October 11: Rev. Francis James Grimké [1852-1937]

We search the Scriptures in order to find out what the will of the Lord is. And in preaching we endeavor to set before the people what God would have them do, but unless I myself am practicing what I preach, my preaching will be of no value. We must live what we preach if we hope to influence others, if we hope to command the respect of others. We who preach therefore should be constantly on our guard, should be careful ourselves to walk circumspectly in all our ways.”—Rev. Francis James Grimké.

Francis James Grimké, his father a slave owner and his mother a slave, was born in Charleston, South Carolina on November 4, 1850. After a tumultuous childhood, he was able to graduate first from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1870, where he was the class valedictorian, and then subsequently preparing for the ministry at the Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating there as part of the Class of 1878.  

Ordained to the ministry by the Presbytery of Washington City on July 7, 1878, he was installed as the pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church and served there from 1878-1885. He left that pulpit to serve a term as Stated Supply for the Laura Street Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville, Florida, 1885-1889 and then returned to again pastor the Fifteenth Street church in Washington, D.C. from 1889 until 1928, when declining health forced his retirement. Rev. Grimké died on October 11, 1937.  Notable among the honors bestowed upon Rev. Grimké during his life was the Doctor of Divinity degree, conferred by Lincoln University in 1888.

Earlier this year our friends over at the Log College Press—Caleb Cangelosi and his able assistant R. Andrew Myers—published a small book by the Rev. Francis James Grimké, titled MEDITATIONS ON PREACHING (its cover is shown above). Quotations in the book are drawn from Volume III of The Works of Francis J. Grimké, a work published in 1942 and not easily found these days. Additionally, the foreword for the book was written by the Rev. Irwyn Ince, who served as Moderator of the PCA’s 46th General Assembly (2018). If we’ve gained your interest with our post today, you can order the book here. I know that you will profit from its reading. A fuller review of the book can be found on Barry Waugh’s blog, Presbyterians of the Past.

Words to Live By:
“Get hold of the truth, i.e., clearly apprehend it; let the truth get hold of you, i.e., be fully impressed with the value and importance of it. Only thus will you be able to present it effectively to others. The clearer you see it, and the more deeply you are impressed by it, have been brought under its power, the more effective will be your presentation of it. This is one reason why much of our speaking counts for nothing, or for so little: haziness of thought and lack of strong conviction. What we believe thoroughly and feel keenly, we will be able to make others see and feel. We should attempt to speak on no subject which to us is of little value or importance. The estimate that we put upon it is the estimate which others listening to us will be likely to put upon it.”—Rev. Francis James Grimké


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