XIV. JOHN GORDON OF RUSCO
’Remember these seven things.’—Rutherford.
There were plenty of cold Covenanters, as they were called, in Kirkcudbright in John Gordon’s day, but the laird of Rusco was not one of them. Rusco Castle was too near Anwoth Kirk and Anwoth Manse, and its owner had had Samuel Rutherford too long for his minister and his near neighbour to make it possible for him to be ’ane cold covenanter quha did not do his dewtie in everything committed to his charge thankfullie and willinglie.’ We find Gordon of Rusco giving good reasons indeed, as he thought, why he should not be sent out of the Stewartry on the service of the covenant, but the war committee ‘expelled his resounes’ and instantly commanded his services. And from all we can gather out of the old Minute Book, Rusco played all the noble part that Rutherford expected of him in the making of Scotland and in the salvation of her kirk.
Like the Psalmist in the hundred and second Psalm, we take pleasure in the stones of Rusco Castle, and we feel a favour to the very dust thereof. Even in Rutherford’s day that rugged old pile was sacred and beautiful to the eyes of Rutherford and his people, because of what the grace of God had wrought within its walls; and, both for that, and for much more like that, both in Rutherford’s own day and after it, we also look with awe and with desire at the ruined old mansion-house. A hundred years before John Gordon bade Rusco farewell for heaven, we find a friend of John Knox’s on his deathbed there, and having a departure from his deathbed administered to him there as confident and as full of a desire to depart as John Knox’s own. ’The Last and Heavenly Speeches of John, Viscount Kenmure’ also still echo through the deserted rooms of Rusco, and after he had gone up from it we find still another Gordon there with his wife and children and farm-tenants, all warm Covenanters, and all continuing the Rusco tradition of godliness and virtue. At the same time Samuel Rutherford was not the man to take it for granted that John Gordon and his household were all saved and home in heaven because they lived within such sacred walls and were all church members and warm Covenanters. He was only the more anxious about the Gordon family because they had such an ancestry and were all bidding so fair to leave behind them such a posterity. And thus it is that, from his isle of Patmos, Samuel Rutherford, like the apostle John to his seven churches, sends to John Gordon seven things that are specially to be remembered and laid to heart by the laird of Rusco.