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William Guthrie, one of the holiest and ablest of the experimental divines of Scotland, was born at Pitforthy, Angus, the seat of his ancestors, in the year 1620. He was the eldest son of the family, and his superior genius was displayed in his early and successful attention to learning; but till his entrance into college life, he did not obtain that intimate and saving acquaintance with Divine truth which enabled him at once to stay his own soul upon God as the God of his salvation, and to prescribe most skilfully for the cases of spiritual disease that came under his notice. He felt himself greatly indebted for acquaintance with the way of holiness to the instructions of a near kinsman. This was his cousin, James Guthrie, then holding one of the chairs in the New College of St Andrews, and afterwards highly esteemed as the faithful minister of Stirling during the period of the Covenant, for his faithful adherence to which he obtained a martyr’s crown.
Samuel Rutherford, who became Professor of Divinity at St Andrews in 1639, took the guidance of William Guthrie’s theological studies, confirmed and cherished the principles of piety already implanted, and brought him, with his whole soul, to devote himself to the service of Christ. That he might not be entangled in the network of earthly concerns, he resigned his estate at Pitforthy to a younger brother, not engaged at that time in the prosecution of sacred studies. Thus trained in the schools of literature, and rendered familiar with religion both in theory and practice, William Guthrie was well fitted for usefulness as a preacher of the gospel. He was licensed, with the high approbation of the Presbytery, in August 1642.