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Selection from his Letters
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LX. To LADY KENMURE, on the death of her son, John, second Viscount Kenmure

MADAM, — Grace, mercy, and peace, be to you. I know that you are near many comforters, and that the promised Comforter is near at hand also; yet because I found your Ladyship comfortable to myself in my sad days, that are not yet over my head, it is my part, and more in many respects (howbeit I can do little, God knoweth, in that kind), to speak to you in your wilderness-lot. I know, dear and noble lady, this loss of your dear child came upon you one piece and part of it after another; and that you were looking for it, and that now the Almighty has brought on you that which you feared; and that your Lord gave you lawful warning: and I hope for his sake who brewed and masked this cup in heaven, you will gladly drink, and salute and welcome the cross. I am sure it is not your Lord’s mind to feed you with judgment and wormwood, and to give you waters of gall to drink (Jer. 9.15). I know that your cup is sugared with mercy; and that the withering of the bloom, the flower, even the white and red of worldly joys, is for no other end, but to secure the reversion of your heart and love. Madam, subscribe to the Almighty’s will: put your hand to the pen, and let the cross of your Lord Jesus have your submissive and resolute amen. If you ask and try whose this cross is, I dare say that it is not all your own, the best half of it is Christ’s. If Christ and ye be halvers of this suffering, and He say, ‘Half Mine’, what should ail you? And I am sure that I am here right upon the style of the word of God: ‘The fellowship of Christ’s sufferings’ (Phil. 3.1O); ‘Tho remnant of the afflictions of Christ’ (Col. 1.24); ‘The reproach of Christ’ (Heb. 11.26). It were but to shift the comforts of God, to say, ‘Christ had never such a cross as mine: He had never a dead child, and so this is not His cross; neither can He, in that meaning, be the owner of this cross.’ But the word maketh no exception. ‘In all their afflictions He was afflicted’ (Isa. 63.9). It may be, that ye think not many of the children of God in such a hard case as yourself; but what would ye think of some, who would exchange afflictions? But I know that yours must be your own alone, and Christ’s together.

I confess it seemed strange to me, that your Lord should have done that which seemed to ding out the bottom of your worldly comforts; but we see not the ground of the Almighty’s sovereignty. ‘He goeth by on our right hand, and on our left hand, and we see Him not.’ We see but pieces of the broken links of the chains of His providence; and he coggeth the wheels of His own providence, that we see not. Do not wonder to see the Judge of the world weave, into one web, your mercies and the judgments of the house of Kenmure. He can make one web of contraries.

I would gladly plead for the Comforter’s part of it, not against you, Madam, but against your grief, which will have its own violent incursions in your soul: and I think it be not in your power to help it. But I must say, there are comforts allowed upon you; and, therefore, want them not. It is a Christian art to comfort yourself in the Lord; to say,

I was obliged to render back again this child to the Giver: and if I have had four years’ loan of him, and Christ eternity’s possession of him, the Lord has kept condition with me. If my Lord would not have him and me to tryst both in one hour at death’s door-threshold together, it is His wisdom so to do; I am satisfied. My tryst is suspended, not broken off, nor given up.’ Madam, I would that I could divide sorrow with you, for your ease. But I am but a beholder: it is easy to me to speak; the God of comfort speak to you, and allure you with His feasts of love.

My removal from my flock is so heavy to me, that it maketh my life a burden to me; I had never such a longing for death. The Lord help and hold up sad clay.

Madam, desire my Lord Argyle to see for provision to a pastor for his poor people. Grace be with you.

KIRKCUDBRIGHT, Oct, 1, 1639

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