Alexander Brodie being long dead yet speaketh with terrible power in every page of his solemnising diary. Young men of Scotland, he says, young statesmen, young senators of the College of Justice, young churchmen, young magistrates, young landlords, and all young men of talent and of influence, sons of the Cavaliers and the Covenanters alike—seek the right and the true, the just and the honourable, in your day; choose it for your part, and take your stand firmly and boldly upon it. Make hazards in order to stand upon it. Read my humbling life, and take warning from me. And when your times are confused and perplexed; when truth and duty are not wholly and commandingly clear; give a good conscience the benefit of the doubt, and suspect the side on which safety and promotion and public praise lie. Pray without ceasing, and then live as you pray. And then my diary shall not have been written and left open among you in vain.
XXIII. JOHN FLEMING, BAILIE OF LEITH
’I wish that I could satisfy
your desire in drawing up and framing for
you a Christian Directory.’—Rutherford.
Samuel Rutherford and John Fleming, Bailie of Leith, were old and fast friends. Away back in the happy days when Rutherford was still a student, and was still haunting the back-shop of old John Meine in the Canongate of Edinburgh, he had formed a fast friendship with the young wood-merchant of Leith. And all the trials and separations of life, instead of deadening their love for one another, or making them forget one another, had only drawn the two men the closer to one another. For when Rutherford’s two great troubles came upon him,—first his dismissal from the Latin regency in Edinburgh University, and then his banishment from his pulpit at Anwoth,—John Fleming came forward on both occasions with money, and with letters, and with visits that were even better than money, to the penniless and friendless professor and exiled pastor. ’Sir, I thank you kindly for your care of me and of my brother. I hope it is laid up for you and remembered in heaven.’
Robert M’Ward, the first editor of Rutherford’s Letters, with all his assiduity, was only able to recover four letters out of the heap of correspondence that had passed between the rich timber-merchant of Leith and the exiled minister, but, those four tell us volumes, both about the intimacy of the two men and about the depth and the worth of the bailie’s character. Fleming wrote a letter to Rutherford in the spring of 1637, which must have run in some such terms as these:—’My life is fast ebbing away, and I am not yet begun aright to live. I am in mid-time of my days. I sometimes feel that I am coming near the end of them; and what evil days they have been! My business that my father left me is prosperous. I have a good and kind wife, as you know. My children are not wholly without promise. My place in this town is far