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Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, 
900 Broadzuay, New York. 


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THESE tablets, as I understand them, 
put honor not only upon the names 
which they bear, but also upon the 
Alumni of Princeton Seminary. 

They tell to the world how much we loved 
these men, and simply to love such men is our 
highest praise. 

Archibald Alexander needs no tablet to 
perpetuate his name. There is his monument. 
Princeton Seminary is the record of his fame. 
He projected it, cradled it, nurtured it. He 
chose and gathered around him the honored 
associates who helped him to make it what it 
is. He watched over it for forty years. He 
commenced with three students, and lived to 
see the Seminary in its full-grown maturity, its 
class-rooms crowded with one hundred and 

sixty candidates for the ministry. As long as 
the fame of Princeton Seminary endures, the 
name of Archibald Alexander will not be for- 

He lives also in his children. Monumental 
sons rose up at his side, bright and polished 
shafts, that cast their radiance afar, sons who 
have inscribed their names side by side with 
that of their father upon this entablature of 
honor and worth. 

He lives also in his writings. The books 
of a few men live, but there are some men 
who live in their books. In that book on 
" Religious Experience " Dr. Alexander lives. 
The book itself is a breath of life. A front- 
ispiece gives us his picture, but the book is 
himself. The one shows us his face, the other 
makes us feel the pulsations of his heart. 
There was only one man who could have writ- 
ten the " Pilgrim's Progress," so there was but 
one who could have written this book on re- 
ligious experience. The name of John Bun- 


yan will live as long as there is a pilgrim Zion- 
bound; so Dr. Alexander will live in this book 
as long as religious experience lasts. 

But Archibald Alexander still lives in the 
whole Presbyterian Church. John Wesley 
lived to impress his image and superscription 
upon, and to breathe his spirit into, a whole 
denomination, so that wherever in the wide 
world you see Methodism, there you see John 
Wesley. Dr. Alexander did not live in an 
age in which this could be done ; but in his 
measure and to an extent which can not now 
at this distance of time be readily understood, 
he impressed himself upon, and breathed his 
spirit into, the whole Presbyterian Church. 
It is true, indeed, that Dr. Alexander lived be- 
fore the Union ; but it is true also that he 
lived before the Division. I speak, therefore, 
of his influence as a power in the whole Pres- 
byterian Church for two reasons : first, because 
it is wicked now for any one to have memory 
enough to recollect that there ever was any- 


thing but one happy, undivided Presbyterian 
Church ; and, secondly, because it is a remark- 
able fact connected with the singular power of 
this extraordinary man, that his influence was as 
potent in one branch of the Church as in the oth- 
er. His students were in all the Synods, and 
wherever they scattered, no matter on which 
side of the fence they stood, they called him 
Father. When the news of his death arrived 
at the meeting of the New School Synod 
in Bloomfleld, New Jersey, the announcement 
sent a tide of sorrow through the whole as- 
sembly. They hung his portrait up on the 
wall of the church, and gathered around it 
like mourning, weeping children, and then 
passed a series of resolutions, the last clause 
of which is, " We crave the privilege to mingle 
our tears at the grave of a father." 

When I look back through a period of 
thirty years to the time when I entered the 
ministry, I remember well that there was no 
man in all the Church whose simple opinion 


was so all-powerful and all-controlling as that 
of Dr. Alexander. Using the word " Pope " 
in its best sense, as a spiritual father, I may say 
that if the Presbyterian Church ever had a 
Pope it was Archibald Alexander. I do not 
know that any Council ever pronounced him 
infallible, but when I was a boy there was a 
strong belief among Presbyterians, and I do 
not believe that it has grown weaker since, 
that he came nearer to being infallibly right 
than any Pope. He spoke because he knew, 
and he seemed to know because he had seen. 
Paul was caught up to the third heaven, but 
was not permitted to tell about it ; but I have 
heard Dr. Alexander talk of heaven as if he 
had been there and knew all the angels. The 
people who read his " Religious Experience " 
had an indefinite impression that he was half 
inspired, that somehow or other he was the 
last of the Prophets, that he was born a little 
late, and for that reason did not get in before 
the Canon of the Scriptures closed. 


The hold which he had upon the confidence 
of all good men and his influence in the 
Church, sprang from his wisdom and goodness. 
He was as humble as a child, so simple and 
single-hearted that no one who knew him ever 
suspected that he had a grain of self-interest 
in any project. He never aimed at position 
or grasped at power ; they simply came to 
him — he had power just as a magnet has, not 
by effort, but by a law of nature. He had 
greatness within, and the circumstances of 
power and influence gathered around him by 
the law of attraction. 

His power over men arose from a strange 
combination of faculties. He had genius in 
its best sense, a power to create, invent, and 
combined both in the department of thought 
and action. With these he combined that ex- 
traordinary power which we call sagacity. He 
had a clear insight into things, a quick percep- 
tion of connections and adjustments, an intui- 
tive judgment of means and ends. This, add- 


ed to energy and prompt decision, made him 
an effective man. He was not a man whom 
circumstances made ; he made the circum- 
stances. Nature made him to be a ringleader. 
If he had been a bandit, he would have been 
the head of the band. If he had been a sol- 
dier, he would have been the Commander of 
the Army ; but as he was a Christian, he was 
the Captain of the Lord's Host. He had a 
rich experience of the Grace of God, and this 
gave balance and impulse to all his powers. 
He had no goodness by nature. He had as 
much sin in him as usually falls to the lot of 
man, but those who knew him constantly saw 
the Lion held in the chains of Grace. 

As a teacher the impression made upon the 
students was his power to penetrate a subject. 
The class to which I belonged heard his lect- 
ures upon Didactic Theology as well as those 
of Dr. Hodge. Dr. Hodge gave us a subject 
with massive learning, in its logical develop- 
ment, in its beautiful balance and connection 


with the whole system. Dr. Alexander would 
take the same subject, and strike it with a 
javelin, and let the light through it. His aim 
was to make one point, and nail it fast. 
I always came from his lecture with these 
words running through my mind, "A nail 
driven in a sure place." He carried the spear 
of Ithuriel, and how often have we seen him 
touch with it a specious theory, when lo, it 
changed into a startling heresy ; as when from 
the whispering toad Satan sprang forth, full- 
armed and terrible. 

But time would fail to finish this hurried 
photograph of one whose life was written in 
letters of light. 

The stranger who in aftertime comes to 
read this tablet, like the traveler who now, 
in the Cathedral of St. Paul in London, reads 
the name of Christopher Wren, has only to 
look around him to see his monument. 

There are monuments in the world which 
express nothing but a sublime egotism. Great 


kings in Egypt spent long lives in erecting 
those majestic Pyramids to be either a mau- 
soleum, or monument to themselves ; a monu- 
ment to names that have perished in the sand- 
drifts of time ; but here is one who never 
thought of self, whose whole life was spent for 
others, whose one motive was the glory of 
God ; and yet by the ordering of Providence 
the very work that grew around him is his 
monument, his own life is his eulogy, and his 
own works are his mausoleum. He was a 
workman who built for God, and God built 
this monument for him. 

Napoleon erected for himself an Arch of 
Triumph, in such a line that from the windows 
of the Palace of the Tuilleries he could see 
the setting sun behind it, and lighting up the 
v/hole Arch with the full radiance of its set- 
ting glory. This was his idea of apotheosis, 
to make everything in the world and even the 
splendor of the setting sun tributary to his 
own glory. But here is one who sought noth- 


ing for himself; he hid himself in the shadow 
of the Cross. He sought not that its light 
might cast its splendor upon his fame, but that 
the light of his life might be reflected upon 
the Cross ; so that while he was nothing, Christ 
might be all in all. The result is better than 
an apotheosis, a position of everlasting re- 
membrance in the hearts of God's people, and 
a promise that " He shall shine as the bright- 
ness of the firmament, as the stars for ever and 




THE name that has been assigned to me 
on yonder marble tablet represents three 
generations of devout pulpit eloquence ; 
for the blood of the Blind Preacher of 
Virginia mingled with the blood of the pa- 
triarch of this Seminary in the veins of 
James Waddell Alexander. He came into 
the world through Virginia, and the last scenes 
on which his closing eyes rested were the pict- 
uresque peaks of his beloved Blue Ridge. 
Through all his life he tethered to his native 
State ; and it was a sovereign mercy to his 
heart that he was called home to heaven just 
before that region of Virginia rang with the 
clash of resounding arms. 

James W. Alexander lived on earth fifty-five 
years — every one of them busy to the brim. 


To condense them into ten minutes is like an 
attempt to cut Westminster Abbey on a cameo. 
Nearly one-half of his professional career was 
passed in this historic town. I first saw him 
in yonder college, when he was my Professor 
of Latin and English Literature. At that time, 
the Faculty of Nassau Hall was resplendent 
with the names of Torrey the chemist, Stephen 
Alexander the star-gazer, Albert B. Dod the 
brilliant mathematician and metaphysician, and 
Joseph Henry the king of American science. 
In this splendid Faculty Professor Alexander 
shone as a peer. He was a master of old La- 
tinitv, and the modern Humanities. We, his 
pupils, recall him now as, scrupulously dressed, 
he used to mount the steps to his lecture- room 
in the old " Whig Hall." We recall the pre- 
cise tones in which he used to quote Quintil- 
lian and Cicero, and would say to us students, 
" Sir ! please to say something about Pericles." 
While he was teaching us through the week, 
he loved to preach the Gospel of Jesus gratu- 


itously — down in Witherspoon Street negro 
chapel — to the children of God carved in eb- 

His connection with this Theological Semi- 
nary was very brief — extending from 1849 to 
1 85 1 — and it was the most uneventful episode 
of his noble life. He had been for five years 
a much-loved pastor in New York ; and he 
hungered to get back to the pulpit which was 
his throne, and to his empire in the people's 
hearts. He wrote to his friend Hall, " I long 
to be back to my pastoral rounds, my sick folk, 
and my good old women." The pulpit of 
New York has had more thrilling orators, and 
more brilliant pyrotechnists ; but it never held 
a more symmetric, scholarly, spiritual, and 
satisfying minister of Jesus Christ than James 
W. Alexander. The word to describe him is 
— satisfying. He satisfied the intellect ; he 
satisfied the purest taste ; he satisfied the con- 
science ; he fed the innermost soul of the devout 
believer ; and it is no ordinary achievement to 


have equally satisfied the culture of Fifth Av- 
enue, and the company of humble negroes 
who clung to him in the Witherspoon Street 
Chapel. If to-day both those surviving con- 
gregations could come to pay their homage 
before this tablet, I am sure that my departed 
friend would value more the " two mites" of 
poor old " Aunt Flora," the negro woman, 
than all the costlier tributes of Murray Hill 

Dr. Alexander was not only an accomplish- 
ed Professor, and a most affluent preacher of 
the Word ; he was also a voluminous author. 
He put more thoughts into type than any man 
who has ever lived in Princeton. He was a 
most prolific writer for the daily and weekly 
press ; and he prepared an article for every 
number of old " Princeton Repertory." God 
be thanked for that grand old Repertory ! 
Presbyterian ministers who not only studied 
it, but steered by it, were certain never to run 
on the rocks. Dr. Alexander wrote thirty-five 

Sunday-school books for children, and left 
several volumes of Discourses which are as full 
of savor and sweetness as a pressed honey- 
comb. His rich and suggestive " Thoughts on 
Preaching" contain really the cream of all the 
series of lectures on Homiletics that have been 
delivered by various celebrated men at Yale. 
That book is marrow and fatness for every 
young minister. Of all the many productions 
of my beloved friend, I am inclined, however, 
to rate most highly his "Charles Quill" letters 
to workingmen — which have the simplicity 
and pith of Benjamin Franklin — and his cele- 
brated " Forty Years' Letters " to his friend 
Dr. Hall, of Trenton. James Hamilton, of 
London, once said to me that a perusal of them 
was the next best thing to a visit to America. 
The most brilliant Bishop in the Methodist 
Church also said to me that he regarded it as 
one of the dozen most remarkable works yet 
produced in this country ! To the future his- 
torian it will be as valuable a picture of the 


times as Pepys' Diary and Burnet's Memoirs 
were to Lord Macaulay. That must have 
been a rich mental gold mine whose careless 
" washings " could yield such an auriferous pro- 
duct as the " Forty Years' Letters." 

But let me not forget to pay honest tribute 
to Dr. Alexander's beauty and nobleness as a 
personal friend. He often honored me with 
hours of intimate converse. Many of you 
remember how he varied in his moods, and 
sometimes suffered from fits of physical depres- 
sion. When the clouds of depression ran low 
along the steeps of his mind, he was quite un- 
approachable. But when the sunshine of 
cheerfulness burst forth, he was as sweet as 
summer. Most grave and devout in the pul- 
pit, he often relaxed by the fireside into a 
sportive humor, which had the delicate flavor 
of Charles Lamb's. Never shall I forget a 
most fertilizing afternoon talk I enjoyed with 
him in yonder parlor of his father's house. 
His flow of merriment was wonderful. As he 


was then studying hymnology, I showed him 
a queer old Methodist camp-meeting hymn- 
book which contained this remarkable coup- 
let — 

"When I was blind, and could not see, 
The Calvinists deceived me ! " 

Dr. Alexander laughed till the tears ran down 
his face, and he begged the loan of the book, 
which proved to be permanent. But he more 
than repaid the loss by sending to me Charles 
Lamb's original copy of Vinny Bourne's Po- 
ems, with the autograph of Lamb's Latin epi- 
gram (the only one he ever wrote) on the fly- 
leaf of the precious volume. 

Oh ! at how many points my honored friend 
touched human life ! Touched its rich and 
varied scholarship — touched the sympathies of 
sorrow's home — touched the highest reach of 
society and its lowliest — and touched every 
key of devout emotion ! All his splendid at- 
tainments, all his many-sided and multiform 


life-work, he laid as an humble offering before 
the Throne. 

I well remember meeting him, at the hour 
of sunset, in the valley of Interlaken. We 
stood together in an open field, and watched 
the icy diadem of the Jungfrau just as it was 
blossoming into ruddy gold. Dr. Alexander 
stood silent, gazing upward, and then turning 
to me with a reverent awe, he exclaimed, " The 
Almighty made that to show what He could 

The last time I ever met him was a month 
before his death ; we met in the presence 
of Church's painting of " The Heart of the An- 
des." I observed that his hands were very trem- 
ulous, and the ashen hue of approaching death 
was already overshadowing his countenance. 
A few days afterward he set his face south- 
ward. He went back to the home of his in- 
fancy ; back to the crystal airs of his Virginia 
mountains ; back to the sincere gospel-milk he 
had been fed with at his mother's knee ; back 


to the cross of his adorable and beloved Re- 
deemer ; and there he laid him down to die. 
He used often to say, " On my dying bed I 
want the Gospel to be self-evidencing" This 
joy was vouchsafed to him. For almost the 
last words which fell from his dying lips were, 
"/ know whom I have believed!' 1 It was beau- 
tiful to see how this great, erudite scholar just 
put the soft pillow of this sweet little text un- 
der his weary brain and calmly fell asleep in 
Jesus. And so our earth lost, and heaven 
welcomed, James Waddell Alexander. 





]N the career of this eminent scholar we find 
that in a large and truthful sense the boy 
was father to the man. In his youth he was 
a marvel of genius and learning, and when he 
ceased from his labors in the full maturity of 
his powers, all Israel mourned his loss ; for his 
fame was in all the churches as a brilliant wri- 
ter, as an accurate, varied, and profound scholar, 
as a luminous and sagacious commentator, and 
as a preacher of marvelous power. His inti- 
mate friends and associates knew also that 
there was in him a vast reserve of power that 
never appeared to the public, and which seem- 
ed to them equal to far greater things than he 
accomplished, even in a career so brilliant. 
" Taking him all in all," said his life-long col- 
league — that great master upon whose memo- 


rial tablet, in our recent sorrow, we look with 
moistened eyes to-day, and who knew what 
greatness was — " taking him all in all," said 
Dr. Charles Hodge, " he was certainly the 
most gifted man with whom I have ever been 
personally acquainted." 

But we are gathered here to-day as his old 
pupils, and this brief address is expected to re- 
call mainly his honored memory as an in- 
structor. Although, as an author and as a 
preacher, he was a Prince in Israel ; yet his 
great service to the Church was undoubtedly 
in training her sons for the Gospel ministry. 
To this exalted work and in this honored 
school of the Prophets, for a quarter of a cent- 
ury, he gave the whole force of his command- 
ing genius and the opulent resources of his 
varied and profound scholarship. For the 
most of the time he was engaged in the exe- 
getical criticism of the sacred volume, at first 
with the Hebrew, and in the latter part of his 
life with the Greek ; during the interval (from 


1852 to 1859) ne occupied the Chair of Ec- 
clesiastical History in deference to the urgent 
wishes of others, but the duties were never to 
his taste. In one of his familiar letters refer- 
ring to the change, he expressed his dislike at 
" leaving the terra firma of inspired truth for 
the mud and sand of patristic learning," and 
he returned with undisguised joy to the more 
congenial duties of the critical interpretation 
of the inspired text. For this work he was 
admirably qualified by his wonderful knowl- 
edge of languages, for which, as I have inti- 
mated, he was distinguished from his youth. 
He began Latin at an age when most boys 
are still wrestling with their primers. At the 
age of ten he was pursuing the systematic 
study of Hebrew and other Oriental languages ; 
before he was twenty, as we gather from the 
cautious and modest statements in his private 
journal, he read easily and for the sake of then- 
literature, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Greek, 
Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, and German, 


and in the prime of his life he was a thorough 
master of all languages worth knowing. To 
these stores of linguistic learning was added a 
rare critical sagacity and a noble fidelity to the 
truth that wrought unweariedly to ascertain 
the exact meaning of the text. His crowning 
gift as an exegetical instructor was a devout 
and reverent love for the Bible, that influenced 
his whole life as a Christian and as a teacher. 
The sacred volume was to this erudite scholar 
far more than a venerable classic or an inter- 
esting subject for linguistic and critical studies. 
He read it constantly and prayerfully as a 
means of private devotion, often completing 
whole books at one reading, in the various 
languages with which he was familiar, and at 
other times dwelling long and lovingly upon 
each verse and line, as he says in his diary with 
reference to the Psalms, " drinking them in 
drop by drop." Highly favored indeed were 
we, preparing for the ministry of the Word, 
to sit at the feet of an exeeetical teacher 


whose acute, learned, and exhaustive criticisms 
of the ipsissmia verba were in keeping with 
so great and so sacred a love for the inspired 
records. He taught us by precept and by ex- 
ample that every resource of learning and all 
the strength of the most cultured powers 
should be employed to ascertain simply the 
meaning of the inspired text, and then what 
those words taught should be received as the 
truth of God, toward which the attitude of 
scholar and theologian should be that of the 
believing child — Speak, Lord, for Thy servant 
heareth ! 

The manner and methods of such a man in 
the class-room, and his influence over his stu- 
dents generally, is something that may be im- 
agined, but which it is impossible to describe. 
It was unlike that of other men. We loved 
and revered all our teachers here, but there 
was a strange charm about Dr. Addison Alex- 
ander, this cloistered student, who was such 
an habitual recluse from society, and at the 


same time the most accurate and discriminat- 
ing observer of men and things, and as famil- 
iar with all the current events in the Church 
and with the social life around him as he was 
with latest scholia of the German critics and 
with the voluminous and learned commenta- 
ries of the Rabbins upon the Talmud. We 
looked with something like awe upon the 
great scholar whose apparently exhaustless 
learning was poured forth hour after hour in 
the lecture-room, and who loved and sought 
the society of little children, and, with a heart 
as guileless and pure as theirs, would spend 
with them many happy, gleeful hours. Then 
he was oddly impatient of routine ; he would 
go at a bound from one extreme to another — 
leaving the quiet seclusion of his Princeton 
study he would seek a room on the ground- 
floor of a New York hotel, fronting upon the 
very noisiest street, where, through the sum- 
mer vacation, he wrote at the open window 
and amid all the din and confusion, eight or 


ten hours a day upon his most learned com- 
mentaries, with no book at hand but the 
Bible ! A man of such apparent opposites, it 
must be confessed that he would now and 
then give a turn to affairs in the class-room 
that would throw us all into what would mild- 
ly be called a state of confusion. I need not 
harrow up the feelings of any of his old pu- 
pils here present by remarking that upon suit- 
able provocation he could sting like a nettle, 
or that a visit of ceremony, or of compliment 
to his room, or even a personal interview after 
class, unless the student had some good hon- 
est business in hand, was not altogether the 
most cheerful reminiscence of Seminary life ; 
or that upon a regular field day in Hebrew, 
horresco referens, he could produce an amount 
of consternation and dismay throughout the 
class that was frightful ! But upon these 
memorabilia I may not dwell this morning. 
It is enough to say that there was nothing in 
all these things that hid him for a moment 

from our sight as the great-souled teacher 
whose very presence was an inspiration. I lis 
genius and learning and piety combined with 
his personal magnetism — something, I know 
not what, in the eye or voice or in the very 
presence, that makes the true teacher greater 
than his book — all this never failed to quicken 
with strange delight and enthusiasm the pulse 
of every student who had in him any blood at 
all. Nor were we discouraged by the vast dis- 
tance between the resources and power of 
such a man and our own. It was his greatest 
triumph as a teacher to make the Bible so glo- 
rious to us that even the humblest felt that his 
future ministry of such Oracles need not be 
without honor and praise to their Divine 

And there were, among his students, some 
who were drawn nearer to him than the some- 
what formal associations of the class-room al- 
lowed — members of the private classes whom 
he invited to pursue with him advanced studies 


—and these knew what a gentle, tender, loving 
heart this great scholar had, and their personal 
attachment to him rose to an enthusiasm. I 
dare not trust myself to speak of the hours 
I passed alone with Dr. Alexander in his study, 
during my Post Graduate year, when at his in- 
vitation I pursued with him his favorite Ori- 
ental studies, but they are among the most 
precious and cherished memories of my stu- 
dent life. And when the great scholar and 
teacher died, and men everywhere spoke of 
the irreparable loss that this Seminary and 
the Church had sustained, many of us mourn- 
ed as in the deep shadow of a personal be- 
reavement ; for a deep and grateful love had 
been wrought into our reverent memories of 
the teacher to whom we owed so much, and 
as often as we have revisited these familiar 
Halls it has been to us a great and sacred sor- 
row that we should " see his face no more." 


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