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Full text of "In memoriam, William Miller Paxton, 1824-1904. : Funeral and memorial discourses with appendixes and notes"

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Presented byTC 0H5 . J ^rv. XT k . V^AXA-O Y^ 

BX 9225 .P39 15 1905 

In memoriam, William Miller 
Paxton, 1824-1904. 

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Address at the Funeral Services by the Eev. John 

De Witt, D.D., LL.D 7 

Memorial Discourse by the Eev. Benjamin B. Warfield, 

D.D., LL.D 17 


i From the Eev. Dr. Thomas K. Davis, Wooster, Ohio ... 53 

ii From the Eev. Dr. S. F. Scovel, Wooster, Ohio 56 

hi From the Eev. Dr. Oscar A. Hills, Wooster, Ohio .... 66 

iv From the Eev. Dr. W. W. McKinney, Philadelphia ... 70 

v From the Eev. Dr. W. B. Noble, Los Angeles, California . 73 
vi From the Eev. Dr. Thomas A. McCurdt, Wilmington, 

Delaware 75 

vii From the Eev. Dr. John W. Dinsmore, San Josfi, California 78 

viii From the Eev. Dr. Egbert E. Booth, New York 81 

ix From the Eev. Dr. F. F. Ellinwood, New York 83 

x From the Eev. Dr. Chauncey T. Edwards, Portville, New 

York 85 

xi From the Eev. Dr. Benjamin L. Hobson, Chicago .... 87 


i Dr. Paxton's Ancestry 91 

ii Chief Facts in Dr. Paxton 's Life 91 

in Dr. Paxton's Churches 92 

iv Dr. Paxton's Publications 93 

v Dr. Paxton in the Presbytery of Carlisle 97 

vi Dr. Paxton at Pittsburgh 100 

vii Dr. Paxton at the Western Theological Seminary . . . 104 

viii Dr. Paxton at the First Church, New York 105 

ix Dr. Paxton and Union Theological Seminary 108 

x Dr. Paxton 's Eesignation from Princeton Theological 

Seminary 108 

xi Dr. Paxton's Eightieth Birthday 110 

xn Dr. Paxton and the Board of Foreign Missions 112 

xiii A Memorial Minute adopted by the New York Presbytery . 113 
xiv Necrological Eeport presented to the Alumni Association 

of the Princeton Theological Seminary, May 9, 1905 . . 115 



I shake with you, Christian friends, the great regret you 
will feel as I announce that Dr. Warfield, who longer than 
any other of his colleagues has been associated with Dr. 
Paxton as a professor in the Theological Seminary, is un- 
able to be present to-day and to give expression to our 
deep and common sorrow in view of the death of this emi- 
nent minister of the Church of God. At a later day Dr. 
Warfield will deliver a discourse commemorating his 
character and life. At this service, however, it is fitting 
that we refresh our memory of him by a brief recital of 
the main facts of his public life and by noting some of the 
salient features of the man. 

William Miller Paxton was born in Adams County, in 
the beautiful southcentral district of Pennsylvania, not 
far from the southeastern slope of the first range of the 
Appalachian Mountains, and not far from the county- 
seat which has given its name to the fiercest and longest 
battle of the Civil War. He was born among a people 
partly British and partly German in their blood, whose 
social life derived its charm from the fact that the College 
and the Theological Seminary of the Lutheran Church 
were in Gettysburg, and also from that Gemuthlichkeit, 
which, if the word cannot be translated into English, is 
easily recognized by any one who has had the happiness 
of living in a town created by a union of British and Ger- 
man settlers. Here Dr. Paxton 's family had lived and 
been prominent for two generations when he was born on 
June the seventh, 1824. His father, Colonel James Dun- 
lop Paxton, was an iron manufacturer, smelting the hema- 



tite ore, of which there were rich deposits in the South 
Mountain, and refining and forging the iron it yielded. 
Colonel Paxton was a devout Christian. He was also a 
public-spirited citizen of the Commonwealth, and was hon- 
ored with high and responsible office in connection with 
the great system of waterways which were constructed by 
the State just about the time our Dr. Paxton was born. 
An important part of Dr. Paxton 's preparation for active 
life he received in his father's counting-room and at his 
father's mines and furnace and forge. 

An equally important part of his preparation was due 
to the fact that his grandfather lived until young Paxton 
reached manhood. This grandfather, William Paxton, 
was a notable man and minister. It was for him as well 
as for his maternal grandfather, William Miller, that Wil- 
liam Miller Paxton was named. In his youth William 
Paxton left his father's farm in Lancaster County, en- 
listed as a soldier of the Revolutionary army, served in 
two campaigns of the war, and was one of the American 
force in the battle of Trenton. After the close of the war 
he studied for the ministry. He became the pastor of the 
Lower Marsh Creek Church in the county of Adams and 
in the presbytery of Carlisle, and continued in that posi- 
tion until ill health compelled his resignation about four 
years before his death. This Dr. William Paxton— for 
Dickinson College conferred on him that degree in Theol- 
ogy—was not only beloved and revered by his own con- 
gregation but was a man of large influence both in the 
community and in the councils of the church. We can 
almost see him in his grandson as we read the descrip- 
tions of him written by contemporaries. ' ' He was six feet 
in height. His features were regular. His expression 
was open, calm, dignified and benevolent. His disposition 
was affectionate. His intellect was strong, active and 



Enjoying the life of his father's home, and the almost 
unbroken companionship of his grandfather after the lat- 
ter 's retirement from the pastorate, Dr. Paxton passed 
from the preparatory school to Pennsylvania College at 
Gettysburg, where he was graduated Bachelor of Arts in 
1843. For two years he studied law with a view to the 
practice of that profession. But in 1845, believing him- 
self called to the ministry of the Church, he entered 
Princeton Theological Seminary and was graduated in 
1848. He was the last member of the Seminary Faculty 
who enjoyed the personal acquaintance and the instruc- 
tion of the Seminary's first two professors— Dr. Archi- 
bald Alexander and Dr. Samuel Miller. 

Ordained in 1848, he was pastor of the Church in Green- 
castle, Pennsylvania, for two years. He was pastor of the 
First Church of Pittsburgh for fourteen years, and of the 
First Church of New York for eighteen years. While 
pastor in Pittsburgh, he was called to the chair of Sacred 
Rhetoric in Western Theological Seminary. He filled it 
for twelve years. While pastor in New York, he was for 
two years lecturer on Sacred Rhetoric in Union Theo- 
logical Seminary. In 1883 he became professor of Eccle- 
siastical, Homiletical and Pastoral Theology in Princeton 
Theological Seminary. He discharged the duties of this 
chair until 1902, when on the advice of his physician he 
retired and became Professor Emeritus. He continued, 
however, to render to the Seminary services of great 
value by lecturing from time to time and by his wise coun- 
sel at the meetings of the Faculty. 

Dr. Paxton during his active career filled an exception- 
ally large number of important and influential positions 
of public trust and honor in the Church. He was a director 
of Western Theological Seminary when he lived in Pitts- 
burgh. After the reunion of the Presbyterian Churches, 
when he was living in New York, he became a director 



of Union Theological Seminary. He was a director of 
Princeton Theological Seminary from 1866 to 1883. He 
was a trustee of Princeton University for thirty-eight 
years. For a time lie was president of the Board of Home 
Missions, and for a time president of the Board of For- 
eign Missions ; and he continued, a member of the latter 
board until his death. In 1880 he was elected by a unani- 
mous vote Moderator of the General Assembly. 

A ministerial career covering fifty-six years, so con- 
tinuously and variously active, so large in its scope, so 
distinguished and influential, can be explained only by ex- 
traordinary gifts and attainments. Some of these we, 
who have gathered at his burial, may in gratitude to God 
most fittingly recall. 

Dr. Paxton was a man of large, vigorous, and well-dis- 
ciplined intellect, whose powers were healthfully and 
symmetrically developed. Whatever subjects he studied 
he grasped firmly. His memory held facts and principles 
with remarkable tenacity. These he related to each other 
with clear intelligence and by conscientious labor. He 
brought to this work a judgment which, while always ad- 
mirable, ripened into wisdom as the years passed on. So 
that oftenest he reached conclusions in which he could 
rest, and which seldom needed amendment. He was not 
a man of impulse. He was not a man who mistook his 
impressions for convictions. He was a man for counsel ; 
whose counsel on a wide range of subjects was widely 
sought. Indeed, it is an interesting question whether by 
his active life he has done more for the high interests with 
which he was associated than by his eminent services as a 

He was a man of deep and strong intellectual convic- 
tions upon the subject of the truth of Christianity. His 
study, after his college course, of the principles of the 
Common Law, in the Commentaries of Sir William Black- 



stone and in the elementary treatises on Pleading and 
Process and the Law of Evidence, gave a character to his 
mental habit which was only deepened and fixed by his 
course in the Theological Seminary. You will not be 
surprised to hear that he saw Christianity primarily as 
truth ; and as truth embodied in a strong and self-consist- 
ent system. With such a training under such teachers, it 
was almost inevitable that he should become a theologian 
of large information and settled opinion; and that his 
homiletical product should reveal this character and 
habit. Those of us who have had the pleasure of hearing 
him often know well that the strong foundation, which 
gave support and outline and unity to his discourse, was 
Christianity as a system of truth ; a system which he held 
firmly, and which, indeed, was valued by him as, next to 
his own religious life, his most precious possession. 

He had a remarkable gift of clear, precise and strong 
as well as graceful statement. I think it may well be 
doubted whether, in the pulpit or in the lecture-room of 
the Theological Seminary, he ever uttered a sentence on a 
subject with which its members were at all familiar, which 
was not at once understood by his audience. And what 
was true of his single statements was true of his whole 
discourse. There was always lucidity because there was 
always thorough organization. That feature in the 
speeches of Daniel Webster which the late Mr. Whipple 
seized upon for special eulogy — I mean their thorough 
organization — was a characteristic trait of Dr. Paxton's 
public and academic speech. However complicated the 
subject he was treating appeared to those he was address- 
ing, it always unfolded itself in his sermon or lecture into 
clear and appropriate lines of thought. 

What the friends of his grandfather were apt to dwell 
on as a notable trait— his affectionate disposition— was, 
I am sure, a native trait of the man we mourn to-day. Of 



course, as we knew it, it had been deepened and, indeed, 
transfigured by the grace of God. But grace, in Dr. Pax- 
ton's case, wrought upon a natural gift congruous to the 
Christian love. In this way it came about, that Dr. Pax- 
ton's discourses, primarily discussions of systematic truth 
as they were, were suffused with a tenderness of feeling 
and reached their climax in an earnestness of pleading 
which reminded us of the emotion of the Master when he 
lamented the doomed Jerusalem. And so blended were 
the discussion and the feeling that the discourse as 
preached by the preacher became a unit of great spir- 
itual power. To employ the metaphor of Dr. Shedd when 
describing such discourse, "The light was heat and the 
heat was light." 

This Christian affection, thus united with a native trait, 
revealed itself with great charm in Dr. Paxton's social 
life. And since he was by eminence a gentleman, it be- 
came in his intercourse with others courtesy and urbanity 
of the finest quality. On which, only a day or two since, 
a lady of this village pronounced this just eulogy : " To 
meet Dr. Paxton casually in the morning and talk with 
him was a benediction which blessed the entire day." So 
we all felt. So when he was a pastor his parishioners felt. 
He was always a faithful, courteous, affectionate, sympa- 
thetic pastor. I have often thought of the strong likeness, 
in this respect, between him and an older man whose 
friendship and companionship he highly esteemed and 
greatly enjoyed while living in New York, and whose 
portrait was always in clear view in Dr. Paxton's Prince- 
ton study. I am referring to that noble, saintly, Christian 
pastor and gentleman— whose memory may God keep 
fresh in the Church— the late Dr. William Adams. 

Dr. Paxton's religious life was sincere and profound. 
In its expression in the public offices of religion — in 
prayer, in conversation on the great truths and facts of 



religion, in preaching the word of God— it blessed how 
many as a means of grace. His most earnest thinking, 
his most permanent and influential emotions, his funda- 
mental activities were all in the spiritual universe. No 
one who knew him doubted that he walked with God. 

With these gifts and traits and attainments he did a 
great work in the Church ; and he did it with fidelity ; and 
he had in a measure exceptionally large the favor of God 
and of men. His students throughout the world, when 
they learn that he has been called to his reward, will renew 
their gratitude that he was their teacher. The people to 
whom he taught the truths and ministered the consolations 
of religion will remember with thanksgiving not only the 
truth he taught them so well but his affection and sympa- 
thy in all the crises of their lives. His friends will cherish 
his memory as a benediction. The Church will honor his 
name as that of one of her distinguished sons. 

Death is the inevitable experience of every man. We 
call death the universal conqueror. But one thing death 
cannot do. It cannot read its riddle ; it cannot reveal its 
meaning. But its meaning has been revealed. In the 
presence of all that remains here of this finished life, our 
hearts, if not our voices, sing the Church 's triumphant an- 
them : ' ' When Thou, Christ, hadst overcome the sharp- 
ness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven 
to all believers." In the highest sense, he has been re- 
ceived into that kingdom. And there, to his talents and 
graces noblest occupation has been given by Him who 
has promised to make his faithful servants rulers over 
many things. Only his hope and faith are gone. For his 
hope has become fruition and his faith has been changed 
into the open and beatific vision of God. 




We are here to-day gratefully to remember before God 
the life of one of his saints. Up to a good old age he abode 
among us, imitating his Master's example, going about 
doing good. Our eyes see him no more: he no longer 
passes in and out, showing us daily what it is to walk with 
God. But our hearts are glad for him yet : and we wish 
to give expression to our gratitude to God for his gift, 
and to recount the chief services he has been permitted 
to render to the Church of God on earth. 

William Miller Paxton was descended from a godly an- 
cestry of thoroughly Presbyterian traditions. As the 
name indicates, the family was of Berwickshire origin. 
In the branch of it from which Dr. Paxton sprang it was 
Scotch-Irish. The earliest of his paternal ancestors who 
has been certainly traced— the fourth in ascent from him 
— is found a little before the middle of the eighteenth cen- 
tury living in Bart township, Lancaster County, Pennsyl- 
vania, in a Scotch-Irish community which worshipped at 
Middle Octorara Church. The only son of this founder of 
the family served as an elder in that church ; and out of it 
came his son, Dr. Paxton 's grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Wil- 
liam Paxton, who, after having like his father before him 
fought in the Revolutionary War for the liberties of his 
country, enlisted as a soldier of Christ in the never-ceas- 
ing conflict for righteousness. Crossing the Susquehanna, 
he was settled in 1792 as pastor of Lower Marsh Creek 
Church, in what is now Adams County, Pennsylvania, and 
there fulfilled a notable ministry of half a century 's dura- 
tion. Thus a new home was given to the family in a region 



of remarkable beauty and in a community of similar ori- 
gin and congenial temperament. 

Dr. Paxton always cherished a wholesome pride in his 
ancestral home and his lineage. When he reckoned 
among the felicities of Dr. Francis Herron's career that 
he was born ''beneath the shadow of Pennsylvania's lofty 
mountains, and reared amid the patriots of the Revolu- 
tion" ; and that he was a scion "of that illustrious historic 
race, the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians— memorable in all 
their generations for their devotion to liberty and re- 
ligion, and ever ready to die upon the battle-field in the 
defense of the one or to burn at the stake as a testimony 
for the other"— he spoke out of his own consciousness of 
a noble heritage. And it was a source of constant delight 
to him that, having himself begun to study theology within 
three months of the death of his grandfather, their com- 
bined ministries fulfilled an almost continuous service in 
the gospel of more than one hundred years. Nor was this 
continuity merely a matter of years. When we read the 
account of the Rev. Dr. William Paxton which his friend, 
Dr. McConaugh} T , has left us, we seem almost to be read- 
ing of our own Dr. Paxton. The "benignant and intelli- 
gent countenance," the "strong, vigorous and balanced 
intellect, ' ' the ' ' symmetrically developed faculties, " " the 
warmth of affection, " " delicate sensibility, " " chaste im- 
agination," which Dr. McConaughy signalizes as charac- 
teristic of his Dr. Paxton— his care and exactness in the 
mental preparation of his sermons, the naturalness and 
lucidity of their arrangement, the thoroughness of their 
discussion, the freedom, solemnity, dignity, authority, 
grace of their delivery: have we not seen all these things 
repeated in our Dr. Paxton? We are told that Dr. Paxton 
was particularly fond of his grandfather and loved to visit 
him and be much with him. We all remember the affec- 
tionate reverence with which he always referred to him. 



We can scarcely be wrong in supposing that, in addition to 
his natural inheritance from him, he consciously modeled 
himself upon his example. 

Dr. Paxton 's father, Colonel James Dunlop Paxton, 
was a man of intelligence and enterprise, of fine presence 
and large influence in the community, engaged in the 
manufacture of iron, first at Maria Furnace, which was 
situated at the foot of South Mountain, some ten or twelve 
miles from Gettysburg, and afterward, in partnership 
with the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, at Caledonia Iron 
Works, on the pike between Gettysburg and Chambers- 
burg. It was at Maria Furnace that William Miller Pax- 
ton was born, on the seventh day of June, 1824. His youth 
was passed chiefly at Gettysburg, whither the family had 
removed that Mrs. Paxton, a daughter of the Hon. Wil- 
liam Miller, might be among her people during a long and 
trying period of weak health. Here he spent a sunny and 
gay-tempered boyhood, winning affection on all sides by 
the brightness of his disposition and his happy, fun-loving 
humor. Here also he received both his primary school- 
ing and his collegiate training, the latter at Pennsylvania 
College— recently founded, it is true, but already occupy- 
ing an enviable position among colleges under the efficient 
presidency of the Eev. Dr. Charles Philip Krauth. In 
college he enjoyed the fellowship of a choice company of 
young men who, like himself, were to give a good account 
of themselves in the future as ministers of Christ— Lu- 
therans like B. M. Schmucker and J. P. Benjamin Sadt- 
ler, President of Muhlenberg College ; Episcopalians like 
Robert Harper Clarkson, Bishop of Nebraska; Presby- 
terians like G. W. McMillan, missionary to India, and J. 
B. Bittinger, teacher and preacher. Among his fellow- 
students were also at least two who were to serve the 
church efficiently as professors of theology, Henry Zieg- 
ler, of Selins Grove, and James A. Brown, who taught 



theology for nearly twenty years at Gettysburg. Gradu- 
ated in 1843, he carried away from college a reputation 
for rare social qualities and great gifts in oratory. 

Residing now at Caledonia Iron Works, he began the 
study of law in the office of Judge George Chambers at 
Chambersburg. He had not yet given himself to Christ. 
During his last year in college the institution was visited 
by a most blessed revival ; and during his period of law 
study the community was moved to its centre by another, 
in which his chief, Judge Chambers, for example, was con- 
verted. He seems to have passed through both without 
reaching a decision. How the great change came to him 
at last we do not know in any detail. We only know that 
the grace of God was in part mediated to him through the 
offices of his devout sister, and that after prosecuting the 
study of law for almost two years, he united on profession 
of faith with the Falling Spring Presbyterian Church at 
Chambersburg, in March, 1845. Dr. Daniel McKinley 
was pastor of the church; and we hear from Dr. Paxton's 
associates of those days much about his affectionate in- 
timacy with his pastor. Not more than a month after 
uniting with the church, on April the ninth, 1845, he was 
received under the care of the Presbytery of Carlisle as a 
candidate for the gospel ministry, and in the ensuing 
autumn he repaired to Princeton for his theological train- 
ing. It would appear from this that when he gave him- 
self to his Lord he gave himself completely, holding 
nothing back. 

We are not unprepared, therefore, to learn that he took 
his seminary course seriously; and sought to utilize to 
the full the opportunities it brought him to prepare for the 
great work to which he had devoted himself. Although 
so young a Christian, he appears to have stood out among 
his comrades from the first for the depth and fervor of his 
religious life. Those were, indeed, days of searching of 



heart for him. "I well remember," he has told us him- 
self, "that when I was a student, no young man could pass 
through his first year without being constrained to re- 
examine his personal hope and motives for seeking the 
sacred office." No doubt this is primarily an encomium 
upon the pungency of the religious teaching of those four 
great men under whose instruction he sat— Drs. Archi- 
bald Alexander and Samuel Miller, Drs. Charles Hodge 
and Addison Alexander. But it is a leaf, also, out of his 
spiritual autobiography. His fellow-students bear con- 
sentient witness to the singleness of his purpose, the seri- 
ousness of his character, the dignity of his bearing, and 
the attractiveness of his personality. "He was a hard 
student," writes one, "industrious and painstaking; as 
a man, solid and judicious, and hence wielding much in- 
fluence over men. ' ' Another touches the heart of the mat- 
ter when he remarks that he had obviously said to himself, 
"This one thing I do." "He did not fritter away his 
time," continues this informant; "he made theology, the 
grandest of the sciences, his study, and how to deliver the 
gospel message most effectively. " " The memory of what 
Paxton was," he adds, "and of his devotion to theology 
and to his Lord and Master, has remained with me, and 
has been a distinct and decided help to me in my weakness 
and in my times of doubt and difficulty. ' ' 

One of the things Dr. Paxton always congratulated him- 
self upon was that he had had a double training in the- 
ology. "The class to which I belonged," he tells us, 
"heard" Dr. Archibald Alexander's "lectures upon 
Didactic Theology as well as those of Dr. Hodge. Dr. 
Hodge gave us a subject with massive learning, in its 
logical development, in its beautiful balance and connec- 
tion with the whole system. Dr. Alexander would take 
the same subject and smite 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 a lecture with these words 
ringing through my mind, 'A nail driven in a sure 
place.' " But his devotion to the study of theology was 
more than matched by his zeal in cultivating the art of 
presenting its truths in strong, clear and winning public 
address. A doctrinal preacher he wished to be, because 
he felt to the core of his being that it is useless to preach 
at all unless you preach the truth. But the real end of his 
study of doctrine was that he might become a doctrinal 
preacher. He had no sympathy with that kind of doc- 
trinal preacher which he called, not without a touch of 
contempt, "a theological grinder"; and whose procedure 
he described as ' ' crushing and pulverizing truth between 
logical millstones, and then doling it out, grain by grain, 
particle by particle, as if the bread of heaven were scarce, 
and the minister restricted to a slow and frugal distribu- 
tion." He longed to become himself a preacher who 
could preach doctrine— as he put it— "all ablaze," who 
could ' ' put the light of his own living experience inside ' ' 
the doctrine, and "make it a spiritual transparency" 
which would ' ' interest and attract. " "A heart that is full 
of Christ," he said, "will gild every doctrine with the halo 
of His glory. ' ' 

With this ideal held steadily before him, he spared no 
labor in perfecting himself in the art of orally presenting 
truth. Already in college, we will remember, he had ex- 
hibited marked oratorical gifts: and during the interval 
between college and seminary he had exercised these gifts 
in political speaking. Now, however, he set himself de- 
finitively to develop them to their utmost capacity. His 
sister remembered all her life his diligence on his visits 
home in the training of his voice : there was a jutting rock 
on the mountain-side to which he would resort for this pur- 
pose, and which lived in her memory as her "brother's 
pulpit." His fellow-students noted not only the diligence 



but the success of his efforts. ' ' When he was to preach 
or to conduct a prayer service, ' ' one of them writes, * ' we 
students were always present, and we all expected he 
would make a great and popular preacher. ' ' There was 
one special occasion for the exercise of his gifts arising 
in the course of his senior year, to which he looked back 
as to a kind of epoch in his life. It was in the month of 
February, 1848. A precious work of grace was going on 
in the Tennent Church, and Dr. Alexander was applied to 
for aid. He sent three students, of whom Dr. Paxton was 
one ; and unexpectedly to themselves they were thrust into 
the thick of the work. "The blessing that rested upon 
the people," said Dr. Paxton in relating it, "seemed to 
fall on us. ' ' The way one of his fellow- students puts it is, 
' ' They conducted the services with marked success. ' ' 

As his seminary life drew to its close, it became evident 
enough that such a young man would not go begging for 
a pulpit. Calls came to him unsought and even somewhat 
embarrassingly. But the people of his own region who 
knew him well had been wise enough to forestall all others. 
Already, on the sixteenth of February, 1848, ' ' the congre- 
gation of East Conococheague, commonly known as Green- 
castle," had sent him a hearty call and had received as- 
surances of his acceptance. He was on the field as soon 
as the seminary closed, and was formally ordained and in- 
stalled on the fourth day of the ensuing October. He was 
only twenty-four years of age, but was far from a callow 
and unformed youth. One who knew him well describes 
him as at the time ' ' a remarkably handsome young man 
of a commanding presence, a superb figure, with beautiful 
eyes and a splendid voice." He was already a "great 
sermonizer," to whom large congregations listened "with 
almost breathless attention." It is interesting to learn 
that he had already worked out that peculiar method of 
preparing his sermons which he employed throughout 



life-—" walking them out," as he expressed it, that is, 
mentally composing them while he paced back and forth in 
his study, thereby wearing a pathway in the carpet which 
observant visitors used to amuse themselves tracing out. 
"In 18-49-1850," writes my informant, "I was teaching 
in the Chambersburg Academy, and, as a licentiate, was 
supplying the church at Fayetteville, five miles out. Mr. 
Paxton's kindness of heart and friendliness were exhib- 
ited in this, that he was willing to come and preach for me. 
. . . After dinner Paxton said to me, 'I must be alone 
this afternoon, to make my preparation to preach this 
evening.' He told me he had selected Romans 3:19 for 
his text. He spent a couple of hours, perhaps more, walk- 
ing to and fro in the little parlor, arranging his heads of 
discourse, gathering his illustrations, and going over the 
words and sentences that he would use— without a book, 
save the Bible, without a scrap of paper, without pen or 
pencil. That a man could do such a thing and then preach 
such a grand and thrilling sermon as we heard that even- 
ing filled me with astonishment." 

The church of Greencastle was one of those good old 
churches characteristic of the region, with a membership 
at the time of about two hundred and paying a salary of 
six hundred dollars. The reportable results of the young 
minister's labors during his two years of work there were 
twenty-one additions on confession of faith, the first fruits 
of the great number of six hundred and ten of whom it 
was his privilege to become thus the spiritual father be- 
fore the ministry thus inaugurated reached its close, yield- 
ing an average of about eighteen for each year of his 
active work. From Greencastle he was transferred to 
Pittsburgh at the end of the year 1850, and was formally 
installed pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of 
Pittsburgh on the twenty-eighth of the following January. 
This new church was but little larger in mere number of 



communicants than the one he had left, but it was of in- 
definitely more importance, possessing, indeed, a truly 
metropolitan influence and burdened with thronging met- 
ropolitan responsibilities. We cannot stay to tell the 
story of the young pastor's reception. Suffice it to say 
that the new pastorate was most auspiciously begun, and 
its very first months were marked by a work of grace 
which had scarcely died away before it was followed by 
another and stronger wave of interest which not only 
added largely to the membership of the church, but 
greatly increased the fervor of its religious life and the 
energy of its Christian activity. The membership grew 
steadily throughout the pastorate from two hundred and 
thirty-seven at its beginning to four hundred and forty-six 
at its close. And membership in Mr. Paxton's church— 
or now, since Jefferson College had honored itself by con- 
ferring upon him in 1860 the degree of D.D., we must say 
Dr. Paxton's— meant something. In reaction against the 
abounding wickedness of a great city, the ideal of Chris- 
tian living was cast very high in the First Church of Pitts- 
burgh, and very strict obligations were laid upon its mem- 
bers. From 1860 its protest against the prevalent laxity 
was embodied in a distinct understanding that communing 
members should abstain from such worldly amusements 
as the opera, theatre, circus, cards. The measure had at 
least the effect of compacting the membership into an effi- 
cient body of serious men and women who were in earnest 
in the development of their own spiritual lives, and effec- 
tive in the campaign against vice. An outward sign of the 
prosperity of the church was the building of a handsome 
new edifice in the opening years of the pastorate. But 
this was only one landmark of a constant growth in 
strength and influence through these eventful years. 

To appreciate how eventful these years were we need 
only to remind ourselves that within their compass fell the 



great Civil War, and to recall what that war, quite apart 
from the upheaval it wrought in the whole land, meant es- 
pecially for the expansion of Pittsburgh. The anxieties, 
the responsibilities, the labors that were cast at such a 
time upon such a church and upon such a pastor, it is diffi- 
cult for us in these quieter times adequately to estimate. 
It is enough to say that the strain was borne by congrega- 
tion and pastor with unfailing dignity and success. Dr. 
Paxton's personal attitude during this great struggle was 
that of a convinced and enthusiastic loyalist. In the me- 
morial sermon preached upon his predecessor in the pas- 
torate of the church, Dr. Herron, who died on the eighth of 
December, 1860, he already passionately asserts the "sa- 
credness of the compact which bound these States to- 
gether." He was not a member of the Assembly of 1861, 
and I do not know what he thought of the famous ' ' Spring 
Resolutions" passed there. Possibly, like Dr. Charles 
Hodge and Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge, that they were 
ultra vires. But if so, this did not in his case, any more 
than in theirs, affect his profound conviction of the right- 
eousness, nay, the sacredness, of the principles asserted 
in those resolutions. In the Assembly of 1862, accord- 
ingly—now, alas! no longer the Assembly of the whole 
land— he cast his vote for Dr. Breckinridge's paper on 
' ' The State of the Church and of the Country, ' ' in which 
much the same ground was taken. 

On the succeeding Thanksgiving Day— November the 
twenty-eighth, 1862— he preached a striking sermon, in 
which sounds the note not only of courageous but of opti- 
mistic loyalty, that appears to have rung through his 
whole life in those dark days. I refer to this sermon here 
that I may take from it a clause which suggests an in- 
teresting incident in Dr. Paxton's life, in which some of 
the primary traits of his character are revealed. I do not 
quote this clause, you will observe, as a characteristic one : 



it is quite possible that in calmer days Dr. Paxton might 
have modified its phraseology. He is speaking of the last 
months of Mr. Buchanan's administration, and he char- 
acterizes them, shortly, as a period when " imbecility filled 
the Presidential chair." Now in the closing chapter of 
Mr. George Ticknor Curtis' "Life of James Buchanan" 
you will find a beautiful letter from Dr. Paxton, describ- 
ing how, in August, 1860, when events were already has- 
tening to the dreadful gulf which was opening before the 
nation— after the division of the Democratic party had 
been hopelessly accomplished and the election of the Be- 
publican candidate was practically assured, and after the 
speech of July the ninth, in which Mr. Buchanan cast in 
his lot with the Southern wing of the Democracy— Dr. 
Paxton held repeated earnest conferences with Mr. Bu- 
chanan on the nature of experimental religion and the 
significance of a profession of faith in Christ, and re- 
ceived from him assurances of his trust in the Saviour 
and of his purpose of soon uniting with the church. It 
is like an oasis in a thirsty land to fall upon this record 
of faithful pastoral work in the midst of those tumultuous 
years. What a light it throws upon the intensity of Dr. 
Paxton 's political convictions, that fresh from these in- 
timate interviews, in which his own heart had been aglow 
with Christian love, his judgment of his interlocutor's 
political policy remained absolutely unaffected! But, 
above all, what a sense we obtain of his absorption in his 
pastoral functions ! It is a beautiful sight to see him, in 
the midst of that violent campaign, when men's passions 
were stirred to their depths with political rancor, sitting 
quietly in conference with a political opponent whose dis- 
praise was not only on the lips of all his companions but 
embedded deeply in his own heart, conversing with him 
day by day on the serious concerns of the soul, and never, 
apparently, even tempted to permit the feelings engen- 



defed by the political strife to mar the perfection of his 
pastoral attitude, or to distort his judgment of the purity 
of heart of his distinguished disciple. "I have never en- 
tertained a doubt of the entire honesty of Mr. Buchanan's 
religious impressions," he testifies years afterward, "or 
of the reality of his religious convictions." 

No doubt the pastoral instinct and skill revealed in such 
an incident had much to do with the fruitfulness of his 
Pittsburgh pastorate. But above everything else Dr. Pax- 
ton was, in those Pittsburgh days, the preacher. Coming 
to them in his youthful vigor, he yet brought with him a 
perfected homiletical art. From the beginning he easily 
took rank among the first preachers of the two cities, al- 
though there were numbered among them men like Drs. 
Swift and Howard, Drs. Plumer and Kendall, Drs. Ja- 
cobus and Wilson, every one of them, as one of their 
constant hearers phrases it, "a prince unrivaled in his 
own style and manner." Dr. Paxton's special "style and 
manner" involved the most elaborate preparation, and 
particularly the most exact attention to the structure of 
his sermons. Some felt that, as a result, they were apt to 
be even "faultily faultless," and to sacrifice something 
of fervor to methodical development and grace of expres- 
sion. This was not, however, the general opinion: his 
audience-room was ever crowded with eager hearers, and 
he was sought after on every hand for those occasional 
addresses for which chaste speech is essential. The 
themes he chose were ordinarily "those that lie at the 
heart of the Gospel." "He always gave himself plenty 
of time, and as a rule took the full hour." "He set his 
sermon squarely on his text as a tree stands on its tap- 
root: sent out smaller roots all through the context: the 
trunk was short and stocky ; then he threw out the great 
branches, following each to its smaller limbs and even 
twigs, until his sermon stood complete and symmetrical 



and stately like one of the great live-oaks of California." 
''His literary style," continues my informant, "was 
clear, methodical and elevated. His appearance, address 
and action in the pulpit were those of an Apollo. A more 
graceful man I have never seen in pulpit or on platform. 
Tall, slender, erect, faultlessly attired, every motion was 
easy, natural, dignified and all in perfect taste." Such 
was Dr. Paxton in his prime, as he appeared in the pulpit 
—a model preacher, worthy of all imitation in matter and 
manner alike, while in the art of "dividing a text" he was 
looked upon as beyond the possibility of imitation. 

Is it any wonder that he was greedily coveted by the 
seminary over in Allegheny? Surely he had been des- 
tined and trained just that he might teach young men 
how to preach ! The opportunity to secure his services 
for this great work opened at last, we may well believe, 
somewhat unexpectedly. The authorities of Princeton 
Seminary appeared at the Assembly of 1860 with a re- 
quest that a fifth professor be granted them— a Profes- 
sor of Sacred Rhetoric. As they came with the endow- 
ment of the chair in their hands, the request could 
scarcely be denied. The authorities of the Western Semi- 
nary at Allegheny, however, felt they must not be outdone 
by Princeton ; and they succeeded in persuading Dr. Pax- 
ton to undertake the teaching of sacred rhetoric in that 
institution as its fifth professor. But as they had no 
funds provided for his support, with characteristic gen- 
erosity he gave his services to the seminary for the whole 
period of his occupancy of the chair (1860-1872) entirely 

Precisely what the directors of the Western Theo- 
logical Seminary desired of Dr. Paxton, and precisely 
what he undertook at their importunity, was to come and 
teach the students to preach as he preached. They saw 
in him a model preacher, into the likeness of whom they 



earnestly desired that their students might be moulded. 
He saw in the task that had come to him unsought an 
opportunity, not to philosophize upon the principles that 
underlie the homiletical art, nor to discuss the nature 
of preaching as a literary form, but simply to show the 
young men gathered in the seminary how to do it. If 
there ever was a preacher in the chair of preaching, it was 
Dr. Paxton. At the first, indeed, it may well have seemed 
to the Allegheny students that there was little essential 
difference between his lectures and the sermons they were 
flocking to hear from him Sabbath by Sabbath over in 
Pittsburgh. He opened his course with a series of what 
may very well be called sermons on the preachers of the 
Bible, beginning with Enoch and running regularly down 
to our Lord and his apostles — sermons marked by all 
that closeness of scrutiny of the text, faithful eliciting of 
its substance and powerful application of its lessons which 
characterized all his preaching. Only, as he was now ad- 
dressing not a general audience but a body of prospective 
preachers, the lessons which he pressed upon their con- 
sciences were lessons for preachers. In reading over the 
notes of these lectures, I have been deeply impressed by 
their value as a preparation for entering upon a formal 
study of homiletics. Account for it as we may, the study 
of the formal arts is apt to be approached by students in 
a somewhat light spirit; and even what we call "sacred 
rhetoric" has not always escaped this fate. I cannot con- 
ceive, however, a serious-minded student approaching the 
temple through the propylaenm which these opening ser- 
mons of Dr. Paxton 's built for it without putting the 
sandals once for all off his feet. And I am disposed to 
think that a large part of the power exerted by Dr. Paxton 
as a teacher of homiletics was due to the success with 
which he induced and maintained in his pupils a sense of 
the holiness and responsibility of a preacher's function. 



With all the attention he gave to their form, sermons after 
all were to him interesting chiefly because of their sub- 
stance and of their purpose : and he kept his students con- 
stantly aware of the sacredness of their substance and 
the holiness of their purpose. When he tells them in these 
opening lectures that "the true idea of preaching is the 
explanation of the Word of God"— that "the object of 
preaching is nothing else but to make clear what the Lord 
has taught"— he sounds the key-note of his entire homi- 
letical instruction. 

When, these introductory lectures being over, Dr. Pax- 
ton passes to the direct inculcation of the art of sacred 
rhetoric, his main characteristic as a teacher of homilet- 
ics springs at once into its fullest manifestation. I mean 
his intense practicality. The lectures are analytical and 
precise : the entire subject of sacred rhetoric is developed 
in them with formal completeness : but the whole tone and 
effect are those of a master-workman training his appren- 
tices in the practice of an art. It is perfectly clear that 
Dr. Paxton is simply showing his pupils how to do what 
he has himself been accustomed to do with so great suc- 
cess; taking them into his confidence, so to speak, and 
making them free of the secrets of the trade. And this 
effect is powerfully reinforced by another striking ele- 
ment in his teaching — what we may call its empirical 
basis. Discarding all a priori theorizing as to what a 
sermon ought to be, he had set himself to make a survey 
of the existing sermonic literature with a view to ascer- 
taining what, as an actual fact, good sermons are. His 
enunciations of the principles of sermon-building had in 
them, therefore, the vitality that comes from touch with 
the real. 

The results of his exhaustive study of English sermonic 
literature he incorporated especially in lectures on the 
various methods of unfolding themes and later on the 



several classes of sermons. These lectures may justly 
be regarded as the heart of his instruction in homiletics. 
He placed a very high value upon this elaborate piece of 
inductive work ; and if he can be said to have had a hobby 
it must be discovered in his untiring zeal for sermonic 
analysis. His own skill in "dividing a theme" was re- 
markable ; and he held it to be the highest accomplishment 
of a preacher to possess the power to distribute a text 
into its natural divisions, so that its entire message might 
be developed in an easy and effective presentation. He 
therefore begrudged no time or labor spent in cultivating 
this talent in his pupils ; he not only presented the subject 
elaborately in his lectures, accompanied with abundant 
illustration, but diligently trained his pupils in the prac- 
tice of the art, and himself set them an example which 
they might emulate but could scarcely hope to equal. 

What now it is particularly interesting to observe is 
that all this was just as true of Dr. Paxton the first year 
of his teaching at Allegheny as it was the last year of his 
teaching at Princeton. One of the surprises which were 
brought to me by reading over the notes of his first year's 
lectures at Allegheny was the discovery that his elaborate 
scheme of sermonic division lay already complete in them. 
Certain minor adjustments were subsequently made, and 
the illustrative examples were multiplied and modified; 
but the scheme is there in its entirety. All this wide-reach- 
ing study of sermonic literature, all this elaborate induc- 
tion of the proper structure of a sermon,— it had all been 
carried through by the young pastor for his own personal 
benefit, and the results were ready for presentation to his 
pupils from the first. This young pastor, you will see, was 
certainly diligent in business, and notably illustrated in 
his own person the prescription for success in sermoniz- 
ing he was accustomed to give in these words: "Work! 
work ! work ! ' ' 



The teaching in the seminary at Allegheny, it will be 
understood, was not instead of, but in addition to the pas- 
torate in Pittsburgh. The seminary teaching, indeed, con- 
tinued for some years after the close of the Pittsburgh 
pastorate. The latter came to an end in the midsum- 
mer of 1865. The circumstances which brought it to a 
close recall us to Dr. Paxton's private life. Here, too, 
he filled out the measure of a normal human experience 
and was not left without the chastening of sorrow. 
Shortly after coming to Pittsburgh he married : but soon 
lost both wife and child. It was not until late in 1855 
(Nov. 8) that his household was established by a marriage 
with one who might well be called a daughter of the church 
indeed,— Miss Caroline Sophia Denny, whose distin- 
guished father, the Hon. Harmar Denny, had served the 
church with rare devotion as an elder for a generation, 
and whose grandfather, Major Ebenezer Denny, had been 
identified with its fortunes almost from its origin. In her 
Dr. Paxton found a modern example of that ideal wife de- 
scribed in the closing chapter of Proverbs, and of her the 
declaration was preeminently true that ' ' the heart of her 
husband trusted in her. ' ' It would be impossible to sepa- 
rate her part from his in the achievements of their joint 
life. The oldest son of this marriage— in 1865 a boy ap- 
proaching his fifth birthday— was subject to an asthmatic 
affection to which the thick air of Pittsburgh was fatal. 
There was nothing for it but to seek a more salubrious 
atmosphere. Feeling the need of rest also for himself, Dr. 
Paxton proposed to retire for a season to the prairie lands 
of Minnesota, whither he had been accustomed to resort 
for recreation with his gun during his summer vacations. 
But he did not find it easy to escape. So soon as it was 
known that he was severing his relations with the Pitts- 
burgh church he was besieged with applications for his 
services. Among other applicants the Board of Educa- 



tion sought him for its Secretaryship. He put them all 
resolutely aside for the meanwhile ; but found them just 
as clamant on his return from his vacation. In the end 
he accepted a call to the First Presbyterian Church in 
New York, into the pastorate of which he was formally 
installed on February the first, 1866. 

In removing from Pittsburgh to New York, the centre 
of gravity of his work, so to speak, somewhat changed. 
In Pittsburgh everything ran up to the pulpit as its head : 
in New York it was rather the work of administration 
which took the central place. At no other period of his 
life was his preaching more admired : but the relative im- 
portance of preaching in the impact of his church on the 
world was less in New York than in Pittsburgh. The 
First Church of New York was the centre of the most 
ramified charities. It was veritably the mother church 
of the city, from which flowed forth nourishment for 
every religious and benevolent enterprise. ' ' No one can 
study the history of this church, ' ' Dr. Paxton has himself 
remarked, "without being impressed and amazed at the 
streams of beneficent influence that have gone out from 
this source, and at the manner in which this church has 
been intimately connected with all those great moral, re- 
ligious, benevolent, philanthropic and patriotic agencies 
which, from the very earliest times, controlled the forma- 
tive influences in the growth and development of this 
great city." Not content with lavishing its fostering 
care upon charitable organizations— churches, schools, 
colleges, seminaries, hospitals, asylums— at home, and 
becoming ' ' literally a ' fountain of living waters ' "to the 
Boards of the Church, it had gone as far afield for objects 
of its beneficence as worthy needs could be discovered. 
"Dr. Chalmers' great schemes for the Church of Scotland 
received their first encouragement here," and through 
many years continued support. Much of the work of the 



Waldensian Church in Italy was made possible only by 
aid from this church, and the theological seminary at 
Florence was built from this source. Into the midst of 
this abundant stream of wisely directed beneficence Dr. 
Paxton came in 1866, when it was running so full that, 
like Jordan in the time of harvest, it was overflowing all 
its banks. The contributions of the church to the Board of 
Foreign Missions alone during his pastorate averaged 
nearly thirty thousand dollars annually and aggregated 
more than half a million. Other things were in propor- 
tion. To name but a single item, the Presbyterian Hos- 
pital was rendered possible only by a gift from Mr. James 
Lenox. He, of course, was the greatest giver, but not the 
only great giver. Mrs. Winthrop, for example, whose 
splendid bequest this seminary hopes soon to enter into 
the enjoyment of, placed a large sum annually in Dr. Pax- 
ton's hands to be distributed at his discretion. 

As pastor of this church Dr. Paxton became, therefore, 
very much a man of affairs, an almoner to the Church uni- 
versal. "His labors during this period," as one who 
knew him well and watched his work with sympathetic eye 
remarks, "were enormous, and yet they were transacted 
with a kind of calmness and equipoise which never failed 
to impress one with the sense of a great deal of reserve 
power. ' ' As pastor of the First Church, he was ex officio 
a member of the Boards of three noble charities : the Pres- 
byterian Hospital, the Leake and Watts Orphan House 
and the Sailors ' Snug Harbor. The Boards of the Church 
claimed his services : he was elected a member of both the 
Home and Foreign Mission Boards; and served the 
former until 1880, as President from 1876 to 1878; and 
the latter until his death, as President from 1881 to 
1884. While at Pittsburgh he had, of course, been a di- 
rector of the Western Theological Seminary (from 1852) ; 
and he was also a trustee of Jefferson College (from 



1853). Coming to New York, he substituted for these the 
directorship of the seminary (from 1866) and the trus- 
teeship of the college (from 1867) at Princeton— in the 
former of which he served until his election as professor 
in the institution (1883), and in the latter until his death. 
In addition he was chosen director of Union Theological 
Seminary in 1873, and served until his removal to Prince- 
ton (1884). His appointment as trustee of the General 
Assembly (1892) came later, but may be mentioned here 
for the sake of completeness. All these positions of trust 
he filled not only with dignity, but with a careful attention 
to their duties and with a wisdom of counsel which earned 
the unaffected admiration of his coadjutors. In addition 
to the cares they brought him, he acted as lecturer on 
Homiletics and Sacred Rhetoric in the Union Theologi- 
cal Seminary, New York, during the years from 1871 to 
1873— repeating there his Allegheny lectures to the satis- 
faction of both the governors and pupils of the institution. 
The greatest ecclesiastical event which occurred during 
Dr. Paxton's New York ministry was, of course, the re- 
union of the Old and New School branches of the Church. 
He was of the number of those who did not look witli sat- 
isfaction on the movement for union. Oddly enough, 
however, as a member of the Assembly of 1862, when cor- 
responding delegates to the New School body were for the 
first time appointed, and of that of 1870, when the consum- 
mated union was set upon its feet, he was an active factor 
in both the beginning and end of the movement. Except 
so far as was involved in becoming a signatory of the 
Pittsburgh Circular of 1868-9, 1 do not know that he took 
any large part in the debates of the time. When once the 
union was accomplished, however, he became one of the 
chief agents in adjusting the relations of the two long- 
separated bodies. No one, for example, was more influen 
tial than he at the Assembly of 1870 in determining the 



formal adjustments. And in general it is not too much to 
say that his attitude of ' ' loyal and affectionate adherence 
to the interests of the united Church, ' ' and his cordial and 
appreciative intercourse with the formerly New School 
men, were among the most powerful influences which were 
working toward the healing of old wounds. When he 
came to New York, very little active fellowship existed 
between ministers serving in the two Churches: he was 
scarcely more than on the footing of speaking acquain- 
tance with his nearest ministerial neighbors of the other 
communion. Immediately after the union, however, all 
this was changed. He rapidly formed close friendships 
with his New School colleagues — with Dr. William 
Adams, first of all, for whom he cherished a boundless 
reverence; with Drs. Henry B. Smith, Thomas H. Skin- 
ner, Robert R. Booth, Howard Crosby, Charles H. Rob- 
inson. He was, of course, elected at once to the famous 
Ministerial Club, Chi Alpha, where his social intercourse 
with his brethren found a centre; and even, as we have 
seen, was shortly lecturing in Union Seminary and hold- 
ing a permanent position on its Board of government. 
When, at the unveiling of the tablet to Dr. Archibald Al- 
exander's memory, at Princeton Seminary, he declared in 
his half-humorous way, "It is wicked now for any one to 
have memory enough to recollect that there was ever any- 
thing but one happy, undivided Presbyterian Church, ' ' he 
preached nothing but what he practiced. 

With the origin of the General Presbyterian Alliance 
also he had a somewhat close connection. He was a dele- 
gate to the first meeting of its council, at Edinburgh (July, 
1877), and delivered there an address on Home Missions 
in America. It fell to him to preach the opening sermon 
at the second council, which met in Philadelphia, Septem- 
ber, 1880. Meanwhile he had been sent to the General As- 
sembly of 1880, and had been elevated to its moderator- 



ship by acclamation— an honor which has been accorded 
to very few in the history of the Church. At the opening 
of the ensuing Assembly (1881) he preached what seems 
to me at least an even more notable sermon than the much- 
admired discourse which he delivered at the opening of 
the Alliance. These two meetings of the Alliance and the 
five Assemblies which have been adverted to— those of 
1860, 1862, 1870, 1880, 1881— seem to be all those to which 
he was accredited as a commissioner. He never shirked 
any duty that was laid upon him, but he did not seek the 
supreme court of the Church as his chosen field of labor. 
He had been twelve years in the ministry before he was 
sent to the Assembly : he remained twenty-three years in 
the ministry after his last service as a member of the As- 
sembly. They were a curiously notable series of Assem- 
blies, however, in which he served : 1860, when the great 
debate on the organization of the Boards was held, run- 
ning out in its ramifications into the whole theory of Pres- 
byterianism, and Drs. Hodge and Thornwell met in ti- 
tanic conflict; 1862, in the midst of the excitement of the 
war, when the air was palpitant with internecine strife ; 
1870, when the union between the two Churches was given 
effect in an infinite variety of adjustments; 1880 and 
1881, when the debates on the Revised Book of Discipline 
took place and the reorganization of the Synods was ef- 

And now we approach the last stadium of Dr. Paxton's 
active service. In 1883 he came to Princeton to take up 
the work of the chair of Ecclesiastical, Homiletical and 
Pastoral Theology, made vacant by the resignation of Dr. 
McGill. His church, which had grown steadily under his 
hands from the two hundred and fifty-seven members it 
reported in 1866 to the four hundred and nine it reported 
in 1883, and whose affection for its pastor had grown 
with the years, was loath to give him up. He himself, 



to whom preaching was as his vital breath, was loath 
to give it up. The professor's chair was no novelty to 
him; but the professor's chair alone— it was difficult for 
him to reconcile himself to that. One of his early pupils 
at Princeton recalls a scene on the occasion of a visit of 
Mr. Moody to Princeton, when Dr. Paxton was with that 
great revivalist in the inquiry room. ' i I see him now, ' ' he 
writes, "his face working with emotion, too much over- 
come at one time by his feelings to be able to lead in 
prayer. The next day in the classroom he told us he was 
homesick for the pastorate." But God's work must be 
done ; and Dr. Paxton was accustomed to do it : and he felt 
at least that next to preaching itself the training of 
preachers was the most blessed of services. 

The chair to which he consecrated the remainder of his 
life, it will be observed, was a much more comprehensive 
one than that which he had occupied at Allegheny and 
New York. It included, as he was accustomed to point 
out, three separate branches of instruction. During the 
first years of his occupancy of it, he naturally fell back 
upon his Allegheny lectures in Homiletics and directed his 
energies to the creation of a course of lectures in Church 
Government, using meanwhile in Pastoral Theology a 
text-book, which he supplemented from his own experi- 
ence. In 1888 and 1889 he turned back to the lectures on 
Homiletics and largely remodeled them, retaining, how- 
ever, permanently the core of his Allegheny lectures. I 
suppose we all recognize that it was in these Homiletical 
lectures, supplemented by his practical drilling of the stu- 
dents in preaching and text-dividing, that Dr. Paxton 's 
work of instruction culminated. 

As at Allegheny so at Princeton it was his practical 
genius which informed all his teaching. No note is struck 
more persistently by his pupils in their reminiscences of 
his classroom than this. Says one : " I found his course 



exceedingly helpful. I can hardly conceive of a more 
thorough and suggestive series of lectures on Homiletics 
than that which he gave us. ... I found them practi- 
cally of the greatest value in my own work as a preacher ; 
so much so that when I went to India I delivered in Hin- 
dustani the substance of his course, in a brief series to the 
students in the training-school for preachers with which 
I was connected." Says another: "He was eminently a 
pastor in the pastoral chair. The teaching was concrete. 
. . . He taught not so much the philosophy as the art, 
. . . but with devotional spirituality, on a high level and 
with just balance. . . . His teaching of ecclesiastical law 
was especially pleasant. He was a stout Presbyterian, 
and bated no jot of constitution or deliverance, but he was 
not dry nor deadly technical. He evidently knew the law 
and had seen its practical workings, but he never forgot 
that the great thing was the life and progress of the 
Church, and that ecclesiasticism was not an end in itself. ' ' 
Says yet another : ' ' The most valuable part of Dr. Pax- 
ton 's work, as far as I was concerned, was his Pastoral 
Theology. Many of the suggestions he gave me I found 
to be workable and helpful. I was especially helped by 
his cautions what not to do. I may say that in practical 
work outside the pulpit, Dr. Paxton gave me more help 
than any one I have ever known." 

With all this, however, it was not after all his practical 
genius which was the chief note of Dr. Paxton 's work in the 
seminary. That was rather what one of his pupils whom 
we have just quoted calls his "devotional spirituality." 
Above everything else his heart was set on quickening in 
his students' minds a sense of the sacredness of their 
calling and on fanning the fires of their spiritual life into 
a blaze. A fervent and devoted heart he held to be the 
best preparation for preaching the gospel. His sermons, 
his conference talks— both of which were greatly enjoyed 



by his pupils,— his prayers, in which he was mighty before 
God, and indeed his whole intercourse with the student 
body wrought together powerfully to this result. He had 
a happy habit of addressing a few words to each class at 
the opening of the scholastic year, with a view to awaken- 
ing thern to a sense of their opportunities and responsi- 
bilities as soldiers of Christ. Some of the memoranda of 
these little addresses have got caught between the leaves 
of his lecture-notes, and so have come to our hands. Here 
is a sample of them, addressed to the senior class : 

Have known you well as Juniors and Middlers. 
Congratulate you on your advancement as Seniors. 
Involves responsibility. 

Influence of Senior Class. 
Think of your position. 
Good use of this year. 

1. Try to grow in piety. 

2. Don't trifle away time upon 

Too much preaching, 
Seeking a call. 

It is particularly needful to attend to these traits in Dr. 
Paxton's work in the seminary, because there lay behind 
them a definitely formed and tenaciously held theory of 
the functions of theological seminaries which he never 
lost an opportunity to enunciate and enforce. To him 
theological seminaries were specifically training-schools 
for the ministry, and he earnestly desired that they should 
be administered strictly on this principle and to this end. 
There was nothing he feared more than "scholasticism" 
in our seminaries. The liveliness of this fear, I cannot 
but think, betrayed him now and again into judgments 
and expressions which were somewhat extreme. He was 
perfectly clear that the minister should be soundly edu- 
cated, and, indeed, when that is possible without loss 



of spiritual power or spiritual opportunity, profoundly 
learned: and he was ready to grant that, therefore, rich 
provision for communicating knowledge must be made in 
our seminaries. But he was perhaps overapt to see the 
spectre of " scholasticism' ' lurking behind measures the 
practical value of which for the average ministerial 
preparation was not immediately apparent. After all 
said, however, what he took his real stand upon was the 
perfectly sound position that our theological seminaries 
are primarily training-schools for ministers, and must be 
kept fundamentally true to this their proper work. 

From this point of view he was never weary of warn- 
ing those who were charged with the administration of 
these institutions against permitting them to degenerate 
into mere schools of dry-as-dust and, from the spiritual 
standpoint, useless learning. A very fair example of his 
habitual modes of thought and speech on this subject 
may be read in the charge which he delivered to his life- 
long friend, Dr. A. A. Hodge— whom he loved as a bro- 
ther and admired as a saint of God — when Dr. Hodge 
was inaugurated as professor in this seminary. Permit- 
ting himself greater freedom, doubtless, because he knew 
he was addressing one sympathetic to his contentions, he 
becomes in this address almost fierce in his denunciations 
of a scholastic conception of theological training, and in- 
sistent to the point of menace in his assertion of the higher 
duty of the theological instructor. Pointing to the semi- 
nary buildings— he was speaking in the First Church— he 
exclaimed: "There stands that venerable institution. 
What does it mean! What is the idea it expresses? . . . 
Is it a place where young men get a profession by which 
they are to make their living? Is it a school in which a 
company of educated young men are gathered to grind 
out theology, to dig Hebrew roots, to read patristic lit- 
erature, to become proficients in ecclesiastical dialectics. 



to master the mystic technics of the schoolmen, and to de- 
bate about fate, free-will, and the divine decrees ! If this 
be its purpose, or its chief purpose, then bring the torch 
and burn it! . . . "We do not in any way depreciate a 
learned ministry. We must have learning. . . . But 
whenever in a theological seminary learning takes the 
precedence, it covers as with an icicle the very truths 
which God designed to warm and melt the hearts of men. 
. . . No, no, this is not the meaning of a theological 
seminary. ... It is a school of learning, but it is also 
a cradle of piety." Accordingly he exhorts in almost 
flaming speech the individual professor to look well to his 
personal responsibility. Let no one dare say, he cries, 
that his business is to teach only a certain section of theo- 
logical science. His duty is not merely the impartation 
of " a certain quantum of information on a given subject, " 
but to take his part in the training and inspiring of men to 
save souls. ' ' I stand here to-day, ' ' he solemnly declares, 
' ' to say to you and to every member of this faculty, ' This 
is your department!' " "The professor's study must be 
a Bethel in direct communication with heaven ; and a theo- 
logical seminary must be a Bochim from which strong 
cries for help are constantly going up." Such was Dr. 
Paxton 's ideal of a seminary. He preached it without ces- 
sation. And he lived up to it. His own study was a 
Bethel : his own classroom was a Bochim. 

I have said nothing about Dr. Paxton 's literary output. 
It is a subject which does not suggest itself with reference 
to him. The cacoethes scribendi is a disease from which 
he was immune. He had no literary ambitions. His chosen 
method of expression was oral: with this I will not say 
merely he was content ; he seemed to have even a distaste 
for the pen and a positive dislike for print. He did not 
write even his sermons ; and we may be sure that he wrote 
his lectures only as a concession to a hard necessity. To 



write for the sake of writing, to print for the sake of 
printing, would have seemed to him almost a superfluity 
of naughtiness. I believe the only review article he ever 
printed was one on "The Call to the Ministry," which he 
gave me for the first number of "The Presbyterian Re- 
view" of which I was an editor; and even that had not 
been written in the first instance for publication. He also 
gave me for that and the next number a couple of short 
book notices; and later— for "The Presbyterian and Re- 
formed Review"— a loving obituary tribute to his old 
friend, Mr. A. D. F. Randolph. I am very proud of these 
tokens of his regard, knowing well that nothing but affec- 
tion can account for them. It could not be, however, but 
that some of the sermons of a man so justly famous for 
his sermons should find their way into print: and natu- 
rally a number of the occasional addresses of one so 
sought after for occasional addresses failed to evade pub- 
lication. Thus it happens that, after all, a considerable 
body of printed material remains to preserve to us some 
suggestion of this winning speaker's manner. Some 
thirty separate items have come under my eye. Among 
them perhaps special mention should be made of his elabo- 
rate scheme of Divisions of Sermons, which he permitted 
late in life to be printed, not published, for the use of his 
classes. Those who are fortunate enough to possess 
copies of it will feel that they have in it a part of Dr. Pax- 
ton himself. 

Dr. Paxton was permitted to labor among us here in 
Princeton for a period of twenty years. He had already 
entered his sixtieth year when he came to us (1883) : he 
was approaching his seventy-eighth birthday when he was 
impelled to seek relief from his responsibilities ; and he 
had reached his eightieth year and had completed the full 
tale of twenty years of service before he ceased to deliver 
lectures in the seminary. The burden of years as they 



gathered upon his shoulders never dimmed his eye, or 
bowed his form, or halted his step. But yielding to the 
requisitions of his physicians, he asked to be released 
from the cares of office at the close of the academic year of 
1901-1902. During the protracted illness of Dr. William 
Henry Green, he had, in addition to the conduct of his 
chair of instruction, discharged also many of the duties of 
head of the seminary ; and from February the tenth, 1900, 
when Dr. Green died, he had been formally, as well as 
really, its head. What it meant to him to unbuckle the 
harness he had so long worn no one will ever fully know. 
He has himself, in his encomium on his predecessor in the 
pastorate of the First Church of Pittsburgh, eloquently 
portrayed the trials which accompany such an experience. 
If he passed through such a testing time it was concealed 
from the observer. It impressed no frown upon his brow : 
it wrung from his heart no repining cry. 

Nor, in any true sense of the word, can it be said that 
his work was over when he turned away for the last time 
from his classroom door, and descended forever the pul- 
pit steps— that pulpit which had, through all these years, 
been his throne from which he ruled as king. Changed, 
not completed, his work : perhaps we should not even say 
changed. For Dr. Paxton's power always lay more in 
what he was than in what he did, and the best of all his 
sermons was the sermon he preached by his life— by the 
benignity of his bearing, the thoughtful charity of his in- 
tercourse with men, the very glow of his serene counte- 

Affectionate in look 
And tender in address, as well becomes 
A messenger of grace to guilty men, 

he was the living embodiment of Cowper's ideal of the 
faithful pastor. Students have declared that it was a 



benediction simply to sit in the oratory of Stuart Hall 
and look upon his devout countenance as he sat on the 
platform. Ladies have remarked that to encounter him 
casually in the street of a morning brought a blessing 
upon the day. ' ' No one could fail to see the reflection of 
the Lord upon his face," or "to feel faith revived and 
courage strengthened and love deepened as they listened 
to his cheery voice and perceived whence the springs of 
his life flowed. ' ' And so, as he went back and forth to the 
devotional exercises of the seminary, of which he was a 
faithful and devout attendant to the end, and as he walked 
daily through the streets, though his voice was no longer 
heard in classroom or pulpit he was still our teacher and 
our preacher. 

' ' There will be work for you at the last, ' ' says Dr. Rob- 
ertson Nicoll, in one of his searching addresses— "not 
the old work. . . . The misery in which Christian lives 
often close is largely due to the attempt to continue work 
for which the toiler has ceased to be fit. Leave that, and 
there is other work. The cities of Israel are not gone 
over. . . . The orator may have to content himself with the 
pen. The preacher may have to step from prominence to 
obscurity. But whosoever has passed over the enchanted 
ground to Beulah is a mighty influence. His force is not 
to be measured by the old tests, but it radiates from him 
continually. It keeps silently conquering new fields and 
is unspent at death. ' ' We have seen these words fulfilled 
before our eyes. During these last years Dr. Paxton 
abode in the land of Beulah, and there radiated from him 

The splendour of a spirit without blame. 

At the last the end came with a certain suddenness, but 
with no shock. There was nothing in its circumstances to 
mar the impression of the peaceful days which preceded 



it. Even while on earth he had flung his heart before him 
—like the Bruce 's— into heaven. It had been observed 
that he had talked much of the heavenly rest during the 
last months. It seemed in no wise strange that he should 
go whither his heart had preceded him. He came to his 
grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn comes in its 
season ; and as we laid the body away in the profound con- 
viction that— as the beautiful words in our Larger Cate- 
chism express it— it shall "even in death continue united 
to Christ and rest in its grave as in its bed, till at the last 
day it be again united with its soul," what could our 
hearts say, except 

weary champion of the cross, lie still : 

Sleep thou at length the all-embracing sleep : 
Long was thy sowing day, rest now and reap : 

Thy fast was long, feast now thy spirit's fill. 




A very large number of those who have been associated 
with Dr. Paxton at one or another period of his life have 
been good enough to write out some account of Dr. Pax- 
ton as they knew him. From these accounts there have 
been selected a few which seemed to contain reminiscences 
or estimates which the friends of Dr. Paxton ought not to 
miss seeing. 

From the Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Davis, Wooster, Ohio 


I will jot down whatever I can recall of the years 1846- 
1850, in connection with Dr. Paxton. I first became acquainted 
with him when I entered the seminary at Princeton in the fall 
of 1846. Being from the bounds of the same presbytery, I saw 
the more of him, and was often in his room. I seldom went 
there that I did not find Blain and Riheldaffer with Paxton. 
They seemed to be great friends. 

Dr. Paxton had the great advantage of a fine heredity. It 
was to his grandfather, the Rev. Dr. William Paxton, who 
spent more than half a century with the Lower Marsh Creek 
Church, in Adams County, Pennsylvania, that the church and 
the world were, as I believe, indebted for William Miller Pax- 
ton. The elder Dr. Paxton was a tall and handsome man; his 
figure full, but not corpulent; a man of fine attainments, es- 
pecially in theology and philosophy; a most attractive and im- 
pressive preacher, one who drew people in strong attachment 
to himself and to his teachings. 



Paxton was kind enough to invite me to visit him in vacation ; 
and I remember spending a delightful day or two at Millers- 
town with a charming family. The father, Colonel James D. 
Paxton, was a very fine-looking and agreeable gentleman. Mrs. 
Paxton, I thought, was a very superior woman. An only 
brother, Dunlop Paxton, was then at home, at work ; and an only 
sister was a lovely young woman. She afterwards became Mrs. 
Stevenson, the mother of the Rev. Dr. A. Russell Stevenson of 
Schenectady, New York. Some time after this, in company with 
Thad. Culbertson, a fellow-townsman of mine and a Princeton 
student, a younger brother of the Rev. Dr. Culbertson of our 
China Mission, I visited the family when Colonel Paxton had 
charge of the Caledonia Iron Works, on the pike between Cham- 
bersburg and Gettysburg. There we spent a couple of days very 
delightfully with this excellent and interesting family. 

When Paxton was to preach, or conduct a prayer-service in 
the Oratory, we students were always present, and we all ex- 
pected that he would make a great and popular preacher. After 
his settlement at Greencastle, I heard him several times in the 
Falling Spring Church, in Chambersburg, and I found that 
our expectations were well founded and more than realized. He 
was a remarkably handsome young man, of a commanding 
presence, a superb figure, with beautiful eyes and a splendid 
voice. He had been a close student at Princeton, and had not 
frittered away his precious time in multifarious studies. He 
made theology, the grandest of the sciences, his study, and how 
to deliver the gospel message most effectively. So whenever 
it was announced in Chambersburg that he was to preach, every- 
body wanted to hear him, and large congregations listened 
with almost breathless attention to his impassioned and mov- 
ing appeals. He was a great sermonizer. His mental grasp 
of whatever subject he selected was always firm and masterly. 
He selected no themes but such as lie at the heart of the gos- 
pel and always reach the hearts of the people. His analysis 
was clear and discriminating; his proofs strong and convincing; 
his illustrations appropriate and telling ; his applications search- 
ing, eloquent, and impressive. 

In 1849-50 I was teaching in the Chambersburg Academy, 



and, as a licentiate, was supplying the church at Fayetteville, 
five miles out. Mr. Paxton's kindness of heart and friendliness 
were exhibited in this, that he was willing to come and preach 
for me for a couple of days. We were entertained at the hos- 
pitable home of Elder Darby. After dinner, on Friday, Pax- 
ton said to me, "I must be alone this afternoon, to make my 
preparation for preaching this evening." He told me that he 
had selected Romans 3 : 19 for his text. He spent a couple of 
hours, perhaps more, walking to and fro in the little parlor, 
arranging his heads of discourse, gathering his illustrations, 
and going over the very words and sentences that he would 
use, without a book save the Bible, without a scrap of paper, 
without pen or pencil. That a man could do such a thing, and 
then preach such a grand and thrilling sermon as we heard that 
evening, filled me with astonishment. Of course the people 
who heard him, wherever he preached, were the more interested 
and delighted because he was so free, being unencumbered by 
notes, and so at liberty to display his natural and acquired 
gifts and graces to such fine advantage. 

The prayers of Paxton at the seminary, at the family altar, 
or in public services, always impressed me greatly. Their sin- 
cerity, deep feeling, great fervor, and earnestness were cal- 
culated to enkindle feeling in the hearts of all who heard him. 

When I knew him, and to the end of his life, Dr. Paxton, 
as I believe, devoted himself to his Lord and Master, Jesus 
Christ, and to the study of one thing— how to preach to his 
fellow-men, in the most effective way, the unsearchable riches 
of Christ. In his famous sermon before the Presbyterian Alli- 
ance in Philadelphia, in 1880, he announced as the first and 
leading characteristic of the Presbyterian family of churches, 
loyalty to the person of Jesus Christ. He was a typical Pres- 
byterian himself, and the Lord Jesus Christ was all in all to 
him. Well would it be if all our young men who are preparing 
for the ministry, or who are now in the ministry, were as 
truly and wholly devoted to the person and cause of Christ as 
was Dr. Paxton, and if they would bend the energies of their 
being to the one business of preaching most effectively the 
pure and simple truth as it is in Jesus. 



I had intended saying that at the seminary and afterwards 
Dr. Paxton was dignified and grave. Some thought there was a 
reserve and stiffness about him, which prevented him from being 
a "popular fellow." But to those who knew him, his dignity 
was relieved by a very pleasant affability ; and his serious grav- 
ity, by a gentle courtesy of manner and an agreeable sense of 
humor. The memory of what Paxton was, and of his devotion 
to theology and to his Lord and Master, has ever remained with 
me, and has been a distinct and decided help to me, in my 
weakness, and in my times of doubt and difficulty. 

Oh, that every candidate for the ministry would take for his 
motto, as did William M. Paxton, and as did the great apostle of 
the Gentiles, "This one thing I do." And did not one greater 
than the apostle Paul say, "Wist ye not that I must be about my 
Father's business?" 

From the Rev. Dr. S. F. Scovel, Wooster, Ohio 


I. It was a remarkably successful ministry throughout the whole 
period of nearly fifteen years. During all this time the unity 
of feeling between pastor and people was never for a moment 
impaired. They were enviable years of prosperity in external 
things, and the church life deepened as it extended. One must 
go far to find a record in which there is so much cause for re- 
joicing and so little left to desire as in the history of the First 
Church from 1851 to 1865. And the closer this record is 
scanned the more evident do the causes of this rarely equaled 
prosperity become. 

1. There was a singular adaptation of the young pastor to 
the existing conditions. With only two years of ministerial 
experience, he was unusually mature in character and judgment. 
His training from boyhood had been in the direction of prac- 



tical and effective speech. His original destination was the 
law, and his methods gave evidence of the directness which is 
indispensable in preparation for and practice of that profes- 
sion. There was needed just such an alternation of gifts (com- 
pared with those of the retiring pastor) as was found in the 
new pastor. The circumstances of his entrance upon the work 
of the parish were all propitious. 

2. To these was added the most affectionate welcome ac- 
corded by the venerable Dr. Herron. The new pastor was re- 
ceived—to use his own words— "with open arms." The rela- 
tions between the two, founded on mutual respect and esteem, 
were ideal throughout the ten years in which the life of the 
man whom the whole church loved and the whole city admired 
was spared for counsel and encouragement. It was little to 
be wondered at when the Elisha of this succession delivered the 
model memorial sermon from the text, "My father, my father, 
the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof !" 

3. Moreover, the rapidly increasing congregations, the con- 
dition of city prosperity, and the recognized pecuniary ability 
of the congregation, together with the decrepitude of the old 
building, pointed imperatively and persuasively to a new edifice. 
Begun in 1852 and finished in 1853, it was one of the handsomest 
of its time and stimulated the erection of other buildings of its 
own type. There was no need for such appeals as were neces- 
sary in 1787, when first-pastor Barr stirred the apathetic com- 
munity with words of reproach as well as of exhortation. Nor 
was there any hint of resorting again to a lottery, despite the 
use of which a large debt had accrued at the building of 1806, 
to which debt property ultimately of great value was sacrificed. 
With united effort the great edifice rose with its impressive 
front (a reminiscence of Notre Dame in Paris) and its admi- 
rable audience-room. It became a power for good and an effi- 
cient aid in the new pastor's work. 

4. Not only did the congregations grow, but the membership 
grew. There was a constant migration from the surrounding 
counties to the city, and these counties (especially Washington) 
had been the scenes of great revivals and were sending some 
of their best Scotch-Irish character and conviction into the 



centre which so sadly needed them. Within the city the fight 
for a truly evangelical type of Christian faith and service had 
been won by the determined faithfulness of Dr. Herron. The 
higher type of Christian character had come to be accepted as 
the only one admissible for a member of the church. The resi- 
dence sections, especially in Allegheny, were increasingly at- 
tractive, and the inaccessible suburbs were not as yet distractive. 
Class differences and separations were not much in the way. 
Some of all conditions and circumstances found a warm wel- 
come from Christians as well as from Christ. There was widely 
extended mission-school work, and there were multiplying or- 
ganizations for different forms of church activity. There fol- 
lowed large development of the church in benevolence and in 
the vitality which enabled it to bear (somewhat later in the 
century) a heavy draught upon its energies in aiding by mem- 
bers and money the planting and nourishing of the suburban 

It is much to say that the growth of the church kept pace 
for a long time with the growth of the city. The mid-century 
assurance of western prosperity was felt in the increasing value 
of property and volume of trade and productive activity. This 
gave opportunity, and imposed responsibility, and both were 
admirably met. It was a friendly atmosphere for all forms of 
Presbyterian faith. The elements which combined to consti- 
tute the United Presbyterian denomination were helpful in 
fixing the general tone of morality. There were no Sunday 
newspapers or theatres. Intemperance and the coarser vices 
were known, but they did not rule either in political or social 

5. The house-to-house ministry of Dr. Paxton was never neg- 
lected. He was attentive but not indulgent. Constant and im- 
partial and sympathetic in pastoral duty and opportunity, he 
was never willing to neglect the study for the street or the 
parlor. He was willing to rely much upon certain beloved mem- 
bers of the session who gave themselves in special consecration 
to this work for a long series of years and with the greatest 
acceptance. And this was all the more regarded as satisfac- 
tory because he had given so much time and strength to the 



theological seminary (after 1860) and because he maintained 
such peculiarly close relations with the whole body of elders. 
They came to be men after his own heart. As he trusted them 
and put them forward in the work, the people trusted and 
accepted them as leaders. Much of the church's best record 
is due to this wise pastoral habit of the pastor. 

Together Dr. Paxton and the session withstood the tendency 
to a relaxation of discipline which even then had begun to 
manifest itself in our churches. It was a kindly discipline 
they exercised, but firm. From 1860 so strong a protest against 
worldly amusements was maintained that a pledge to abstain 
from them was made a term of communion for all who made 
profession of their faith. 

Dr. Paxton 's pastoral supervision was extended to the Sun- 
day-school work, which was brought, at his suggestion, under 
the care of the session. In relation to moral reforms and mat- 
ters of civic righteousness, he was as decided in essentials as 
he was prudent concerning occasions and methods. When the 
hot breath of the war was felt in the air, the duties and anxieties 
of that period came alike upon pastor and people. The pulpit 
gave no uncertain sound, and its prayers were incessant; while 
the whole church was ever ready, with moral influence, with 
money, with men at the front, and with faithful women not a 
few, in all the varied labors by which they sustained and com- 
forted the armies in the field and ministered personally to the 
wearied regiments as they passed through the city by thousands. 
Pittsburgh was patriotic to the core, and the First Church was 
very near that core's centre. In one great mass-meeting in that 
church, in behalf of the Sanitary Commission, the sum of nearly 
$50,000 was raised. 

6. But that which most fully explains Dr. Paxton 's success 
(and without which the things already mentioned would have 
been vain) was the deeply earnest and evangelical character 
of his ministry. Herein he was certainly in the apostolical suc- 
cession. Dr. Herron had gone before in a bold pioneer work 
some conditions of which are yet astonishing. The substantial 
victory had been gained, and it was the joy of his successor 
to continue the good fight and guard and cultivate the territory 



•won. The last public utterance of the veteran leader was made 
as the closing sermon before the old house of worship was for- 
saken to prepare for the new. "I wish it to be recorded and 
remembered," said he, "that after fifty years of ministry I am 
not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. And would to God that it 
was 'written as with a pen of iron and with the point of a 
diamond' on every heart, both saint and sinner, that this gos- 
pel is the only remedy for the ruined creature, man." Just such 
a testimony might have been borne when Dr. Paxton left the 
pulpit at Pittsburgh. The whole of the shorter period was a 
twice-marked subscription to the declaration of the patriarch- 
preacher. The spiritual character of the church gained (1811- 
1851) was maintained and developed (1851-65). 

The fruits of such a ministry were certain. The aim was a 
manifestation of the truth to men's consciences. Nothing was 
kept back of all the counsel of God. The law-work was ever 
carried on as a method of bringing men to Christ. There was 
little dependence placed upon the aid of special evangelists (and 
through some not wholly favorable experience in that matter 
the church had already passed) ; but there was no lack of gen- 
uine interest in revivals. The blessing came almost immediately, 
indeed, in that form. There was a great work of grace in the 
winter of 1851-52. Like that of 1827, which was the crisis 
of the third pastorate, this revival was of essential importance 
to the whole of the pastorate it introduced. There were many 
(effective through the remaining half-century) who could date 
the beginning of their spiritual life from that Sunday after- 
noon inquiry-meeting out of which most of the seventy-five per- 
sons present went savingly impressed. The most signal of the 
subsequent revivals was that of 1857. A somewhat detailed 
account of the remarkable conference in which it began was 
given by Dr. Paxton at the centennial celebration in 1884. The 
brethren came together in deep anxiety, not without a feeling 
of discouragement. But the word of Dr. Plumer concerning 
the risen and glorified Christ, and the awakening letter to the 
churches (Dr. Jacobus spent the night in prayer and in its 
composition) , gave heart and voice to the prayerful and deeply 
moved assembly. There is little doubt that the "Week of 



Prayer" was an echo of this conference and revival through 
our missionaries in India. Philadelphia was mightily wrought 
upon next to Pittsburgh, ' ' and before long the land was ablaze. ' ' 
Into all such occasions of special interest Dr. Paxton entered 
heart and soul. Such ministrations as his kept them from being 
tempestuous or merely emotional, and aided powerfully to make 
the results deeply spiritual and permanently constructive. 

It was only to be expected that the people who had enjoyed 
such fellowship in the gospel from the first day until the last 
would continue to cling in close friendship to the pastor who 
could give the full measure of devotion to a new work without 
losing the tenderest interest in the old. Every visit was warmly 
welcomed. Every sermon drew again to the old centre many 
who had entered other church relations. Dr. Paxton 's advice 
was followed, notably in the call of Dr. Purves, whose ministry 
was filled with blessing to the church and the community. He 
was the son of consolation at more than one funeral service. 

II. It is not too much to say (at least it does not seem so to the 
present writer) that Dr. Paxton came nearer being a faultless 
model in preaching than any man of that time in church or 
country. He was at once clear and profound, original but with 
no disposition to be startling, scriptural but much more than 
a master of the letter. He was not doctrinal formally, but ever 
so essentially. Not controversial, he was occasionally convinc- 
ingly apologetic. An early sermon on the inspiration of the 
Bible was quoted many years after its delivery. He was deeply 
spiritual and experimental. He became well known at an early 
period and was widely appreciated, even as far westward as 
St. Paul, where some summers were passed. He never denied 
sin's frightful scars, yet he taught the most hopeful inter- 
pretation (for example) in a noble sermon on the innumerable 
company of the finally saved. 

Never seeking special occasions, he was equal to their de- 
mands when they claimed attention. Such were the model 
memorial sermons at the death of Dr. Herron, the opening ser- 
mon at the 1880 meeting of the Presbyterian Alliance, and the 
centennial discourse at Pittsburgh (1884). There was no striv- 
ing for effect, and yet the most studious avoidance of everything 



which might hinder the effectiveness of the message. There was 
impressiveness without assumption of undue solemnity of man- 
ner. He had always an attentive people. It became a marked 
characteristic of the church even when hearing other ministers. 
The first sentences — which were always (according to his own 
instruction to students) "a centre shot at a target"— attracted 
an attention which was never lost. The subsequent onflow of 
interpretation and illustration allowed no flagging of interest. 
Its marshaled order was logical, but the logical framework was 
hidden in a wealth of true, deep feeling. He had the "eloquence 
of order" to an unrivaled degree. For sermons of such con- 
tinued elevation of thought, his were the easiest listened to. 
The style was not labored. The labor had all been done in the 
laboratory of his fixed mind and awakened heart. Both were 
held in most direct, intense, continued, and fruitful contact with 
the truth, in his matchless method of mental composition, with 
never a line of pencil or pen to give the inward vision a hint 
of distracting externality. The current, when the pulpit was 
reached, ran so smoothly that its vastness and volume were not 
at first appreciated. Divisions there were, but they were not 
staring, but just such hints as rendered more certain the hearer's 
grasp of the succession of thought. Without any unusual mani- 
festation of emotion, he excited the deepest (because the most 
rational) emotion in his fellow-worshippers. He was ever 
practising the presence of God, and no one ever heard a real 
"lightness" fall from his lips while in the pulpit. His sermons 
w r ere frequently of more than the usual length, but no hearers 
ever found them wearisome. There were no faults of undue ex- 
pansion at this point or that, but constant progress with never 
a sign of haste. Energetic thought, sound exposition, evi- 
dent faith and deep feeling, the awe of reverence, the charm 
of a visible interest in every auditor, drew men to him always. 
There was no needless repetition, yet often a carefully stated 
proposition, or series of propositions, of w 7 hich the verbiage (in 
the interest of intelligent remembrance and restatement) was 
never changed. It was the best conceivable method for win- 
ning, holding, and rewarding attention. There was no useless 
ornament, yet there was repeated illumination of the theme 



by apt illustration. As he taught so he practised the art of 
illustration, so that not one of those he used ever gleamed afar 
like the stitched-on purple patches of Horace, outshining the 
glory of the truth with tinsel. He had never a less noble view 
in this matter than that painter's who dashed out the cups 
which had attracted the spectator's gaze to the exclusion of 
the Saviour's face, on which the artist would have fixed it. 
He was most sedulously careful, however, concerning the selec- 
tion, the verbal clothing, the introduction, and the application of 
every illustration. Just because all were held subordinate to 
the truth, they were glorified as ministrants to its clearer com- 
prehension and stronger impression. 

There was always, in Dr. Paxton's preaching, an extraor- 
dinary combination of simplicity and strength, clearness and 
depth. And to these characteristics of matter his manner in 
the pulpit was exactly adapted. His action was free, but never 
violent. The pulpit in the church building of 1852 was con- 
structed as he desired, and along its outer line— a distance of 
twelve or fifteen feet— he would pass and repass, addressing eye 
to eye every part of the great congregation. His enunciation 
was distinct, his vocal utterance always audible, without effort 
to the hearer and with no perceptible strain upon the speaker. 
"What can I more say, unless it be to repeat my conviction that 
in that noble audience-room, so capacious and furnished in such 
perfect harmony with the grave yet not gloomy spirit of devout 
worship ; to that congregation of thoughtful and godly people, 
with such evident inspiration from above and such humble and 
hearty reliance upon the limitless grace of God, there were fif- 
teen years of such preaching and hearing as are but rarely wit- 
nessed. Other instrumentalities there were, which proved their 
value in many ways, and many favorable circumstances envi- 
roned these years ; but the main thing about which other things 
crystallized and which went farthest to secure the results of that 
church life was the preaching of Dr. Paxton. 

III. One cannot give a full account of Dr. Paxton's work 
in Pittsburgh and omit mention of his service as professor in 
the Western Theological Seminary. He was chosen professor 
of homiletics by the General Assembly of 1860, in session at 



Rochester, New York. It is probable that the student attendance 
upon his ministry had much to do with the request that he would 
undertake to teach. That attendance was a source of strength 
to the church. Many devoted workers gave their consecration 
expression in its various enterprises for the good of the com- 
munity. I have always understood that Dr. Paxton's entire 
services as professor from 1860 to 1865 and for several years 
thereafter, in which he returned from New York to deliver his 
lectures to the students gathered for the occasion into one body, 
were without expense to the seminary. His system was the 
fruit of his experience, and for that reason most valuable. The 
course gave evidence from the beginning of wide reading and 
accurate analysis of the methods of many of the world's most 
useful and famous ministers of the Word. Dr. Paxton was quite 
willing to have others know the story of his own induction 
into the habit of mental composition (upon a suggestion of a 
gentleman at Bedford Springs, afterw r ard President Buchanan) 
and of his first week's and first Sabbath's experience under the 
new idea. The students were charmed with the teaching, and 
I have never heard one who knew the elements of this professor 's 
system who did not pronounce it ideal, even though he might 
confess in the same breath that its demands of him who would 
practise it fully were greater than most men had either grace 
or grit to meet. His first effort was to settle it for every stu- 
dent that his first duty was to seek the truth. Then he might 
expect the truth to hold him as he grasped it. And then must 
come close and accurate thinking and thereby true feeling, and 
the consequent "eloquence of order," freedom in utterance, 
consecutiveness in thought, and directness in communication with 
the hearer. The naturalness of the method is the vindication 
of its philosophy. The self-command and supreme earnestness 
of soul which it required, and the intelligent comprehension 
by the minister of what he meant to accomplish, made it, per- 
haps, in its entirety accessible to only a few select spirits. 
"Topico-textual" sermons, those which found both content and 
structure in the selected Scripture, were, I think, his own dis- 
covery; that is, he first defined them as a class and showed the 
way to their best use. And surely no one who ever heard one 



of them could ever forget those Scripture clauses in their illu- 
minated relationship. Thus genius did its best work in linking 
its finest perceptions to the actual substance of some divine 
revelation, and thenceforward the weight of the truth and the 
brilliancy of the illumination became inseparable. How intensely 
and reverently he loved the ministry of reconciliation need 
scarcely be noted. Whoever heard his address on preaching — 
the inaugural, I think, at Princeton and largely repeated soon 
after to the students at the University of Wooster, Ohio — could 
not but feel that such an attitude toward the sacred office and 
such large conception of its privilege and opportunity must 
have gone far (even without such marked gifts and graces) to 
have constituted Dr. Paxton a model professor. 

IV. If we turn to Dr. Paxton 's Pittsburgh ministry among 
his fellow-ministers, we find the same faithfulness and compe- 
tence. The First Church was kept fully aware of the denomina- 
tional work and of its place of responsibility therein. It would 
have been almost inconceivable neglect for the pastor of that 
church to have been forgetful of foreign missions, when the 
work originated there in its first organized form for the Pres- 
byterian Church as a whole; or of home missions, when the 
spot was consecrated by the great meeting of the Synod of 1828 ; 
or of the theological seminary, the very location of which at 
Allegheny was secured by the influence of its venerable third 
pastor. Helpfulness toward the surrounding churches was never 
withheld. Dr. Paxton never claimed leadership because of his 
position, but never denied responsibility because of varied labors. 
His relations with fellow-servants in the ministry t (even outside 
of denominational lines) were of the kindliest sort. He was 
always appreciative and therefore appreciated; and especially 
was this true of the younger ministers. 

V. Dr. Paxton was a manly man. He was graceful and at- 
tractive in person and carriage. During the Pittsburgh years 
he was not always in robust health, but with care and prudence 
his work was continuous. He was dignified without hauteur, and 
was accessible without ever being effusive or ( (by any possibility) 
intrusive. His poise was so remarkable that he was never known 
to be taken unawares, to be hurried or flustered. With more 



intimate acquaintances he was most companionable and kindly, 
though even then (so far as the present writer knows) he never 
descended into gossip. He was invariably considerate of those 
whose conduct or opinions he could not approve. His loyalty 
to friends who came under adverse criticism was self-forgetful 
and brave; and he grappled them to him with hooks of steel. 
He loved spiritual conversation. His character as a Christian 
appeared everywhere (apart from all professional necessities) 
most amiable and sincere. He thought of nothing as equal in 
its interest to the life of God in the soul of man. Few men 
with all his environment would have continued so unpreten- 
tious and unassuming. In conversation he was gifted, having 
the rare ability to be a contented listener as well as a facile 
raconteur. He had enjoyed from early life the acquaintance 
of the noblest and best society our country could afford; he 
never forgot anything; he had an excellent sense of kindly 
humor ; he possessed a rich store of anecdote and incident ; yet 
he was never found monopolizing conversation or seeking for 
himself the applause of a company. Never claiming the training 
of a specialist, so broad were his views and so generous his esti- 
mate of fellow-workers that finer appreciation of honest merit 
or profound scholarship or high character could nowhere be 

I have sometimes thought that I never could say, "I have seen 
an end of perfection," while Dr. Paxton lived. Perhaps there 
may be others, but in the shadow of this bereavement of the 
church he loved I may be allowed some uncertainty. 


From the Rev. Dr. Oscar A. Hills, Wooster, Ohio 


On Wednesday morning, October 17, 1860, the seniors and mod- 
ellers of the Western Theological Seminary gathered with high 
expectations in the old Seminary Hall. The room where they 



were assembled, then known as "Dr. Plumer's recitation-room," 
was on the second floor, immediately over the chapel, and of the 
same size ; two rooms having been thrown into one for occasions 
when a professor could conveniently lecture to two classes at 
the same time, as was the case at this hour. There were about 
one hundred men in the two classes, and every man of them 
seemed to be present with pencil and note-book in hand. Some 
unusual event was evidently impending. 

It was the opening lecture of the new professor of sacred 
rhetoric, already known as the Rev. Dr. William M. Paxton. The 
middlers, of whom I was one, had often heard him preach during 
the preceding session. We greatly admired the way he did it. 
Now, in the closer fellowship of the class-room, we were to learn 
from him how to do it, too. Inasmuch as he was preeminent as 
a pulpit orator, and the popular pastor of one of the largest 
churches in the city of Pittsburgh, it is not to be wondered 
at that great expectations were cherished in the minds of those 
one hundred and seven theologues (for so many were enrolled 
in the catalogue of that session) gathered to participate in the 
opening of a new department of seminary instruction, so in- 
teresting, practical, and immediately useful as the composition 
and delivery of sermons. 

We had thought ourselves especially happy in being permitted 
to sit under the preaching, and study the methods, of seven men 
like Paxton, Howard, Kendall, Jacobus, Wilson, Plumer, and 
Swift the elder, — every one as different from every other one as 
day from night, but every one of them a prince unrivaled in his 
own style and manner. But now we were to have another one of 
the immortal seven (we had three of them already) as our teacher, 
and he probably best fitted of them all to tell us the secret of pul- 
pit power, so far as it lay in the preacher and his furniture and 
methods. Forty years ago the literature of homiletics accessible 
to impecunious students was not very extensive. Indeed, about 
all we had to depend on was the suggestive, yet in many ways un- 
satisfactory, Vinet. It was a great addition to our comfort that 
now we were to have the opportunity of hearing everything 
available in the department recompounded in the alembic of a 
master in the science and art of sacred eloquence. 



At the time of which I speak, Dr. Paxton was in the fulness 
of a vigorous manhood. Only four months before he had en- 
tered his thirty-seventh year. As he came into the class-room 
that morning, he was a noble specimen of Christian manhood— 
a handsome, courtly, and distinguished minister of Jesus Christ. 
Responding to the cordial greeting of his younger brethren, he 
led us in reverent prayer to the feet of the Master; and then, 
casting a kindly glance from those luminous eyes over the room, 
he at once began his work with a lecture upon "The History 
of Preaching." The broad foundation he proposed to lay, and 
the wide sweep of his forecast of the new department, soon 
became evident to us in that he spent the first five lectures of his 
course on this history, and even then had had no occasion to 
travel outside the Scripture record for illustrations of the great 
preachers of the Church of God. Enoch, Noah, Moses, Aaron, 
Joshua, Samuel, and Ezra of the Old Testament, and, with 
John the Baptist between the gates, Jesus Christ and his apos- 
tles Paul, Peter, John, and James of the New Testament, were 
made to stand out before us clothed with majestic power as 
teachers of divine truth. His lecture on the preaching of Jesus 
was wonderfully discriminating, eloquent, and elevating. 

Leaving the history of preaching during the Christian cen- 
turies for future development, he began in January, 1861, his 
course of lectures on Sacred Rhetoric, narrowing the theme at 
once to the single thought of "the construction of a sermon." 
When I say he carried us on in this work, with great exactness 
of method, amplitude of analysis, and wealth of illustration 
from his own sermons, and especially those of the masters of 
homiletical composition, through seven great stages,— viz.. 
Choosing a Text, Invention and Gathering of Matter, Drawing 
the Theme, Division of Material, Introductions, The Treatment 
of Divisions, and Perorations, — it will surprise no one to learn 
that he did not finish the course till the 24th of February, 1862. 

To some of his pupils, indeed, it sometimes seemed as if his 
lectures were marked by an excess of analysis, and methods far 
too mechanical. But then he was dealing with the anatomy of 
a sermon, and in setting up a skeleton it is rather important that 
all the bones should be there, and that every bone should be in 



its place. He wisely left to us the work of putting flesh on the 

Dr. Paxton's preaching in those days partook somewhat of 
the character of his lectures in homiletics— to the extent, at 
least, of careful analysis, logical arrangement, and amplitude 
of illustration. This, indeed, seemed to be rendered necessary 
by his method of preparing a sermon. He has told me he would 
spend the week gathering and formulating his material, and then 
spend the night, to the "wee sma' hours" of the Sabbath, walk- 
ing the floor and laboriously composing his sermons, sentence 
by sentence, while yet he did not pen a word. 

Some of us, I think, at first thought his sermons, while they 
were polished ad ungiiem and clear as a sunbeam, were wanting 
in warmth, and that as a preacher he was cold and distant, 
sacrificing a certain degree of fervency and unction of spirit 
to exactness of chaste and methodical expression. This impres- 
sion was very soon dissipated in the familiar intercourse of the 
class-room, where we had abundant opportunity to mark his 
sympathetic spirit and solicitude for our success, and his readi- 
ness to help us in our blundering efforts to get a start in the 
great and blessed work of preaching the gospel. I have been 
told by those who attended the First Church prayer-meetings of 
those days that all impressions of hauteur and coldness would 
be speedily melted in the warmth of the extemporaneous outpour- 
ings of his tender spiritual nature. 

In a review of my seminary course, after nearly half a century, 
I have no hesitation in saying that the two things that did me 
more good than all others combined were Dr. Plumer 's lectures on 
Experimental Religion and Dr. Paxton's on Homiletics. One sec- 
tion in his lecture on Expository Preaching, explaining and 
enforcing the treatment of paragraphs, or somewhat extended 
passages of Scripture, as the ordinary sermon treats a single 
verse, has been of incalculable service to me. He well says what 
I have found to be true: "This is the highest kind of pulpit 
address. Few can do it well. The difficulty lies in the want 
of analytical culture and deep and extensive acquaintance with 
Scripture. ' ' 




From the Rev. Dr. W. W. McKinney, Philadelphia 


Dr. William M. Paxton came to the First Presbyterian Church 
of Pittsburgh in 1851. He was young, tall, commanding. He 
soon made himself a name and a place as an orator, sermonizer, 
and worker, and grew steadily in power and influence. His dis- 
courses upon the life and services of Dr. Herron were published, 
and are a fine production, and an eloquent tribute to a noble, 
forceful character and a useful and memorable career. Dr. Pax- 
ton was noted for his special efforts. He did not neglect or slight 
his ordinary pulpit preparations, but utilized Thanksgiving and 
other days of public or local interest to discuss themes which 
aroused his powers to their utmost and redounded greatly to his 
reputation and influence. During the Civil War his patriotic 
heart was deeply stirred, and on several occasions he spoke with 
a vividness, fire, zeal, vigor, and appositeness that told for his 
country and the cause then at stake. 

Dr. Paxton was more the preacher than the pastor. His peo- 
ple recognized his superior qualities in the pulpit and gave him 
the fullest liberty and time for their exercise. He had a re- 
markable session, two members of whom, being wealthy and hav- 
ing largely retired from business, devoted themselves to reliev- 
ing him as much as possible from pastoral visitation and care. 
They were men of much spirituality, consecration, and accep- 
tability, and found delight in their work, and had the fullest 
and freest access to the homes of the people. They were a bless- 
ing to the families visited, kept the pastor posted as to their 
needs and conditions, and offered him happy suggestions and 
valuable aid as circumstances required. They were a power in 
the session as well as among the people. Dr. Paxton leaned on 
them. They were proud of him, and he of them, and through 



their combined efforts the church grew in numbers, piety, and 

Dr. Paxton proved a wise, faithful, and influential factor in 
the Pittsburgh Presbytery and Synod. He was prominent in 
counsel. He took special interest in the younger members and 
gave them the benefit of his counsel and the inspiration of his 
example. He paid more than ordinary attention to the candi- 
dates for the ministry, especially to their examinations and ser- 
mons before presbytery. He was ready with kindly criticism, 
which was always of a practical and suggestive character. He 
was generally more disposed to encourage and approve than to 
dishearten and disapprove. His aim seemed to be to stimulate 
and to direct in the way of improvement. 

Homiletics was the doctor's forte. He treated it as a science. 
He studied its principles. He sought to put them into practice. 
Early in his ministry he displayed his knowledge, aptitude, and 
proficiency in this line of study. He had been preaching only 
about ten years when the friends of the Western Theological 
Seminary recognized his attainments, natural and acquired, in 
this respect, and called him into service as homiletical lecturer 
in this institution. During my day (1858-61) no professor's 
room was more sought after or more interesting and helpful. 
Both the character of the lectures and the manner of their deliv- 
ery proved attractive. It was in the days of Professors Elliott, 
Plumer, Jacobus, and Wilson, when the institution was enjoying 
an era of unusual prosperity, and when it had the largest classes 
in its history, and the addition of Dr. Paxton to the faculty was 
counted as of especial value and interest. The note-book was in 
much demand. The students were full of enthusiasm, and eager 
to listen and improve. Dr. Paxton retained his popularity as 
homiletical instructor until some years after his removal to the 
First Presbyterian Church of New York City. Much regret was 
felt upon his departure by those who had learned to appreciate his 
worth as a teacher, as well as by the people of his charge, who loved 
him greatly and honored him highly as pastor and preacher. 

Dr. Paxton during his pastorate at Pittsburgh was faithful 
and fearless. I have heard him preach some of the most pointed, 
direct, and practical sermons to his wealthy and intellectual con- 



gregation I ever heard in my life. He spoke to saint and sin- 
ner with the utmost freedom, fidelity, and plainness. He sought 
to edify and save. He preached doctrinally as well as prac- 
tically. As an instance of his power to bring home truth so as 
to produce immediate effects, I remember attending his church 
one Sabbath evening with a companion who \v;is not a profess- 
ing Christian. His audience was large and attentive. He was 
at his best. He took as his theme "Every Christian a Mission- 
ary, ' ' drawn from the text James 5 : 20, " Let him know, that he 
which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save 
a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." He 
developed and applied the truth with such force, pungency, and 
directness, and brought home the duty of speaking to sinners and 
working for their salvation in such a way, that I could not 
leave my young friend that night without urging him to be a 

Dr. Paxton in those days preached with the fire and unction 
of the great revival of 1857-58, and his large mid-week atten- 
dance attested the spiritual fervor he awakened, as did the 
frequent and numerous accessions to his church. 

Dr. Paxton served the First Church of Pittsburgh at a period 
when that city and Allegheny had their pulpits manned by some 
of the greatest lights of western Pennsylvania and of the Pres- 
byterian Church; but he stood foremost among them all. Dr. 
Jacobus was preaching in the Central Church, Dr. Howard in 
the Second, Dr. David Riddle in the Third, and Dr. Fulton in 
the Fourth. Across the Allegheny were Dr. Plumer in the Cen- 
tral, and Dr. Swift in the First Church. The United Presby- 
terian pulpit had such men as Dr. Black and the Presleys. But 
none of them had larger congregations or more winning power 
as a preacher of the gospel than Dr. Paxton. 




From the Rev. Dr. W. B. Noble, Los Angeles, California 


During most of my student life at the Western Theological Sem- 
inary Dr. Paxton was pastor of the First Church of Pittsburgh, 
and professor of homiletics in the seminary. His removal to 
New York deprived my class of a portion of his lectures, greatly 
to our regret. 

He was then at the zenith of his manhood and power; the 
First Church was filled on Sabbaths to its utmost capacity, his 
fame was widespread, and his services were sought for special 
occasions where the highest oratorical ability was required. But 
among his numerous and varied labors there was none which 
seemed more congenial and delightful to him than the training 
of his students in the principles and practice of the great art 
of which he was so eminent a master. Preaching was, in his 
estimation, the one thing which above all others was worth 
doing. And he spared no pains that we might be fitted to do it, 
and do it well. Many of the Allegheny students of his day have 
in later years confessed their indebtedness to him for their 
success in the pulpit. And personally I may truthfully say that 
I owe more to his lectures and example than to all the books 
on homiletics I have read during the years of my ministry, 
though I have always followed Dr. Dale's advice and read all 
the books on the subject I could buy or borrow. 

The great variety of his modes of treating texts of Scripture, 
and his wonderful skill in their analysis, are remembered by all 
his students. He sought to make us adepts in "rightly divid- 
ing the word of truth." He charged us "never to break the 
bones of a text," but to search for its joints. And these he 
himself could find with the deftness and precision of an expert 



carver. Yet his analysis of texts was not a mere sleight-of-hand 
performance designed to excite wonder, but seemed to be guided 
by an unerring homiletic instinct, or a genius for bringing 
to light the hidden and unexpected riches of the text. And his 
own sermons, while containing flights of eloquence which were 
lofty and sustained, were characterized by a simplicity of lan- 
guage and a logical order of treatment that fastened them in 
the memory of the hearer. It was always easy to give a satisfac- 
tory account to another of a sermon one had heard Dr. Paxton 
preach. And it was just as hard, when one tried to preach 
upon a text of his, to forget his analysis of it and strike out 
upon an original line. His treatment of the text seemed to be 
the only right and possible one. 

An incident in my own experience will illustrate this. Dr. 
Paxton encouraged us to come to him for suggestions on the texts 
assigned to us for trial sermons by our presbyteries in case we 
had any perplexity about their proper treatment. My presby- 
tery had given me as a text Mark 3:35, "For whosoever shall 
do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and 
mother." I tried hard, but could not find the "joints." So 
I went to Dr. Paxton 's study one evening, and submitted the 
text to him. He opened his study Bible at the place, and said, 
"I have nothing on that text." He rose and paced the floor for 
two or three minutes, and then standing before me said: "The 
theme of this text is Spiritual Relationship to Christ. I. Its 
Superiority to Earthly Relationship ('brother, sister, mother'). 
It is (1) more intimate, (2) more blessed, (3) more enduring. 
II. Its Condition, Obedience ('doing the will of God'). This 
obedience should be (1) entire, (2) cordial, (3) persevering." 
I went out of the study wondering why / could not have thought 
of that, it seemed so natural and easy; but querying whether 
I had a right to use it, full of rich sermonic material as it was. 
And yet how could one forget it and follow a different line? 
And what other line was there to follow? 

Dr. Paxton usually composed his sermons and committed 
them to memory without writing them. If they were written 
at all it was after their delivery. In this method of preparation 
he has few followers, I think, among his students. His bearing 



in the pulpit was dignified, his action graceful, his voice sym- 
pathetic, his articulation distinct. Physically, intellectually, and 
spiritually, he was a great preacher and a noble man. 


From the Rev. Dr. Thomas A. McCurdy, 
Wilmington, Delaware 


I cherish the memory of the late Rev. "William M. Paxton, 
D.D., LL.D., as one of the choicest treasures of my life. I have 
always considered myself fortunate in having been one of his 
students when he was in the chair of homiletics in the Western 
Theological Seminary, and one of his frequent auditors when he 
was in the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church of Pitts- 
burgh, Pennsylvania. He was then in his prime— a tower of 
strength, and a bulwark of the faith. He was a model as an 
orator, a preacher, a teacher, and a friend. To listen to him 
was a delight; and to know him was to admire and to love him. 
Being of fine presence, of genial courtliness of manner, and of 
gracefulness of speech and action, he attracted and held the at- 
tention of his hearers from start to finish of sermon in the 
pulpit, and of lecture in the class-room. His sermons and lec- 
tures had the symmetry of balanced productions well wrought 
out in clearness of analysis and expression, gracefully delivered 
from a warm and sincere heart. 

He was so unique in the charm of gracefulness that some sup- 
posed him to be mechanical, cold, and difficult of approach ; but 
they soon found him to be of large and warm heart, and the most 
accessible of men. He had, in an unusual degree, three qualities 
which, most of all, left their indelible impress upon his students: 
the radiant clearness of his sermons and lectures ; the compre- 
hensive and exhaustive analysis of his subjects; and the magni- 



fieent eloquence of his language and action in argument and in 
appeal when preaching and lecturing. I still hear his splendid 
voice ringing to the full extent of its register when unfolding 
the doctrines of the cross, the triumphs of faith, the certainty 
of the glory beyond; and in his appeals to the sinner to believe 
;md be saved. And I still hear his sweet persuasiveness in his 
efforts to have his students realize the solemnity and the re- 
sponsibility of "rightly dividing the word." 

In the class-room he was the Christian gentleman finely pol- 
ished. He was kind, tender, sympathetic and laborious in ef- 
forts to have his students learn how to grasp their prayerfully 
chosen texts; and "then to toss them as balls before their minds; 
and then to grasp them with an unfaltering faith in God; and 
then to hold on to them until, with the help of the good Spirit, 
they were clad in plain and simple language for their hearers." 
"My dear young brethren," he said, "go to the heart of your 
texts as quickly as possible. Never build a huge portico at the 
threshold of your sermon. Let your introduction be brief; let 
your sermon be the target, and your introduction be the rifle-ball 
which hits it in the centre. ' ' 

He was so clear in his analysis and treatment of a subject, 
and so sweet and charming in his diction, that it was possible 
to reproduce, substantially, from memory his entire sermon and 
lecture. On one occasion he was asked in the class-room, "Pro- 
fessor, what shall I do with the texts I hear you preach from? 
I must discard them altogether, or use what I remember of your 
divisions and treatment of them. ' ' His answer was characteristic 
of his sympathetic helpfulness: "My dear young brethren, 
should you so remember any sermon I preach, I shall be very 
glad. Take all you may remember and use it prayerfully : it is 
yours for the Master ; and if I can in any sense perpetuate the 
truth through you, let God have the praise. ' ' 

His reverence for the memory of the sainted Rev. Archibald 
Alexander, D.D., was beautiful and intense. On one occasion 
I entered the study of that prince of theologians, the Rev. A. A. 
Hodge, D.D., LL.D., and found Dr. Paxtou present. The friend- 
ship of Drs. Paxton and Hodge was ardent and of long standing. 
These giants were in easy ami graphic colloquy. It was full of 



wit and repartee. I felt that I was with boys, and was wel- 
comed as a boy is welcomed by boys. Dr. Hodge, addressing 
me, said: "What do you think that Dr. Paxton was telling me? 
He told me that prophecy ceased with John the Baptist; and I 
have known that for a long while." "Yes," replied Dr. Paxton, 
"but you did not know that inspiration ceased with Dr. Alex- 
ander. He was the greatest man with whom God ever adorned 
the Church. " " Very true : I was called for him, ' ' said Dr. 
Hodge. "Yes, but if you ever reach his acme, you will find 
that you have no time to lose, ' ' was Dr. Paxton 's reply ; and we 
all indulged in a hearty laugh. 

Soon afterwards I was greatly perplexed. My presbytery had 
assigned me a passage of Scripture for a "popular lecture" 
as a part of trial for licensure ; and I could make nothing of it. 
I had searched every commentary in the library and returned 
to my room disgusted by the absence of any exposition of it by 
these masters of the Word. This and that professor had referred 
me to correlative passages, but I found these as dark and ab- 
struse as was the passage assigned me. I spoke to Dr. Paxton. 
' ' Come and take tea with me this evening, and we will talk about 
the passage." Turning to the passage, he exclaimed: "Well, 
I am surprised that this passage should be assigned to any one 
for a 'popular lecture.' I have studied it for more than two 
years and have examined every available expositor, and have 
never found even a satisfactory suggestion. The best that I can 
make out of it is, The Future Glory of the Redeemer's Kingdom 
stated in antithetical clauses; but that is not clear. If you 
should take that view of it, I don't think that your presbytery 
will object." My presbytery did not object. 

It was a sad hour to the students and friends of the seminary 
and to the noble people of the First Church when he felt con- 
strained to surrender his professorship and pulpit. His hold 
on the hearts of all was strong; and in their esteem he stood 
like a tower great and symmetrical from base to apex. His name 
and fame as a man of God and as an orator and preacher were 
in Pittsburgh and in all the region round about. In the home 
and foreign fields, and wherever there is a minister who was 
his pupil, there is in his heart a monument sacred to the memory 



of the late William M. Paxton. Every one of his surviving stu- 
dents knows that he was a lifter of gloom and a dispeller of 
doubt and sadness. Love beamed in his eye, generosity leaped 
from his hand, and sympathetic fire blazed in his heart. Noble 
man of God! He lived not unto himself, but unto Him who 
died for him and rose again. 

"My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horse- 
men thereof!" 


From the Rev. Dr. John W. Dinsmore, San Jose, California 


... I entered the seminary at Allegheny in the fall of 1859, 
and there continued till the spring of 1862. On entering the 
seminary, I immediately began attending services in the First 
Church of Pittsburgh, of which Dr. Paxton was pastor. During 
my course in Allegheny I attended there regularly on Sabbath 
morning, and very often in the evening, but as the distance from 
my rooms was long, I did not attend constantly in the evening. 
I think it was at the beginning of my second year that he began 
giving lectures in the seminary on Homiletics, or, as it was called, 
Sacred Rhetoric. It was understood that his service was rendered 

During the time I am speaking of, he was thirty-five to thirty- 
eight years of age, in the exuberant strength of his young and 
splendid manhood ; and while as yet, no doubt, he had not reached 
the full maturity of his powers, he was at that age when, in the 
estimation of young men and in his ability to command their in- 
terest and admiration, he was in his very prime. In common 
with most of my fellow-students, I soon came to hold him in 
very high respect; and not only so, but to cherish for him a 
sincere affection. This respect and affection continued while 
he lived, and the feeling is still cherished for his memory now 



that he is gone. As a preacher (I speak of him as he was in those 
days) he was closely textual, and usually very analytical and elab- 
orate in his treatment of his theme, perhaps rather too much so 
for popular effect. He always gave himself plenty of time, and, as 
a rule, took the full hour. He set his sermon squarely on his text 
as a tree stands on its tap-root ; sent out smaller roots all through 
the context ; the trunk was short and stocky ; then he threw out 
the great branches, following each to its smaller limbs and even 
twigs, until his sermon stood complete, symmetrical and stately, 
like one of the great live-oaks of California. His sermons were 
exceedingly full of instruction in rich and precious biblical truth, 
but perhaps not so kindling and moving as they would have been 
if framed more on the synthetic method, and so made to focalize 
in a point, and thus bore and burn into the mind of the hearer. 
His literary style was clear, methodical, and elevated, but want- 
ing somewhat in the warmth and glow which come of a lively 
imagination and strong emotionalism. His appearance, address, 
and action in the pulpit were those of an Apollo. A more grace- 
ful man I have never seen in pulpit or on platform. Tall, slen- 
der, erect, faultlessly attired, every motion was easy, natural, 
dignified, and all in perfect taste. He wore no gown in the pulpit 
in those days, but always the conventional dress-coat, which 
would look very odd in our time, but which was the custom then. 
He was not a preacher after whom the town would run, but he 
had a strong hold on the admiration and affectionate interest of 
the large, strong, solid, and rather old-fashioned congregation 
he served. 

His lectures in the seminary were very popular with the stu- 
dents and were largely attended. They were the only lectures 
given in the seminary in my time of which I took full notes. 
The notes of his lectures I still have packed away somewhere. 
These lectures were written out in full and read from the desk. 
In the pulpit, however, I cannot recall ever having seen him use 
a scrap of paper. Whatever may have been his method later, 
his way of preparing his sermons then, as he told me himself, 
was to write absolutely nothing, but simply, walking up and 
down in his study, to elaborate his sermon and articulate it down 
to the smallest particular, and thus write it on his mind. He 



once told me that when he was a young licentiate he preached 
in a church where Hon. James Buchanan, afterwards President 
of the United States, w;is among his hearers. Mr. Buchanan was 
an old friend of young Paxton 's family, and so much interested 
in him. After the service, Mr. Buchanan took him aside, and 
said to him : ' ' William, as one who has had much experience in 
public speaking, and who has heard a great deal of the best of 
it, and as your friend, I wish to give you a little advice. Now, 
that sermon you gave us to-day was written out in full and com- 
mitted to memory, was n 't it ? I knew it because I could see that 
you were looking into the back of your head for your sermon, 
instead of putting yourself out upon your congregation. Now 
that is mere drudgery and will weaken you. Either write out 
in full and read your manuscript freely, or study your sub- 
ject thoroughly and then speak directly to the people out of a 
full mind and mastery of your subject." Dr. Paxton said he 
determined to act on this advice, and had so acted ever since. 
But the question might be raised whether there is much dif- 
ference between writing out on paper and committing to memory, 
and writing out to the last word on the mind, and then repro- 
ducing it from that tablet. 

Dr. Paxton took great interest in his pupils, at least in such 
as he came to know at all well. I remember that, on my leaving 
the seminary, without the least suggestion from me, he handed 
me a strong letter of commendation, a much stronger one than 
I deserved; and that later he took much interest in my getting 
on. Two or three years after my graduation, his health be- 
came somewhat impaired, and he was from home a good deal. 
He made several trips to Minnesota, and there spent considerable 
time. He became deeply interested in the opening missionary 
work in the Northwest, and especially in such of his "own boys" 
as were missionaries in that region. Once he came to the town of 
Portage, Wisconsin, where a friend and classmate of mine was 
at work, picked him up, and in an open wagon, on a hot summer 
day, rode twenty-eight miles over bad roads to visit me for two 
or three days in the little village where I was then at work. 
That visit cost him no little weariness, but it did me no little good. 
No wonder we loved him. In truth, he was a very high-minded 



and noble-hearted man ; a princely man ; a man to believe in 
and rely upon ; one whom it was a pleasure to serve as a senior, 
and an honor to have as a friend. I am glad to have the op- 
portunity of laying this little tribute on his honored grave. 


From the Rev. Dr. Robert R. Booth, New York 


I think it was about the year 1866 that Dr. Paxton came to 
New York and settled in the First Presbyterian Church. I was 
then in the Mercer Street Church, near at hand ; but there was 
very little fellowship in those days between the ministers of the 
two branches— indeed, we scarcely ever met, and for a time it 
seemed as if Dr. Paxton was rather indisposed to have fellow- 
ship with those of the other branch. He came at a time when 
such men as Dr. Spring, Dr. Krebs, and Dr. Potts had passed 
away, and entered the front rank by reason of his splendid 
talents and his prominent pastoral position. He was somewhat 
strongly opposed to the reunion of 1870, but accepted it grace- 
fully when the Church had so determined. His attitude, from 
that time on, was one of the most loyal and affectionate adherence 
to the interests of the united Church, especially as represented 
in the Presbytery of New York. His influence was commanding, 
and the confidence and affection of his brethren toward him 
became great. 

The benevolence of his church was a marked feature of his 
ministry. Year by year, at that period, streams of benevolence 
were poured forth in every direction. The Presbyterian Hospi- 
tal was originated in connection with the benevolences of Mr. 
Lenox, largely under Dr. Paxton 's supervision. The work of 
the Church Extension Committee was also very prominent in 
this regard, and much was done by him and his people to es- 



tablish new enterprises or to relieve the old churches of 

He speedily became a member of the Chi Alpha Society and 
entered with great regularity of attendance upon its weekly re- 
unions. He was also an acting professor in Union Theological 
Seminary. His labors during this period of his New York min- 
istry were immense, and yet they were transacted with a calm- 
ness and equipoise which never failed to impress one with the 
sense of a reserve power. The affectionateness of his dispo- 
sition in his churchly relation endeared him to all. and where 
in the old times of separation there had been alienation or strife, 
his influence was at once graciously felt, and inspired full con- 
fidence between brethren who had been united in the reunion 
of 1870. After departing from New York for his Princeton field, 
he continued to retain his relations to the Presbytery of New 
York, and his position as a member of the Board of Foreign 
Missions. It is altogether fitting to say that his whole life, as 
it comes now under review, has been stainless in its integrity, 
most gracious in its benevolence, and powerful for good in every 
relation of life into which he entered. 

Let me add an allusion to the singular harmony which charac- 
terized Dr. Paxton's relations to the ministry of the late New 
School, as soon as the union had been accomplished. With such 
men as Dr. Adams, Dr. Crosby, Dr. Robinson, and myself, he 
became extremely intimate, and was happy to engage in the 
interchange of ministerial services. 

Another thing I would mention is the doctrinal harmony which 
existed at that time in the Presbytery of New York among the 
ministers with whom he was associated. We were all loyally 
true to the Confession of Faith, and felt no difficulty in working 
under that honored symbol. There was no doctrinal friction 
in our intercourse, and during his twenty years of life in New 
York absolute harmony of feeling and effectiveness of action 
reigned in the presbytery. It was a great loss to us when his 
departure to Princeton removed his influence from us. 




From the Rev. Dr. F. F. Ellinwood, New York 


. . . The first time I ever saw Dr. Paxton was at the Old School 
General Assembly which was held in Rochester in 1860. Dur- 
ing the sessions of that Assembly, he preached in my pulpit 
(the Central Presbyterian) a sermon not easy to be forgotten. 
He took for his text the words, "Being confident of this very 
thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform 
it until the day of Jesus Christ." 

He must have been about thirty-six years of age, and was un- 
derstood at that time to be the leading Presbyterian preacher in 
Pittsburgh. He was a young man of remarkably fine appearance, 
straight and manly in stature, courtly and yet easy in manner ; 
and as he stood upon the platform, without a note before him, 
and delivered his discourse to a large audience which filled 
every part of the church, aisles included, he made an impression 
which was most deeply felt by every hearer. His elegance of 
diction, beauty and aptness of illustration, were quite in keep- 
ing with his attractive personality. From the standpoint of a 
young preacher, I was specially interested in the discourse as a 
model of sermonizing and delivery, and was not surprised to 
learn later that he occupied the chair of homiletics in the sem- 
inary at Allegheny. 

I think his attendance at the Assembly at Rochester made a 
deep impression upon that body and upon the whole Church. 
Not more than two or three years ago he informed me that in- 
fluences springing from that Assembly led to very important 
changes in the direction of his life. 

I saw little if anything of Dr. Paxton from that time till 
we met in the sessions of the Foreign Board, he as a member and 



I as a secretary. It was understood that he sympathized with 
those who were not without serious apprehension at the reunion 
of the Church, and that in any questions which might arise he 
might be expected to stand on the conservative side; but his 
conservatism was always based chiefly, if not wholly, upon doc- 
trinal grounds. To the very last he stood firmly for orthodoxy, 
while, on the other hand, on all questions which involved ways 
and means and the aggressive development of missionary policy, 
he was on the side of progress. His face was always turned 
forward and not backward. His opinions in the discussions of 
the Board were always stated with great clearness and frankness, 
and carried unusual weight. He was honored, revered, and be- 
loved by his fellow-members and by the executive officers. 

If a heavy debt was to be raised, whether for the current work 
or for clearing the Mission House of heavy liabilities, Dr. Pax- 
ton was among the first and the largest subscribers ; and many 
are the instances in which he showed deep sympathy for mis- 
sionaries who were suffering peculiar hardships or infirmity. 
Though strong and even stern in his principles, he was pecu- 
liarly tender-hearted. 

A few years ago he occupied a camp or cottage near my own 
in the Adirondacks, where I had opportunity to see something 
of his family life. There and in his home in Princeton, I al- 
ways received the impression of a model husband and father, 
as well as a most hospitable and genial host. 

His fidelity and deep sense of duty were shown especially in 
the last five years of his life, when, with increasing bodily in- 
firmity, he maintained an exemplary regularity in his attendance 
upon the meetings of the Board, coming even in inclement 
weather, wrapped in his ulster, and careful to conserve his 
strength by taking a short nap on my lounge before the meet- 
ing, in order that he might stand in his lot and discharge his 
duties to the great Head of the Church. When at the last few 
meetings we marked his absence, we were confident that the end 
was probably near. When his eightieth birthday came, the 
Board were anxious to greet him with an informal celebration 
of the event; but he felt it his duty to decline the honor, evi- 
dently fearing that the journey and the occasion would be too 



much for his strength. I may properly say that he was not 
only honored but deeply beloved by every member of the Board, 
and that his loss will continue to be greatly felt. 


From the Rev. Dr. Chauncey T. Edwards, Portville, New York 


The first sermon I remember hearing from Dr. Paxton was in 
the old First Church of Pittsburgh. He was visiting his old 
parish, the audience was large and the service more than usu- 
ally impressive, and the sermon was fully equal to the occa- 
sion. He spoke from the words ''Christ died for us," discuss- 
ing, not the doctrine, but three practical inferences from it; 
he spoke without notes, went right at his audience, and held 
them to the end of the sermon. He had passages of simple, 
unforced pathos, enthusiastic rhetoric, homely commonplace, and 
kindly monitory appeal. It was good to hear, and even more 
to remember pleasantly and helpfully. 

The plain and attractive practicality of that sermon seemed 
to me characteristic of his teaching in Princeton. He was just 
beginning his professorship when I entered the seminary. I 
do not know how later years may have changed him (though 
I never saw any change in his manner or spirit when I met 
him), but at that time he was fresh from his two long pastor- 
ates, and he was eminently a pastor in the pastoral chair. The 
teaching was concrete, and was apt to be illustrated by stories 
of Christian experience and personal work. He taught not so 
much the philosophy but the art; without claptrap or gush, 
but with devotional spirituality, on a high level and with just 
balance. He did not make, for instance, a hobby of eschatology, 
missions, science, temperance, or revivals, but I can recall that 
he worked them all in. He showed a wide and tender acquain- 



tance with human need and the Christian remedy, and uncon- 
sciously gave the impression that so rich a heart would leave the 
world better for having lived. 

This made his teaching of ecclesiastical law especially pleas- 
ant. He was a stout Presbyterian, and bated no jot of constitu- 
tion or deliverance, but he was not dry nor deadly technical. 
He evidently knew the law and had seen its practical workings, 
but he never forgot that the great thing was the life and prog- 
ress of the Church, and that ecclesiasticism was not an end in 

But above all to our comfort and help was his exaltation of 
preaching. He was a scholar in sermon literature, and illustra- 
ted abundantly from the masters of the pulpit. His criticism 
of the student's analysis, emphasis, and illustration was sym- 
pathetic. I remember especially his story of how Mr. Buchanan 
once gave him his idea, as a stump-speaker, of the way to make 
a sermon — one of the best things I ever heard of Mr. Buchanan. 
It was in a long walk at Bedford, after a sermon by Dr. Paxton, 
who was then a young man in his first pastorate. "First," said 
Mr. Buchanan, "must be steady concentration on the central 
idea of the text, the absorbing of its aim and spirit; then the 
correlating and viewing it on all sides ; then rolling it over, 
bandying it about, tossing it up, throwing it this way and that ; 
and finally aiming it at the people for whom it was prepared ; 
till the preacher was full of the sense of a message to deliver, 
and the method of delivery became of secondary importance.'' 
It was a long story, humorous and vigorously told, and inspiring 
in a class-room. I do not know how Dr. Paxton felt about the 
recent methods of multiplying organizations and new schemes,— 
though I do not doubt that he recognized the good in many of 
them,— but I am sure he must to the end have agreed with 
Dr. Patton (in his lecture on the Sermon) that "the best method 
of sustaining an interest from year to year is that of the 
careful preparation of sermons," and that "the production of 
sermons should be the great effort of the minister." 

Professor Austin Phelps's writing seems to me to show much 
of the spirit and elevation of Dr. Paxton 's work. I believe he 
aimed to make the homiletical class-room the "assembling-room/' 



gathering together the work of all the class-rooms; the fusing 
of the rays of scholarship and workaday life into the white light 
of the ministry. That was a fine aim, and he illustrated what he 
taught. I give thanks upon every remembrance of him. 


From the Rev. Professor Benjamin L. Hobson, D.D., Chicago 


Dr. Paxton came to Princeton as a professor at the beginning 
of my middle year. Dr. McGill was still living, but had given 
up entirely the conduct of the chair, so that Dr. Paxton entered 
at once upon full work with all the classes. When we first met 
him, we noted his erect figure, strong yet kindly face, and courtly 
manners. He took a great deal of personal interest in the stu- 
dents from the start, and used to invite them to his house fre- 
quently, — sometimes by twos and threes, and sometimes in larger 
numbers. As we grew to know him better, both in and outside 
the class-room, we learned to appreciate his simple, fervent, yet 
unostentatious piety. The quality of his nature which impressed 
us most, perhaps, was the sympathetic one. Probably the great 
majority of his old students would name this as the predominant 
note in his character. It beamed from his entire face, and we 
felt that we had before us not the traditional dry-as-dust theo- 
logian, but a man of big heart; a man who was not merely our 
professor, but who, if the need should arise, would prove him- 
self a personal friend. I recall once a scene when Moody came 
to the old First Church and held a short revival service. After 
the regular meeting another one was held in the inquiry-room. 
Dr. Paxton was present, and I see him now, his face working with 
emotion, too much overcome at one time by his feelings to be 
able to lead in prayer. The next day, in the class-room, he told 
us he was homesick for the pastorate. 


As a teacher, Dr. Paxton was comprehensive and systematic 
in his treatment of his subject, simple and direct in his style 
of presenting it, and earnest and faithful in requiring of the 
students a mastery of the lectures. As a critic of our sermon- 
outlines read in the class-room and of our full-blown sermons 
preached in what is now called Miller Chapel, he was just and 
judicious, candid yet considerate. He could be severe sometimes 
when he thought that a student exhibited inordinate conceit or 
downright frivolity in a sermon. But in general his criticisms 
were kind and always helpful. He had a happy knack of point- 
ing out a man's strong points and commending them, while at the 
same time he called attention to the weak ones and cautioned 
against them. 

Dr. Paxton was popular as a preacher with the students and 
in the town. His themes were taken from a wide field, ranging 
from the strictly theological to the intensely practical. The dis- 
courses themselves were always carefully prepared and full of 
thought. They were analytical in their structure and always 
clear in the line of thought pursued. They were delivered with- 
out notes, yet the language was chaste, the sentences well rounded, 
and the utterance fluent. Dr. Paxton was an admirable public 
speaker. His voice was clear and penetrating, his articulation 
distinct, his gestures and, in fact, all his movements graceful. 
Calm, deliberate, self-contained, he had always complete com- 
mand of himself, and made the impression of great reserve- 
power. All of us felt that it was no wonder he had been able 
to sustain himself so long and successfully in the pulpit of the 
First Church, New York. 

The last time I saw him was about a year before his death. 
Although he seemed somewhat feeble physically, he was mentally 
alert, and as deeply interested as ever in the affairs of the sem- 
inary, which had ever been the special object of his pride and 
affection. As I took leave of him in his study, I knew it was 
probably our last meeting in this world, and I felt that it had 
been a benediction to pass a few minutes in the presence of this 
man of God before his translation. 



Rev. William 

Miller Paxton, 

D.D. LL.D. 

6. 7 June, 1824 
d. 28 November, 1904 

Col. James 
Dun lop Paxton 

b. June 11, 1796 

in Adams Co., Pa. 

tn. March 18, 1*1!) 

by Rev. Wll. Paxton, 

d. February 10. 1864 

in Baltimore 

buried Gettysburg, 

Pa. " 


Partner of Thaddeus 

st evens 

Firm J. D. Paxton 


Caledonia Iron 


Rev. William 

I'axton, D.D. 

b. April 1. 1760 

m. January 20, iT'.tt 

./. April 16, 184. - . 

Capt. John Paxton . 

h. Inland, i74n 

d. August 8, 1828 

Capt. Pa, Militia 
1776 and 1777 in Middle 
Oetorara Church 

Private in his father's 

company in Penna. 

militia in 1770 

Jane Dcnlop 

b. February 13, 1772 

d. November 14, 1862 

aged 91 

Jane McNeely 

Col. James Dinlop 

b. 1727 
d. December 15, 1821 

aged 94 

Major 6th Pa., 1776 

Lieut. -Col. 10th Pa. 


Colonel, 1778 

Jane Boggs 

John Paxton 

emigrated from 

Ireland about 1744 


William Dunlop 

emigrated from 
Ireland about 1730 

Said to have lived 
to be 115 vears old 

Was a ruling elder 

in Presbvtery of 

TjTone. "Ireland, 

in 1712 


Andrew Boqgs 
of Lancaster Co., Pa. 

Ann Patton 

Hugh Miller 

I- Jane Maria Miller , 

b. January 18, 1707 

in Adams Co., Pa. 

d. April 29, 1870 

in Baltimore 

buried Gettysburg, 


Hon. William 


6. 1755 

m. March 16, 1784 

d. June 3, 1831 

John Miller 
bought a large tract of 
land in Adams Co., 
Pa., and lived there . 
prior to Revolution >■ 

Isabella Henry 

Ensign, 1776 

2d Lieutenant 

1st Lieutenant, 1777 

Captain, 1779-1781 

7th Reg. Penna. Line 

In Legislature of 


20 years 

Margaret <'k\ig 

b. March 16, L766 

./ February 11, 1844 

Tikis. Craig 
b. 1788 
(/. 1813 

Private, 177". 

Quartermaster, 1777 
< lorn, of Purchases 
for Butler Oo., L780 


Daniel Cbaig 
d. 1776 


Henry Jamison 

6. 1676 
d 1766 

Mart Stewart 


The following notes and documents will supply some of the 
salient facts in Dr. Paxton's life in more detail than was pos- 
sible in an address, and thus give body to the outline of his career 
which was there sketched. 

I Dr. Paxton's Ancestry.— An account of the Paxton family is given 
in a volume entitled The Paxtons-By W. M. Paxton, of Platte City, Mo. 
(Platte City, Mo., 1903. 8vo, pp. 420+68). The immediate family connec- 
tion of Dr. Paxton will be found on pp. 390 seq. 

A very interesting biographical sketch of the Eev. Dr. William Paxton, 
of Lower Marsh Creek Church, from the pen of the Kev. Dr. David McCon- 
aughy, is printed in Dr. William B. Sprague's Annals of the American 
Pulpit, Vol. Ill, pp. 554-558; cf. also the sketch by the Eev. Dr. E. 
Erskine, in the Centennial Memorial of the Presbytery of Carlisle (Har- 
risburg,' 1889), Vol. II, pp. 82-89. For the Lower Marsh Creek Church, 
see the' same work, Vol. I, pp. 216-217, and also a pamphlet, entitled The 
Centennial Exercises of Lower Marsh Creelc Presbyterian Church, Adams 
County, Pennsylvania, September 25, 1890. 

The table facing this page will give a condensed view of Dr. Paxton's 

II. Chief Facts in Dr. Paxton's Life. -The chief facts in Dr. Pax- 
ton 's life are the following : 

Born at Maria Furnace, Adams County, Pennsylvania, June 7, 1824; 
attended school at Gettysburg; graduated from Pennsylvania College, 1843; 
studied law two years at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, with Hon. George 
Chambers; united with Falling Spring Church, Chambersburg, March, 
1845; received as candidate for the ministry under the care of the Presby- 
tery of Carlisle, April 9, 1845; entered Princeton Theological Seminary, 
autumn, 1845; licensed by Presbytery of Carlisle at Shippensburg, June 
1, 1847; called to the church of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, February 14, 
1848; graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, spring, 1848; 
ordained and installed pastor of the church at Greencastle, October 4, 
1848; called to First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 
November 4, 1850; installed pastor of First Presbyterian Church of 
Pittsburgh, January 28, 1851; married, August 11, 1852, Miss Hester V. 



B. Wickes of Chestertown, Maryland, who died August 13, 1854, and her 
child, September 7, 1854; married Miss Caroline Sophia Denny, November 
8, 1855; elected Professor of Sacred Khetoric at the "Western Theological 
Seminary, Allegheny, May, 1860, and served in this office until April, 
1872; called to the First Presbyterian Church, New York, December 11, 
1865; installed pastor of First Presbyterian Church, New York, Feb- 
ruary 1, 1866; appointed Lecturer in Homiletics and Sacred Ehetoric in 
the Union Theological Seminary, 1871, and served in this office until 1873; 
elected Professor of Ecclesiastical, Homiletical, and Pastoral Theology 
in Princeton Theological Seminary, spring, 1883, and served until spring, 
1902; became President of the Faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary, 
February 10, 1900; Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Princeton Theo- 
logical Seminary, from spring, 1902; died at Princeton, New Jersey, Novem- 
ber 28, 1904. 

Member of the Board of Foreign Missions from 1866 to death, and its 
president 1881-1884; member of the Board of Home Missions from 1866 
to 1880, and its president 1876-1878; director of Western Theological 
Seminary, 1852-1860; director of Princeton Theological Seminary, 1866- 
1883; trustee of Union Theological Seminary, 1873-1884; trustee of Jeffer- 
son College, 1853-1865; trustee of Princeton College and University, 1867- 
1904; trustee of the General Assembly, 1892-1904; ex officio member of 
Board of Leake and Watts Orphan Asylum, of the Sailors' Snug Harbor, 
and of the Presbyterian Hospital, New York, 1866-1883. 

Member of the General Assemblies of 1860, 1862, 1880, 1881, and Mod- 
erator in 1880; member of the Council of the Presbyterian Alliance in 
1877, and opened the Council of 1880 with a sermon. 

Made Doctor of Divinity by Jefferson College in 1860, and Doctor of 
Laws by Washington and Jefferson College in 1883. 

III. Dr. Paxton's Churches.— The growth in the churches served by 
Dr. Paxton will appear from the following lists: 


Number of 

Added on 

Added on 












First Church, Pittsburgh 











































Number of 

Added on 



examination c 


First Church, Pittsburgh. 

. 1861 




















First Church, New York. 

. . 1866 








































































During the three pastorates 610 members were received on confession— 
at Greencastle 21, at Pittsburgh 339, and at New York 250; 518 were re- 
ceived on certificate— at Greencastle 15, at Pittsburgh 320, and at New 
York 183. Dr. Paxton 's first act both at Pittsburgh and at New York 
was to "purge the roll" very carefully. The result was to lower the 
apparent membership in both cases very markedly. The First Church 
of Pittsburgh had reported in 1850, the last year of Dr. Herron's pastorate, 
396 members; in 1851, the first year of Dr. Paxton 's pastorate, it re- 
ported only 237. The First Church of New York had reported in 1864, 
the last year of Dr. Phillips's pastorate, 496 members, and in 1865, the 
intermediate year, it reported 494; in 1866, the first year of Dr. Paxton 's 
pastorate, it reported only 207. 

IV. Dr. Paxton 's Publications.— The following list contains all the 
publications of Dr. Paxton copies of which have been found. It is not 
to be supposed that it includes all that were printed (compare below, p. 116) ; 
but doubtless it includes the majority of them. 

1. "Christian Beneficence: A Discourse delivered before the Colpor- 
teur Convention, held at Pittsburgh, Pa., October 27, 28, 29, 1857, by 
Bev. William M. Paxton, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. ' ' 



(In Colporteur CoiiK utioii at Pittsburgh, Sermon, Topics Discussed, Sketch 
of Convention and Personal Narratives. New York: American Tract So- 
ciety, 1857. 8vo, pp. 36.) 

2. "The Nation: Its Relation and Duties to God. A Sermon Preached 
in the First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pa., on Thanksgiving Day, 
Nov. 24, 1859, by William M. Paxton, Pastor. Pittsburgh, 1859." 8vo, 
pp. 30. 

3. ' ' Two Discourses upon the Life and Character of the Rev. Francis 
Herron, D.D., by the Rev. William M. Paxton, D.D., Pastor of the First 
Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh. Preached and Published at the request 
of the Board of Trustees and Session of the Church. Pittsburgh, 1861. ' ' 
8vo, pp. 141. (With portrait of Dr. Herron.) 

4. "The Nation's Gratitude and Hope. A Sermon Preached in the First 
Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pa., on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 1862. 
By Rev. William M. Paxton, D.D., Pastor. Pittsburgh, 1862. " 8vo, pp. 38. 

5. Address at the Funeral Services of Brigadier-General Alexander Hays, 
Saturday, May 14, 1864, in the First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh. 

(In The Pittsburgh Commercial for May 16, 1864.) 

6. "A Letter to the Members of the First Presbyterian Church, Pitts- 
burgh, Pa." Pittsburgh, 1864. 12mo, pp. 5. 

(On Parental Responsibilities and Spiritual Nurture of Children, with 
the importance of Sabbath Schools; signed by the session of the church.) 

7. "In Memoriam. Address delivered at the Funeral of the Hon. 
Walter Lowrie, in the First Presbyterian Church, New York, Dec. 16, 
1868, by the Rev. William M. Paxton, D.D., Pastor of the First Church. 
Published by request of the Executive Committee of the Board of For- 
eign Missions. New York Mission House, 23 Centre Street, 1869. ' ' 8vo, 
pp. 18. (Pamphlet.) 

Reprinted in Memoirs of the Hon. Walter Lowrie, edited by his Son. 
\'.'\v York: The Baker and Taylor Co., 1896. 8vo, pp. 173-189. 

8. "Remarks of Rev. Dr. Paxton," at the "Funeral Services of Rev. 
Gardiner Spring, D.D., at the Brick (Presbyterian) Church, corner of 
Fifth Avenue and 37th Street. August 22, 1873." 

(In A Discourse Commemorating the Ministerial Character and Services 
of Gardiner Spring, D.D., LL.D., late Senior Pastor of the Brick Church. 
By James 0. Murray, Pastor of the Brick Church. With an Appendix con- 
taining the Addresses made at the Funeral, August 22, 1873. New York. 
1873. Small quarto, pp. 34-39.) 

9. " How We Spend Our Years. By William M. Paxton, Pastor of the 
First Presbyterian Church, New York. New York: A. D. F. Randolph 
and Co." [1875.1 3 - m <>, PP- 35 - 

Reprinted in Princeton Sermons. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co. 
[1893.] pp. 298-315. 

10. "Address by the Rev. W. M. Paxton, D.D.," in the Third Presby- 
terian Church, Newark, N. J., [at the funeral services of Melancthon W. 
Jacobus, D.D., LL.D.] 



(Id In Memoriam. Melancthon W. Jacobus, D.D., LL.B. Born Septem- 
ber 19, 1816, died October 28, 1876. pp. 43-51.) 

11. "Home Missions in America." Address in Report of Proceedings 
of the First General Presbyterian Council. Edinburgh, 1877. pp. 123-125. 

12. "The Charge by Eev. William M. Paxton, D.D., of New York City: 
The Ministry for the Age." 

(In Addresses at the Inauguration of Rev. Archibald Alexander Hodge, 
D.D., LL.B., as Associate Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology in 
the Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J., November 8, 1877. Phila- 
delphia, 1877. pp. 5-16.) 

13. "Address by William M. Paxton, D.D., of New York, at the Ob- 
sequies of the Kev. Dr. Hodge, in the First Presbyterian Church of Prince- 
ton, N. J., June 22, 1878." 

(In Discourses Commemorative of the Life and Work of Charles Hodge, 
D.D., LL.D. Published by order of the Directors and Trustees of the 
Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J. Philadelphia, 1879. pp. 5-18.) 

14. "Address by William M. Paxton, D.D." [On Archibald Alexander, 
D.D., at the unveiling of the Alexander tablet erected by the Alumni in 
the Chapel of the Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J., on the 29th 
of April, 1879.] 

(In The Alexander Memorial, 1879. pp. 7-16.) 

15. "Dr. [C] Hodge as a Teacher of Didactic Theology and as a 
Preacher, by Dr. William M. Paxton of New York." 

(In The Life of Charles Hodge, D.D., LL.D., by his Son, A. A. Hodge. 
New York, 1880. pp. 591-602.) 

16. "The Mission of the Presbyterian Church." (Opening Sermon of 
the Second Council of the Presbyterian Alliance, September 23, 1880.) 

(In Report of the Proceedings of the Second General Council of the 
Presbyterian Alliance, convened at Philadelphia, September, 1880. pp. 
25 seq.) 

Also: "The Mission of the Presbyterian Church. By William M. Pax- 
ton, D.D. Council Paper, No. 1. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Pub- 
lication, 1334 Chestnut St." 1880. 16mo, pp. 30. (Pamphlet.) 

Also: "The Mission of the Presbyterian Church. A sermon, delivered 
at the opening of the Second Council of the Presbyterian Alliance, at Phil- 
adelphia, Sept. 23, 1880. By William M. Paxton, D.D., Pastor of the 
First Presbyterian Church, New York. New York. ' ' 32mo, pp. 36. 

17. "The Church: Its Strength and Its Weakness. By the Kev. William 
M. Paxton, D.D. A Sermon Preached by the Moderator at the Opening 
Session of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United 
States, at Buffalo, N. Y., May 19, 1881. Philadelphia: Presbyterian 
Board of Publication, 1334 Chestnut St." 32mo, pp. 35. [Tract No. 207.] 

18. Letter to George Ticknor Curtis, on Keligious Conversation with Mr. 

(In Life of James Buchanan. By George Ticknor Curtis. New York, 
1883. Vol. II, pp. 670-671.) 



19. "Dr. Paxton 's Sermon" [at the Centennial Celebration of the First 
Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh]. 

(In Centennial Volume of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, 
Pa., 1784-1884. Pittsburgh, 1884. pp. 119-128.) 

L'O. "Dr. Paxton 's Address" [at the Centennial Celebration of the First 
Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh]. 

(In Centennial Volume, etc. Pittsburgh, 1884. pp. 187-188.) 

21. "Discourses at the Inauguration of the Rev. William M. Paxton, 
D.D., LL.D., as Professor of Ecclesiastical, Homiletical and Pastoral 
Theology in the Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J., May 13, 1884. 
Philadelphia, 1884." 8vo, pp. 30. (Dr. Paxton 's Discourse, pp. 15-30.) 

Also reprinted in The Pulpit Treasury for December, 1887, Vol. VIII, 
pp. 489-497. 

22. "Charge to the Pastor. By Rev. W. M. Paxton, D.D." 

(In Installation of the Rev. Richard Harlan, First Presbyterian Church, 
New York, April 1, 1886.) 

23. ' ' Address delivered at the Funeral of Archibald Alexander Hodge, 
D.D., LL.D., Professor in the Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J., 
Nov. 15, 1886. By William M. Paxton, D.D. New York: Anson D. F. 
Randolph and Co. " [1886.] 8vo, pp. 22. (Pamphlet.) 

A second edition was printed in January, 1887. 12mo, pp. 27. 

24. "The Call to the Ministry." 

(In The Presbyterian Beview for January, 1889, X, 37, pp. 1-16. Also 
circulated in separata.) 

25. Review of " Samuel Irenseus Prime: Autobiography and Memorials. 
Edited by his son, Wendell Prime. New York: A. D. F. Randolph & Co. 

(In The Presbyterian Review, January, 1889, X, 37, pp. 165-166.) 

26. Review of " The Presbytery and the Log College, by Rev. Thomas 
Murphy, D.D. Philadelphia, 1889." 

(In The Presbyterian and Reformed Review for 1890, I, i, pp. 145-146.) 

27. "Dr. Paxton 's Address" [on the Value and Blessedness of a Pious 

(In Centennial Exercises of Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church. 
Adams County, Pennsylvania, September 25, 1890. 8vo, pp. 6-13.) 

28. "Salvation as a Work, by Professor William M. Paxton, D.D., 
LL.D." (Sermon on Philippians 1:6.) 

(In Princeton Sermons chiefly by the Professors in Princeton Theo- 
logical Seminary. New York, 1893. pp. 75-93.) 

(This sermon had also previously been printed in pamphlet form; but 
no copy of the pamphlet has been recovered.) 

29. "Dr. Green as the Head of the Faculty." (After-Dinner Speech.) 
(In Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Appointment of 

Professor William Henry Green as an Instructor in Princeton Theological 
Seminary, May 5, 1896. New York, 1896. pp. 84-86.) 



30. "Obituary Note on Anson Davies Fitz Randolph." 

(In The Presbyterian and Reformed Review for October, 1896, VII, 28, 
pp. 694-696.) 

31. " Homiletics. Classifications and Divisions." (Printed, not pub- 
lished.) Pamphlet. 8vo. pp. 40. (About 1889.) 

Eeissue in better form: Pamphlet. 8vo, pp. 49. 1904. 

V. Dr. Paxton in the Presbytery op Carlisle.— The Rev. Ray H. 
Carter, pastor of the Falling Spring Church, Chambersburg, having exam- 
ined the Minutes of the Session of that church, writes as follows: 

"Dr. Paxton united, on confession of faith and examination, with the 
Falling Spring Church at Chambersburg, under the pastorate of Rev. 
Daniel McKinley, in March, 1845. The day of the month is not given. 
At that time he was living at Caledonia Iron Works, near Chambersburg. ' ' 

Mr. Carter has also kindly made the following extracts from the Min- 
utes of the Presbytery of Carlisle: 

"Newville, April 9, 1845. 

"Mr. William Paxton, a member of the church in Chambersburg, and a 
graduate of Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, was introduced to Presby- 
tery as a candidate for the gospel ministry, to be taken under its care; 
and was examined in experimental piety, and his views in seeking the 
gospel ministry; which examinations were sustained and he taken under 
its care." 

"Carlisle, July 7, 1846. 

"Mr. Paxton read a critical exercise on Galatians 4: 21-26, by previous 
appointment of Presbytery, which was sustained." 

' ' Messrs. Kennedy, Paxton, Agnew, and Graham were examined in He- 
brew, which examinations were sustained. The following assignments were 
made to Mr. Paxton as parts of trial: Lecture, Isaiah 35: 8, 9, 10; Sermon, 
Philippians 2: latter clause of v. 12 and v. 13." 

" Shippensburg, June 1, 1847. 

"Messrs. Graham and Paxton were examined on Theology, Ecclesiastical 
History, Church Government, and the Sacraments, all of which were sus- 
tained. ' ' 

At this meeting ' ' the committees appointed to examine the pieces assigned 
them reported as follows, viz. : that they had examined Mr. Paxton 's Latin 
exegesis, on the theme, An creationis historia (Genesis 1: 2) literalis sit? 
And his lecture, on Isaiah 35: 8-10. The committees recommended their 
approval. Accepted and Adopted." 

' ' Mr. Paxton 's trial sermon was then heard ; text, Philippians 2 : 12, 13 : 
' Work out your own salvation, ' etc. Resolved that his sermon be sus- 
tained as part of trial. Resolved that all his trials be sustained. Resolved 
that we now proceed to license Mr. Paxton. 

"At Shippensburg, the first day of June, a.d. 1847, the Presbytery of 



Carlisle, having received testimonials in favor of Mr. William M. Paxton, 
of his having gone through a regular course of literature, of his good 
moral character, and of his being in the communion of the church, pro- 
ceeded to take the usual parts of trial for his licensure; and he having 
given satisfaction as to his accomplishments in literature, as to his experi- 
mental acquaintance with religion, and as to his proficiency in Divinity 
and other studies, the Presbytery did, and hereby do, express their ap- 
probation of all these parts of trial, and he having adopted the Confes- 
sion of Faith of this Church, and satisfactorily answered the questions 
appointed to be put to candidates to be Licensed, the Presbytery did, and 
hereby do, license the said William M. Paxton to preach the Gospel 
of Christ, as a probationer for the holy ministry, within the bounds of 
this Presbytery, or wherever else he shall be orderly called." 

"Petersburg, April 11, 1848. 

"A call from the congregation of East Conococheague, commonly known 
by the name of Greencastle, for the pastoral services of Mr. William M. 
Paxton, promising him the sum of six hundred dollars in regular quarterly 
payments, with the express understanding that whatever the pews will 
bring over that sum in future shall be given to him, was presented to 
Presbytery; which was read and found to be in order; and it was ordered 
that the said call be retained in the hands of the Presbytery until Mr. 
Paxton appears before them, and answers whether he accepts the same 
or no. Eomans 8: 3 was assigned to Mr. Paxton as a subject for a trial 
sermon for ordination. ' ' 

" Shippensburg, June IS, 1848. 

"The call from the congregation of Greencastle, in the hands of the 
Presbytery, was put into the hands of Mr. Paxton, who signified his ac- 
ceptance of the same. Mr. Paxton preached his trial sermon from Eomans 
S: 3." 

' ' The sermon of Mr. Paxton was considered and sustained. Eesolved 
that all the trials of Mr. Paxton be sustained and the way be considered 
clear for his ordination, and that the Presbytery proceed at the next 
stated meeting to his ordination and installation. Mr. Harper was ap- 
pointed to preach the ordination sermon; Mr. McGinley to preside, pro- 
pose the constitutional questions, offer the ordaining prayer, and give 
the right hand of fellowship; Mr. McKinley to give the charge to the 
pastor; and Mr. Morris the charge to the congregation." 

"Greencastle, October 4, 1848. 
"At ten o'clock Presbytery proceeded to the ordination of Mr. William 
M. Paxton to the office of the gospel ministry, and installed him as the 
Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Greencastle. In this service Mr. 
Harper preached from 2 Corinthians 2: 15, 16. Mr. McGinley presided 
and proposed the constitutional questions to the candidate, offered the or- 



claiming prayer, and gave the right hand of fellowship. Mr. McKinley 
delivered the charge to the pastor, and Mr. Morris the charge to the con- 
gregation. ' ' 

' ' On the roll of Presbytery at that time, ' ' writes Mr. Carter further, 
"I find these names: Eev. James Harper, D.D., Shippensburg Church; Eev. 
Amos A. McGinley, D.D., Upper and Lower Path Valley Churches; Eev. 
Daniel McKinley, D.D., Falling Spring Church, Chambersburg, Dr. Paxton 's 
pastor (Mrs. James Kennedy, Dr. McKinley 's daughter and my neighbor, 
says that it was largely due to her father's influence that Dr. Paxton en- 
tered the ministry) ; Eev. George Morris, Silver Spring Church. These 
must be the gentlemen intended above. ' ' 

"Paxton Church, April 9, 1850. 

' ' Presbytery elected . . . William M. Paxton clerk. ' ' 

"April 10, 1850. 
' ' Presbytery appointed William M. Paxton to open next stated meeting 
with a sermon. ' ' 

"Big Spring, October 1, 1850 (Newville, Pennsylvania). 
1 ' Presbytery . . . was opened according to appointment with a sermon 
by the Eev. William M. Paxton from Luke 12: 16-21." 

"Chambersburg, December 5, 1850. 
' ' Pursuant to a call addressed by the moderator to the members of the 
Presbytery of Carlisle, citing them to attend a meeting of that body, 
to be held in Chambersburg, Thursday, December 5, to take into con- 
sideration a call for the ministerial services of the Eev. William M. Pax- 
ton from the First Church in the city of Pittsburgh, and, if the way be 
clear, for dissolving the pastoral relation now subsisting between him and 
the church of Greencastle, and for dismissing him to connect with the 
Presbytery of Ohio, the Presbytery . . . convened and was constituted with 
prayer by the Eev. William M. Paxton. ' ' 

' ' Mr. Paxton resigned his office of temporary clerk. ' ' 
' ' The commissioners from the First Church of Pittsburgh appeared 
before Presbytery and made a statement of the action of that church 
in reference to the Eev. William M. Paxton, and presented the following 
papers: first, a call from the First Church of Pittsburgh for the minis- 
terial services of the Eev. William M. Paxton, in which they obligate them- 
selves to pay him the sum of fifteen hundred dollars in regular half- 
yearly payments, during the time of his being and continuing the regular 
pastor of that church; second, an account of the proceedings of a meet- 
ing of that church appointing commissioners to prosecute the call; third, 
a certificate from the Presbytery of Ohio, signed by its moderator and 
clerk, that the call was laid before them, that it was in order, and that 
the congregation of the First Church of Pittsburgh have liberty to prose- 
cute their call before the Presbytery of Carlisle. 



' ' The commissioners from the church of Greencastle read a letter from 
the Rev. William M. Paxton to the session of that church, asking the 
church to unite with him in petitioning the Presbytery of Carlisle to 
dissolve the pastoral relation between them, and presented a paper con- 
taining a record of the proceedings of a meeting of the congregation in 
reference to that subject. 

"Mr. Paxton then made a statement of his views respecting the dis- 
solution of the pastoral relation, and was followed by the commissioners, 
who made some remarks expressive of the feelings of the congregation. 

"The call was put into the hands of Mr. Paxton, who signified his 
acceptance of it; whereupon Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relation. 

"Mr. Paxton at his own request dismissed from the Presbytery to unite 
with the Presbytery of Ohio, and the clerk directed to furnish the usual 

The following extracts from the sessional records of the church at 
Greencastle have been kindly furnished by the Eev. L. Carman Bell, pas- 
tor of that church: 

' ' 1848, February 14th. Agreeably to a previous notice a Congregational 
Meeting was held this day in the church, at which a unanimous call was 
moderated to the Rev. William M. Paxton. Rev. John R. Agnew presided 
as Moderator. ' ' 

"At a meeting of the Presbytery of Carlisle held in Greencastle on the 
fourth day of October, a.d. 1848, the Rev. William M. Paxton, a licen- 
tiate thereof, was ordained and installed pastor of the East Conococheague, 
alias the Presbyterian Congregation in Greencastle. ' ' 

' ' The Rev. William M. Paxton, having received and accepted a call 
from the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, was, at a pro re nata 
meeting of the Carlisle Presbytery held at Chambersburg for that purpose 
on the fifth day of December, a.d. 1850, released from his relation as 
pastor of the church at Greencastle, and the said church was declared 
vacant. ' ' 

VI. Dr. Paxton at Pittsburgh. — 1. The following extracts from the 
Minutes of the Session of the First Presbyterian Church at Pittsburgh 
have been kindly furnished by Mr. William Craig Lilley, Clerk of the 
Session : 

"First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, July 29, 1850. 

"A communication was received from a number of persons, which was 
read and is as follows, viz. : 

'Pittsburgh, July 27th, 1850.— Having heard of the talents and piety 
of the Rev. William M. Paxton, of Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsyl- 
vania, from various sources, and being desirous of hearing him, we respect- 
fully request the Session to invite him to visit us at as early a period as 



convenient. Signed by the following persons: William E. Murphy, John 
D. McCord, Eobert Dalzell, Samuel Eea, James Dalzell, and Eobert Beer.' 

Therefore resolved that we authorize and appoint our old Pastor to 
open a correspondence with the Eev. William M. Paxton, of Greencastle, 
of whom we have heard a favorable account from different quarters, and 
request him to visit us, and preach for us as a candidate for the pastorate. 

Agreeably to the second resolution and this arrangement of the Session, 
Dr. Herron opened a correspondence with the Eev. William M. Paxton, 
and after an interchange of several letters, and urgency, on the part of 
Dr. Herron, Mr. Paxton was induced to visit us, still, however, protesting 
against being viewed as a candidate, and after spending and preaching 
for us one Sabbath, much to the satisfaction of the congregation, immediate 
measures were taken to prepare a call for him as their future Pastor. 

In pursuance of the foregoing action the following measures were taken, 

"Pittsburgh, November 4, 1850. 

"Pursuant to public notice by the Session, read from the Pulpit last 
Sabbath morning and evening after Sermons, the congregation convened 
at three o'clock p.m. this day. 

The Eev. Dr. Herron was invited by the Session to act as Moderator, 
and L. E. Johnston was chosen Secretary. After prayer by the Moderator, 
the object of the meeting was stated by him to be for the purpose of 
electing a Pastor for this church, and having put the question to the 
congregation as to their willingness to proceed, it was carried without a 
dissenting voice. 

On motion of John D. McCord, seconded by Samuel Bailey, the Eev. 
William M. Paxton, of the Presbytery of Carlisle, was put in nomination, 
and was duly elected by a unanimous vote. 

On motion of Jesse Carothers, the Trustees were instructed to pay to 
the Eev. William M. Paxton the sum of fifteen hundred dollars per annum 
as his salary, which was unanimously adopted. 

On motion of William Eobinson, Jr., the Session, the Trustees, and 
five other members of the congregation were appointed a committee to 
prepare, sign, and prosecute the call. 

On motion of J. D. McCord, Messrs. N. B. Craig, William Eobinson, Jr., 
P. McCormick, Jesse Carothers, and William McCandless were appointed 
from the congregation to act with the Session and Trustees. On motion, 
adjourned with prayer by Eev. Dr. Elliott. 

L. E. Johnston, 
Secretary. ' ' 

"Pittsburgh, November 29, 1850. 
"Presbytery met in accordance with a call from the Moderator. A call 
from the First Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, for the pastoral labor 
of the Eev. William M. Paxton, of the Presbytery of Carlisle, was read 



and found in order. On motion they obtained leave to prosecute their call 
before the Presbytery of Carlisle. 

In pursuance of the above-mentioned action of the congregation and 
grant of the Presbytery, the aforesaid call was duly prosecuted before 
the Presbytery of Carlisle during its Session at Chambersburg on the fifth 
day of December, 1850, by Francis G. Bailey and John D. McCord as 
Commissioners on the part of the congregation. 

Rev. William M. Paxton having signified his acceptance of the call, the 
Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relation subsisting between him and 
the Presbyterian Church at Greencastle, and dismissed him to connect with 
the Presbytery of Ohio. 

At a meeting of the Presbytery of Ohio held at Canonsburg the fourteenth 
day of January, 1851, Mr. Paxton was duly received upon certificate of 
dismission from the Presbytery of Carlisle, and a committee of the Pres- 
bytery was appointed to install him as Pastor of the First Presbyterian 
Church of Pittsburgh on the twenty-eighth day of same month. Pur- 
suant to this action Mr. Paxton was duly installed on the aforesaid day. 
Mr. Allison preached the Sermon, and Dr. Herron delivered the charges 
to the Pastor and people. 

F. G. Bailey. 

2. The following extracts from the Minutes of the Presbytery of Ohio 
have been kindly furnished by the Eev. Dr. Charles S. McClelland, Stated 
Clerk of the Presbytery of Pittsburgh, the legal successor to the Presbytery 
of Ohio: 

"Presbytery of Ohio, pro re nata meeting. 

"The First Church, Pittsburgh, November 29, 1850. A call from the 
First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, for the pastoral labors of the 
Eev. "William M. Paxton of the Presbytery of Carlisle, was read and found 
in order. On motion they obtained leave to prosecute their call before 
the Presbytery of Carlisle. ' ' 

"Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, January 14, 15, 1851. 
Second day, January 15. 
"A letter of dismission from the Presbytery of Carlisle to connect himself 
with this Presbytery was presented by the Eev. William M. Paxton. Pres- 
bytery then examined Mr. Paxton on experimental religion, Didactic and 
Polemic Theology, Church Government, and the Sacraments. These ex- 
aminations were sustained, and Mr. Paxton received as a member of this 
Presbytery and entered on the roll. Mr. Paxton declared his acceptance 
of the call from the First Church of Pittsburgh, which had been presented 
at a previous meeting. The following arrangements were made for the 
installation of Mr. Paxton: Dr. Herron to preside, Mr. Allison to preach 
the sermon, Mr. Wilson to give the charge to the Pastor, and Mr. Max- 



shall to give the charge to the people, the installation to take place on 
Friday two weeks, at six and a half o 'clock, p.m. ' ' 

The roll of this meeting shows Mr. Allison to be Jas. Allison, Mr. Wilson 
to be J. B. Wilson, Mr. Marshall to be George Marshall. 

' ' Presbytery of Ohio, Lecture Boom of the First Church, 
Pittsburgh, June 28, 1865. 

' ' Met at call of the Moderator. 

The Kev. William M. Paxton asked leave to resign the pastoral charge 
of the First Church, Pittsburgh, on account of his own impaired health, 
and the severe illness of his child requiring a change of residence. The 
commissioners of the congregation were heard, declaring the acquiescence 
of the congregation, from what they considered a necessity, after which 
on motion: 

Eesolved, That the request of Dr. Paxton be granted and that Dr. Mc- 
Kinney be appointed to preach in the First Church on the next Sabbath 
and declare the pulpit vacant." 

' ' December 26, 1865. 
' ' Presbytery met at Temperanceville. 

The Eev. William M. Paxton, D.D., was, at his own request, dismissed 
to join the Presbytery of New York. ' ' 

Attested: Charles S. McClelland, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Pitts- 
burgh, legal successor of the Presbytery of Ohio. 

3. Copy of Preamble and Eesolutions adopted at a meeting of the Con- 
gregation of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh held January 
19, 1865: 

' ' Whereas our Pastor, Eev. William M. Paxton, D.D., has felt himself 
constrained in the Providence of God to seek a dissolution of the relation 
so long and so happily existing between him and this congregation; 

And whereas the grounds upon which he bases his application — the ne- 
cessity of a change of climate for the health and it may be the life of 
a dear son, and also his own impaired health — constrain us to acquiesce 
in his determination; therefore: 

Eesolved, first, That we take this opportunity to place on record our 
testimony to the fideUty, zeal, and success with which our beloved Pastor 
has employed the high and peculiar talents given him for the good of the 
church and the glory of God. 

The prosperity of the congregation in things spiritual and temporal; the 
harmony and brotherly love, unbroken during his ministry of nearly fifteen 
years; the good report, also, which he enjoys with those that are without; 
and the influence of this church upon the community, testify as to how 
wisely and prudently he has walked before us, as an under-shepherd in 
the name of the great Shepherd of Israel. 



Resolved, second, That with tender affection, remembering bow he lias 
sympathized with us in our sorrows and has led us to the throne of grace 
for our consolation, we deeply sympathize with him also in this his day 
of trial ; and assure him of a constant interest in our prayers, that our 
God and Saviour may keep him, and his family, holding them precious in 
His sight and crowning them with the richest blessings of His grace. 

Eesolved, third, That wherever he may go, our Pastor will still be dear 
to us, a treasured memory of this church, with his sainted predecessor the 
beloved Dr. Herron ; his joys shall be our joys, his griefs our griefs, and 
when with renewed health he shall again be enabled to enter upon his much 
loved labors, that success which the Lord of the harvest shall bestow upon 
him will be our rejoicing also. 

Eesolved, fourth, That while our hearts are heavy with sadness at the 
thought that this solemn and tender relation must be broken, a relation 
which we had fondly hoped would continue until the voice of the Master 
called him from all earthly labor to his eternal rest, yet we are constrained 
to be directed by the Providence of God in this matter and to acquiesce in 
his request, if the necessity still exists that will compel him in duty 
to press his application. 

Resolved, fifth, That to represent this congregation at the next meeting 
of the Ohio Presbytery we do hereby appoint two commissioners to said 
meeting. (Signed) Jno. A. Renshaw, 

Secretary. ' ' 

VII. Dr. Paxton at the Western Theological Seminary.— The fol- 
lowing is from the Eev. Dr. E. P. Cowan, Clerk of the Board of Directors 
of the Western Theological Seminary: 

"... The General Assembly in 1860 elected Dr. Paxton to the Chair 
of Sacred Rhetoric. 

In 1861 the Western Theological Seminary reported to the General As- 
sembly 'the acceptance of the Professorship by Rev. William M. Paxton, 
D.D., to which he was elected by the last General Assembly; that he en- 
tered on the duties of his Chair early in the term and was regularly in- 
augurated at the late meeting of the Board.' 

In accordance with the action of the General Assembly in 1864, the pro- 
fessorship held by Dr. Paxton was changed from 'Sacred Rhetoric' to 
' Homiletical Theology. ' 

Dr. Paxton 's Chair after this is reported annually as that of 'Homilet- 
ical Theology. ' 

At the meeting of the Board of Directors, April 16, 1872, the following 
entry was made on the Minute Book of the Board: 

'A letter was read from Rev. W. M. Paxton, D.D., resigning his place 
as Professor of Sacred Rhetoric. The resignation was accepted and or- 
dered to be reported to the Assembly; and it was, 



'Resolved, That whilst the Board feels constrained to comply with the 
wishes of Dr. Paxton, it accepts his resignation with regret and reluctance. 
It desires to express its high appreciation of Dr. Paxton as an able and 
faithful Professor of Homiletieal Theology, and to return thanks for his 
valuable labors, which were wholly gratuitous. ' 

You will note that Dr. James Allison, who was then Secretary of the 
Board of Directors, refers to Dr. Paxton 's Chair in one place as that of 
' Sacred Rhetoric, ' but in the wording of the resolution that immediately 
follows he is referred to as ' Professor of Homiletieal Theology. ' ' ' 

VIII. Dr. Paxton at the First Church, New York.— The following 
letters explain themselves: 

"New York, 57 West 17th Street, 
January 25, 1905. 

"... Our Minutes show that Dr. Paxton was elected to the Pastorate of 
the First Presbyterian Church at a meeting of the Pewholders and Congre- 
gation, held on Monday, December 11, 1865, Eev. John C. Lowrie, D.D., 
presiding. The nomination was made by recommendation of Session; 
there was no other name presented, and the election was unanimous. Salary 
fixed at $5000. Mr. A. B. Belknap was appointed Commissioner to prosecute 
the call, and at a meeting of Presbytery, January 22, 1866, it was placed 
in Dr. Paxton 's hands and accepted by him, Presbytery assenting. 

The installation was on Thursday evening, February 1, 1866. Sermon 
by Rev. A. M. Kellogg, from 1 Corinthians 2:2; charge to pastor by Rev. 
John C. Lowrie, D.D.; charge to people by Rev. James O. Murray, of the 
Brick Church. 

On June 7, 1883, Dr. Paxton addressed a letter to Session and Congrega- 
tion, expressing his desire to accept a professorship at Princeton. At a 
meeting of the church on June 19, assent was given, with much regret, 
to the severance of the pastoral relation, and three commissioners were 
appointed to report the same to Presbytery at its meeting of July 9, 1883, 
when the change was consummated. . . . 

I find that, at the first meeting of Session at which Dr. Paxton pre- 
sided, a committee was appointed to revise the church roll. On June 8, 
1866, this Committee reported as follows: 

' ' That the total Church Membership returned to Presbytery in the an- 
nual report of Session of April 17, 1865, was 494, to which were added 
during the year ending April 17, 1866, 23, making the whole number at 
this later date 517. The deductions for deaths and dismissals are as 
follows: Prior to April 17, 1865, extending through several years and not 
before deducted, 85; since that date and to April 17, 1866, 24— in all, 109, 
and reducing the nominal Church Membership to 408. 

' ' Of this number, your Committee, as authorized by the General As- 
sembly (Minutes of 1865, page 591), in part from personal knowledge and 
partly from information derived from other sources, with as much ac- 



curacy as within their power, have marked 'Absent' 201 members 'who have 
been absent two years and whose place of business and Christian life are 
unknown' to Session, leaving as constituting the present membership ac- 
tually attending church ordinances, at this date, 207." . . . 

Very truly yours, 
Charles H. Olmstead, 
Clerk of Session, 
First Presbyterian Church, New York." 

"January 14, 1905. 
"Alexander's History errs in giving date of installation of Dr. Paxton 
over First Church as March 20, 1866. Presbytery met and installed him 
February 1, 1866. 'After prayer by the Moderator, Mr. Kellogg delivered 
the sermon, Dr. Lowrie gave the charge to the pastor, and Mr. Murray 
gave the charge to the people.' 

Yours truly, 

F. E. Shearek, 
Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of New York. 

"At the Lecture Boom of the First Presbyterian Church. 
New York, May 21, 1883. 

' ' Having heard that the Trustees of the Theological Seminary, in Prince- 
ton, have recently elected our pastor, Eev. Dr. William M. Paxton, to a 
professorship in said Seminary, acceptance of which would involve his 
resignation as our minister, the members of his congregation have here 
assembled to take counsel as to the best interests of the church. 

After united prayer for divine guidance, and after full deliberation, 
we request the officers of this meeting to report the result to our pastor 
as follows: It is with great pain we even consider the subject of a sep- 
aration from him. It has startled us to hear it announced as possible. We 
assure him of our warm personal affection for him, as well as for his t'am 
ily. His ministry, from its beginning, has continued to be acceptable to 
us. We have recognized his fidelity as a pastor and as a preacher of the 
Word of the living God, the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, at all times. 
He has maintained fully the standard of Presbyterian faith, to the fellow- 
ship of which wo are devoted. In his administration of all the affairs of 
the church, Ms action has been wise ami kind, so that peace and order 
obtain among our people. In all respects the relation, as it exists, be- 
tween pastor and people, is, and it has been, a happy one. without a break. 

We also respectfully submit to our pastor that it has been a part of the 
established order of this church, during its existence of more than a century 
and a half, to maintain, if practicable, lifelong relations with its pastor. 
To this fact, under God's blessing, we have been accustomed to attribute, 
in a great degree, its steadfastness in doctrine ami in the faith. It is 
well worth consideration whether this wholesome tradition should be sur- 



rendered. The solemn fixedness of a single church, for the truth as it was 
delivered to the saints, is a strengthening of the entire church, in these 
days of variableness and turning. 

There is nothing, then, in the matter of personal feeling, which does 
not present inducements to our pastor to remain with us. His ministry- 
has been edifying to the church and eminently blessed to the saving of 

We beg him to consider this memorial from his affectionate congrega- 
tion, and to let it weigh with him in his decision, whether he shall with- 
draw from his pastoral work, as an expression of our earnest desire that 

he will remain with us. 

Hezekiah King, 

Chairman of the meeting. 

Eobert Fergus son, 

Secretary. ' ' 

"Lecture Boom of the First Presbyterian Church, 
New York, June 19, 1883. 
' ' Eev. William M. Paxton, D.D. 

Dear Sir: 

Having assembled to discharge certain duties in relation to Presbytery 
incident to your resignation as Minister over this church, we find ourselves, 
as a congregation, turning our thoughts constantly to you. The occasion 
reminds us of the pleasant communion which for seventeen years has 
characterized the relations between this people and their pastor. When 
you entered our pulpit you had quite recently laid aside congenial labors 
in the Seminary at Allegheny City. You were welcomed to this pastorate 
by the Session and by the body of the Church without a dissenting voice. 
We look around to-night for some one of the Elders who gathered about 
you on your installation here, only to be reminded that they have all de- 
parted out of this world and have come to the everlasting feast in 
heaven. Perhaps, too, a majority of the enrolled members of our church, 
as they were on your arrival, are no longer living. They have fallen asleep, 
full of faith and in hope of a glorious resurrection. 

But the Church of Christ dies not. The candlestick has not been removed 
out of its place. The lifting up of hands has been accepted as incense 
in this temple. The ordinances proper to God's house have been con- 
tinually observed, and your ministry has been abundantly owned and 
blessed of your and our Master. Such steady accessions to the church 
membership have been made that the roll of active members in our church 
is now more than fifty per cent, larger than it was when you entered the 
field. And this in the face of the removal to other neighborhoods of very 
many of our church families. We all feel that you have been a faithful 
and earnest preacher to us, seeking to bring the people to the very Saviour 's 



We are grateful to you, giving thanks to God the Father and to our 
Lord Jesus Christ for the work of this ministry. 

Be pleased, our Pastor, to accept expressions of heartfelt love from us 
all, parents and children. We permit you to leave us only because you feel 
the call of duty for another field, and it is only in compliance with your 
express desire that we yield to this necessity. 

The benediction which, Sabbath after Sabbath, these many years, you 
pronounced upon us, from the pulpit, we now invoke in precious abun- 
dance upon you, as becomes 

Your grateful and loving Flock." 

IX. Dr. Paxton and Union Theological Seminary.— The following 
extracts from the records of the Board of Directors of Union Theological 
Seminary have been kindly furnished by the Kev. Dr. Marvin E. Vincent: 

"May 5, 1873. 
"Resolved that, in addition to the compensation already voted, the grate- 
ful thanks of this Board be presented to the Reverend William M. Paxton, 
D.D., for the highly satisfactory manner in which he has provisionally per- 
formed the work of instruction in Homiletics and Sacred Rhetoric. ' ' 

' ' October 20, 1873. 
"The Reverend William M. Paxton, D.D., was put in nomination to fill 
the next ministerial vacancy in the Board." 

' ' November 12, 1873. 
"The Board proceeded to the annual election, and the Reverend William 
M. Paxton, D.D., was elected in place of the Reverend Herrick Johnson, 
D.D. (resigned), of the second class of Directors." 

"November 17, 1873. 
"The Reverend William M. Paxton, D.D., elected at the last meeting, 
appeared, and was duly qualified as a Director." 

X. Dr. Paxton 's Resignation from Princeton Theological Seminary. 
—The following papers will explain themselves: 

Paper Adopted by the Faculty of Princeton 
Theological Seminary, May 1, 1902. 
"The Committee appointed by the Faculty on April 5, 1902, to recom- 
mend what action should be taken in view of the just expressed in- 
tention of our senior professor, Dr. William M. Paxton, to resign his pro- 
fessorship at the approaching meeting of the Board of Directors, would 
report as follows: 

1. In view of the length, diversity, and efficiency of Dr. Paxton 's services 
to our Seminary; in view of the honor in which he is held throughout the 



whole church, and of the consequent loss in reputation that we should in- 
cur were he no longer to be associated with us; and especially in view of 
the degree to which he has endeared himself to us all, we recommend that 
the Faculty, while feeling that it would be improper to question the wisdom 
of a decision so deliberate, should deprecate any resignation contemplating 
his entire separation from the Seminary. 

2. We recommend that the Faculty request the Board of Directors to 
appoint Dr. Paxton Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology; to keep 
his name in the Catalogue and at the head of the list of the Faculty; to 
ask him to give such instruction, whether in the curriculum or in extra- 
curriculum courses, as the Faculty, in conference with the professors in 
this department, shall from time to time arrange; and, in partial recog- 
nition of the great services which he has rendered and will yet render 
to this institution, to request him to continue to occupy, and for life, the 
house which was built especially for him by a friend of his and of the 

3. We recommend that the Faculty express to Dr. Paxton our earnest 
hope that he will make every effort to continue to us and to our students 
the priceless benefit of his example, his experience, and his sympathy; 
and, in particular, that we invite and individually urge him always to give 
us the blessing of his presence and the wisdom of his counsel at our Faculty 
meetings, both formal and informal. 

4. We recommend that as a Faculty we do hereby congratulate Dr. 
Paxton on the long and splendid service which he has been privileged to 
render to the church and especially to this Seminary, and that we express 
the hope that he will be spared for many years to illustrate the inspired 
words, "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more 
and more unto the perfect day. ' ' 

Eespectfully submitted, 

B. B. Warfield, 
John D. Davis, 
W. Brenton Greene, Jr. 
Princeton, N. J., May 1, 1902." 

Extract from the Minutes of the Board of Directors of Princeton 
Theological Seminary, May 5, 1902. 

"A communication was read from the Eev. William M. Paxton, D.D., as 
follows : 

'To the Board of Directors of Princeton Theological Seminary. 

' Dear Brethren : 
■ Under the constraints of advancing age, and the advice of my phy- 
sicians, I am compelled — much against my own wishes — to send to the 
Board my resignation of the Professorship which through the kindness 
of my brethren I have held for nearly twenty years. 



I need not tell you of the sorrow which I feel in sundering the ties 
which bind me to an Institution which has been the joy of my heart, 
and in parting from many brethren whom 1 sincerely love. I am, however, 
deeply convinced that this step has become a duty which I owe to myself 
and to my family; and I bow to a necessity which seems to be an in- 
dication of the divine will. I have been connected with this Institution. 
more or less, for fifty-six years, aud to break this connection is one of the 
saddest experiences of my life. But the Lord's will be done. 

With the assurance of my continued interest in the prosperity of this 

I am yours in the bonds of a warm affection, 

William M. Paxtox. 

April 29, 1902.' 

It was resolved that the resignation of Dr. William M. Paxton, D.D., 
LL.D., be reluctantly accepted, and the following minute was ordered in 
connection with this resolution: 

1. In view of the length, diversity, and efficiency of Dr. Paxton 's ser- 
vices to our Seminary; in view of the honor in which he is held throughout 
the whole church, and of the consequent loss in reputation that we should 
incur were he no longer to be associated with us; and especially in view 
of the degree to which he has endeared himself to us all, we recommend 
that the Directors, while feeling that it would be improper to question 
the wisdom of a decision so deliberate, should deprecate any resignation 
contemplating his entire separation from the Seminary. 

2. We, therefore, appoint Dr. Paxton Professor Emeritus of Practical 
Theology; we place his name on the catalogue and at the head of the list 
of the Faculty. We ask him to give such instruction, whether in the cur- 
riculum or extra-curriculum courses, as the Faculty shall from time to time 
arrange; and, in partial recognition of the great service which he has 
rendered and will yet render to this Institution, we request him to continue 
to occupy, and for life, a house which was built especially for him by a 
friend of his and of the Seminary. 

3. We desire to express to Dr. Paxton our earnest hope that he will 
make every effort to continue to us and to our students and professors 
the benefit of his example, his experience, and his sympathy. We hereby 
congratulate him on the long and splendid service which he has been privi- 
leged to render to the church and especially to this Seminary, and we 
express to him the hope that he will be spared as our example and coun- 
sellor for many years. ' ' 

XI. Dr. Paxton 's Eightieth Birthday.— The following letters were 
sent to Dr. Paxton on his eightieth birthday: 



"Princeton Theological Seminary, 
June 7, 1904. 
' ' Dear Dr. Paxton : 

Your colleagues in the faculty would offer you their heartfelt congratu- 
lations on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of your birth. The 
year marks also the attainment of your majority as a member of the teach- 
ing staff of the Seminary, the completion of twenty-one years of unin- 
termitted labor as professor of Practical Theology at Princeton. 

With the church at large we rejoice in your long service as a minister of 
Jesus Christ, and in the large work which you have been able to do in the 
administration of the affairs of the kingdom; but with a joy all our own 
we recall the goodly fellowship of these latter years and the unbroken har- 
mony and love which have characterized our labors together. You have 
reached age and distinction in health and strength, and at fourscore years 
you still stand among us with the harness on. Your kindly face, your 
courteous manner, your helpful Christian life, together with the gentle 
presence of the quiet, efficient, godly lady at your side, have been a 
blessed influence at Princeton; and we are grateful to our Father in heaven 
that He gave both of you to us. For two years, dear Dr. Paxton, you 
were officially our leader and representative, as president of the faculty. 
We loved you then; but we reverence and love you even more now as you 
grace us with the beauty of the serene age of a Christian man. May God 
continue His rich blessing unto you. 

Francis L. Patton, 
John D. Davis, 
Wm. Brenton Greene, Jr., 
Wm. P. Armstrong, 

Benjamin B. Warfield, 
John De Witt, 
Geerhardus Vos, 
Kobert D. Wilson." 

' ' University Place Church, cor. Tenth Street. 
1 ' My dear Dr. Paxton : 

The members of the Board of Foreign Missions at their meeting yes- 
terday learned with great interest that to-day marks the close of your 
eightieth year. They directed me to convey to you their Christian saluta- 
tions and best wishes. With grateful hearts they recognize the kind Provi- 
dence which has preserved you in health and strength of body and mind 
through such a long period of Christian service, and they rejoice in the 
hope that the Church, which we all love, may have the inspiration of your 
wisdom and example for years to come. 

Your varied and fruitful ministry has been unique in eminence as well 
as in usefulness. I do not know any one in the long history of our Church 
who has taught in two of our largest Seminaries, presided over the delibera- 
tions of both of the great Missionary Boards of the Church, filled a pas- 
torate in many respects the most conspicuous in the land, and served as 



Moderator of the General Assembly. Such a history implies possession 
of gifts and qualities not usually combined in one personality. 

Please accept from your colleagues in the Board the assurance of their 
affectionate regard and their earnest prayer that the evening of your life 
may be cloudless and serene, blessed with the confident expectation of a 
brighter morrow. Fraternally yours, 

New York City, June 7, 1904. George Alexander. ' ' 

XII. Dr. Paxton and the Board of Foreign Missions.— The following 
is from the records of the meeting of the Board on December 5, 1904: 

"The Board learned with deep regret of the death of its honored senior 
member, the Bev. William M. Paxton, D.D., LL.D., which occurred at 
Princeton, New Jersey, November 28th. Only a few months had elapsed 
since the Board sent special congratulations to Dr. Paxton upon the event 
of his eightieth birthday. 

He had been a member of the Board since 1861, when he was appointed 
a member of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, 
O. S., of whose Executive Committee he became a member in 1868. In 
the Reunion of the Presbyterian Church in 1870 his membership was con- 
tinued, and in 1880 he was elected President of the Board, to succeed the 
Rev. William Adams, D.D., then recently deceased. 

Dr. Paxton held the office of President till June, 1884, when, in con- 
sequence of his removal to Princeton, New Jersey, he was succeeded in 
the Presidency by the late Dr. John D. Wells. 

Dr. Paxton was born in Adams County, Pennsylvania, June 7, 1824. 
He first studied for the legal profession, but, under a deep sense of duty, 
he turned his attention to the ministry, was ordained by the Presbytery 
of Carlisle, and became pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Greencastle, 
Pennsylvania, and later of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, 
during which latter pastorate he occupied for several years the Chair of 
Sacred Rhetoric in the Western Seminary at Allegheny. 

He was installed pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New York 
City in 1866, which relation he held till 1883. During his New York pas- 
torate he delivered, for a period of two years, lectures on Sacred Rhetoric 
at Union Theological Seminary, New York. 

In 1883 he was elected Professor of Homiletics and Rhetoric at the 
Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey. 

He was chosen Moderator of the General Assembly in 1880. 

It will thus be seen that, in addition to his long-continued and valu- 
able service as a member and President of the Board of Foreign Missions 
(he was a member also for a time in the Board of Home Missions), Dr. 
Paxton had held some of the very highest positions in the Presbyterian 
Church as a pastor and teacher. His general influence throughout the 
denomination was widespread, inspiring as he did universal confidence by 



his foresight and the soundness of his judgment. He was conservative by- 
temperament and by training, and that not only in his theological views, 
but in the general counsels of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Paxton 
was characterized in an unusual degree by a commanding presence, rare 
dignity of manner, great refinement of feeling, and untiring courtesy. 
Though a man of strong convictions which he never hesitated to express, 
he excelled in friendliness of spirit and consideration for the views and 
feelings of others. 

The Board desires to place on its records the following Minute: 

Besolved, That in the death of Eev. William M. Paxton, D.D., L.L.D., 
the oldest and one of the most honored of its members, the Board has 
suffered an irreparable loss. At the same time it would express its grate- 
ful sense of the valuable counsel and services which have been rendered 
ungrudgingly for more than forty years to the great missionary work 
of the church. 

Besolved, That the Board reviews with much satisfaction the helpful 
influence of that strong and unflinching faith in the power of the Gospel 
which Dr. Paxton always manifested while urging forward the aggressive 
plans of the Board, and the judicial fairness with which he discussed all 
difficult questions as they arose for consideration; and would also note 
the fidelity with which, though living at a distance and suffering with the in- 
creasing infirmities of age, he conscientiously filled his place at the regular 
meetings of the Board. 

Resolved, That the Board would express its profound and prayerful 
sympathy with the family of the deceased, to whom a copy of this action 
shall be sent. 

Besolved, That a copy also be published in the Assembly Herald." 

XIII. A Memorial Minute adopted by the New York Presbytery. — 

"Seldom does any man impose upon the church so large an obligation of 
gratitude as that which is created by the life-work of William Miller Pax- 
ton. His eighty years were fruitful with a peculiarly wide-command- 
ing and beneficent influence. The energy of his personality discharged 
itself along three distinct lines of achievement. In the pulpit, in the 
administration of ecclesiastical affairs, and in the chair of theological in- 
struction, he rose to marked and equal distinction. 

Among the mountains of southern Pennsylvania lies hidden the remote 
place of his birth. From his ancestry he received a rich inheritance of 
character. Both his father and grandfather were men of public spirit 
and civic leadership— his father being at the head of vast and important 
manufacturing interests and holding responsible trusts; his grandfather, 
in youth, being a patriotic soldier in the army of the Revolution, and in 
later life an able preacher beloved by his own community and honored by 
the whole church. 



In l>4.'i lie was graduated from Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg, a town 
to-day of world-wide fame as one of the pivotal points in human history; 
then B tiny hamlet, the centre of life for a farming community. At first he 
addressed himself to the study of the law. But shortly the conviction 

awakened within him and took possession of him, that, whatever his own 
choice might have been, the call of God was to the work of the ministry. 
Characteristically obedient to the heavenly vision, he abandoned the Com- 
mentaries of Blackstone for the professional mastery of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, and he entered Princeton Theological Seminary in 1845. Here 
he sat at the feet of Archibald Alexander and his distinguished colleague, 
Samuel Miller, who had, coming to the seminary from the First Church 
of New York City, marked a shining path along which his pupil in the 
after years should follow him. Graduated from the seminary in 1848. 
he was ordained by the Presbytery of Carlisle, upon October the 4th of 
that same year. During the years following he served the church at Green- 
castle, Pennsylvania, and albeit his opening pastorate was so brief, the 
traditions of its winsomeness and power still linger in that quiet town. 
For fourteen years he occupied the notable pulpit of the First Church of 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a continual unfolding and maturing of the 
splendid potencies with which his nature was so generously stored. 

Coming to the First Church of New York City in the very zenith of 
his ability, he lavished the wealthiest possibilities of his life in its pastoral 
oversight, and having wrought and taught with masterful success, closed 
his career as a pastor in 1883, in order that he might assume the honors 
and discharge the responsibibties of professional duty in the seminary at 
Princeton. This post was the third professorship which he had occupied, 
having been lecturer on Sacred Ehetoric in Allegheny from 1860 to 1872, 
and in the Union Theological Seminary of this city from 1871 to 1873. 
He was director in three seminaries — the Western Theological Seminary, the 
Union Theological Seminary, and the Theological Seminary at Princeton. 
In accordance with a precedent, unbroken from the time of its foundation, 
when the pastor of the First Church of New York was one of its charter 
members, he was a trustee of Princeton University, an office which he held 
for thirty-eight years. He was president of two great benevolent Boards — 
the Board of Home Missions and the Board of Foreign Missions. He was 
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in May. 
1880, and preached the opening sermon of the Second General Council of the 
Pan-Presbyterian Alliance at Philadelphia in September of the same year. 
In virtue of his pastorate he was a member of throe historic and illus- 
trious charities— the Sailors' Snug Harbor, the Leake and Watts Orphan 
Asylum, and the Presbyterian Hospital. 

In bearing he was dignified and courtly. In habit of thought he was 
analytic and searching; in expression of thought, forceful and elegant. 
In conviction of truth he was clear-cut and outspoken; none doubted as 
to where he stood, or why. In counsel he was judicious and sympathetic— 



a ready and resourceful friend. In religious experience he was deep and 
genuine; all who knew him knew that he walked with God. 

By medical advice, in 1902, he retired from active service. Life's Cape 
of Storms being rounded, he sailed across a Pacific sea until he quietly 
entered port and dropped anchor. On Monday, November 28, 1904, his 
long and eventful life-voyage was ended— the goal of all his prayer and 
thought and work and aspiration was attained. The reward for which 
he had spent his years was won. He saw his ' Pilot face to face. ' 

Howard Duffield, 
kobert eussell booth, 
John J. McCook. " 

XIV. Necrological Eeport presented to the Alumni Association of 
the Princeton Theological Seminary, May 9, 1905. (By the Eev. 
Joseph H. Dulles, M.A.) — 

William Miller Paxton, D.D., L.L.D., 

son of James Dunlop and Jane Maria (Miller) Paxton, was born June 7, 
1824, at Maria Furnace, Adams County, Pennsylvania. He made a pub- 
lic confession of his faith in the Falling Spring Presbyterian Church of 
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, when nearly twenty-one years of age. His 
preparatory studies were pursued in the preparatory department of Penn- 
sylvania College, Gettysburg, and he was graduated from its collegiate 
department in 1843. He then studied law for two years in Chambersburg, 
Pennsylvania. Entering the Seminary at Princeton in the fall of 1845, he 
took the full three years' course there, graduating in 1848. He was 
licensed by the Presbytery of Carlisle, June 1, 1847, and ordained by 
the same Presbytery, October 4, 1848, being at the same time in- 
stalled pastor of the Presbyterian church at Greencastle, Pennsylvania. 
This relation was dissolved December 5, 1850, that he might accept a call 
to the First Church of Pittsburgh, over which he was installed January 
28, 1851, and from which he was released June 28, 1865. In 1860 he 
became professor of Sacred Ehetoric in the Western Theological Seminary 
at Allegheny, adding the duties of this chair to those of his pastorate 
during the last five years of his stay in Pittsburgh and continuing them 
until 1872, some years after his removal to New York City. He was pas- 
tor of the First Church of New York City from February 1, 1866, until 
July 9, 1883, and for two years of this time, 1871-1873, instructor of Sacred 
Ehetoric in Union Theological Seminary, New York. He gave up his New 
York charge on being called to the chair of Ecclesiastical, Homiletical, and 
Pastoral Theology in Princeton Seminary, and took up his work there in 
the fall of 1883. He was obliged to lay down its burdens, on account of 
the growing infirmities of age, in the spring of 1902, when he was made 
professor emeritus. He died November 28, 1904, in Princeton, as the 
result of a stroke of paralysis which he had two weeks previously, in the 



eighty-first year of his age. He was buried in the Princeton cemetery. 
He received the honorary degree of D.D. from Jefferson College in 1860, and 
that of LL.D. from Washington and Jefferson College in 1883. Dr. Pax- 
ton held many positions of trust and responsibility in the Church. He was 
a director of the Western Theological Seminary at Allegheny, 1852-1860; 
a trustee of Washington and Jefferson College, 1853-1865; a director of 
Princeton Seminary, 1866-1883; a trustee of Union Seminary, New York, 
1873-1884; a trustee of Princeton University from 1867 until his death; 
a trustee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church from 1892 
until his death; Moderator of the General Assembly at Madison, Wiscon- 
sin, in 18S0; a member of the Board of Home Missions, 1866-1880, and its 
president 1876-1878; a member of the Board of Foreign Missions from 1866 
until his death, and its president, 1881-1884. He was also a trustee of the 
Leake and Watts Orphan Asylum and of the Sailors' Snug Harbor, both 
of New York. He was a commissioner to the General Assembly at Roch- 
ester in 1860, at Columbus in 1862, at Philadelphia in 1870, at Madison, 
Wisconsin, in 1880, and at Buffalo, New York, in 1881. Dr. Paxton was 
frequently called upon for addresses on special occasions. Many of his 
sermons and addresses were published. The following may be mentioned: 
Two Discourses upon the Life and Character of the Eev. Francis Herron, 
D.D., 1860; Discourse on the Panic of 1857'.*^ The Nation: Its Relation and 
Duties to God; The Nation's Gratitude and Hope, 1862; Christian Benefi- 
cence, 1857; funeral Discourses: Life and Character of Dr. Bryan': of 
the Hon. Walter Lowrie, 1869; of Dr. Spring, 1873; of Dr. Charles Hodge, 
1878; of Dr. M. W. Jacobus, 1876; of Dr. A. A. Hodge, 1886; inaugural 
address when made a professor in Princeton Seminary, 1884; charge at the 
inauguration of Dr. A. A. Hodge as professor in Princeton Seminary; The 
Church: Its Strength and Its Weakness, 1881; How We Spend Our Years, 
1875; Home Missions in America, an address at the First General Presby- 
terian Council at Edinburgh, 1877; address on Archibald Alexander in 
the Alexander Memorial, 1879; Dr. Charles Hodge as Teacher and Preacher, 
in The Life of Charles Hodge by A. A. Hodge, 1880; The Mission of the 
Presbyterian Church, a sermon, 1880; The Call to the Ministry, Presby- 
terian Eeview, January, 1889; a sermon on Salvation as a Work, in the 
Princeton Sermons, 1893. Also a syllabus of his course in Homiletics was 
printed, although not published. 

Dr. Paxton was twice married: (1) August 11, 1852, in Chestertown, 
Maryland, to Hester V. B. Wickes, who died August 13, 1854; (2) No- 
vember 8, 1855, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Caroline Sophia Denny, 
who, with three sons and four daughters, survives him. One of the sons 
is the Rev. James D. Paxton, D.D., an alumnus of the Seminary. 

[* No copies of the two Discourses marked by an asterisk have been recovered, and 
they are therefore not inserted in the list on pp. 93 ff., although they are known on 
Dr. Paxtou's own authority to have been published.l 


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