‘Challenges’ is another of Rutherford’s technical terms that he constantly uses to his expert correspondents. ’I was under great challenges,’ he says, in this same letter; and in a letter written the same month of March to William Rigg, of Athernie, he says, ’Old challenges revive, and cast all down.’ Dr. Andrew Bonar, Rutherford’s expert editor, gives this glossary upon these passages: ’Charges, self-upbraidings, self-accusations.’ Challenges of conscience came to Rutherford like these: ’Why art thou writing letters of counsel to other men? Counsel thyself first. Why art thou appealed to and trusted and loved by God’s best people in Scotland, when thou knowest that thou art a Cain in malice and a Judas in treachery, all but the outbreaks? Why art thou taking thy cross so easily, when thou knowest the unsettled controversy the Lord still has with thee?’ ‘Hall binks are slippery,’ wrote stern old Knockbrex, challenging his old minister for his too great joy. ‘Old challenges now and then revive and cast all down again.’ That reminds me of a fine passage in that great book of Rutherford’s, Christ Dying, where he shows us how to take out a new charter for all our possessions, and for the salvation of our souls themselves when our salvation, or our possessions and our right to them, is challenged. It is better, he says, to hold your souls and your lands by prayer than by obedience, or conquest, or industry. Have you wisdom, honour, learning, parts, eloquence, godliness, grace, a good name, wife, children, a house, peace, ease, pleasure? Challenge yourself how you got them, and see that you hold them by an unchallengeable charter, even by prayer, and then by grace. And if you hold these things by any other charter, hasten to get a new conveyance made and a new title drawn out. And thus old, and angry, and threatening challenges will work out a charter that cannot be challenged.
And, then, when George Gillespie was lying on his deathbed in Edinburgh, with his pillow filled with stinging apprehensions, as is often the case with God’s best servants and ripest saints, hear how his old friend, now professor of divinity in St. Andrews, writes to him:—
’My reverend and dear brother, look to the east. Die well. Your life of faith is just finishing. Finish it well. Let your last act of faith be your best act. Stand not upon sanctification, but upon justification. Hand all your accounts over to free grace. And if you have any bands of apprehension in your death, recollect that your apprehensions are not canonical.’ And the dying man answered: ’There is nothing that I have done that can stand the touchstone of God’s justice. Christ is my all, and I am nothing.’
XIX. JOHN FERGUSHILL
’Ho, ye that have no money,
come and buy in the poor man’s