Faithful Friday: Alexander Henderson

By T.K. Wilson (Rated G)

Alexander Henderson was born in Creich, County Fife, Scotland in 1583. After graduating with honors from St. Andrew’s College, he went right to work as a churchman, at first staunchly on the side of the Episcopate. At that time, the Church of Scotland was debating the form of church governance they wanted: the Anglican model where the church was governed by bishops, or the Presbyterian model where the church would be governed by members of the congregation. This was more than just a debate within the church; to defy the episcopate was also to defy the King. 

In the midst of all this, Henderson was convicted of the rightness of the Presbyterian cause and declared his allegiance to the Scottish Covenant. At first, things were a little rough for Henderson – as punishment for going against the King, he was locked out of the church he pastored. Undaunted, he wrote and spoke eloquently of the Covenant. Even in his days as a supporter of the Episcopate, Henderson was well loved and respected by all in Scotland, so when King Charles the First came to Scotland to see if he could smooth things over, he named Henderson his chaplain. Henderson was also appointed to many high offices including Rector of the University of Edinburgh, Dean of the Chapel Royal, and the Westminster Assembly of Divines. 

During the English Civil War, he was appointed to be one of the negotiators of peace. He came to the King to see if he would accept the Presbyterian way, or at least allow its practice. Though ultimately Charles did not convert to the Presbyterian line of thinking, (and was executed thereafter), he respected Henderson enough to listen to him. Henderson fell suddenly ill and sailed home to Scotland before he could conclude his business with the King. At the time, it was reported that he was dying of heartbreak over the rift between his beloved Church of Scotland and the King. He died in 1646 at age sixty-three and is buried at Greyfriars Kirkyard. 

May we be as eager to fight for our convictions as Alexander Henderson!  


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