In preparation for our Scotland Tour in September, our guides have composed a series of articles on the men, and women, that shaped Scotland’s past. Although the characters and circumstances were unique to their time, the lessons gleaned from the study of these remarkable Scots are strikingly relevant today.
e is buried in the precincts of the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral. It is certainly a comfortable and symbolic resting place for the leader of the “radicals” who proclaimed Christ as the head of the church, and His Word the only standard for worship. For twenty years Samuel Rutherford frustrated the enemies of the Covenanted Kirk of Scotland, whether noblemen seeking to curry favor with the crown, churchmen willing to compromise, or kings who hated his stand against prelacy and burned his books at the hand of the public hangman. He died of natural causes as the soldiers came to drag him off for trial and the gallows.
Samuel Rutherford’s early life remains obscure, though we know he was born around 1600 near Nisbet, Scotland. He earned his degree at Edinburgh College and was so brilliant they hired him as Professor of Humanity. The little country church in Anwoth by the Solway Firth, near the present village of Vale of Fleet, welcomed Rutherford as pastor in 1627. Unlike some ministers of scholarly bent, Rutherford did not allow his intellectual superiority to impair his warm-hearted ministry to souls. “He was always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechizing, always writing and studying.”
St. Andrews, Scotland
In his lifetime, Rutherford published several profound treatises on theological topics, practical counsel, and ecclesiastical controversies. His most contentious work, Lex Rex, or The Law and the Prince — for which he would be attacked, hounded by the civil authorities, and eventually pursued for execution — brought notoriety which reached to the throne rooms of monarchs. His defense of Reformation presbyterian doctrine against the prevailing episcopacy of England and Scotland resulted in his exile to the northern city of Aberdeen.