I’ve committed myself to reading again the Letters of Samuel Rutherford over the next year. To those of you unfamiliar, Rutherford was a 17th Century Scottish Puritan known partly for his polemic writing, partly for his involvement in the Westminster Assembly, and mostly for his letters. The full collection of his letters was first assembled in 1664 and remains in print today, along with an abbreviated collection as well (available for Kindle for 99¢).
This project will explain what will be, I suspect, my fairly regular reference to Rutherford here and on Twitter. Perhaps the taste this will give might encourage others to pursue Rutherford as well. If your view of Puritan faith that it was rather somber and dull (!) will find a surprising passion in Rutherford. His language of love for Jesus is sometimes embarrassingly intimate which most likely suggests a fault in my faith, and not in his.
As was his beloved Jesus, Rutherford and those around him were acquainted with grief. In a letter seeking to bring comfort to a friend in sorrow, he speaks thus:
We may indeed think, Cannot God bring us to heaven with ease and prosperity? Who doubteth but He can? But His infinite wisdom thinketh and decreeth the contrary; and we cannot see a reason of it, yet He hath a most just reason….
Madam, when ye are come to the other side of the water, and have set down your foot on the shore of glorious eternity, and look back again to the waters and to your wearisome journey, and shall see, in that clear glass of endless glory, nearer to the bottom of God’s wisdom, ye shall then be forced to say, “If God had done otherwise with me than He hath done, I had never come to the enjoying of this crown of glory.” It is your part now to believe, and suffer, and hope, and wait on; for I protest, in the presence of that all-discerning eye, who knoweth what I write and what I think, that I would not want the sweet experience of the consolations of God for all the bitterness of affliction. Nay, whether God come to His children with a rod or a crown, if He come Himself with it, it is well. [page 53, Letter XI, full edition]
Such is the faith of an eye fixed on Jesus. Rutherford had a first hand knowledge of such affliction. It is at the end of this letter that he reports his own experience of the rod of God.
My wife now, after long disease and torment, for the space of a year and a month, is departed this life. The Lord hath done it; blessed be His name.
Read Rutherford and be encouraged to look to Jesus and to know hope and joy in the midst of trial.