Those in this house who have followed all this with that intense and intelligent sympathy that a somewhat similar experience alone will give, will not be stumbled to read what Rutherford says in his letter to his near neighbour, William Glendinning: ’I see nothing in this life but sin, sin and the sour fruits of sin. O what a miserable bondage it is to be at the nod and beck of Sin!’ Nor will they wonder to read in his letter to Lady Boyd, that she is to be sorry all her days on account of her inborn and abiding corruptions. Nor, again, that he himself was sick at his heart, and at the very yolk of his heart, at sin, dead-sick with hatred and disgust at sin, and correspondingly sick with love and longing after Jesus Christ. Nor, again, that he awoke ill every morning to discover that he had not yet awakened in his Saviour’s sinless likeness. Nor will you wonder, again, at the seraphic flights of love and worship that Samuel Rutherford, who was so poisoned with sin, takes at the name and the thought of his divine Physician. For to Rutherford that divine Physician has promised to come ’the second time without sin unto salvation.’ The first time He came He sucked the poison of sin out of the souls of sinners with His own lips, and out of all the enjoyments that He had sanctified and prepared for them in heaven. And He is coming back—He has now for a long time come back and taken Rutherford home to that sanctification that seemed to go further and further away from Rutherford the longer he lived in this sin-poisoned world. And, amongst all those who are now home in heaven, I cannot think there can be many who are enjoying heaven with a deeper joy than Samuel Rutherford’s sheer, solid, uninterrupted, unadulterated, and unmitigated joy.
’Put off a sin or a piece of a sin every day.’—Rutherford.
If that gaunt old tower of Cardoness Castle could speak, and would tell us all that went on within its walls, what a treasure to us that story would be! Even the sighs and the meanings that visit us from among its mouldering stones tell us things that we shall not soon forget. They tell us how hard a task old John Gordon found salvation to be in that old house; and they tell us still, to deep sobs, how hard it was to him to see the sins and faults of his own youth back upon him again in the sins and faults of his son and heir. Old John Gordon’s once so wild heart was now somewhat tamed by the trials of life, by the wisdom and the goodness of his saintly wife, and not least by his close acquaintance with Samuel Rutherford; but the comfort of all that was dashed from his lips by the life his eldest son was now living. Cardoness had always liked a good proverb, and there was a proverb in the Bible he often repeated to himself in those days as he went about his grounds: ’The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’