صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

make allowance for the necessity of his situation. Even occasional discoveries of heat of temper, which are often to be seen in studious men of amiable dispositions, when wearied out with unreasonable opposition, were not without their utility in the situation which he occupied. It was his custom as moderator, to introduce an important question with a short speech, in which he gave a perspicuous view of the cause; and on its discussion, he also said a few words, recapitulating the grounds of the Assembly's judgment. The pertinent and religious reflections which he threw in on remarkable occurrences, had often a most happy effect, sometimes filling the Assembly with deep concern, at other times cheering and elevating their minds amidst discouragements and heaviness. But, among all his qualifications, what deserves particular attention, was that faculty of fervent, sweet, and appropriate prayer, which he exercised without flagging through all the Assemblies in which he moderated.

Mr Henderson was too actively engaged in public business to find much leisure for preparing works for the press. But though he published little to the world as his own, his compositions were passed into acts both of the Church and State-obtained the sanction of the supreme authorities in the three kingdoms, were subscribed by all ranks of persons, and will continue to be famous in the history of his native country, and to be remembered as long as any taste for true patriotism and genuine religion remains. It will be recollected by the friends of genuine liberty, and of the Presbyterian Reformation, that the principal public papers from 1637 to 1646, and particularly the bond in which the National Covenant was renewed in 1638, and the Solemn League and Co

venant, were drawn by the pen of Alexander Henderson.

Besides these, and his papers in the controversy with the King, he was the author of a tract, which does not bear his name, entitled, "The Government and Order of the Church of Scotland." This small publication, which was written and published when he was in London in 1641, attending the treaty, must have been very useful at the time; and, with another pamphlet, published about the same time by Mr Gillespie, in defence of ruling elders and synods, had its share of influence in preparing the minds of the English, particularly about London, for the adoption of the Presbyterian government. It may be consulted still, not only as a relic of the valuable author, but also for information, as it contains a description, pretty circumstantial, of the government of the Church of Scotland, not only as it is to be found in her books of discipline, but as it was practised at that period.

There are three sermons of Mr Henderson's in print. The first is that preached before the General Assembly in 1638, already noticed. Though hastily composed, it exhibits a condensation of matter, and accuracy of arrangement, which discovered a mind well stored with knowledge, and capable of bringing it forth with promptitude on emergent occasions. The thoughts which were applicable to the circumstances are well introduced; they appear natively to rise from the subject, and they are illustrated and brought home with propriety and force. His second sermon is on Ezra, vii. 23: "Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king

and his sons ?" It was preached before the House of Commons at their solemn fast, on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 1643, and is described by Mr Baillie, as "a most gracious, wise, and learned sermon,"-a character which it justly deserves. His third printed sermon was preached before the two Houses of Parliament, on Thursday 18th July 1644, in Westminster, being a day of public thanksgiving for a victory obtained by the forces of both kingdoms, near York. The text is Matt. xiv. 31; "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt ?" These sermons afford a specimen of his manner of preaching. It was strictly textual, so that none of his sermons could with propriety have been preached from any other passage of Scripture than that which is placed before them. His method is taken either from the natural division of the words, or from a proposition which shortly expresses their just import. Though composed hastily, amidst a multiplicity of avocations, they afford very favourable specimens of his talents, and justify the reputation which he gained in this species of composition. As a public speaker, he was eloquent, judicious, and popular. His eloquence was easy, but impressive; grave, but fluent. It was like the motion of a deep river, which carries one insensibly with a full tide, rather than the rapidity of a swollen torrent. "Learned, eloquent, and polite," says Grainger, "and perfectly versed in the knowledge of mankind, he knew how to rouse the people to war, or negociate a peace. Whenever he preached, it was to crowded audiences; and when he pleaded or argued, he was regarded with mute attention."

I may conclude with the following character of him, drawn by his friend Mr Baillie, in a speech he delivered before the General Assembly in 1647 :— “That glorious soul of blessed memory, who now is crowned with the reward of all his labours for God and for us, I wish his remembrance may be fragrant among us, so long as free and pure Assemblies remain in this land, which we hope shall be to the coming of our Lord. You know he spent his strength, and wore out his days, he breathed out his life in the service of God and of his Church. This binds it on our back, as we would not prove ungrateful, to pay him his due. If the thoughts of others be conform to my inmost sense, in duty and reason, HE OUGHT TO BE ACCOUNTED BY US AND POSTERITY, THE FAIREST ORNAMENT, AFTER JOHN KNOX, OF INCOMPARABLE MEMORY, THAT EVER THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND DID ENJOY."






To the KIRK and KINGDOM of SCOTLAND, Grace to you, and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

THREE reasons have prevailed with me to set your honourable and reverend name before this Sermon. One is, that having preached it before the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, I conceived it more convenient to send it to you in print, than to direct it to them the second time. And in so doing I cannot apprehend any danger of censure: because the ground of my calling to join in so solemn an action, was rather a national concernment, than any personal respect for me, or expectation of any thing that could proceed from my weakness worthy of such an auditory, as is one of the greatest and gravest on earth. In this therefore, if I mistake not, I do comply with their intentions, and still follow their respects. Another reason is, that after so long absence, not only from my personal charge, but from you, my mother Church and native country, I do willingly take hold of this opportunity, to testify that we your servants for Christ, who have the honour to be in

« السابقةمتابعة »