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with him at Newcastle, and who had an opportunity of being acquainted with all his transactions with his Majesty, and his most private sentiments respecting his conduct, testifies that he held fast his integrity to the end, mentioning this incidentally in the memoirs of his own life, as a great inducement with him to accept of Mr Henderson's place as chaplain to his Majesty. And Mr Livingston declares, that he was present, and saw him die with great peace and comfort.
Yet, about two years after his death, a pamphlet was published, as his declaration upon his deathbed, which, without an express recantation of Presbyterian principles, contained a high panegyric upon King Charles, particularly for devotion, magnanimity, charity, sobriety, chastity, patience, humility; and expresses a deep sense of the guilt of the Parliaments in their conduct towards him. This pamphlet was the forgery of a Scots Episcopal divine. No sooner did it appear, than the General Assembly appointed a committee to examine it, and afterwards emitted a declaration of its falsehood and forgery. In this, "out of the tender respect which they bear to his name (which ought to be precious to them and all posterity, for his faithful services in the great work of Reformation in these kingdoms, wherein the Lord was pleased to make him eminently instrumental), they declare, that after due search and trial, they do find that their worthy brother, Mr Alexander Henderson, did, from the time of his coming from London to Newcastle, till the last moment of his departure out of this life, manifest the constancy of his judgment touching the work of the Reformation in these kingdoms. All that he was able to speak in
that time (from his arrival in Edinburgh till his death), did clearly shew his judgment of, and affection to, the work of Reformation, and cause of God, to be every way the same then that it was in the beginning and progress thereof; as divers reverend brethren who visited him have declared to this Assembly, particularly two brethren, who constantly attended him from the time he came home, till his breath expired." After mentioning several other reasons, the declaration thus concludes: " Upon consideration of all which, the Assembly doth condemn the said pamphlet as forged, scandalous, and false. And farther, declare the author and contriver of the same to be void of charity and a good conscience, and a gross liar and calumniator, led by the spirit of the Accuser of the brethren."
The removal of Mr Henderson at such a critical juncture was a great loss to the Presbyterian cause, and as such was lamented by the wisest men in the three kingdoms. His influence with the nobility was missed in the dissensions between the Church and the Estates of Scotland, in the affair of the Duke of Hamilton's engagement. Speaking of the commission to Scotland of Charles II. after his father's death, one of Baillie's correspondents says, "Oh! we miss now that precious servant of Christ, Mr Alexander Henderson. He would have been a man fit for this purpose."
Alexander Henderson was enriched with an assemblage of endowments which have rarely met in one He possessed talents which fitted him for judging and giving advice about the political affairs of a nation, or even for taking an active share in the management of them, had he not devoted himself to
the immediate service of the Church, and the study of ecclesiastical business. He was not more distinguished by the abilities which he displayed in his public conduct, than by the virtues which adorned his private character. Grave, yet affable and polite; firm and independent, yet modest and condescending, he commanded the respect, and conciliated the affection, of all who were acquainted with him; and the more intimately his friends knew him, they loved him the more. The power of religion he deeply felt, and he had tasted the comforts of the Gospel. Its spirit, equally removed from the coldness of the mere rationalist, and the irregular fervours of the enthusiast, breathed in all his words and actions. The love of liberty was in him a pure and enlightened flame; he loved his native country, but his patriotism was no narrow, illiberal passion; it opened to the welfare of neighbouring nations, and of mankind in general.
Educated in Episcopal sentiments, and having the fairest prospects of advancement in a hierarchy fast rising in greatness, after he had set out with an ardent mind in the career of ambition, he sacrificed his hopes to the convictions of his conscience, and joined himself to a small body of men, who, though honourable in the sight of God, were despised and borne down by those who were in power. As his adoption of the original principles of the Church of Scotland was not hasty, nor the effect of personal disgust, but of deliberate examination, and the fullest conviction, he persevered in the maintenance of them without deviation, amidst great temptations. Though he had received a liberal education in the first university in the kingdom, and had attained to an eminent station in it, he cheerfully devoted his time and talents to the care of
a people in an obscure corner, where he lived contented and beloved upwards of twenty years, and from whom he at last submitted, with extreme reluctance, to be parted. Called forth by the irresistible cry of his dear country, when he found her reduced to the utmost distress, by the oppression of ambitious prelates, supported by an arbitrary court and corrupt statesmen, he came from that retirement which was congenial to him, and entered upon the bustle of public business, at a time of life when others think of retiring from it. Though he sighed after his original solitude, and suffered from the fatigues and anxiety to which he was subjected, yet he did not relinquish his station, nor shrink from the difficult tasks imposed upon him, until his feeble and shattered constitution sank under them, and he fell a martyr to the cause.
He appeared on the public stage with a mind improved by reading and experience, and an acquaintance with mankind, which genius, directed by cool attention, can acquire in situations very unfavourable. His learning, prudence, and sagacity, soon distinguished him among that band of patriots who associated for the vindication of their national rights; and he was consulted by the principal nobility and statesmen on the most important questions of public concern. Averse to severe or high measures, and disposed to unite all the friends of religion and liberty, he nevertheless did not hesitate to approve of and recommend bold and decisive steps, when necessary to remedy intolerable grievances, or to prosecute and secure a necessary reformation. His sagacity and political wisdom were free from the base alloy of duplicity and selfishness, by which they are so often degraded.
His integrity and virtue remained uncorrupted, amidst the blandishments of the Court, and the intrigues of the Cabinet. The confidence reposed in him, and the influence which he was enabled to exercise, which were as great as any ever enjoyed in a Presbyterian church, he did not in a single instance betray or abuse.
In forming an estimate of Mr Henderson's character, it would be improper to overlook his qualifications for assisting ecclesiastical judicatories, and particularly the Supreme Council of the Church to which he belonged, in which he repeatedly occupied the situation of moderator. In all large, deliberative, and free assemblies, the preservation of order, and expediting of business, depend greatly upon the talents and conduct of the person who acts as president. It is much to the credit of the subject of this memoir, that, in the Assemblies in which he presided, there was no uproar, disorder, or indecency, although the times were turbulent; and that, in the multiplicity of business which pressed upon them, confusion was avoided. His character, his appearance, his manners, procured him respect both from his brethren in the ministry, and those who acted as elders. With great dexterity he interposed, when there was any appearance of heat between the speakers, and ever, on such occasions, acted the part of a moderator. He knew how to bear with the scruples, and even the humours of good men, and at the same time to check unreasonable and wilful disobedience to necessary orders. Without infringing the liberty of the court, he could urge on a vote, or put a stop to tedious debate and desultory conversation. No honest mind could be hurt by the severity of his reproof, for all candid men could perceive the goodness which dictated it, or