Wednesday, March 15, 2006

William Lindsay Alexander. II.

William Lindsay Alexander found every door shut before him in 1831. Then, as he was passing through Liverpool in 1832, the friend with whom he was staying said to him: "You have come just in the nick of time. We have been disappointed in not getting a minister for our chapel next sabbath, so you will come and preach for us."
Alexander was not keen. He made the excuse that he had no black coat, but the friend replied that there was no problem, for the Church had a very nice pulpit gown that he could wear. One Sunday's preaching engagement became an informal pastorate of a year and a half! Despite himself, William Lindsay Alexander had become a Congregational minister. He had struggled against the purposes of God, and God had conquered him. It is no surprise that Alexander was a Calvinist all his days!
God blessed the pastorate at Newington Independent Church, Liverpool. Many were brought into Church membership, and the chapel filled rapidly. The news of this Scottish congregational pastor spread rapidly.
In October 1833 Alexander recieved a letter from Rev. John Aikman of the Argyle Square Congregational Church, Edinburgh, inviting him on behalf of the Church to come and preach for them with a view to becoming assistant minister to Mr. Aikman.
Alexander, conscious that he was still a young man, relatively untaught, saw at once the advantages of working with a more experienced man. However, he worried that his powers were not sufficient for Edinburgh, and that Newington Church needed him to remain there. But then God slowly closed the door at Newington, and in 1834 he was finally forced to leave Newington. In the meantime the door at Edinburgh had closed too, and so Alexander found himself once more unsettled. But Newington had settled him in one thing; he was a Congregational minister, and so he would remain.
He used his time out of the settled ministry to study theology in Germany, among the more orthodox German theologians. After his return from Germany he was asked to preach several times at the very Church he had previously turned down, Argyle Square, otherwise known as North College Street Church, Edinburgh. Eventually North College Street called him to supply the pulpit for six months with a view to becoming their pastor. Alexander declined; the Church was divided, and he was sure he would be unhappy there. He was therefore astonished when, on 1st November 1834, he was invited to become pastor of the Church! The call was all but unanimous, and Alexander, after three weeks of careful consideration, accepted.

God willing next time we shall look at W.L. Alexander's ministry at North College Street.



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