I once met a man whose son’s birth certificate read, “First: Samuel. Middle: Rutherford.” I’m beginning to understand why.
If you’re new to SR, here are the vitals: born around 1600, Presbyterian minister, controversial writer. He often gets called a Puritan, and perhaps there’s no one better to debunk the idea that Puritans were joyless, cold, and hateful. His writings pulse with joy and warmth and pastoral care (also, the man knew how to turn a phrase). I haven’t read his political works (see above: controversial). But his letters are, well, just listen:
Your afflictions are not eternal, time will end them, and so shall ye at length see the Lord’s salvation; His love sleepeth not, is still in working for you; His salvation will not tarry nor linger; and suffering for Him is the noblest cross out of heaven. Your Lord hath the choice of ten thousand other crosses, beside this, to exercise you withal; but His wisdom and His love choosed out this for you, beside them all; and take it as a choice one, and make use of it. Let the Lord absolutely have the ordering of your evils and troubles, and put them off you, by recommending your cross and your furnace to Him, who hath skill to melt His own metal, and knoweth well what to do with His furnace. . .
I urge upon you communion with Christ; a growing communion. There are curtains to be drawn aside in Christ that we never saw, and newfoldings of love in him. I despair that I shall ever win to the far end of that love, there are so many aspects to it. Therefore dig deep, and sweat and labor and take pains for him, and set by as much time in the day for him as you can. We will be won in the labor.
And in case you’ve bought the “Puritans were boring folks just waiting for Heaven” idea, I offer you this:
I perceive we postpone all our joys of Christ, till He and we be in our own house above, thinking that there is nothing of it here to be sought or found, but only hope and fair promises; and that Christ will give us nothing here but tears, sadness, crosses; and that we shall never feel the smell of the flowers of that high garden of paradise above, till we come there. Nay, but I find it possible to find young glory, and a young green paradise of joy even here. We dream of hunger in Christ’s house, while we are here, although He alloweth feasts to all the bairns within God’s household.
(I don’t even know if there was such a thing as bolding in the 17th century- I’m responsible for that. But the use of bairns is all Sam.)