Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Recollections of Ashbel Green

In Philadelphia, Princeton Theological Seminary on 04/01/2012 at 10:14

One recent accession to the research library at the PCA Historical Center proves interesting. The title is Recollections of Useful Persons and Important Events, within Seventy Years, by the Rev. S.C. Jennings, D.D. [Vancefort, PA: J. Dillon & Son, 1884]. Rev. Jennings was a member of the Presbytery of Pittsburgh (PCUSA), and over the term of his long life apparently had opportunity to meet and get to know just about everybody in early nineteenth-century Presbyterianism.

To give a small sample of what I’m finding in this volume, here are his recollections regarding the Rev. Dr. Ashbel Green, the prominent Philadelphia pastor who was so instrumental in the establishment of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Green also served for a time as co-chaplain of the U.S. Congress.

Dr. Ashbel Green was chaplain to Congress during the Revolutionary war, and was once a pastor in Philadelphia. He was for a time President of Princeton College, New Jersey; which position he resigned, and was elected Moderator of the General Assembly in 1824, where I heard him deliver the opening sermon the next year with a good deal of vigor and oratorical power. He became the editor of the Christian Advocate, a sound, conservative monthly magazine, which had great influence in the Church, though the editor was not so severe in his condemnation of error as some when the troubles were brewing which divided the Presbyterian Church. He was paternal and mild. In person he was rather large, with full face and swarthy complexion, wearing his diminished hair (not entirely gray) somewhat long. Though I had often seen him at the Princeton Seminary, I found when in the Assembly with him in 1834, that he was enfeebled. He sat thoughtfully and moved his face as though he was chewing, and yet I believe he eschewed the vile stuff—tobacco.

Many such short snippets in this little volume, and I will share more soon. The value of these recollections is the way in which the author relates the humanity of his subjects.

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