Alexander, James Waddell

Alexander, James Waddell D.D., eldest son of Archibald Alexander, was born March 13, 1804, in Louisa Co., Va. He received his academical training under James Ross in Philadelphia, and graduated A.B. at Princeton in 1820. He was appointed tutor in the college at the age of twenty, having in the mean time pursued his theological studies at the seminary under the instruction of his father, who was appointed in 1812 first professor in the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton. He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in 1824, and soon after became pastor of the same church in Charlotte Co., Va., in which his father had commenced his ministry. In 1828 he accepted a call to the First Presbyterian church in Trenton, N J. In 1832 he resigned his charge in Trenton, on account of impaired health, and became editor of the Presbyterian newspaper in Philadelphia. In the following year he was appointed Professor of Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres in the college at Princeton, which post he continued to occupy until, in 1844, he was called to the Duane Street church in New York. While fulfilling the professorship he preached regularly to a small congregation of colored people at Princeton, without compensation, for the space of seven years. In 1843 he was made D.D. by Lafayette College, Pa. In 1849 he was appointed by the General Assembly Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government in Princeton Theological Seminary, and in 1851 he was called to take charge of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian church, New York. Here his most important work in the Gospel ministry was performed. He gathered around him one of the largest and most influential congregations in the land, who were attracted, not by his popular talents, but by his personal worth, and weight, and piety, and by the fervid simplicity with which he preached Christ Jesus. Dr. Alexander was a man of eminent and varied learning, reaching into all the departments of science and literature, the stories of which, in many modern as well as ancient languages, were as familiar to him and as much at his command as those in his mother tongue. Yet his practical religious zeal was so great that the greater part of his writings consists of books for children, and writings to increase practical religion. His rare qualities as a writer and a preacher enabled him to say every thing in a style of originality and peculiar grace. He was equally distinguished for moral excellence, especially for childlike simplicity of character, unaffected humility, and simple but ever- glowing piety. In the spring of 1859 his health began to fail. With a view to its restoration, he went to Virginia in the early summer, and appeared to grow better. About a week before his death he was seized with dysentery, and died at the Red Sweet Springs, Alleghany Co., Va., July 31, 1859.

Dr. Alexander's writings are chiefly practical, but all distinguished by breadth of thought and by admirable excellence of style. Among them are, A Gift to the Afflicted (12mo): — Geography of the Bible (by J. W. and J. A. Alexander, 12mo): — Consolation, or Discourses to the suffering Children of God (N. Y. 1853, 8vo): — American Mechanic (2 vols. 18mo): — Thoughts on Family Worship (12mo): — Life of Rev. A. Alexander, D.D. (8vo): — Young Communicant (12mo): — The American Sunday — school and its Adjuncts (Philippians 1856). He wrote more than thirty juvenile books for the American Sunday-school Union, of which the best known are Infant Library, Only Son, Scripture Guide, Frank Harper, Carl, the Young Emigrant. He also was a frequent contributor to the Princeton Review. Since his death has appeared his Thoughts on Preaching (N. Y. 1861, 12mo):Discourses on Faith (N. Y. 1862, 12mo). — New York Observer; Forty Years' Correspondence of Dr. J. W. Alexander with a Friend (N. Y. 1860, 2 vols. 12mo); New Englander, Nov. 1860, art. 5; Mercersburg Rev. Oct. 1860.

 
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