What shall I say in this great day of the Lord, wherein in the midst of a cloud, I have found a fair sunshine? I can wish no more for you, but that the Lord may comfort you, and shine upon you as he does upon me, and give you that same sense of his love in staying in the world, as I have in going out of it.
Letter of Archibald Campbell, ninth earl of Argyll, Covenanter, to his daughter-in-law Lady Sophia Lindsay, written on the day of his execution in Edinburgh [27th May 1661].I love the writings of Jock Purves on the Scottish Covenanters. But it is worth remembering that not all enjoyed the sweet experience, or, as Archibald Campbell put it, 'fair sunshine', of the love of God, or, at least, not to the same extent:
Jock Purves writes of James Renwick's overcoming 'poverty-stricken sense' and reading love in God's heart when his face appears to frown. This is a noble passage. It helps to balance faith and sight, and reminds us that, here below, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). John Bunyan's Greatheart tells us of Mr Fearing, 'I took notice of what was very remarkable; the water of that river was lower this time than ever I saw it in all my life. So he went over at last, not much above wet shod.' And that is lovely. James Renwick was not Mr Fearing, but he knew that Someone would measure out the waters for him too, and his cry of faith was, 'Our Jordan is before us; it will be very deep, but it will not be very broad.' He lived by the faith of the Son of God, 'Away with poverty-stricken sense,' he said, 'which ever constructs God's heart to be as his face. Faith is a noble thing; it soars high, it can read love in God's heart when his face frowns.' The Cross of Christ was his joy, 'I have found Christs's Cross sweet and lovely, I have had many joyful hours and not a fearful thought since I came hither.' [He had been sentenced to death at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh the following week.]