Samuel Rutherford eBook

Alexander Whyte
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 219 pages of information about Samuel Rutherford.

Old Cardoness had been a passionate man all his days; he was an old man before he began to curb his passionate heart; and long after he was really a man of God, the devil easily carried him captive with his besetting sin.  He bit his tongue till it bled as often as he recollected the shameful day when he swore at his minister in the rack-renting dispute.  And he never rode past Kirkdale Church without sinning again as he plunged the rowels into his mare’s unoffending sides.  Cardoness did not read Dante, else he would have said to himself that his anger often filled his heart with hell’s dunnest gloom.  The old Castle was never well lighted; but, with a father and a son in it like Cardoness and his heir, it was sometimes like the Stygian pool itself.  Rutherford had need to write to her ladyship to have a soft answer always ready between such a father and such a son.  If you have the Inferno at hand, and will read what it says about the Fifth Circle, you will see what went on sometimes in that debt-drained and exasperated house.  Rutherford was far away from Cardoness Castle, but he had memory enough and imagination enough to see what went on there as often as fresh provocation arose; and therefore he writes to young Gordon to put off a piece of his fiery anger every day.  ’Let no complaining tenants, let no insulting letter, let no stupid or disobedient servant, let no sudden outburst of your father, let no peevish complaint of your wife make you angry.  Remember every day that sudden and savage anger is one of your besetting sins:  and watch against it, and put a piece of it off every day.  Determine not to speak back to your father even if he is wrong and is doing a wrong to you and to your mother; your anger will not make matters better:  hold your peace, till you can with decency leave the house, and go out to your horses and dogs till your heart is again quiet.’

Rutherford was not writing religious commonplaces when he wrote to Cardoness Castle; if he had, we would not have been reading his letters here to-night.  He wrote with his eye and his heart set on his correspondents.  And thus it is that ‘night-drinking’ occurs again and again in his letters to young Gordon.  The Cardoness bill to Dumfries for drink was a heavy one; but it seems never to have occurred, even to the otherwise good people of those days, that strong drink was such a costly as well as such a dangerous luxury.  It distresses and shocks us to read about ‘midnight drinking’ in Cardoness Castle, and in the houses round about, after all they had come through, but there it is, and we must not eviscerate Rutherford’s outspoken letters.  The time is not so far past yet with ourselves when we still went on drinking, though we were in debt for the necessaries of life, and though our sons reeled home from company we had made them early acquainted with.  If you will not even yet pass the wine altogether, take a little less every day, and the good conscience it will give you will make up for the forbidden bouquet; till, as Rutherford said to Gordon, ’You will more easily master the remainder of your corruptions.’

Project Gutenberg
Samuel Rutherford from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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