs he had done him. He spoke likewise to Mr. Honeyman, (afterward bishop Honeyman) who came to see him, saying, 'Tell the presbytery to answer for God, and his cause and covenant,' saying, 'The case is desperate, let them be in their duty.'———Then directing his speech to Mr. Colvil and Mr. Honeyman, he said, 'Stick to it. You may think it an easy thing in me, a dying man, that am now going out of the reach of all that men can do; but He, before whom I stand, knows, that I dare advise no colleague or brother to do what I would not cordially do myself, upon all hazard; and as for the causes of God's wrath, that men have now condemned, tell Mr. James Wood from me, that I had rather lay down my head on a scaffold, and have it chopped off many times, (were it possible) before I had passed from them.' And then to Mr. Honeyman, he said,———'Tell Mr. Wood, I heartily forgive him all the wrongs he has done me, and desire him from me, to declare himself the man that he is still, for the government of the church of Scotland.'
Afterwards, when some spake to him of his former painfulness and faithfulness in the ministry, he said, 'I disclaim all that 'the port that I would be at, is redemption and forgiveness thro' his blood, Thou shall shew me the path of life, in thy sight is fulness of joy: there is nothing now betwixt me and the resurrection, but, To-day thou shalt be with me in paradise.' Mr. Blair saying, shall I praise the Lord for all the mercies he has done and is to do for you? He answered, 'Oh! for a well tuned harp.' To his child, he said, 'I have again left you upon the Lord: it may be, you will tell this to others, that the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, I have got a goodly heritage, I bless the Lord that he gave me counsel.'
Thus, by five o'clock in the morning, (as he himself foretold) it was said unto him, Come up hither, and he gave up the ghost, and the renowned eagle took its flight unto the mountains spices.
In the foresaid manner died the famous Mr. Rutherfoord, who may justly be accounted among the sufferers of that time; for surely he was a martyr both in his own design and resolution, and for the design and determination of men. Few men ever ran so long a race without cessation, so constantly, so unweariedly, and so unblameably. two things (rarely to be found in one man) were ainent in him, viz. a quick invention and sound judgement, and these accompained with a homely, clear expression, and graceful elocution; so at such as knew him best, were in a strait whether to admire him most for his penetrating wit and sublime genius in the schools, and peculiar factness in disputes and matters of controversy, his familar condescension in the pulpit, where was one of the most moving and affectionate preachers in his time, or perhaps in any age of the church.———To sum up all in one word. He seems to be one of the most resplendent lights that ever ose in this horizon.
In all his writings, he breathes the true spirit of religion, but in his every way admirable letters, he is to have outdone himself, as well as every body else. which although jested on by the prone wits of this age, because of some homely and miliar expressions in them, it must be owned, by who have any relish for true piety, that they attain such sublime flights of devotion, that they most at once ravish and edify every sober, serious, and understanding reader.
Among the posthumous works of the laborious Mr. Rutherfoord, are, his letters; the trial and triumph of faith; Christ's dying and drawing of sinners, &c; and a discourse on prayer; all in oct. A discourse on the covenant; on liberty of conscience; a survey of spiritual antichrist; a survey of antinomianism; antichrist stormed; and several other controverted pieces, such as Lex Rex the due right of church-government; the divin right of church-government, and a peaceable place for presbytery; are for the most part in quarto, also his summary of church-discipline, and a tretise on the divine influence of the Spirit. The are also a variety of his sermons in print, some which were preached before both houses of parliament, annis 1644 and 1645. He wrote all upon providence, but this being in Latin, is on in the hands of a few; as are also the greater past of his other works, being so seldom re-published There is also a volume of sermons, sacrament discourses, &c. not yet published.
An EPITAPH on his Grave-stone.
What tongue! what pen, or skill of men
Can famous Rutherfoord commend!
His learning justly rais'd his fame,
True goodness did adorn his name,
He did converse with things above,
Acquainted with Emmanuel's love.
Most orthodox he was and found,
And many errors did confound.
For Zion's King, and Zion's cause,
And Scotland's covenanted laws,
Most constantly he did contend,
Until his time was at an end.
At last he war to full fruition
Of that which he had seen in vision.
October 9th, 1735.
F I N I S.
G L A S G O W.
PRINTED BY J. AND M. ROBERTSON, (No. 18.) SALTMARK