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by Samuel Rutherford
Fire and Ice: Comfort in Mourning (Letter 37)
To Lady Kenmure (on the death of her husband),
My Very Noble And Worthy Lady,
I often call to mind the comforts that I, a poor friendless stranger, received from your ladyship here in a strange part of the country, when my Lord took from me the delight of mine eyes (Ezek. 24:16). Although my wound is not yet fully healed and cured, I trust that your Lord, remembering what He did for me, will give you comfort now that He has made you a widow. This has happened in order that you may be a free woman for Christ, who is now seeking the love of your true heart. Therefore, when you lie alone in your bed, let Christ be as a bundle of myrrh, to sleep and lie all the night between your breasts (Cant. 1:13).
Christian Character Proven in Suffering
Consider, that of all the crosses spoken of in our Lord's Word, this one gives you a special right to make God your Husband (which was not so yours while your husband was alive). Therefore try to read God's mercy out of this visitation; however I must say from the depths of my own suffering that the mourning for the husband of your youth is, as God' says Himself, the heaviest worldly sorrow (Joel 1:8). But though this be the heaviest burden that ever lay upon your back, yet you know that if we will wait upon Him who hides His face for a while, it lies upon God's honour and truth to be a Husband to the widow. See and consider then what you have lost, in proportion to eternity. Madam, let me implore you, in the bowels of Christ Jesus, and by the comforts of His Spirit, and because you know that in the future you will appear before him: let God, and men, and angels now see what is in you. The Lord has pierced the vessel; it will be known whether there be in it wine or water. Let your faith and patience be seen, that it may be known your only beloved first and last has been Christ.
The Suitable Object of Your Love
Therefore, now cast your whole love upon Jesus Christ; He alone is a suitable object for your love and all the affections of your soul. God has dried up one channel of your love by the removal of your husband. Let now that river run upon Christ. I dare say that God's hammering of you from your youth is only to make you a fair carved stone in the high upper temple of the New Jerusalem. Your Lord never thought this world's worthless, imitation glory a gift worthy of you; and therefore would not bestow it on you, because he is offering you a better portion. Let the small change go; the great inheritance is yours. You are a child of the house, and joy is laid up for you; it is long in coming, but none the worse for that. I am now expecting to see, and that with joy and comfort, that which I hoped of you: that you have laid such strength upon the Holy One of Israel, that you defy troubles, and that your soul is a castle that may be besieged, but cannot be taken.
Fire and Ice
After all, why do you think this world is so important? This world has never treated you like a friend. You owe it little love. Why you should you go courting after it? The world will never be a faithful partner to you. Never seek warm fire under cold ice. This is not a field where your happiness grows; it is up above, where there are a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands (Rev. 7:9). What you could never get here you shall find there. Consider how in all these trials (and truly they have been many) your Lord has been loosening you at the root from perishing things, and hunting after you to grip your soul. Madam, for the Son of God's sake, do not weaken His grip on you, but stay and abide in the love of God, as Jude says (Jude 21).
Lift Up Your Head - Farewell
Now, Madam, I hope your Ladyship will not be offended by anything I have said. If I have failed your Ladyship, it is because I did not live up to your generous love and respect, and I beg a full pardon for it. Again, my dear and noble lady, let me beseech you to lift up your head, for the day of your redemption draws near. Remember, that star that shined in Galloway is now shining in another world. Now I pray that God may answer, in His own way, to your soul, and that He may be to you the God of all consolations.
Thus I remain,
Your Ladyship's at all dutiful obedience in the Lord,
Anwoth, Scotland Sept. 14, 1634.
A Brief Life and Times of Samuel Rutherford
An Index to the Letters of Samuel Rutherford at Fire and Ice.
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