Mrs. Janet (Mure) Carstairs: 'A Dearest and Most Kind Friend'
"I desire to bless Him that ever He was pleased to cast our lot together, that He found you out a help meet for me: you were never a temptation to me, nor an obstruction to me either in my ministerial or Christian course…" (Written by Mr. John Carstairs to his wife Janet in November of 1662.)
Janet Mure was born in February of 1625 in Scotland; she was the sister of Margaret Durham, who was married to James Durham, the well known theologian and respected minister of the Presbyterian Church.
Janet married Mr. John Carstairs, who became one of the persecuted non-conformist ministers of the Gospel, at the age of 22 or 23 years. Together they had seven children: three sons and four daughters.
Most of what we know about Janet Carstairs is derived from the letters she and her husband wrote to each other during the period of time when he was forced to flee Scotland due to persecution for his adherence to the Presbyterian faith.
Their letters reveal a strong, heroic woman who loved and respected her husband; one who willingly stood behind him as he stood firmly on his religious convictions during a perilous period of Christian history when many weaker men were known to capitulate. Freedom to Worship God according to one’s conscience was at stake, and we owe our present freedom of religion to men like John Carstairs and women like his wife Janet.
In one letter, Mr. Carstairs addresses his wife, Janet, as "My dearest and most kind friend." This is an expression which bears testimony to the loving relationship she had with her husband who trusted her implicitly. Their marriage was built upon the solid Rock of Christ Jesus and He was the source of their love for each other. Even though the Carstairs lived during the tumultuous time of the Scottish persecution and they faced many hardships, including separation, their hearts remained steadfast and pure with peace which can only be found in Christ Jesus.
Janet wrote this to her husband during their separation in the fall of 1667 which bears witness to a faithful Christian testimony:
"My dearest friend… I bless the Lord nothing troubles me…‘the lines are fallen to me in a most pleasant place, and I have a goodly heritage.’ I think my lot very far above the lot of my adversaries! Blessed be God… My dear, let us willingly cleave to him, and suffer for him. We owe him much…"
I pray marriages will be strengthened and we will learn from the example set by Mr. and Mrs. John Carstairs who loved God and each other during both good and bad times, and who remained each other’s dearest and most kind friend.
You can read more of Mr. and Mrs. John Carstairs letters in the book "The Ladies of the Covenant: Memoirs of Distinguished Scottish Female Characters" by Rev. James Anderson which is the source for this character sketch.
Originally published July 3, 2007