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1600-1661. Scottish pastor and theologian. He was born of farming stock at Nisbet in Roxburghshire, and gave evidence of grace and of spiritual insight in boyhood; his mind was always sensitive to spiritual impressions. He entered Edinburgh University in 1617, graduated M.A. in 1621, and two years later after a competitive examination was appointed professor of Latin language and literature in the university. Some unpleasantness in his relations with his colleagues that may have been connected with his marriage led him to resign his office and study theology. He was ordained at Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1627 and exercised a fruitful ministry there until 1636, when he was deposed from office for Nonconformity and ordered to be confined to prison at Aberdeen during the king's pleasure. From there came his famous Letters to former parishioners and friends at Anwoth. These 365 letters are classics in the field of devotional literature. Released from prison in 1638, he returned to Anwoth for eighteen months before being appointed professor of divinity at St. Andrews.
In 1643 he went to London as one of the Scottish commissioners to the* of Divines. His insight and devotion contributed significantly to the Confession and Catechisms. Two children died during his four years absence in London, and his experience of this sorrow enlarged his compassion for the sorrowing. During his time in London he was an industrious student and a prolific writer, largely on matters of church polity. His monumental work was Lex Rex, or the Law and The Prince; a Dispute for the Just Prerogatives of King and People. It dealt more with political science than theology and is still regarded as a classic on constitutional government. The Revolution Settlement of 1690 embodied the principles of Lex Rex.
In 1647 Rutherford was appointed principal of St. Mary's at St. Andrews, and later, rector of the university. He was preeminent in Scotland as a scholar and leader. He was well known on the Continent and in 1648 and 1651 declined appointments to Dutch universities.of in 1660 put him in great peril. He was removed from office, but died on 29 March 1661 before the full fury of the storm of persecution broke.