Samuel Rutherford: Letter 11

  • God's inexplicable dealings with His people well ordered
  • want of ordinances
  • conformity to Christ
  • troubles of the Church
  • death of Mr. Rutherford's wife

To my Lady Kenmure


Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied upon you. I received your Ladyship's letter, in the which I perceive your case in this world smelleth of a fellowship and communion with the Son of God in His sufferings. Ye cannot, ye must not, have a more pleasant or more easy condition here, than He had, who "through afflictions was made perfect" (Heb. ii. 10). 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. We never with our eyes saw our own soul; yet we have a soul. We see many rivers, but we know not their first spring and original fountain; yet they have a beginning. 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 [do without] 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. Welcome, welcome, Jesus, what way soever Thou come, if we can get a sight of Thee! And sure I am, it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bedside and draw by the curtains, and say, "Courage, I am Thy salvation," than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never to be visited of God.

Worthy and dear lady, in the strength of Christ, fight and overcome. Ye are now yourself alone, but ye may have, for the seeking, three always in your company, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I trust they are near you. Ye are now deprived of the comfort of a lively ministry; so was Israel in their captivity; yet hear God's promise to them: "Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God, although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come" (Ezek. xi. 16). Behold a sanctuary! for a sanctuary, God Himself in the place and room of the temple of Jerusalem! I trust in God, that carrying this temple about with you, ye shall see Jehovah's beauty in His house.

We are in great fears of a great and fearful trial to come upon the kirk [church] of God; for these, who would build their houses and nests upon the ashes of mourning Jerusalem, have drawn our King upon hard and dangerous conclusions against such as are termed Puritans, for the rooting of them out. Our prelates (the Lord take the keys of His house from these bastard porters!) assure us that, for such as will not conform, there is nothing but imprisonment and deprivation.[1] The spouse of Jesus will ever be in the fire; but I trust in my God she shall not consume, because of the good-will of Him who dwelleth in the Bush; for He dwelleth in it with good-will. All sorts of crying sins without controlment abound in our land. The glory of the Lord is departing from Israel, and the Lord is looking back over His shoulder, to see if any one will say, "Lord, tarry," and no man requesteth Him to stay. Corrupt and false doctrine is openly preached by the idol-shepherds of the land. For myself, I have daily griefs, through the disobedience unto, and contempt of, the word of God. I was summoned before the High Commission by a profligate person in this parish, convicted of incest. In the business, Mr. Alexander Colvill[2] (for respect to your Ladyship) was my great friend, and wrote a most kind letter to me. The Lord give him mercy in that day. Upon the day of my compearance, the sea and winds refused to give passage to the Bishop of St. Andrews.[3] I entreat your Ladyship, thank Mr. Alexander Colvill with two lines of a letter.

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. I have been diseased of a fever tertian for the space of thirteen weeks, and am yet in the sickness, so that I preach but once on the Sabbath with great difficulty. I am not able either to visit or examine the congregation. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit.

Your Ladyship's at all obedience,

S. R.
Anwoth, June 26, 1630.


[1] The prelates, when the Courts of High Commission were erected in 1610, were invested with the powers of imprisoning and depriving Nonconformists.

[2] One of the judges.

[3] Archbishop Spottiswoode.