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It has often been cause of regret, however, that the prominence given to ecclesiastical and missionary intelligence has necessarily circumscribed the space usually devoted to original and other papers, which are more calculated to interest the general reader. Chiefly on this account, we have had to contend against difficulties arising from a limited circulation, which, in various ways, has crippled our energies, and threatened a result that every intelligent friend of the Church would deplore as much as ourselves. But it is hoped, that, by securing a considerable increase of literary assistance, and by other arrangements now in contemplation, we may be able in future to increase the quantity of original and miscellaneous matter, thus rendering it more suitable for family perusal. But we would beg our friends and readers- and especially ministers and office-bearers - to remember, that with periodicals, as with individuals, "the destruction of the poor is their poverty;" and unless they will lend us more assistance in securing an extended circulation, it will be impossible for the "Messenger" to attain to that standing and influence, to which, as the only Presbyterian organ in England, it ought to occupy.
November, 20, 1852.
ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER, D.D.
Dr. Alexander might almost be regarded as the father of the present Presbyterian Church in America; and seldom has it been the lot of one professor to mould the minds of so many ministers. His work on the Canon, and his little Manual of the Christian Evidence, are specimens of his unostentatious learning and logical acumen; but the great service which he rendered to the Christian cause was in the theological chair of Princeton College. The Presbyterian periodicals of the United States abound in tributes to his memory; but the following notice, condensed from a funeral discourse by the Rev. S. I. Prime, we copy from the "Home and Foreign Record" (Philadelphia). We may add, that Dr. Archibald Alexander is worthily represented by his sons, the Rev. Dr. Addison Alexander, now a professor in Princeton College, and author of the well-known Commentaries on Isaiah and the Psalms; and Dr. J. W. Alexander, of New York, who, last autumn, visited this country, and who is one of the ablest and most acceptable preachers in America. Archibald Alexander was born April 17, 1772, in Virginia, near the banks of the South River, and about fifteen miles from the Natural Bridge. His ancestry were Scotch, and both his immediate parents emigrated to Ireland, and afterwards to America, and thus he is reckoned among the Scotch-Irish, a stock that has produced some of the noblest men in the Church and the State.
After a long, severe, and painful season of spiritual conflict, through which he was made to pass, that by experience he might afterwards know how to succour those who are similarly tried, he was led to the enjoyment of the life of God in the soul, and soon to devote himself to the sacred ministry. Mr. Graham was for about two years his teacher in divinity, and on the first day of October, 1791, just sixty years and one month ago, he was commissioned by the Presbytery of Lexington to preach the Gospel of Christ. As a missionary preacher through the mountain regions of Virginia, and in parts that now belong to Ohio, he travelled widely, proclaiming the way of life to the ignorant and destitute, and gathering the lost into the No. 49.-New Series.
fold of Christ. Preaching without notes, with strange discrimination of personal experience, for one so young, and with an energy of thought and pathos of delivery rare in the young or aged, he spread the doctrines of divine truth wherever he went, and sowed seed that has yielded successive harvests for more than half a century, and will continue to bear fruit till the angels are sent forth to gather the last sheaves.
But the power as a preacher, and the reputation for genius, piety, and learning which he acquired at a period of life when most men begin to preach, may be learned from the fact, that at the extraordinary early age of twenty-five, he was called to the presidency of Hampden Sidney College. This was in 1797. Probably in no country, unless we except the case of William Pitt, Prime Minister of England at twenty-two, was a more distinguished repuation won so early never was one earned that was purer or more enduring. In addition to his labours as president of the College, he was pastor of three Churches in Prince Edward, Charlotte, and Cumberland Counties. Such service was beyond the physical abilities of the youthful president, and in 1801 he resigned his post, but resumed it again after spending part of the year 1802 in travelling by horseback in the Northern and Eastern States. Before he made this tour, he had fears that he was declining into pulmonary consumption. Seasonable respite enabled him to recover health and strength, and a long life of usefulness was saved to the Church and the world.
In 1806, Dr. Alexander accepted a call to the pastoral charge of the Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, corner of Pine and Fourth-streets. Here he was an eminently useful preacher and pastor, and here he might have stood till he died, an able, learned, and persuasive minister of Jesus. But the Presbyterian Church had felt the need of a seminary for the systematic instruction of her sons in the Word of God, preparing them for the ministry of reconciliation. She looked around among all her pastors and men of learning and wisdom, for the man to be a guide to her youth, to mould their minds and form their views in the great science of Divine truth. There were giants in those days, and among them all, the mantle was thrown on the shoulders of Archibald Alexander. Single-handed and alone he was sent to Princeton in 1812, to lay the foundation of that school of the prophets, from which has now been taken its "master and head." In 1813, he was joined by Dr. Miller, who was called to the Seminary from the First Presbyterian Church, New York; together they laboured with mutual respect, confidence, affection, and harmony, until they were parted like the two prophets, Elijah and Elisha, by the ascension of one to his reward and joy, in the month of January, 1850.
Dr. Alexander was a man of great simplicity. A child could scarcely have more. So free from affectation, so transparent was his breast, that no one could approach him without feeling that he was in the presence of a man of purity and truth. He made no pretensions. "Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given that I should preach the Gospel," would be natural language from such lips as his. In the days of his highest popularity as a preacher, while he was President of Hampden Sidney, he was preaching in an obscure settlement of very plain people, where he was a stranger; an old woman was asked "how she liked the minister." "Very well," said she; "but I guess he 'aint a very larned man." This he heard of, and always regarded it as the highest compliment that was ever paid to his preaching. His simplicity of heart and mind enabled him so to clothe and present the profoundest truths of the Bible, as to conceal his vast acquirements, and to enable the humblest capacities to receive it with pleasure and understanding. He
employed no great swelling words of vanity; no scholastic diction, no rhetorical flourishes, but spoke right on with the simple language of one to whom all the science of theology was so familiar, that he could convey it to babes. And as he was in the pulpit, so was he, and even more so, in the retirement of the study, and in the midst of social life. Never undignified, but always so simple and so gentle, so tender and so kind, that children would approach him without fear, and the timid would be at home by his side.
Dr. Alexander was a man of great intellectual force. This will be readily affirmed by all who have heard his lectures in theology. His preaching was so simple, and therefore so contrasted with much that is called great preaching, that his intellect was not appreciated by those who did not come within the reach of his strong reasoning powers. But he was a mighty man in the high places of truth; and if it be, as we think it is, the highest style of greatness, to make light where there is darkness, to bring down high things to the comprehension of the feeble, to teach metaphysics without the mystery of the schools, and to render intelligible all that is revealed, in its consistency, symmetry, and beauty, and then to bow reverently and adore on the threshold of the Infinite and Incomprehensible, then was Alexander a great man.
How did he die? He died as he lived. Until about five weeks ago, he continued to perform full duty in the Seminary, and to maintain his usual amount of labour in the study. Old age had long been on him. The three-score years and ten were numbered, and by reason of strength they were even four-score; "but his bow abode in strength." He was attacked with dysentery, which had been prevailing to some extent in that region, and the fears of his many friends were at once awakened that the blow would be fatal. Ripe fruit falls readily, when smitten, aud he was like a shock of corn fully ripe. He continued to sink gradually, conscious that his days were numbered, and that the time of his departure was at hand. One son (the Rev. J. W. Alexander) was upon the ocean, and the father earnestly desired that he might see him ere he died. The desire was granted, and more, for the son returned just one week before the father fell asleep.
Calling to his bedside the Professor, on whom his mantle falls, he gave him the most minute expression of his views respecting the interests of the Seminary, dearer to him in death than in life, and having committed it to Him who is the head over all things for the Church, he was ready to depart.
Into the scenes of domestic sorrow it is not our design to intrude. But it is right to say that the grief of those dearest to him was calmed when they sat by the bedside of the dying saint, and saw the serenity of perfect peace reposing in his eye.
He called the pastor of the Church in Princeton to his chamber, and gave him his parting counsel, assurances of his strong affection, sent messages of love to his family, and then bade him receive his blessing. The young man knelt by the couch, and the patriarch laid his trembling hands upon his head, and lifted up his voice and prayed for the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, to bless him with the richest of heaven's grace.
By a remarkable, but deeply interesting direction of Divine Providence, the Synod of New Jersey one year ago adjourned to meet in Princeton on the third Tuesday in October, 1851. It came, and it was the day before the one on which their venerable father expired. He was looking forward to their Meeting with great pleasure, and a few days before, with a power of memory rare, perhaps unparalleled, in perfect health, he repeated over the names of one hundred and fifteen of the ministers of that
body who had been his pupils! A sweet thought to each of them that they were thus recalled in the dying hours and prayers of one they so revered. His memory of his pupils has always been remarked as extraordinary. He had a distinct recollection of each one of them, their location and progress, watching them in all their ways like as a father watcheth the children of his love.
"Death never appeared to me so delightful as now, when it is near," he said to those around him, and often as strength allowed he spoke of the peace that dwelt in his soul. The records of these last hours will be precious to the Church, and they will be found to illustrate and confirm the experience he has written in his letters and sermons, as the fitting close to a life of faith.
The great THEOLOGIAN who had preached theology sixty years, who had taught theology to other preachers forty years, who was known in two hemispheres as one of the most learned and distinguished professors of theology of the age, was now on his death-bed, and he made this observation in the hearing of his friends, and we are permitted to repeat it for the first time, but it will never be forgotten; it will be written and re-written, and repeated a hundred years hence it was a casual remark, but a transcript of the great man's mind and heart; he said, "All my THEOLOGY is reduced to this narrow compass, JESUS CHRIST came into the world to save sinners."
For three days prior to his departure, the lamp of life was burning so low in the socket, that he was able to converse but little, and few besides the immediate members of the family were permitted to go "into the chamber where the good man met his fate, privileged" as it was "beyond the common walks of life, quite in the verge of heaven." Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the silver cord was loosed, and at six o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, October 22, 1851, the wheel at the cistern stood still. He feel asleep in Jesus-so peacefully, that the moment of his spirit's flight was scarcely to be detected by the anxious watcher's eye.
And now what remained but to commit the dust of the honoured dead to its kindred dust? On Friday, the 24th October, the borough of Princeton was thronged by the multitude who had come together from various parts to testify with the friends and neighbours, their sense of the general bereavement. The Synod of New Jersey was still in session, embracing 173 ministers and elders from as many Churches; not all of them, but a great number were present; with clergy and laymen from New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other cities and places near and more remote; probably a larger number of clergymen than were ever assembled on a similar occasion in this country.
At half-past two, P.M., they met in the Chapel of the Theological Seminary, and forming a procession four abreast, accompanied the remains to the First Presbyterian Church. The students of the College and the Seminary filled the galleries; the body pews were occupied by the clergy, and the citizens generally the side pews and aisles.
The Rev. Dr. Murray, of Elizabethtown, N. J., conducted the opening devotional services, and the Rev. Dr. Plumer, of Baltimore, the closing.
The Rev. John Mc Dowell, D.D., of Philadelphia, preached the sermon at the request of the deceased, who had enjoined it upon him to attempt no delineation of character, and no eulogy upon the occasion. The sermon was therefore a simple exhibition of the Gospel, from the familiar words, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."
Forming a circle about the open grave, the brethren let down the remains of their