William Plumer

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An Old School Presbyterian Ministers in both North and South

William Swan Plumer was not a name which I had recognized until someone gave me a commentary written by him.  It was filled with the rich meat of the Word of God, and I wanted to know more of his spiritual gifts.

Born in July 26,  1802 in Darlington, Pennsylvania, William Plumer was of the Scottish heritage.  When he turned nineteen years of age, he walked to Lewisburg, Virginia to begin spiritual training at the Academy of the Rev. John McElhenney, known as the Apostle of Western Virginia, where he learned the first fruits of Christian education.  Moving on to Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, he continued his studies under Dr. Baxter.  Finally, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary in 1825.  Two years later, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Orange and began two congregations  in Virginia and North Carolina.  Ordained in 1827, he began a long series of pastorates in Petersburg, Virginia and Richmond, Virginia from 1830 – 1846.  It is interesting to me that he left the south to be at Franklyn Street Presbyterian in Baltimore, Maryland for twelve years.  Then for another eight years, he was at Central Presbyterian in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, while teaching at Western Theological Seminary as well.  He finished up his teaching call while a professor of theology at Columbia Theological Seminary.  He went to his heavenly home on October 22, 1880.

He was the preeminent pastor and teacher of the church.  He evidently had a voice which stopped people in their tracks to pause and listen. He was a soul-winner par excellence as soul after soul met the Redeemer and were converted. He was a pastor’s pastor as well, and met the needs of his congregations with pathos and sympathy, when that was needed.

As a church pastor, William S. Plumer also watched the movements away from the faith once delivered unto the saints. At the 1837 General Assembly, he powerfully made the distinction between the Old School Presbyterians and the New School Presbyterians clear and plain.  There was a call to come out and be separate from the entangling alliances which the New School Presbyterians had with the Congregationalists.  Thus when the Assembly voted to stop their compromising union, Rev. Plumer had a large part in preserving the Calvinistic convictions of the General Assembly, to say nothing of the biblical basis of Presbyterianism.

Words to live by:  It is often a case where the people in the pew only recognize the emoluments of a person if he has a string of degrees behind his name and is recognized in the leading organizations of the church.  Then a man by the name of William Plumer comes along and we hear and see the Spirit of God residing in a  pastor and teacher, and our minds are overcome with what God can do through a mere man. The only qualification which God recognizes in His servants, for loving and obedient service to Him, is faithfulness.  Let us be faithful to the Word of God in the places where He has put us.

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