Mcclelland, Alexander, Dd

Mcclelland, Alexander, D.D.

a noted (Dutch) Reformed minister and educator, was born at Schenectady, N. Y., in 1794; graduated at Union College in 1809; studied theology with Rev. John Anderson, D.D., in Western Pennsylvania, and afterwards with Rev. John M. Mason, D.D.; was licensed by the Associate Reformed Presbytery, New York, in 1815; and, when nineteen years only, was elected pastor of Rutgers Street Presbyterian Church, New York, as successor of Dr. Milledoler. Here he remained seven years, and established his great reputation as a pulpit orator among the foremost men of his day. In 1822 he became professor of rhetoric, logic, and metaphysics in Dickinson College, Pa.; removed in 1829 to New Brunswick, N. J., as professor of languages in Rutgers College; and in 1832 was elected professor of Oriental literature and Biblical criticism in the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church. He continued, however, to give instruction in rhetoric and belles-lettres in the college for several years. He resigned his place in the theological seminary in 1857; and, after a tour in Europe, returned to New Brunswick, where he lived in retirement until his death, Dec. 19, 1864. This published works consist of a few occasional sermons and pamphlets, and a volume on the Canon and Interpretation of Scripture (New York, 1860, pp. 329, 12mo). Dr. McClelland was in almost every respect a man sui generis. He was original in thought, in style of expression, in oratory, and in the professor's chair. He was humorous and witty, keen and strong, robust in mind, thorough in scholarship, impatient of dullness and idleness, and exacting to the last degree as a teacher. Inspiring his pupils with his own enthusiasm, he taught them to study and to think accurately for themselves. He gave very short lessons in Hebrew and in Greek; but the grammar and dictionary were always in use, and he required critical accuracy in recitations. His written lectures on the Epistles to the Romans and Hebrews, and his oral criticisms on Isaiah and the Psalms; his condensed Hebrew Grammar, and his lectures on the Canon and interpretation of Scripture, were admirable specimens of his skill as an instructor. His rare pulpit eloquence was quite equaled at times by outbursts of his genius and power in the professorial chair. Naturally impulsive and irritable, he was often sarcastic and severe; and these tendencies were aggravated by protracted and distressing disease. Yet his best students overlooked all this in their admiration of his ability as a teacher. In the pulpit he was clear and forcible, brilliant and impassioned, versatile and learned, simple and profound, electric, and frequently eccentric. Among his published sermons are a few of his memorable discourses; but some that were perhaps even more characteristic of his remarkable oratory were left out of the collection. No printed page can reproduce the effects of his mellifluous voice, his significant gestures, and the earnestness of his impassioned power. His peculiarities of temperament and manner interfered considerably with his general usefulness, and his independence of thought sometimes led him into questionable statements of truth; and in 1834 he was arraigned before the General Synod for heresy, on the subject of spiritual renovation; but, having made satisfactory explanations, he retained his professorship and ecclesiastical status. His latter years were spent in retirement among his books, and in the quiet pursuit of favorite studies, until he was disabled by a long and incurable disease; and then, with simple trust in Jesus, entered into rest. Quite detailed sketches of Dr. McClelland's life and works, from the pen of Dr. Chalmers, of New York City, were published in the Christian Intelligencer (New York, 1872, Oct., Nov.). (W. J. R. T.)

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