James Beattie was in very good company when he said that he must have more assurance, both of his gifts and his graces, before he could enter on his ministry. For Moses, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and many another minister who could be named, have all felt and said the same thing. Now that he is near the door of the pulpit, Beattie feels that he cannot enter it till he has more certainty that it is all right with himself. But our young ministers will attain to assurance not so much by consulting Rutherford, skilled casuist in such matters as he is, as by themselves going forward in a holy life and a holy ministry. ’It is not God’s design,’ says Jonathan Edwards, ’that men should obtain assurance in any other way than by mortifying corruption, increasing in grace, and obtaining the lively exercises of it. Assurance is not to be obtained so much by self-examination as by action. Paul obtained assurance of winning the prize more by running than by reflecting. The swiftness of his pace did more toward his assurance of the goal than the strictness of his self-examination.’ ‘I wish you a share of my feast,’ replies Rutherford. ’But, for you, hang on our Lord, and He will fill you with a sense of His love, as He has so often filled me. Your feast is not far off. Hunger on; for there is food already in your hunger for Christ. Never go away from Him, but continue to fash Him; and if He delays, yet come not away, albeit you should fall aswoon at His feet.’ Pray, says Rutherford, and you will not long lack assurance. Work, says Edwards, and assurance of God’s love will be an immediate earnest of your full wages.
’If you would be a deep divine
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Old John Meine’s shop was a great howf of Samuel Rutherford’s all the time of his student life in Edinburgh. Young Rutherford had got an introduction to the Canongate shopkeeper from one of the elders of Jedburgh, and the old shopkeeper and the young student at once took to one another, and remained fast friends all their days. John Meine’s shop was so situated at a corner of the Canongate that Rutherford could see the Tolbooth and John Knox’s house as he looked up the street, and Holyrood Palace as he looked down, and the young divine could never hear enough of what the old shopkeeper had to tell him of Holyrood and its doings on the one hand, and of the Reformer’s house on the other. The very paving-stones of the Canongate were full of sermons on the one hand, and of satires on the other, in that day. ’He was an old man when he came to live near my father’s shop,’ John Meine would say to the eager student. ’But, even as an errand boy, taking parcels up his stair, I felt what a good man’s house I was in, and I used to wish I was already a man, that I might either be a soldier or a minister.’ The divinity student often sat in the shopkeeper’s pew on Sabbath-days, and after sermon they never went home till they had again visited John Knox’s grave. And as they turned homeward, old Meine would lay his hand on young Rutherford’s shoulder and say: ’Knoxes will be needed in Edinburgh again, before all is over, and who knows but you may be elect, my lad, to be one of them?’