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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XXI. - Messrs Alexander and Rice and a Second Time Associated at Hampden Sidney


The Presbytery of Hanover met at Hampden Sidney, April 8th, 1801. Mr. Alexander was free from his pastoral charges, having resigned the care of Cub Creek in 1797, on entering upon the duties of President; of Briery in the fall of ’98, on account of the increased labor of his position; and at this time he carried into effect his contemplated resignation of the Presidency. At this meeting of Presbytery, Mr. Speece was licensed; libraries for ministers and congregations were recommended; Mr. Amos Thompson of Winchester Presbytery, took his seat as corresponding member; a regular assessment for the expenses of Commissioners to the Assembly was, for the first time, laid on the churches; and Mr. Alexander and Wm. Calhoon were chosen Commissioners to the Assembly.

Mr. Alexander asked for credentials, as he proposed visiting distant parts of the country. The church of Briery put in a call for his ministerial services one-half his time. He enquired if an immediate answer was necessary. It was replied the congregation would wait a time for his consideration. The committee of trustees appointed to obtain another President, also determined to wait the issue of his visit. He set out upon his journey uncommitted.

When he left the college, he tells us he was not settled in mind whether he would go the upper road as it was called, along the foot of the mountains, or the lower road more commonly travelled, and on which he had been invited to stop and assist Mr. Todd at a communion season. He does not tell what decided his doubtfulness; but Mrs. Legrand (Mrs. Read) would have suggested that it was a living reason, in a very pretty form of flesh and blood. “Are you not afraid, if you stay away so long, that some of the young ministers visiting Mr. Waddell’s, will get away Miss Janetta?” “I shall conclude then — she was never intended for me.” He took the upper road and tarried some days at Dr. Waddell’s; and when he went on he left his plighted vows with Miss Janetta. The mother moulded the destiny of Waddell; and the daughter, of Alexander.

In the Assembly of 1801 he became acquainted with Dr. Edwards, the mover of the famous plan of Union, Dr. M’Millan, venerated in Western Pennsylvania, Dr. Green, for years a leading member of the Presbyterian Church, and Dr. Miller, with whom he was afterwards associated in office. Reports of extensive revivals in the West were laid before the Assembly; and the Synod of Virginia had credit for sending six missionaries west of the Alleghenies. He received the appointment of delegate to the General Association of Connecticut, with Dr. M’Knight, of New York, and Dr. Linn, of Philadelphia.

This journey through New England left footprints not yet worn away. His sketches afford the finest picture of New England as it was, that can be found. Its graphic power is equalled only by Davies’ journal in England, and the notes of his friend Rice, as he recorded his views of New England, in subsequent years.

On his return to Virginia in the fall, he became the second time a member of the family of Major Read. Negotiations were at once commenced by the committee of the trustees of the college, which resulted in propositions more agreeable to him, than any offers made him on his journey. On the 18th of January, 1802, at Prince Edward Court-House, the trustees “appoint Mr. Alexander President of the College, in conformity with the agreement made with him by committee.” The terms made his salary dependent on the success of the college, and limited it, at the maximum, to about six hundred dollars, with the use of the president’s house. The dwelling was put in readiness for the new president to commence housekeeping; and on the fifth of April, he became son-in-law of James Waddell. The two most eloquent preachers of their day were thus united by domestic bonds. The elder had passed his days of usefulness, and speedily ended his course; the younger, not yet in his meridian, surpassed all the expectations of his early friends. With similarity to make them congenial, and individuality to make each pleasing to the other, their excellencies commended them to the church. Waddell was tall and spare, Alexander short and firmly built, both active and manly in their bearing, without the least appearance of ostentation. Both possessed a clear penetrating voice; Waddell’s perhaps the most musical, Alexander’s the most piercing. Both talked their sermons with inimitable simplicity and earnestness. The younger, the more excitable, and more vehement in that excitement; the elder preserved his composure, though the very fires of Vesuvius raged within. Both possessed graphic sarcasm. Alexander seldom indulged it; Waddell would not unfrequently inflame his audience with his scorching invectives. The affections of both were strong; but Alexander was the most lovely. Waddell was always in all things more stately—he could not help it: he had most dignity; but, if equal in age, could not have inspired more reverence. Blessed in their domestic relations, Alexander was most intensely beloved. In their sermons, the power that subdued was more visible in Waddell than in Alexander. The swing of Waddell’s long finger was more often seen than the motion of Alexander’s hand. Waddell could write with the keen terseness of Junius; Alexander would not, if he could. In the sentences of Waddell, the words would sometimes be seen; in Alexander’s, never.

On the 15th of the same month, a call from the Cumberland congregation was presented to the Presbytery, at Bethel Meeting House, in Bedford, for Mr. Alexander, for one-half his time. A letter was received from Mr. Alexander, declaring his acceptance of the same, and also of the one committed to his consideration the previous spring, by the congregation of Briery. By the arrangements completed by Presbytery, Mr. Alexander wa3 president of college, and co-pastor with Mr. Lacy, of Cumberland congregation, which embraced the college, and with Lyle in Briery. The entire absence of jealousy in the hearts of these two pastors, at the overshadowing influence of the young president, is to be admired. For about four years, Mr. Alexander occupied the president’s house, and the co-pastorship continued in perfect harmony; and for a part of the time, Mr. Rice-was co-laborer in the college.

The interest felt by Mr. Rice in the pupils of his charge, may be learned from a letter of March 5th, 1802, addressed to Mrs. Morton: “I am not much in the habit of writing to you lately, but it is not because I do not love you as much as i ever did; indeed, my aftection for you increases. I suppose you can conjecture the reason; but I did not begin to write, that I might talk of this subject: I have one more interesting to your feelings. Think now what event, of everything in the world, would give you most pleasure; think of that for which you would, with the fullest heart, return thanks to Heaven, and you will know what I am about to write on. I have good news, which will delight your soul. I am delighted myself; how then will the heart of a fond mother,—but I am going too fast; my feelings are very apt to hurry me away. This evening, William came into my room, and, after some indifferent conversation, he informed me that he was at a loss for a subject for a composition to read before the society to-morrow. I told him it would be well to write on the advantages of a religious education. He might show, I told him, the great benefit of having pious friends, and advise his friend, (for I recommended an epistolary form,) to make a wise improvement of the great privileges he enjoyed. This touched a string which touched his heart. God seemed to have put it into my mind to say this, that a way might be made for what followed.

He immediately replied that it was truly a great advantage; but remarked that very many who had enjoyed it were worse than others. I observed that the remark was just, and proceeded to account for it in this way, that those who were so highly favored very frequently had serious impressions made upon their minds, which they gradually wore off till their hearts became hardened, and they were given up of God to work all manner of iniquity with greediness; and this was the most awful situation in which a soul could be placed on this side of everlasting destruction. He then observed he frequently had felt such impressions, but they had left him he hardly knew how. I told him then that I felt extremely anxious for him; that I had observed him looking serious lately, and that I was much pleased with it. I know of no event, said 1, that would give me such pleasure as to see you a Christian.

He then opened his heart to me, and said that since he first came to college, he had felt serious impressions. I believe, continued he, that God gave them to me that i might be preserved from the bad courses of the students. When I was with you in Powhatan, I felt more seriously than I had ever done before, but I soon forgot it. However, since last Sunday I feel more on these subjects than I did then. While I am alone I can think of nothing else; it even interrupts my studies; indeed, says he, I am apt to forget while I mix with the boys, but then it constantly returns. He then complained of his inconsistency; and said he had felt more to-day than he ever did in his life, though perhaps he had never been wilder, or played more with the boys. I have, said he, felt ashamed to talk about religion; but I believe that is not a good way, and I came this evening on purpose to talk with you, that I might have something more to bind me, and keep me from doing what I ought not. I know, says he, that my heart is so bad that I shall wish I had not done so, but I am determined while I feel as I do to try every way, in my power, to be religious, but O, I am so afraid that before to-morrow, night I shall forget all this.

In reply, I informed him that he gave me very great pleasure by talking thus. It will be well for you said I to converse frequently on this subject with those who feel the powers of religion in their hearts. Solomon says, that he that walketh with wise men shall be wise, and by wisdom he means religion. Whenever you are disposed to talk on the subject, I shall be highly pleased to converse with you. And let me observe to you that this is a gracious season, and improve it as such. You know not but that it may be the last.

1 know that college is a very unfavorable place for religious exercises ; that indeed is the principal objection I have to it myself; I had much rather see you placed in a private family, with a pious teacher, but you are at college; and while here you will be exposed to many temptations and hindrances ; but we are all subject to difficulties, and when they come in your way you must remember your soul is at stake, that your eternal welfare depends on your conduct now; for now is the accepted time, and now the day of salvation. God, the infinitely great God, has been graciously pleased to say, I love them that love me, and those who seek me early shall find me. This is a gracious promise which should encourage you to go on to seek the Lord. And as for the difficulties you complain of, there is only one resource; go to God for assistance, he will give it to those who ask him. We are indeed poor helpless creatures, w^e can do nothing ourselves; but he is able and willing to help us. If you are always thus fearful of losing your serious impressions, you will be in no danger on that score; the danger is lest you should grow indifferent about them; and O beg of God that he would not take his spirit from you. I trust the Lord has begun a good work in your heart, and will carry it on to perfection; and be assured that when I pray for myself, I shall pray for you too.

This is only a specimen of our conversation. I could not detail it all in the compass of three or four sheets. We talked for a considerable time, and for the greater part of it he was melted in tears. You know not how much better I love him. Among other things which I suggested to his mind, I mentioned the anxiety of his dear , parents,—0, says he, I know nothing would please them half so well.

! When I mentioned the Saviour, he said, I have tried to depend upon him alone. When I told him that if he obtained religion he wrould have a treasure which he would not exchange for the whole world, Ah, says he, I would not take the world for it now. I could go on much further, but I must stop. I know that you would enjoy much by knowing what passed between us, and I therefore resolved to send you this little account. May God grant that not only your William, but your Mary, your Johnny, and your Fisher, may be made partakers of Christ’s purchase ; and in the great day may you, and your dear Major, say here we are Lord, and all whom thou hast given us. And may I too be of the number; pray to God that I may.

Your most affectionate,

J. H. Rice.

This letter, though directed to you, is for the Major, and for Nancy too. I know that you all will be equally glad.” The William mentioned is still living (1855), an elder in the church of his fathers.

Mr. Rice had three fine and perfectly distinct models of preaching before him. Mr. Alexander, whose simplicity of manner and thought, clearness of arrangement and expression, force of sentiment ' and directness of reasoning, sometimes metaphysically and sometimes by collocation of facts and apparently simple truths, sweetness of manner and ardor of soul, and entire losing of himself in his subject, all taken together as united in a handsome, active person, formed, in the eye of Mr. Rice, a surpassing model of excellence. Mr. Lyle, whose pure thoughts and classic language, clear enunciation of the great gospel truths, entire soundness in the doctrines of faith, pleasant and frequently impressive manner, the correctness and often great strength of his positions, and varied exhibition of the doctrines of grace in a form to instruct and interest the common mind, presented another model as symmetrical and as hard to imitate as that of his beloved co-pastor; and Lacy, with a more commanding person than either, a musical voice, simple-hearted and guileless as a child, that loved to preach for the very benevolence of the truth he announced, and which flowed in and out from his own heart and the hearts of his hearers while he announced the truths, a child of impulse, a slumbering giant that roused himself to the height of any position a preacher is called to, with no ambition to surpass his brethren in anything, and not knowing that he did till they told him of it, and one that looked for his happiness in his domestic relations and his God. Alexander, in the buoyancy of his spirits, would sometimes seem to leap, to run, to fly and come back again and split the rocks and rive the gnarled oaks; Lyle moved on with the solemn march and measured tread of the heavy-armed soldier, with the heart of compassion for the widow and orphan, and of a lion for the foe, and never turned back in kindness or in war; Lacy would sometimes talk like a child, it would seem as if he was going to babble, then, by some sudden inspiration, would sound the alarm, the rallying cry, longer, louder, sweeter, stronger, more melodious, tears and exultations, sighs and gladness in the tones, more strong as they were sweet, and sweeter as they were more strong, filling the whole atmosphere and thrilling to the very horizon; and as he sat down people would sigh — oh why does he stop ! And the excellencies of these men both animated and discouraged him. To be as useful as they were his heart panted ; but, alas, there were great difficulties in the way, such as deterred him for a time, and made him think of the medical profession. He was not fluent in speech. By some peculiar disarrangement of his'' vocal powers, he frequently found great difficulty in the utterance of words, and was often brought to a disagreeable pause. By prolonged effort this vicious habit of lungs was improved, but never entirely overcome. Through life it was occasionally apparent in his public services, sometimes affecting himself and the audience disagreeably,

and at others adding greatly to the solemnity, particularly when his mind and heart were struggling under a tide of emotion. Once, in the city of New York, he was violently affected suddenly, in the midst of an impassioned address, of great feeling. One or two that knew the cause were alarmed for the consequence, seeing his violent struggles for breath. The mass of the audience leaned forward in profound silence till he finished the sentence, thinking nothing else than that it was a natural pause from the struggling emotions of the speaker’s heart. As they passed from the house, one and another was saying, did you ever hear such a pause? did you ever see such an effect? In man’s weakness God is strong. That he engaged in the study of theology, that he struggled with his impediments and overcame them, and that he entered the ministry, the church will thank God for ever.

While engaged in the duties of the college, and in preparations for the ministry, he maintained his high stand in the esteem and affections of the family at Willington. The attachment he had formed for the eldest daughter had, to his surprise and joy, become mutual. The mother, in feeble health, counting death near, gave him, on a visit to the family, in a private interview, an account of her situation, and her hopes and fears as respected the world to come and this mortal life, and solemnly charged him to be a friend to her young children after her departure, and, as far as possible, lead them in the way of salvation. With some fears lest the daughter’s delicate health should not be equal to the duties of a wife, to a minister in narrow circumstances, the parents had given their consent to the marriage, which was probably hastened by the delicate health of the mother. On the 9th of July, 1802, John H. Rice and Ann Smith Morton were united in bonds to be separated only by death. Through life he alluded to this union as the source of his greatest earthly enjoyments, and the spring of much of his usefulness. Immediately after the marriage, Mr. Rice commenced housekeeping near the college, in a small tenement provided by Major Morton. This house, much enlarged, is now the residence of Mrs. Rice (1855) and her sister, Mrs. Wharey, the widow of a clergyman. About this time Mr. Rice was ordained elder of Cumberland church. In a letter he expresses his estimation of his friends in Prince Edward and Powhatan: — “In no other circumstances do I more plainly see the hand of God than in bestowing upon me so many honest-hearted friends as I have. They are all among the excellent of the earth. Their regard is worth having, because they esteem only what is good. May the Lord make me worthy of them.”

At a meeting of Hanover Presbytery at Hanover meeting-house, April 9th, 1803, present Rev. Messrs. John D. Blair, Drury Lacy, and James Robinson; Elders, John Parker and Andrew Hart; a record was made — “Whereas, it was represented by one of the members present, that Mr. John H. Rice, a tutor in Hampden Sidney College, was desirous of coming under the care of this Presbytery as a candidate for the ministry, and that subjects had been assigned him by Mr. Alexander, as pieces of trial, which he had intended to have produced at this time, but was prevented by sickness ; on motion, resolved, that Messrs. M’Robert, Lacy, Alexander, and 'Lyle, and also Messrs. James Allen, Nathaniel Price, and James Morton, Elders, and any other members of Presbytery, who may find it convenient to attend, be a Committee to receive Mr. Rice as a candidate if they deem it advisable, and to examine such pieces of trial as he may produce.” This Committee met, with the exception of Mr. Price, on the 29th of July, at Hampden Sidney, and “ examined Mr. John H. Rice on his experimental acquaintance with religion, and respecting his motives for desiring to preach the gospel, on which they received competent satisfaction; that Mr. Rice then proceeded to read an essay on the question—“are the miracles of Christ of themselves sufficient to prove the truth of the Christian religion;” and also a lecture on Romans 8:1 — 4 inclusive, which pieces of trial were sustained. They appointed him to write a discourse on Acts 10: 34, 35, and also on John 5: 40, as the subject of a popular sermon, to be preached as soon as convenient.” On Friday, Sept. 9th, 1803, at the Cove meeting-house, Albemarle, one of the preaching places of James Robinson, "Mr. John H. Rice preached a sermon on John 5: 40, the subject which had been appointed by the Committee, which having been considered was sustained. Mr. Rice then read an exercise on Acts 10: 34, 35, which had also been appointed by the Committee, which was sustained as part of trial.” On Monday, the 12th, Mr. Rice was licensed according to the forms of the Presbyterian Church; the Rev. James Robinson performing the services of the occasion.

Mr. Alexander gave himself to the spiritual welfare of the church, as well as to the progress of literature in the College; in fact the progress of science and literature had charms for him, mostly as they might in their diffusion advance the cause of truth and uprightness. The Assembly of 1801, that sent Mr. Alexander a delegate to New England, also gave him a commission to visit Georgia as a missionary. This he could never find time to fulfil. It' also enjoined the Presbyteries to collect information on the jive following subjects, for the use of the Assembly. 1st, The Indian tribes among them, or on their borders, and their readiness for instruction. 2d, The frontier settlements, and the facilities for missionary operations, and the circulation of religious books. 3d, The interior districts that are destitute of the means of grace, and the facilities for supply. 4th, The colored race, and the opportunities for instruction. 5th, Proper persons for missionaries in any of these departments. All these things had been claiming the attention of the Virginia Synod, and were in part supplied by her Commission. In October, 1802, Messrs. Waddell, Alexander, and Calhoon were appointed to collect the required information. The Virginia Synod having been divided in the Spring of 1802, and the Synods of Kentucky and Pittsburgh taken from her bounds, her relative position was changed, and she began to change her method of procedure. The Presbyteries also felt the necessity of a modification of their actions. Search was made by this Committee for the old records of the Presbytery, to direct them in their course. Some of the volumes could no where be found. The Committee answered the demands of the Assembly on the five heads of information to the best of their knowledge; and the paper with others was committed to Dr. Green and Mr. Hazard, to prepare a history.

The Presbytery at Hampden Sidney, April 7th, 1804 — “Having received information that the minutes of the old Hanover Presbytery were recovered, and were in the possession of the Rev. Archibald Alexander; ordered, that they be deposited in the hands of the Stated Clerk for safe keeping, and that he transcribe, or procure to be transcribed such parts of them as need it, in order to their preservation, and present his account for this service to the Presbytery when it is completed.” In September, Mr. Lacy, the Clerk, reported that he had performed the duty, and presented a quarto volume of beautiful penmanship. The Presbytery agreed to allow him thirty dollars for the work. The Presbytery then were in possession of two copies of all their records that could be procured, from the formation of the Presbytery, in 1756, to the division in 1786, one copy just made by their Stated Clerk, in one volume; and the other in a number of small volumes, by different Stated Clerks, the covers of some of the volumes being of parchment or leather, the others of frailer material. Of some of the sessions the minutes were irretrievably lost. By a previous order of Presbytery, Mr. Lacy, the Clerk, had procured a thick quarto volume of durable materials in which he had transcribed, in an engrossing hand, the records of the Presbytery from its division, 1786, down to the current time. So that, in 1804, the Presbytery had two copies of records made out by her Stated Clerks, one in two volumes, and the other in six. But for these records thus preserved, a correct account of Hanover Presbytery and its ministers could never have been procured.

“A call from Cub Creek congregation addressed to Mr. John II. Rice for three-fourths of his time, was read and presented to him.” April 6th, 1804, at a meeting of the Presbytery, at the College — “But Mr. Rice informed the Presbytery that he did not wish to give a decisive answer to the call at present, but was willing to take it under consideration.” On the next day, he declared his acceptance; “and it appears proper that he should be ordained at our next meeting.” Gen. 3: 4, ‘And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die,” was appointed him as the subject of a trial sermon. Mr. Alexander was appointed to preach an ordination sermon, and Mr. Lacy to preside and give the charge. Mr. Rice resigned his office as tutor, and removed to Charlotte, fixing his residence on a farm about six miles from the Court-House. The Presbytery met at Cub Creek on the 28th of September, and consisted of Messrs. Alexander, M’Robert, Lacy, and Lyle, with Elders Major Morton, from Cumberland congregation, Captain Mask Leak, from the Cove, and Colonel William Morton, from Cub Creek.

After approving the trial sermon of Mr. Rice, the Presbytery proceeded to his ordination on Saturday, the 29th. Mr. Alexander preached from Acts 20: 28, “Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over whom the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which he has purchased with his own blood.” Mr. Lacy delivered the charge; and Mr. Rice, who had held to the Presbytery the relation of Ruling Elder, candidate for the ministry and licentiate, now took his seat as an ordained minister.

Mr. James Tompkins, a Baptist minister, was present at the meeting in Bedford, to promote Christian Union, and after a time applied for admission to Hanover Presbytery. The committee that were charged with the examination of Mr. Rice, were directed to consider this application, which had been before a called meeting, in Bedford, in February, and the regular Spring meeting in Hanover. The committee met at Bannister Meeting-House in June, and considered the application, and inquired into some reports implicating the character of Mr. Tompkins, by impeaching his motives for desiring a change of denominations. At their meeting in July, at the college, the committee decided favorably in case of Mr. Rice and Mr. Tompkins, and so reported to the meeting of Presbytery in the fall. After Mr. Rice was licensed, Mr. Tompkins “was received under the care of this Presbytery as a preacher of the gospel—and exercises of trial were appointed unto him. And as this is a new and important case— resolved further, that the following question be brought before Synod' at their next meeting, by way of overture. A regularly ordained minister of the Baptist Church applies to a Presbytery to be received as a minister of the gospel in connexion with them ; is his ordination to be considered as valid?” On the third day of the sessions of Synod, Oct. 15th, at the college, the question was considered, and was unanimously decided in the affirmative. The day before Mr. Rice was ordained, Mr. Tompkins “delivered a discourse on 1st John 2d, 2d. The subject assigned him in Sept. 1803, which the Presbytery sustained as satisfactory. The Rev. James Mitchel came in— his reasons for not coming sooner, and also for non-attendance at our last meeting were sustained. Mr. Tompkins then read an essay on the following question—Wherein consisted the punishment of Adam’s transgression, and in what manner was it inflicted. The Presbytery having received competent satisfaction with respect to Mr. James Tompkins,- of his abilities to preach the gospel, and of his soundness in the faith, agreed to receive him as a member in full standing.” Mr. Tompkins was an acceptable preacher, and an useful minister of Christ. His race was short. On the 20th of July, 1806, he entered on his everlasting rest.

The Second Step by Hanover Presbytery for a Theological Seminary.

An overture brought into the Assembly of the Church in 1805, by Dr. Green, was approved, and sent to the Presbyteries, enjoining them—“to look out among themselves, pious youth of promising talents, and endeavor to educate them, and bring them forward into the ministry ; that it be made a Presbyterial business, that the youth are to be conducted by the Presbyteries through the whole of their academical course, and theological studies, and at such schools, and j under such teachers as each Presbytery may choose to employ or | recommend.” The Hanover Presbytery took up the overture, April ' 4th, 1806, at Briery. The Synod of Virginia, many years before, ‘had proposed these schools in her bounds, to carry into effect a j similar proposal, one in Redstone Presbytery, one in Transylvania, and one in Lexington. Hanover Presbytery had taken it up, and in the year 1797 had commenced her charitable fund, the first step towards a Seminary. Something more was wanted to make the project effective. Therefore—“Resolved, that the Rev. Messrs. Alexander, Lyle, Rice and Speece, together with Messrs. James Morton, Robert Quarles, and James Daniel be a committee, of whom any four shall be a quorum, to solicit donations, and do all other things which may to them appear expedient for obtaining and establishing a Theological Library and School at Hampden Sidney College; and for the support of such poor and pious youth as the Presbytery may undertake to educate and bring forward to the Holy Ministry.” Mr. Rice, a member of the Assembly, was on the committee of bills and overtures, that reported the overture of Dr. Green; and was appointed by this committee of Hanover Presbytery an agent to gather funds for a library, and the school, and the education purposes. This was another step towards Union Theological Seminary. The address of the committee to the public is worthy of preservation, setting forth the fundamental principles of theological schools.

The person to whom the Presbytery turned their eyes as the man to direct the use of the intended library, and preside in the school when organized, appears not to have made any such calculation about himself. In a letter to Mr. Maxwell, Dr. Alexander says, speaking of Mr. Rice — “ Our excellent friend was not a systematic student in his theological studies; and although you seem disposed to give me the credit of having been his preceptor in this sacred science, yet candor induces me to say, that I have a very slight claim to the honor. I never considered myself his teacher, in this or any other department of knowledge. I was rather his companion in study; but was ever ready to communicate to others the facts of my own reading. I was about a half a dozen years older than he, and had been about that time in the ministry, when I first knew him; but then the idea of teaching theology to any one was far from my thoughts. I do remember, however, that at his earnest request, I prescribed a course of reading in theology; and the impression of the fact was rendered indelible in my mind, by an incident of a somewhat remarkable kind, which I will relate. Among the books to be perused was Dr. Samuel Clarke’s Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God. The effect which the reading of this able work had on his mind I can never forget. It plunged him into the abyss of scepticism, it drove him almost to distraction.

I never contemplated a powerful mind in such a state of desolation. For a day or two his perturbation was overwhelming and alarming. But in a few days, effectual relief was obtained; but in what particular way, I am, at this distance of time unable to state, except that the difficulties which he experienced were not overcome by reasoning, or any human means; but by the grace of God through prayer. I do not pretend to explain how the perusal of this work of profound argumeut should have produced such an effect. I merely note an interesting fact, from which every reader may draw his own conclusions. It is now my impression that this occurrence interrupted the theological studies of our deceased friend.

“His discourses when he first engaged in public preaching, were principally argumentative, and especially directed to the demonstration of the truths of the Christian religion, and its vindication from the objections of infidels. He was naturally led into this strain of preaching, by the prevalence of deistical opinions in that country for several years preceding. His sermons therefore were not at first suited to the taste, nor adapted to the edification of the common people; but they were calculated to raise his reputation as a, man of learning and abilities, with men of information and discernment.” There was a change in his style of preaching; in a few years he became a favorite with the colored people.

The records of College give evidence of disturbances, and tendencies to disorder among the students, to a greater degree during the second presidency of Mr. Alexander than the first. Domestic discipline had relaxed, and many things were considered by parents and guardians as admissible, that, in previous years, had been intolerable. The number of students from a distance increased; and they brought their insubordination along with them. College duties were severe, and Mr. Alexander longed for the ministry of the word. There were congregations that would sustain a preacher; for one of these Mr. Alexander began to have strong desires. His health was enfeebled by his great exertions as preacher and teacher; and his opportunities for study were lessening. In this condition of things, Pine street Church in Philadelphia sent him an invitation. He immediately made them a visit; and being pleased with the prospect, he accepted their proposition and prepared for a removal. A called meeting of Presbytery was held at the College, November 13th 1806, and the call for Mr. Alexander came under consideration. The churches with which he was connected yielded to his wish to remove, and made no objection to the call. He was therefore transferred to the Presbytery of Philadelphia. At least three ministers mourned his departure; and the hearts. of many laymen were sad. But in the removal he was evidently blessed of God.

On receiving Mr. Alexander’s resignation, the Trustees appointed Mr. Wm. S. Reid, then teaching in College, to take charge of the classes for a season; and gave him as tutors Mr. Andrew Shannon, Mr. Thomas Lumpkin and Mr. James C. Willson; all of whom afterwards became ministers of the gospel.


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