Samuel Rutherford – His Character & Devotion


From SAMUEL RUTHERFORD – More Than Just a Man of Letters Posted at Crich Baptist Church:

Rutherford’s letters show that he was a very thoughtful man. It has been observed that during this period of his life, tenderness was one of his most characteristic qualities. He was also powerful in his handling of practical subjects and denouncing the prevalent vices of the day. In his preaching he had a power to arrest and captivates the people’s attention.

Rutherford spent a lot of time in his personal devotions with his God, he used to get up every morning at 3am for Bible reading, meditation and prayer. He had a special hallowed spot midway between the manse and the church among the trees, which was caIled Rutherford’s Walk, where he used to go for prolonged devout thought and prayer.

After a while attendance at the Church grew. From many parishes, far remote to Anwoth and without a faithful ministry, multitudes flocked to hear Rutherford, hungering for the teaching of heavenly truth.

A very intriguing incident is recorded by all the writers on Samuel Rutherford, this was a visit from an Archbishop. The actual date is uncertain but seems to have been early on in his ministry at Anwoth, when Archbishop Usher was on his way from England to his diocese in Armagh. Passing by Anwoth on the road to Portpatrick and the boat to Ireland one Saturday afternoon, he was anxious to hear the preaching of Rutherford, whose fame had obviously spread far. The Archbishop assumed the disguise of a wayfaring man and turned up at the manse asking for a lodging for the night.

As good pastors are not to be forgetful to entertain strangers, he was received readily. It was the practice of Mrs Rutherford while her husband was preparing for the coming Lords Day to gather together her servants and the strangers within her house for catechizing, and on this occasion the stranger in lowly garb joined the little group. To test the knowledge of the wayfarer she asked him how many commandments there were to which he answered 11. Later in the evening she told her husband about the wayfarer and the answer given with her fears that the stranger was not well instructed in religion.

When Rutherford got up early at 3 in the morning for his private devotions in his usual place, he was astonished to find that someone had got there before him, and even more surprised to discover that it was the stranger deep in prayer.

After a time of prayer Rutherford accosted him and told him that he didn’t think he was who he seemed to be. Usher then revealed who he was and they spent the next few hours talking about their religious experiences, remarkable as it was Usher was not averse to conform to the simple form of Presbyterian worship. Rutherford asked him to preach that morning at the church at Anwoth, whereupon he preached on the text “A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another”. Furthermore the Archbishop decided to delay his journey for another day, so that he could spend more time in spiritual conversation with Rutherford.

Samuel Rutherford was to experience many personal trials during his days at Anwoth, both his children died in infancy, and in 1630 his young wife Eupham died after suffering for 13 months from a distressing and lingering disease.

One of his most faithful friends at Anwoth was a lady called Marion M’Naught, she was to become one of his principle correspondents, of whom he wrote – “Blessed be the Lord, that in God’s mercy I found in this country such a woman to whom Jesus is dearer than her own heart “. The earliest letter to survive from Rutherford’s pen was written to her. She was married to the Provost of Kirkudbright, and it is clear from the writings that at all opportunities she would be found listening under his ministry.

When Rutherford’s wife Eupham was dying she sent her daughter Grizzell to look after them, and after she died Rutherford was himself ill and for 3 months was unable to preach. Again Marion M’Naught despatched her daughter to look after him until he was fit and well.