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Archibald Alexander: “The Lord will provide.”

In Archibald Alexander, St. Louis Evangelist on 07/06/2013 at 11:08

“When I look for the acquaintances of my youth, alas! they are almost all gone. I have been led, for the most part, along a smooth path.

Browsing through an old issue of THE ST. LOUIS EVANGELIST, I spotted the following brief article reporting on a letter from Dr. Archibald Alexander, dated 1822. Dr. Alexander was born in 1772 and would have been fifty years old when he wrote this letter. Given his age at that writing, his opening sentence is particularly striking, from a modern perspective. Equally intriguing are the biographical insights provided in this letter and the view expressed by Dr. Alexander on providing for one’s family and later years.

INTERESTING RELIC

Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander [1772-1851]We have in our possession a long and interesting letter written by Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander, from Philadelphia, while attending the meeting of the General Assembly, dated May 27, 1822, addressed to “Rev. Robert Marshall, near Lexington, Ky.,” sent by his son, Rev. James Marshall, upon his leaving Princeton Theological Seminary for his home and a field of labor in Kentucky. Most of it is in reference to his “unexceptionable conduct,” his “strength and originality of mind,” and the prospect that “he will be a forcible speaker, a useful man, and become an important member of the Church in the Western country.” We give an extract of general interest:

When I look for the acquaintances of my youth, alas! they are almost all gone. I have been led, for the most part, along a smooth path. External circumstances have been favorable, but I have been subjected often and long to severe conflicts. Perhaps in prosperity I have endured as much pain as those who have passed through many external afflictions. I have now a large family, and have made scarcely any provision for their subsistence when I shall be taken from them; but I am not troubled on this account. “The Lord will provide.” I have seen in so many cases the little benefit which has resulted from the fruit of anxious toil for posterity, that I feel content with my situation and prospects.

Such views from one so revered, so wise and so spiritual as was Dr. Archibald Alexander, we doubt not will be read with interest and profit by all. If we are in moderate circumstances, and our children promise to be upright, useful, respectable in life, we should be more than content; we should be joyful and grateful. People in affluent circumstances have more to fear than others for their descendants. “The lust of the world, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life” accomplish their slaughter chiefly among the rich. This is plain to all who are old enough to have observed the histories of households for forty years; and it is not surprising when we remember that evils in the heart are not so ruinous as when both in the heart and the life.–Herald and Presbyter.

[excerpted from The St. Louis Evangelist, Vol. 1, no. 3 (March 1875): 19, columns 3-4. Reprinted from The Herald and Presbyter]

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“The Gospel Precious,” by Dr. Archibald Alexander

In Archibald Alexander, Uncategorized on 28/11/2012 at 18:24

Excerpted from THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, Vol. XXXI, No. 13 (27 March 1852): 49, column 3.

Dr. Archibald Alexander was, in addition to his service as the first professor at Princeton Seminary, quite dedicated in the work of writing evangelistic tracts, many of which were later gathered and published in the volume, Practical Truths. The following short quote is taken from one such tract:

THE GOSPEL PRECIOUS.

Oh, precious gospel! Will any merciless hand endeavor to tear away from our hearts this best, this last, and sweetest consolation? Would you darken the only avenue through which one ray of hope can enter? Would you tear from the aged and infirm poor, the only prop on which their souls can repose in peace? Would you deprive the dying of their only source of consolation? Would you rob the world of its richest treasure? Would you let loose the flood-gates of every vice, and bring back upon the earth the horrors of superstition or the atrocities of atheism? Then endeavor to subvert the gospel; throw around you the fire-brands of infidelity; laugh at religion; and make a mock of futurity; but be assured, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. I will persuade myself that a regard for the welfare of their country, if no higher motive, will induce men to respect the Christian religion. And every pious heart will say, rather let the light of the sun be extinguished than the precious light of the gospel.—[Dr. Archibald Alexander.

Dr. Alexander’s Last Sermon (1851)

In Archibald Alexander on 26/10/2012 at 17:11

From THE PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE, IV.2 (February 1854): 94.

DR. ALEXANDER’S LAST SERMON.

It was in the First Presbyterian Church at Princeton, and on the 20th of July, 1851. The Sabbath was one of the most beautiful I ever saw. The harvest was just over, and the farmers, who made up the country portion of the congregation, had finished reaping the fruits of their year’s toil, and had carefully housed their crops. Many of them were present with their faces bronzed by the harvest suns. Judge, therefore, the appropriateness of Dr. Alexander’s subject. His text was I Cor. iii. 9. “Ye are God’s husbandry.” I can, of course, give but an imperfect outline; but he said:—”These words apply to the Church universal, or its members taken individually. The agriculturalist who wishes to raise a good crop does four things: 1. He prepares the ground. 2. He sows the best seed he can procure. 3. He takes care of the grain when growing. 4. He reaps and stores away the harvest. So, in spiritual things it is necessary for us : 1. To make ready our hearts to receive the impressions of the truth—to come to Christ repenting of all our sins, and asking forgiveness of them for his sake. 2. We must plant the good word of God; and 3. We must cultivate the good seed by prayer, self-examination, and the use of all the means of grace. We must learn the precepts the Bible lays down, and practice them in our walk and conversation. As the husbandman is never free from solicitude and care until he gets the cropt stowed safely away, so the spiritual man can never cease to watch or relax his diligence till life is over. 4. He will reap his reward, to some extent, here, but the great reward shall be hereafter.”

HIS TOMB.

Dr. Alexander’s tomb has the following inscription :

Sacred to the memory
of
ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER
Doctor of Divinity
and
First Professor of the Theological
Seminary in this place :
Born in what is now Rockbridge county,
Virginia, April 17th, MDCCLXXII :
Licensed to preach the gospel
October 1st, MDCCXCI :
Ordained by the Presbytery of Hanover
June 9th, MDCCXCIV :
A Pastor in Charlotte and Prince Edward
for some years :
Chosen President of
Hampden Sidney College in MDCCXCVI :
Pastor of the Third Presbyterian
Church in Philadelphia in MDCCCVII :
Professor of Didactic and Polemic
Theology in MDCCCXII :
He departed this life
In the faith and peace of Christ,
October 22d, MDCCCLI.

[He forbade all words of praise upon his tomb.]—PRESBYTERIAN.

Image source : The Alexander Memorial. New York: Anson D.F. Randolph & Company, 1879.