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XXX. To JOIN STUART, Provost of Ayr

WORTHY AND DEAR BELOVED IN OUR LORD, — Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. I was refreshed and comforted by your letter. What I wrote to you for your comfort, I do not remember. I wish I could help you to praise His great and holy name, who keepeth the feet of His saints and has numbered all your goings. I know our dearest Lord will pardon and pass by our honest errors and mistakes when we mind His honor; yet I know none of you have seen the other half and the hidden side of your wonderful return home to us again. I am confident you shall yet say that God’s mercy blew your sails back to Ireland again.

Worthy and dear sir, I cannot but give you an account of my present state that you may go an errand for me to my high and royal Master. First, I am very often turning both the sides of my cross, especially my dumb and silent Sabbaths; not because I desire to find a defect in my Lord’s love, but fear of guiltiness is a tale-bearer between me and Christ, and is still whispering ill thoughts of my Lord, to weaken my faith. I would rather a cloud went over my comforts than that my faith should be hurt; for if my Lord get no wrong by me, I verily desire grace not to care what becomes of me. Hence these thoughts awake with me in the morning and go to bed with me. O what service can a dumb body do in Christ’s house! O I am a dry tree! If I might but speak to three or four herd boys of my worthy Master, I would be satisfied to be the meanest and most obscure of all the pastors in this land, and to live in any place, in any of Christ’s basest outhouses! But He saith, ‘Sirrah, I will not send you, I have no errands for you thereaway.’ My desire to serve Him is sick of jealousy, lest He be unwilling to employ me Secondly, This is seconded by another. Oh! all that I have done in Anwoth, the fair work that my Master began there, is like a bird dying in the shell; and what will I then have to show of all my labour, in the day of my compearance before Him, when the Master of the vineyard calleth the laborers, and giveth them their hire? Thirdly, But truly, when Christ’s sweet wind is in the right airth, I repent, and I pray Christ to take law burrows of my quarrelous unbelieving sadness and sorrow. But I wish He would give me grace to learn to go on my own feet and to learn to do without His comforts, and to give thanks and believe, when the sun is not in my firmament, and when my Well-beloved is from home, and gone another errand.

Now, for any resolution to go to any other kingdom, I dare not speak one word. My hopes of enlargement are cold, my hopes of reentry to my Master’s ill-dressed vineyard again are far colder. I have no seat for my faith to sit upon but bare omnipotence and God’s holy arm and goodwill. Here I desire to stay and ride at anchor and winter, while God send fair weather again. But there will be sad days see it come to that. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you.

ABERDEEN, 1637

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