Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

22 October 1851 A.D. Princeton Seminary’s First President and Professor Passes from This World to the Next: Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander.


22 October 1851 A.D. Princeton Seminary’s First President and Professor Passes from This World to the Next: Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander.

          Dr. Rusten tells the story.

          Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. The One Year Christian History. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.  Available at:

Archibald Alexander was born in 1772 to a Presbyterian family near Lexington, VA.  At 17, he became a tutor to the family of a GEN serving the new nation. Mrs. Taylor, an elderly woman, lived in the same quarters.  She was nearly blind.  She asked Archibald Alexander to read books to her, including Mr. (Rev.) John Flavel.  As a result, Mr. Alexander became interested in theology, worship and piety.  On Sunday evenings, Mr. Alexander read Flavel’s sermons to the family, a good practice then as well as now…that is, reading solid theologians and sermons.

Mr. Alexander went to Liberty Hall (now Washington and Mary) to study theology.  He intinerated on the VA-OH frontier.  At the nubile age of 24, c. 1796, he became the President of Hampden-Sydney College.

In 1807, he became the Pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.  (Of note, Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia, was not built until 1829.)  Mr. Alexander was also the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.  In 1808, he recommended the foundation of a denominational seminary.

Princeton Theological Seminary was established in 1812.  Mr. Alexander was the first President and Professor of the Seminary.   There were 3 students in fall, 6 more students in spring, and 5 more in summer. His modest home served as a library, chapel and classroom. In time, PTS would become one of the most famous and successful seminaries in the United States, renown for it scholarship, doctrine, and evangelical pity.

Mr. Alexander stayed at Princeton until his death on 22 October 1851 at the age of 79.

Shortly before his death, he penned this prayer (another of many instances disabusing Presbyterians that written prayers are a bit much and forever disabusing Anglicans who think Presbyterians don’t have and don’t have written prayers).  Here is Mr. Alexander’s prayer:

“O most merciful God!...Thou has a perfect right to dispose of me, in that manner which will most effectively promote Thy glory: And I know that whatever Thou dost is right, and wise, and just and good…And when my spirit leaves this clay tenement, Lord Jesus receive it! Send some of the blessed angels to convey my inexperienced soul to the mansion which Thy love has prepared. And O! let me be so situated, though in the lowest rank, that I may behold Thy glory. May I have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; for whose sake and in whose name, I ask all these things. Amen.”


  1. Are you ready to face death with the same theology as Mr. Alexander?
  2. Was his theology, doctrine, worship and piety Biblical?
  3. What of John 14, 2 Corinthians 5.1ff, and 1 Thessalonians 4.13?
  4. What of regeneration and evangelism in the church context?  Presumptive regeneration?


Alexander. The Life of Archibald Alexander.

Calhoun. Princeton Seminary.

Hope, N.V. “Alexander, Archibald.” WWCH. 18

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