Samuel Rutherford (c.1600-1661) was a controversial figure within the Church of Scotland, as the leading political theorist behind the covenanters. He was born in Nisbet around 1600, studied divinity at Edinburgh and became regent of humanity, involving himself with radical presbyterians there until a sexual scandal lost him his post. He then worked as a Church of Scotland minister in Anwoth, Kirkcudbrightshire. He continued his nonconformist activities, organising a campaign against royal ecclesiastical policy, until ousted by a new bishop in 1636. He was confined to Aberdeen, disputing with local ministers and writing letters to notable men all over Scotland, many of whom would later join him in the leadership of the Covenanters. Just after the signing of the national covenant, he returned to Anwoth, and in 1639 was appointed professor of divinity at St Marys College at St Andrews University. Here he worked to remove all vestiges of the episcopacy so recently abolished, until commissioned to attend the Westminster Assembly in 1643. He passionately defended the use of force against Charles I in Lex, rex, or The Law and the Prince (1644) and was an advocate of the right to persecute heretics and sectarians.
However, four years in London left him disillusioned about the state of Presbyterianism in England. On returning to Scotland in 1648 he opposed the moderate covenanters in their agreement with Charles I, creating a militant wing of the kirk against those allied with the king, drafting an act for the abolition of patronage, and spurring on the convenanting army against Cromwell, only to see it suffer ignominious defeat. In 1650 further deep divisions split the Church after the crowning of Charles II at Scone, leading Rutherford to deny the lawfulness of the general assemby in St Andrews the following year. He continued to preach and rail against the moderates from his position as principal of St Mary's College. After the Restoration Lex,rex was denounced and burned by the public hangman. Rutherford was deposed from all his official posts and only his death prevented him being tried on a charge of treason.