Happy Birthday to J.W. Alexander!

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James Waddel Alexander, the son of Archibald Alexander, was born on March 13, 1804 in Louisa County, Virginia. After graduating from the College of New Jersey (Princeton) and studying at the Theological Seminary, he was licensed to preach in 1825 by the Presbytery of New Brunswick. After a period of time under the care of his uncle and mentor Dr. John Holt Rice, he was soon sent to take up a pastorate at Charlotte County, Virginia, beginning in May 1826. He was finally ordained on March 3, 1827 and installed as the pastor of Charlotte Court-House Church. It was during this period of his life that a brief notice appears in his letters to his friend John Hall that stood out to this writer.

On July 3, 1827, in response to a query from Hall, Alexander had this to say:

Ques. 2. What have you written?

  1. Letters.

  2. A few pieces for Rice’s Magazine, signed Atlanticus, Quis, M. R—n, and one anonymous intituled “The Minister of Christ.”

The magazine in question is The Virginia Evangelical and Literary Magazine, which was edited by John Holt Rice. It is a magazine for which many of the contributors assumed pseudonyms, including Rice himself (“Rusticus”). Also, because of his youth and relative inexperience in the ministry, it is not surprising that the contributions Alexander alludes to were published without his name attached. In any case, they are not referenced in Samuel Davies Alexander’s Catalogue of the Writings of the Alexander Family, nor are they mentioned in the more recent study of Alexander’s life and ministry by James M. Garretson (although Garretson mentions J.W. Alexander’s later use of the pseudonym “Charles Quill”).

Some of these anonymous contributions were identified by this writer recently after review of the 1827 volume of the magazine, and they have now been added to Log College Press here.

  • “Importance of Hebrew Literature” - “Atlanticus”

  • “Plan for Collecting Historical Records” - “Quis?”

  • “The Minister of Christ Addressed to a Young Preacher of the Gospel” - Anonymous (in three parts)

Each of these writings reveals interesting insights into the man who would later become the experienced minister whose posthumously-published Thoughts on Preaching (edited by S.D. Alexander) would mark a major contribution to the study of homiletics. They are short reads, but represent perhaps the earliest published writings by J.W. Alexander. Take time to look them over (pardoning the less-than ideal quality of the photos) today as we remember Alexander on his birthday.

The Duties of a Gospel Minister, by John Holt Rice, is Now Available

Log College Press has just published its latest title, a booklet by John Holt Rice entitled The Duties of a Gospel Minister. Rice (1777-1831) was an American Presbyterian who ministered in Virginia and was instrumental in the early days of Union Theological Seminary. This booklet, with a foreword by Barry Waugh introducing Rice the man and the minister, originally was a sermon preached in 1809. It sets forth the duties of a pastor to his fellow pastors and to the church, as well as laying down motivations for diligence in the work of the ministry. All pastors, whether right out of seminary or near retirement, will be encouraged and instructed by this brief distillation of the pastoral calling.

Here are a few endorsements of Rice’s work:

“Too many works on pastoral ministry are long on worldly pragmatics and short on Biblical practicality. Yet The Duties of a Gospel Minister, though a brief work, is filled with the latter as Rice directs pastors toward a truer Presbyterian approach to the ministry. His section on pastoral ministry to youth – a key factor in awakening in church history – is especially needed in this directionless age.”

– Dr. Barry J. York, President and Professor of Pastoral Theology, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

 “In this startlingly relevant little work, Rice refreshes the minister’s soul as he sets the spiritual beauty of this peculiar calling before his readers anew. Every new minister as well as every tired, world-worn, or discouraged pastor who would be more than a ‘baptized deist’ would do well to take the few minutes required to read this address. Do it, and see how God might use it in your life: to settle your heart; to remind you of the grand proportions, profound significance, and urgent need of your work; and to renew your desire to serve Christ vigorously, ‘with all diligence and fidelity,’ as a minister of ‘unadulterated Christianity’ in His Church and to a desperate and dying world.”

– Dr. Bruce P. Baugus, Associate Professor of Philosophy & Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson

 “A wise man listens to counsel – especially counsel drawn from the Word. While John Holt Rice’s exposition of aspects of ‘The Duties of a Gospel Minister’ was written to a past generation, his application of Scripture is as relevant as ever, challenging us to re-engage the high calling of gospel ministry in Christ for the joy set before us.”

– Dr. William VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

You can purchase Rice’s book for $3.99, or all six of our titles for $26 (plus free shipping). Visit our online bookstore today.