James Beverlin Ramsey (1814-71), author of the Trust’s Geneva Series commentary Revelation: An Exposition of the first 11 Chapters, was born in Cecil County, Maryland. After the death of his father when he was six years old, his upbringing and education were committed to his mother, a woman of unusual wisdom and grace, for whom he demonstrated the greatest affection during the rest of her life. From those early days were dated the beginnings of his Christian experience.
He graduated from Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, and from Princeton Seminary, which he entered in 1836. Joseph Addison Alexander, one of his teachers, said that when Ramsey left the Seminary he was already equipped to teach any of its classes. But he had chosen to engage in the work of pastoral ministry, and was inducted to the charge of a congregation at West Farms, New York in 1841. After a period of five years, he became a missionary to the Choctow Indians, and served as the Principal of Spencer Academy.
But his life was dogged by ill-health, and he was compelled to leave this work in 1849. Some five years later an improvement in his condition allowed him to serve two other congregations, at New Monmouth (1854-58), and Lynchburg (1858-70), Virginia, before his health finally broke down in 1870. He died on 23 July 1871.
James Ramsey was a man of great spiritual stature. ‘There was about him’, wrote Charles Hodge, ‘such an elevation above the world, such constant evidence that he was a temple of the Holy Spirit, that he was sacred in the eyes of all who knew him.’