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Alexander Henderson (1583-1646)


Alexander Henderson (1583-1646)

James Dodson


Alexander Henderson was born in Creich, Fife, Scotland, in 1583. In 1603, he graduated from St. Andrews, with distinction. Afterward, he was appointed a regent there. In 1612, he was nearly prevented from assuming ministerial duties, at Leuchars, when the parishioners, fearing his unorthodoxy and attachment to episcopacy, secured the doors of the church building. Soon after, Henderson went secretly to hear Mr. Robert Bruce preaching nearby and was converted and renounced episcopacy as inconsistent with the principles of the Reformed Church of Scotland. He presided over a country parish for nearly 25 years in relative peace until the events of 1637. In 1637, Henderson was summoned to appear in Edinburgh, because he had failed to procure the prayer book imposed by Charles I., and there he emerged as a leader of the ecclesiastical resistance. It was there, he made a very spirited defense of his act of disobedience against the king’s imposition and gained national recognition. He was responsible for, and contributed to, the renewal of the National Covenant, in 1638, and was made moderator of the General Assembly in that year. When the English civil war began, he led many of the Scots to join the English Parliament in the conflict against the king. In 1643, he was instrumental in framing and taking the Solemn League and Covenant between the three kingdoms. The man whom some described as “the Second Reformer,” after John Knox, authored several tracts and sermons during his life, of which this is one of the most important. Others included “The Bishops’ Doom” and “Instructions for a Defensive Arms.” This bold defender of the divine right of Presbyterianism, and staunch Covenanter, died in Edinburgh, Scotland, August 19, 1646.