God’s Gifts Recognized by God’s People
There are three dates in the life of Archibald Alexander, the first professor of Princeton Theological Seminary, which stand out in importance to this stalwart for the faith.
The first is October 1790. That was the month and year when young Alexander was placed under care by the Lexington, Virginia Presbytery. How different is this proceeding than what takes place today in being brought under care. A candidate bring an endorsement from the Session of Elders of which he is a member. That endorsement includes his Christian character and promise of usefulness in the ministry. It should also speak of the activities of ministry that the candidate has involved himself in within the church at large or a local church in particular. An examination is made concerning his experimental religion and his motives for seeking the ministry. Two questions of personal promises regarding both his relation to his Session and the Presbytery in Christian experience and education are then made. A brief charge is brought from the Bible and then his name is on the role of Presbytery as a man under care.
In eighteenth century America, the prospective candidate. was assigned a paper in Latin on a doctrinal subject along with a sermon to be proclaimed. Alexander was assigned justification by faith alone and a sermon subject of the difference between a dead and living faith. Further, he was to lecture on Hebrews 6:1-6 and assigned Jeremiah 1:7 as his sermon.
The next step was licensure, which took place on October 1, 1791. What is remarkable here is that his ministry under licensure was away from the Presbytery rather than being immediately and directly within the bounds of the Presbytery. Archibald Alexander would travel on horseback to various communities for the next thirty-six months, preaching 132 sermons during that three plus months. And these sermons were not the introduction, three points, and a poem for application type sermons. They were two hours or more in length. And they were proclaimed without notes on the pulpit desk.
Then Hanover Presbytery ordained Archibald Alexander on June 7, 1794. Upon that event in his spiritual life, he began the preaching, teaching, administering, and studying the Word of God for which he was recognized by all believers in all centuries.
Words to Live By: Normally, all we must do is to please God by our plans and activities. Yet when God’s people confirm our Lord’s calling to His service, we are encouraged to proceed ahead in our efforts to study, serve, and/or sacrifice. Let us pray fervently for God’s people to be thrust out into His harvest field, for the harvest is great, but the laborers are so very few to take advantage of that spiritual harvest. Will you pray specifically today for someone you know (or don’t know) to discovered his calling to do God’s work?