Barbara Hamilton, who lived above her husband’s shop, was almost more young Rutherford’s intimate friend than even her intimate husband. Barbara Hamilton was both a woman of eminent piety and of a high and bold public spirit. And stories are still told in the Wodrow Books of her interest and influence in the affairs of the Kirk and its silenced ministers. The godly old couple had two children: John, called after his father, and Barbara, called after her mother, and Barbara assisted her mother in the house, while John ran errands and assisted his father. Rutherford and the little boy had made a great friendship while the latter was still a boy; and one of Rutherford’s fellow-students had made a still deeper friendship upstairs than any but the two friends themselves suspected. Twenty years after this Barbara Hume will receive a letter from Samuel Rutherford, written in the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster, consoling and sanctifying her for the death of his old friend William Hume, lately chaplain in the Covenanters’ army at Newcastle.
By the time that Rutherford was minister at Anwoth, and then prisoner in Aberdeen, John Meine, junior, had grown up to be almost a minister himself. He is not yet a minister, but he is now a divinity student, hard at work at his books, and putting on the shopkeeper’s apron an hour every afternoon to let his father have a rest. The old merchant used to rise at all hours in the morning, and spend the early summer mornings on Arthur’s Seat with his Psalm-book in his hand, and the winter mornings at his shop fire, reading translations from the Continental Reformers, comparing them with his Bible, singing Psalms by himself and offering prayer. Till his student son felt, as he stood behind the counter for an hour in the afternoon, that he was like Aaron and Hur holding up his father’s praying and prevailing hands.
There have always been speculative difficulties and animated debates in our Edinburgh Theological Societies, and, from the nature of the study, from the nature of the human mind, and from the nature of the Scottish mind, there will always be. John Meine’s difficulties were not the same difficulties that exercise the minds of the young divines in our day, but they were anxious and troublesome enough to him, and he naturally turned to his old friend at Anwoth for counsel and advice. When Rutherford came in to Edinburgh, there was always a prophet’s chamber in Barbara Hamilton’s house ready for him; and when the winter session came to a close her young son would set off to Anwoth with a thousand questions in his head. But Aberdeen was too far away, and, though the posts of that day were expensive and uncertain, the old merchant did not grudge to see his son’s letters sent off to Samuel Rutherford. Samuel Rutherford knew that John Meine, junior, was not shallow in his divinity, young as he was, nor an entire stranger to sanctification, else he would not have written that still extant letter back to him:—’I