Henderson, Alexander

Henderson, Alexander a minister of the Church of Scotland, was born in Fifeshire about 1583. He studied at St. Andrew's, where he passed A.M. in 1603, and where, about 1610, he was professor of philosophy. About 1615 (according to M'Crie) he was presented to the parish of Leuchars by archbishop Gladstanes. As the episcopal government was very unpopular with the people, they resisted Mr. Henderson's settlement, even to the extent of closing the church doors against him. In a few years, however, Henderson became convinced that "episcopacy was unauthorized by the Word of (God, and inconsistent with the reformed Constitution of the Church of Scotland." He entered into the strife against prelacy with great vigor. In 1619 he was called before the High Commission at St. Andrew's, but defended himself successfully. When the episcopal liturgy was ordered to be used in Scotland in 1637 he joined in the resistance made to it. He was one of the writers of the renewed "League and Covenant," sworn to by thousands at Grayfriars' Church, Edinburgh, March 1, 1638. He was moderator of the famous General Assembly of that year, and he executed the functions of his office with singular skill, firmness, and prudence. At the nineteenth session Henderson preached a powerful sermon, and at its close pronounced the sentence of deposition (against the bishops) which had been adopted by the Assembly. He was removed, much against his will, in 1638, from the church at Leuchars to Edinburgh. In 1640 he was made rector of the University of Edinburgh. During 1642 he was employed in managing the correspondence with England regarding reformation and reunion of the churches. In 1643 he was again moderator of the General Assembly; and in that year he, with others, represented Scotland at the Westminster Assembly, and he resided in London for three years. In 1645 he was appointed to assist the commissioners of Parliament to treat with the king at Uxbridge, and also at Newcastle in 1686. In the papers on episcopacy delivered by him in these conferences he displayed great learning and ability. His constitution was broken by long and excessive labors. In the summer of 1846 he returned to Edinburgh, and on the 19th of August in that year he died of the stone. The Constitution of the Scottish Church was framed chiefly by Henderson. "He was evidently of that sort of men of which martyrs are made, and needed only a change of circumstances to have given his name a high place among those who have sealed a good confession with their blood. Nearly every considerable production of that memorable period bears his impress. The Solemn League and Covenant was his own composition. The Directory was formed under his eye. He wrote the principal part of the Confession of Faith with his own hand. And the form of Church government which the Assembly attempted in vain to give to the Church of England was little more than a transcript of that which he had a little before drawn up for the Church of Scotland" (Curry, in Methodist Quarterly, 1848, p. 600). "So long as the purity of our Presbyterian establishment remains." says Dr. Aiton, "as often as the General Assembly of our Church is permitted to convene — while the Confession of Faith and Catechisms Larger and Shorter hold a place in our estimation second to the Scriptures alone — and till the history of the revolution during the reign of Charles I is forgotten the memory of Alexander Henderson will be respected, and every Presbyterian patriot in Scotland will continue grateful for the Second Reformation of our Church, which Henderson was so instrumental in effecting." His life was spent in active labors, allowing little time for writing, except the documents and pamphlets necessary to the great controversy in which he took so large a part. Two of his sermons — preached severally before the two houses of Parliament (1644) and the House of Lords (1645)are given at the end of M'Crie's Life of Alexander Henderson (Edinburgh, 1846). See also Howie, Scots' Worthies, p. 349; Collier, Eccles. Hist. of England, 8, 293- 325; Hetherington. Church of Scotland, vol. 1; Cunningham, Church Principles (Edinburgh, 1863), p. 384 sq.

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