John Rusk

The Diary Of John Rusk

Gospel Standard 1849:

Among the manuscripts of Rusk in our possession is his Diary. It is not very full nor long; but, as a record of his daily experience, we have thought it might be interesting and profitable. It has, also, the additional value of recording some of Huntington’s texts and remarks, of whom, we need hardly say, Rusk was a constant and most attentive hearer.—Editors


1807, Sunday, Aug. 23rd, was a very uncomfortable day to me, and I know the cause; for “the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.” Mr. Brook preached in the morning from these words: “A man shall be a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the storm;” but I cannot say I got much.

In the evening, he preached from, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man.” I was shaken when he gave out the text. It was thus suggested to me: “Now, do you think you can stand this? Here is to be a searching discourse; and how if you are forced to go out, unable to stand it?” Here Satan plied me hard: and I prayed as well as I could, “Lord, enable me to hear the truth, to stand the trial;” but, I assure you, I found it hard work; yet I was helped, though it was sharp work, Satan being permitted so to interpret what I was hearing about a hypocrite as to make it appear to mean me. But I found some good in the last prayer.

Monday Morning, August 24.—When I first awoke I had an impression that it was God’s intention, when His word is preached faithfully and we are searched, that we should be condemned in our feelings on all hands, and that trying to hold up our heads in this respect was standing out against God; and this text, I think, confirms it: “Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies, whereby the people fall under thee.” Mark! fall under thee. And at the back of this I found a remarkable taking of God’s part against myself, and I seemed to feel for his honour. This went on by degrees till I got lower and lower, and at last I think I was remarkably low, and seemed to lie passive in the hands of God. This continued till near dinner time, when I began to read a little book called Matlock’s Broad Way to Hell, being written on the text which I had heard preached from on the Sunday evening. I found myself very uncomfortable indeed. Whether this distress came from the book I cannot tell, but I got more and more distressed; and from three o’clock till a quarter before five I was sorely tried.

Between these hours I withdrew for a few minutes’ prayer, and said as follows: “Lord, thou hast said, ‘When the enemy comes in like a flood, that we shall not be tempted above that we are able.’ Lord, give me power against Satan. Lord, keep me from despair. Lord, support me.” When I went home to tea I was a little better: and I thought how valuable the promises were. What could we do if there were no promises in such trying ‘times? I read Psalms 69, 70, 71, and this verse seem to fix on my mind: “But my prayer shall be to thee in an acceptable time.” I was led to see that it is particularly an acceptable time with God, when we are drinking of the cup he drank of; that this is a particular time, because we do it from a feeling sense. Take notice, in that humble frame in the morning, I found very far from a spirit hurrying to be delivered, but was contented to live in that state as long as God should see tit, finding such a revenge against myself for my sin; and at that time, I rather thought deliverance was near, because it says in Scriptures, “If they shall accept the punishment of the iniquity.” But I found it different, as you have read.

Sunday, August 30th.—I was at the tea-room in the afternoon, where I heard three people arguing about these words: “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” One of them said he thought it meant that there was a holy trembling mixed with the joy. I was in another part of the room, and heard all this; and wondered in my mind what it could mean. I knew there was no trembling where perfect love was enjoyed in the soul; and so said one of the three, in answer to him that explained it; but after some time my thoughts were led as follows. See Psalm 2.

Now, take notice of the 3rd verse: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” We will take these bands in four particulars,

1. The blessed Spirit’s operation in the heart. Now, it is said that the Spirit of God was without measure on Christ. But what said the pharisees? “Because,” they said, “he had an unclean spirit.” Again: “He hath a devil, (say they,) and is mad; why hear ye him?” And with respect to his members, look at Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, and they fighting against him; as he says, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as did your fathers, so do ye.” Now, it says in Scripture, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit;” but what do they say? “Let us break their bands.” Because Simon Magus was destitute of this Spirit, he is declared to be in the bonds of iniquity.

2. Another band is truth. Paul says, “Having your loins girt about with truth;” but these rejected Him who was truth itself.

3. Another band is peace. In Ephesians 4:3, we read of “the bond of peace.” Now, they trampled on Him that was the only Person that made peace between God and man. Hence it is said, “He made peace by the blood of his cross.”

4. Love is another band. “Charity is the bond of all perfectness;” but as for them, Christ says they hated both Him and his Father.

Now, as these are the bands, how did they try to break them? Why, as follows:

First, They called themselves children of God, and said that God was their Father, when at the same time they blasphemed the blessed Spirit. It is only our having that blessed Spirit that will enable us to call God, Father. Paul says, “God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Secondly, They professed to have the truth, and to write it for others; whereas, at the same time Christ told them they were the servants of sin; and they declared they were never in bondage to any. Thus they were filled with lies.

Thirdly, They tried to break the peace of all his followers, in that they called them the cursed of God, whereas God had blessed and will bless his people with peace.

Lastly, Their enmity was so great that, as I said before, they hated both Him and his Father. And yet they thought by killing the saints to do God service. This is breaking, or trying to break, the bands of the saints.

And so it was in the text that we are more concerned with, namely, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Now, these Pharisees pretended to serve God, and that by killing the saints, for “they will think they do God service.” But what says Malachi: “If I am a master, where is my fear?” Therefore, if you serve God, it must be with fear; for “what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

Again. Every one of them that rejoiced in John’s light for a season, together with the way-side hearers, thought it was the right joy. Now, what is joy? Why, the overflowing of love; and love is the band that binds up a broken heart. But it is only his heart that is broken who first trembles at God’s word. As much as if he had said, “You are full of joy.” And so is every hypocrite, though his joy is like the “crackling of thorns under a pot.”

Read wherever you will in Scripture, though I believe that we cannot rejoice and tremble under one influence, yet the man that has real joy has likewise trembling, both before and after. Now, look at the jailor. It is said he came in trembling, but how was it after? Why, he rejoiced with all his house. Take the following text: “The angel said to John, Take this little book;” and John says, “It was sweet in my mouth”—there’s joy; “but after I ate it my belly was bitter”—there’s trembling.

Again. “The heart knoweth its own bitterness, but a stranger (or a Pharisee) intermeddleth not with its joys.” Therefore they must go together, though not under one influence.

Again. “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” The wine and bread are life and love: “I am the bread of life;” and “My love is better than wine.” But you will find, when I withdraw, you will have a fast: and what with corruption within, and Satan, and the world, you will often tremble. And as you will often fall into many besetting sins, and your heart will be hardened through their deceitfulness, which will occasion much reproof and rebuke, and much crossing, to break it, this will often make you tremble. Thus it is mingled. 

But again. “Eat of the bread,” there’s joy: “Dip thy morsel in the vinegar,” that’s sour: “All thy garments smell of myrrh,” there’s joy. “Aloes,” there’s trembling; “the day of prosperity,” there’s joy; “and the day of adversity,” there’s trembling. May God pardon what is amiss! I submit it to the church of Christ, if wrong, and add no more.

Sunday, April 18th, 1807.—It was Ordinance Sunday, and a barren day to my soul; for I felt a deal of pride and enmity, or dislike, to it all, and was not sorry when it was over. I went home, but my barrenness went with me. I was backward to prayer, reading, &c.

On the Monday I was sorely tempted to despair—had doubts and fears, together with heart-risings against God. My hope was greatly shaken; went to prayer at tea-time, and thought when I began, “It is of no use; I am so very vile, God will not look on me.” But I found a fresh revival in answer to a few broken petitions, put up with great reluctance. This encouraged me, and revived my hope greatly.

Tuesday evening, Mr. Huntington preached about the talents in Matthew 25. I heard pretty well that evening.

But on the Wednesday, how Satan did set in! “You,” said he, “are one of the ‘one talent’ people.” My very hope shook “Lord, keep me from despair,” said I. “Lord, keep me in the hour of temptation.” “Well,” said Satan, “you will go mad—and now it is coming on.” O how I trembled! This was in the warehouse.

On Thursday morning, when going to breakfast, it came on my mind: “Every sin in us has a root;” and I thought a good deal about original sin. I said to my wife, “God has effectually convinced me of sin.” And I began to find faith go out towards Christ. Well, I went in the yard, and these words came to my mind: “He putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.” And it was made out to me thus: that confessing with all our heart our sin, was putting our mouth in the dust; for dust in Scripture signifies sin, as he said, “Dust shall be the serpent’s meat.” Which is, the sins of God’s people, which the devil feeds on. Now, the mouth is used in confession; and when I can say with David, “Behold, I was born in sin, and shapen in iniquity; against thee, thee only, have I sinned,” my mouth and sins meet; my mouth is then in the dust. But say you, “Does hope spring up when this is the case?” Yes; take David again, and he will prove it. Says Nathan, “Thou art the man.” Then David’s mouth went into the dust directly: “I have sinned against the Lord.” Then up comes hope: “And God hath put away thy sin.” Now, this was God’s word by Nathan. Well, hope stands on God’s word: “Remember the word to thy servant, upon which thou has caused me to hope.” But this was the text that comforted me: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins;”—there’s the dust. “Confessing;” there is the mouth. “Cleansing us from all unrighteousness;” “Of his mercy he saves us,” says Paul, “by the washing of regeneration.” And this mercy and regeneration are joined with hope. God takes pleasure in them that fear him, and in them that hope in his mercy. Now, this was my comfort: I knew I was the person that put my mouth in the dust, and I sensibly felt a reviving of hope. I should have mentioned that I got a little revival when reading Lamentations 3, Wednesday, at tea-time. This is Saturday evening, and I have not sunk so low since. Bless God for ever so little of a good hope!

Good Friday, April 15th, 1808.—There is something in a hypocrite that, let a saint go as far as he may in experience, this hypocrite will try to counterfeit him. It is not very easy to find such people out; none but God can reveal them to us. Now, I will make two columns, and you will see, according to Scripture, how there is some­ thing in the old man and the devil that mimics the work of God:

The Old Man

The carnal mind at enmity. 

Thomas’s unbelief.

“My hope is perished”

“For peace, great bitterness”

“We see not our signs”

“Dumb from good words”

Hezekiah’s heart

Lifted up in the ways of God

David going to kill Nabal

Free among the dead

Joshua’s filthy garments

Sampson went out and shook himself

I am not inferior to you

Iniquities prevail

“Covetousness” (Ephraim)

Will of the flesh

Flesh lusteth against the spirit



Hard heart

Love waxing cold

David cowardly flying from Absalom

Buffeted for faults

Carnal ease

If you die by nature in your sins

Drawn away of lust

The New Man

“Thou knows I love thee”

And then, “My Lord and my God”

“Abound in hope”

“Let the peace of God reign”

“I have more understanding than my teachers”

“Spake as the Spirit gave utterance”

“What am I or my father’s house?”

Merciful men taken away

“Live by the faith of the Son of God”

“He has set my feet on a rock”

“He hath covered me”

“I will go in the strength of the Lord”

“Less than the least”

Grace reigns

“Liberal deviseth liberal things”

Willing in the day of power

The spirit


“He that loveth knoweth God”


“Zealous of good works”

Bold against Goliath

Persecuted for righteousness

My sin a sore burden

“We have received the atonement”

“By the grace of God I am what I am”

The Hypocrite

A dissembled love

A feigned faith

The hope of the hypocrite shall perish

The strong man’s goods in peace

The lamp of the wicked put out

“The prating fool shall fall”

A voluntary humility

Tender mercies of the wicked

A name to live, but dead

Promise liberty to others

“Going about to establish a righteousness of their own”

Strong men and humbleth himself

Saul, “I have sinned”

“When saw we thee a hungered and did not feed”

I go, sir, but went not

The heathen’s thoughts and conscience

Untimely fruit

Knowledge puffeth up

Psalm 55:21—Ahithophel

“Come, see my zeal”

“Some would dare to die”

Alexander suffered much

“My punishment more than I can bear”

Pure in their own eyes

Diotrophes loved to have the preeminence 

John Rusk (1772-1834) was a sovereign grace believer. Although he was not a preacher of the gospel, being a sail-maker by trade, yet he contributed many articles on biblical subjects, printed in magazines such as the Gospel Standard.