Posted by: Jim Bell | February 5, 2011

Rutherford’s Three Witnesses

When the Rev. Samuel Rutherford began his ministerial labours in Galloway, his charge embraced the three parishes of Kirkmabreck, Kirkdale and Anwoth, and he preached alternately at the three places. The inhabitants of his district were far from being distinguished for their piety and virtues; but were on the contrary, a profane, irreligious set, as very sons of Belial as ever pastor had to deal with. After divine service they were in the habit of meeting in the neighbourhood of the Kirk, for the purpose of enjoying themselves in various amusements, such as shooting the bow, putting the stone, curling, and wrestling. With a view of stopping these sinful practices, Mr. Rutherford had remonstrated with them in private, and reprimanded them from the pulpit—but all was without effect. At length he fell upon a plan which he trusted would be more successful. One day, on which the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper had been administered in the church of Anwoth, when some men were preparing to proceed to their usual diversions, the minister went up to them and proposed to join the party. To this they readily assented – When they had arrived at the accustomed place of meeting he told them he had a new amusement to show them. He desired them to search for three large stones. When they were found, he caused them to be set up at regular distances, and then begged them all to attend to what he was about to say. “These stones,” said he, ”I pronounce emblems of the Holy Trinity, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: and when you stand before the awful tribunal of your Creator, they shall be witnesses against you, if you persist in these unholy and soul-destroying practices.” This solemn warning had the desired effect – no such desecration of the Sabbath has ever taken place there since, and the stones long continued to be regarded with peculiar veneration.

But about eighty or a hundred years ago, when a number of men were engaged in raising stones with which to build dykes, one of them more audacious than the rest declared he would raise Rutherford’s three witnesses if he once had his breakfast. His fellow-workmen tried to dissuade him: but in vain. He swore a terrible oath that if Rutherford’s ghost were to try to prevent him, he should succeed no better than they had. They sat down to breakfast -himself on one of these sacred stones: But as he was swallowing the first morsel, it stuck fast in his throat and choked him.

Historical and Traditional Tales of the South of Scotland

The site of Rutherford’s Witnesses is recorded on the OS Maps. [..view..]

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