The True Theologian

In 1675, the Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Witsius gave an inaugural address to divinity students at the university in Franeker, the Netherlands. This oration has endured as a monument to experimental piety. It was completely translated for the first time into English in 1877 by Free Church of Scotland minister John Donaldson, and this edition was republished by Ligon Duncan in 1994 under the title On the Character of a True Theologian. It has been commended by men such as William Cunningham in the 19th century and Joel Beeke in the 20th century for its combined spiritual profundity and intellectual acuity. An abridged translation was previously published by Archibald Alexander in The Biblical Repertory and Theological Review, April 1832, with the title The Character of the Genuine Theologian. Alexander's translation is now available to read at Log College Press. 

As Beeke wrote of this valuable work: "Witsius' inaugural, On the Character of a True Theologian, is a masterpiece which exemplifies his own dictum: 'He alone is a true theologian who adds the practical to the theoretical part of religion.' Like all of Witsius' writings, this address marries profound intellect with spiritual passion. All Christians, but especially theological students and ministers, would do well to peruse it prayerfully and repeatedly." Alexander commends further its "elevated thought and ardent piety." It has great value for church officers, laymen, and indeed all who seek to serve Christ in every capacity. 

Memento Mori

If there a place that proclaims Memento Mori more loudly and clearly than the Princeton Cemetery, it is unknown to this writer. In the Presidents Plot alone, there are three ministers who died soon after preaching a New Year's sermon on the Scriptural text Jer. 28:16: "This year thou shalt die": Aaron Burr, Sr. (1716-1757); Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758); and Samuel Davies (1723-1761) (the same is true of Jonathan Edwards, Jr. (1745-1801), who is buried elsewhere).

The day of my visit happened to coincide with the anniversary of Charles Hodge's passing into glory. The morning began with a passing rain shower, but the clouds parted and the sun shined. There was time to meditate at the graves of Archibald Alexander, and many others. The weather was very different when Moses Hoge visited the cemetery in 1820. 

"He also visited Princeton College, which, in 1810, had conferred on him, in company with his friend, Mr. [Archibald] Alexander, the degree of S.T.D.; and passed a few days with Dr. Alexander. A cold easterly rain was falling the whole time of his visit. He examined thoroughly the condition of the two institutions, the College and the Seminary, with reference to the two in Prince Edward. He rejoiced in the extended influence of his friend Alexander, and [Samuel] Miller the co-laborer. He could not refrain from a visit to the grave-yard to meditate by the tombs of [Aaron] Burr, [Sr. and Jr.]; [Jonathan] Edwards, [Samuel] Davies, [John] Witherspoon, and [Samuel Stanhope] Smith. As he tarried in that hallowed spot, the bleak wind pierced his diseased frame, and hastened his descent into the valley of death. His heart was elevated as he went from grave to grave, and read the epitaphs of these Presidents of College and teachers of Theology; and his body under the cold rain was chilled in preparation for his own resting in the silent tomb. The conversations of Hoge and Alexander those few days, had there been a hand to record them, laying open the hearts, as by a daguerrotype, of men of such exalted pure principle, so unselfish and so unlike the mass of men - what simplicity of thought, benevolence in feeling, and elevation of piety! -- but there was no man to pen what all men would have been glad to read. Mr. Hoge took his seat in the Assembly - but his fever returned upon him, of a typhus case, and by means of the cold caught in Princeton, became too deeply seated for medicine to remove. He bowed his head meekly to the will of the Head of the Church, and fell asleep in Jesus, on the [5th] of July" (William Henry Foote, Sketches of Virginia, Second Series, p. 373). 

The French Huguenot Charles Drelincourt once wrote (The Christian's Defence Against the Fears of Death, p. 59): 

"And let the most learned Philosophers learn, That the soundest Philosophy is the Meditation of Death.

In short, Whatever be our Employment, Condition, or Age, let us lift up our Minds and Hands unto GOD, to speak to him in the Language of the Prophet DavidLord, let me know my end, and the number of my days, that I may know how long I am to live. Or of MosesSo teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto Wisdom." 

Today is always a good day to consider one's standing before God (Rom. 13:11). Memento mori

An Awakening in Central Virginia

Presbyterianism was planted in eastern Virginia in the late 1600s and early 1700s with the arrival and ministry of Francis Makemie. As pioneer settlers, many of them Scotch-Irish,  migrated down the Valley of Virginia, they brought Presbyterianism with them. These seeds were watered by the ministry of such men as John Blair, John Craig and Alexander Craighead, and others, who planted and organized congregations along the Blue Ridge. But in-between, the established Anglican church dominated the colony of Virginia, and as a consequence, parish preaching often led to a spiritual dormancy. 

As Ezra H. Gillett notes, "The rise of Presbyterianism in Hanover is inseparably connected with what is known by tradition as Morris' Reading-House" (History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Vol. 1, p. 111). The spirit of God began to stir in the County of Hanover around 1740, an awakening which centered, in the providence of God, upon Samuel Morris, a simple brick mason who was anxious for the state of his soul, and, as a result, began to read such works as Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians, Thomas Boston's Fourfold State, and the sermons of George Whitefield, who had preached in Williamsburg in 1739, and began to embrace true Biblical experimental piety. He organized meetings in his home with family and neighbors to pray, read Scriptures and discuss these books. These Sabbath afternoon meetings became so popular that crowds grew, necessitating the erection of a meeting-place, which became known as "Morris' Reading House," while attendance upon the parish churches began to decline. This decline became so precipitous that the authorities in their alarm summoned Morris and his friends to appear before the Governor's Council in Williamsburg "to declare their creed and name." Being largely unacquainted with church history, and referencing the works of Luther, they were apparently identified as "Lutherans" and allowed to continue their meetings. Another report, said by Ernest T. Thompson to be "almost certainly apocryphal" (Presbyterians in the South, Vol. 1, p. 52), claims that on their way to Williamsburg, Morris and company happened upon a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which they found most agreeable to their religious sentiments. Governor Gooch, when presented with this document, being a Scotsman himself, is said to have immediately identified the group as Presbyterian dissenters whose right to worship was protected under the Toleration Act. 

It was in the winter of 1742-1743 that the Rev. William "One-Eyed" Robinson was sent by the Presbytery of New Castle to minister to points south, which included Hanover. Archibald Alexander's Biographies of the Log College Men gives an account of Robinson's arrival there (included in that account is a 1751 letter by Samuel Davies, which further incorporates a letter by Samuel Morris describing the experience of Robinson's ministry there). On July 6, 1743, Robinson preached the first Presbyterian sermon in those parts, and he stayed for three further days, fanning the flames of revival. Morris called those four days the "glorious days of the Son of Man." As a token of thanks, a substantial financial gift was offered to Robinson, which he declined. Edward Mack relates the account thus: "The first Presbyterian preacher who came to this Hanover flock was William Robinson, whose four days of preaching in 1743 bore fruit in earnest throngs and many converts. Being a man of means, Robinson refused money for these days of preaching. But discovering a large roll of bills slipped into his saddle-bags without his knowledge, he dedicated it to the education of a young man for the ministry, in the hope that he might come to Virginia. So it was that a poor, struggling young man, Samuel Davies, became the beneficiary of Virginia’s first gift for Ministerial Education, and after a few years, in 1747, this same Samuel Davies, at the age of twenty-three, came to these Presbyterians of Hanover as their first regular minister." Thus, a congregation was planted, Polegreen Church (which was attended by Patrick Henry), and eventually in 1755 the Hanover Presbytery itself was organized, "the mother-Presbytery of most of the churches and Presbyteries south of the Potomac" (Robert Ellis Thompson, A History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, p. 38). 

Testimony of God's Grace in the Life and "Religious Experiences" of Archibald Alexander

Richard McIlwaine, like Archibald Alexander, served as president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, from 1883-1904. In McIlwaine's autobiography, Memories of Three Score Years and Ten (pp. 112-115), he relates a story that is both a testimony to the grace of God in Alexander's life and writings, and an encouragement to us all to remember that one's legacy lives on after death, and that the seeds we plant for God's kingdom will bear fruit in his good time, no matter how long that may take. 

"Dr. Archibald Alexander died in the fall of 1851. He had been President of Hampden-Sidney College from 1796 to 1807, was closely connected with Rev. Dr. John H. Rice and was brother-in-law to Rev. Dr. Benjamin H. Rice. A memorial service, held in the Seminary Chapel, was largely attended by the students of both institutions and by the people of the neighborhood. In my youth I knew many ministers who were prepared for their work under his hand, and from them heard a great deal of him. At college I studied his little work on Moral Science, and later read his interesting books on the Evidences of Christianity and on Religious Experience and his Biography by his son, Rev. James W. Alexander, D.D. I early formed the opinion that, all things considered, his life was the greatest blessing ever conferred on the Presbyterian Church in America and to-day, after wide observation, acquaintance, and experience, I see no reason to doubt the correctness of this judgment. In support of this opinion, I beg to narrate the fol- lowing incident:

In December, 1858, I became pastor of the Amelia Presbyterian Church. In the course of pastoral duty I came into touch with a family of excellent social position, consisting of an old gentleman, a widower and not a professing Christian; a widowed sister, and a niece, both intelligent Christian women, with the lovely, gentle manners characteristic of the women of that day. The brother and sister were both aged and the niece advanced in years. They were in comfortable circumstances, possessed of a good residence and farm, plenty of servants, carriage and horses and ample means. I was told that the old gentleman had been a wicked man, a disciple of Tom Paine and along with a coterie of like spirits from Amelia and the adjoining counties of Nottoway and Powhatan, would assemble on Saturdays at a point in the upper part of Amelia, which they named Paineville, for a day of carousal and profanity. In due time I called, was invited into the parlor, where the gentle-mannered Christian women soon joined me and gave me a hearty greeting. After a time, perhaps half an hour, the door opened and in walked the old gentleman, the embodiment of the best external features of an old time Virginia gentleman; tall, erect, broad-shouldered, snowy-white hair, an intelligent, benevolent countenance; attired in the olden style, — ruffled shirt bosom, blue broadcloth coat with brass buttons, as sumptuously gotten up as if in attendance on an imposing public function. His reception of me was dignified and polite, though at first somewhat restrained with the air of a man of the world, who wants to know you better before he lets himself into your confidence. Presently, however, it came out in conversation that I had been a student of Hampden-Sidney College. This greatly excited his interest and led to the announcement that he also was an alumnus of that institution, having been connected with the College during the administration of Dr. Archibald Alexander, of whom he spoke with warm admiration, and I thought, even with a tinge of affection. After this there was no let-up in the conversation. The ice had been broken and a tie established between us. We were both attached to the College and to the memory of Dr. Alexander. When I arose to say good-bye he took me cordially by the hand, expressed pleasure at having made my acquaintance, and invited me to call when I could.

As I rode home that evening a sense of serious responsibility oppressed me. Here was a man on the verge of eternity. From all accounts he had led a grossly wicked life. So far as I knew, no minister of the gospel had access to him or had ever conferred with him on the subject of his soul's salvation. He never attended church or left his plantation, except on election day when he would go to the polls in his carriage, cast his vote, and return to his home. We were now on such terms that I could approach him. The obligation rested on me. But I was young and inexperienced. He was old and dignified and possibly might be offended and treat such an effort as an intrusion. I thought about it; prayed over it. At last it occurred to me that possibly I might obtain the access I desired through the medium of a book. On going to my book-case, my eye soon discovered a copy of Alexander on "Religious Experience," which I took down and, writing a courteous note of presentation, said, that after he had read the volume, I should be glad, with his permission, to call and converse with him on its subject-matter at any time he might appoint. The volume and note were conveyed to him a few days after from church by his sister, and the next time she met me she said, "Brother ---------- asked me to tell you that he will be glad to see you any time it suits you to call. I do not know what that means, but that is what he said."

I did call in a few days, was received in the old gentleman's chamber, found him attired not in the lordly apparel of the former occasion but in his plain every-day clothes, and after a conversation of an hour, concluded with prayer, left him believing that he was a true penitent and an humble follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw him during the remainder of my brief pastorate in Amelia as often as my exacting duties would permit; and soon after I left, his death occurred. On my first visit to the county some months after his death, I was told that he had fully confessed Christ before men and in view of death spoke of me with affection and regret that I could not be with and minister to him. My present impression is that he was a Christian before I ever saw him, though he had not awaked to the consciousness of it.

It is a curious question, but worthy of thought and one which has frequently arisen in my mind: What is the connection between Dr. Alexander's life and this old gentleman's salvation? About sixty years intervened between their acquaintance at Hampden-Sidney and the time when he found peace in believing. May not Alexander's life, — something he said, something he did, his consistent Christian deportment, — have been instrumental in awakening the still small voice of conscience in that man's soul, which, palsied by a long course of sin, at last asserted itself and became a dominant force in bringing him, a humble, contrite sinner to the foot of the Cross. God knows! Let every Christian be careful so to direct his course in the world that his influence will be felt in winning men to God." 

Directions for Observance of the Lord's Day

In his Brief Compend of Bible Truth (1846), pp. 191-193, Archibald Alexander gives five directions to guide the Christian in the proper observance of the Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath, which merit repeating today. 

"1. Let the whole day be consecrated to the service of God, especially in acts of worship, public and private. This weekly recess from worldly cares and avocations, affords a precious opportunity for the study of God's word, and for the examination of our own hearts. Rise early, and let your first thoughts and aspirations be directed to heaven. Meditate much and profoundly on divine things, and endeavour to acquire a degree of spirituality on this day which will abide with you through the whole week.

2. Consider the Lord's day an honour and delight. Let your heart be elevated in holy joy, and your lips be employed in the high praises of God. This day more resembles heaven, than any other portion of our time; and we should endeavour to imitate the worship of heaven, according to that petition of the Lord's prayer — 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Never permit the idea to enter your mind, that the sabbath is a burden. It is a sad case, when professing Christians are weary of this sacred rest, and say, like some of old,  'When will the sabbath be gone, that we may sell corn, and set forth wheat?' As you improve this day, so probably will you be prospered all the week.

3. Avoid undue rigour, and Pharisaic scrupulosity; for nothing renders the Lord's day more odious. Still keep in view the great end of its institution; and remember that the sabbath was instituted for the benefit of man, and not to be a galling yoke. The cessation from worldly business and labour is not for its own sake, as if there was any thing morally good in inaction, but we are called off from secular pursuits on this day, that we may have a portion of our time to devote uninterruptedly to the worship of God. Let every thing then be so arranged in your household, beforehand, that there may be no interruption to religious duties, and to attendance on the means of grace. There was undoubtedly a rigour in the law of the sabbath, as given to the Jews, which did not exist before; and which does not apply to Christians. They were forbidden to kindle a fire, or to go out of their place on the sabbath; and for gathering a few sticks, a presumptuous transgressor was stoned to death. These regulations are not now in force.

As divine knowledge is the richest acquisition within our reach, and as this knowledge is to be found in the word of God, let us value this day, as affording all persons an opportunity of hearing and reading the word. And as the fourth commandment requires the heads of families to cause the sabbath to be observed by all under their control, or within their gates, it is very important that domestic and culinary arrangements should be so ordered, that servants and domestics should not be deprived of the opportunity of attending on the word and worship of God which this day affords, by being employed in preparing superfluous feasts, as is often the case. The sabbath is more valuable to the poor and unlearned than to others, because it is almost the only leisure which they have, and because means of public instruction are on that day afforded them by the preaching of the gospel. If we possess any measure of the true spirit of devotion, this sacred day will be most welcome to our hearts; and we will rejoice when they say, 'Let us go unto the house of the Lord.' To such a soul, the opportunity of enjoying spiritual communion with God will be valued above all price, and be esteemed as the richest privilege which creatures can enjoy upon earth.

4. Whilst you conscientiously follow your own sense of duty in the observance of the rest of the sabbath, be not ready to censure all who may differ from you in regard to minute particulars, which are not prescribed or commanded in the word of God. The Jews accused our Lord as a sabbath-breaker, on many occasions, and would have put him to death for a supposed violation of this law, had he not escaped out of their hands. Beware of indulging yourself in any practice which may have the effect of leading others to disregard the rest and sanctity of the sabbath. Let not your liberty in regard to what you think may be done, be a stumblingblock to cause weaker brethren to offend, or unnecessarily to give them pain, or to lead them to entertain an unfavourable opinion of your piety.

5. As, undoubtedly, the celebration of public worship and gaining divine instruction from the divine oracles, is the main object of the institution of the Christian sabbath, let all be careful to attend on the services of the sanctuary on this day. And let the heart be prepared by previous prayer and meditation for a participation in public worship, and while in the more immediate presence of the Divine Majesty, let all the people fear before him, and with reverence adore and praise his holy name. Let all vanity, and curious gazing, and slothfulness, be banished from the house of God. Let every heart be lifted up on entering the sanctuary, and let the thoughts be carefully restrained from wandering on foolish or worldly objects, and resolutely recalled when they have begun to go astray. Let brotherly love be cherished, when joining with others in the worship of God."

Ruth the Moabitess

The life of Ruth the Moabitess, the great-grandmother of King David, has lessons that are instructive for us today. Archibald Alexander once wrote a tract that is little-known today titled Ruth the Moabitess, or The Power of True Religion, in which he sets forth some of those lessons for our consideration. 

"1. The power of true religion appears in making persons willing to abandon all idolatry, and all false notions and corrupt institutions of religion, in which they have been educated, or to which by inclination they may have been attached....Ruth the Moabitess was brought up an idolater, no doubt, but sovereign grace had touched her heart. By hearing she had been brought to believe, and under the influence of this new principle she turns her back on all the false deities which she had been accustomed to revere, and says to a pious Israelite, 'Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.'...

2. The power of religion is manifest in making persons willing to forsake their nearest and dearest earthly relatives, when their duty to their God and Saviour requires it. Those ties which bind men together are often so strong that they will lay down their lives for the preservation of those who are nearly related to them. But the love of Christ is stronger than all natural affections—stronger than the love of life itself. If our Lord had not known the power of his religion, he would never had laid down such terms of discipleship, as to forsake father and mother, wife and children, houses and land, yea our own life for his sake....

3. The power of true religion is again manifest in leading its votaries to choose the service of God, and the people of God, although the choice is in direct opposition to natural inclinations and worldly interests, and even though poverty and affliction should be the inevitable consequence. This is a good description of true religion. It consists in the deliberate choice of God as our God, and of his people as our people. They who make this choice have been divinely illuminated. Of all such it may truly be said, 'flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto them, but their Father who is in heaven.'...

4. The power of true religion is remarkably manifest in this, that it enables its possessor to stand firm when others turn back. When religion flourishes, there will be some who profess to follow Christ, and yet have no root in them. The blessed Saviour most strikingly characterizes them by the seed sown on a rock, which, though it quickly sprung up, soon withered away. During Christ's ministry, many followed him for a season,—but they were led on by low and selfish motives. And when their carnal expectations were disappointed, they would proceed no further, but 'went back from him.' Thus it was in the apostolic churches; some of high professions and high standing fell away. But the foundation of God is immovable, for the 'Lord knoweth them that are his.' 'They went out from us because they were not of us.' These are sifting times. Satan is ready to suggest to the sincere disciple, 'you may as well follow the example,' and for a moment the pious soul may be ready to slide, while he sees those apostatising of whose piety he had entertained a much more exalted opinion than of his own. But there is in him an imperishable seed, and he cannot sin deliberately. No, his heart is fixed, and however many may draw back unto perdition, his resolution becomes stronger; like the oak shaken by the storm he takes firmer root....

5. The power of religion appears, not only in resolving and choosing, but more especially in acting and enduring. Ruth goes to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. The whole town is moved on their arrival, 'And they said, Is this Naomi?' And she said, 'Call me not Naomi, (which signifies pleasant) but call me Mara, (which signifies bitter) for the Almighty hath dealt bitterly with me.' Ruth is now in a strange land, and her mother-in-law being old, the burden of labour falls on her. The poor in Israel had a right by the law to the scattered stalks which the reapers left, and to every handful which they dropped, and to any sheaf which they forgot, and to what grew in the corners of the field. The poverty of these two widows is further evident, from the circumstance of Ruth's going out to glean after the reapers, from day to day. But she made no complaint. She cheerfully performed her duty, and patiently submitted to these humiliating circumstances."

Take up this short tract which has blessed others (as mentioned by J.W. Alexander in the biography he wrote of his father) and may its lessons and applications be a blessing to you, dear reader. 

Will the Saints Know Each Other in Heaven?

It is a question often asked by saints in mourning - will Christians know one another in heaven? It has been addressed by many theologians in the past, for example, by the German Reformer Martin Luther after the 1542 death of his daughter Magdalena; the English Puritan Thomas Watson in his Body of Divinity; the English Puritan Richard Baxter in The Saints' Everlasting Rest; and the Dutch Puritan Wilhelmus à Brakel in The Christian's Reasonable Service; to name a few

The American Presbyterian John Aspinwall Hodge (1831-1901), nephew of Charles Hodge, wrote a book-length volume on the subject, titled Recognition After Death (1889), to respond pastorally to the concerns of those with this common question. In this little book, he considers common objections to the idea that the saints will recognize each other in heaven. He also takes into account what it means for a man or woman, body and soul, to be made in the image of God, and how that which is immortal, spiritual and of good character is reflective of that image; he analyzes the phrase "Abraham's bosom," from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; he studies the implications of Christ's resurrection body as they relate to the recognition issue; and he discusses the methods of recognition, and how the ability to communicate is retained in heaven. 

Among his closing thoughts, he cites Archibald Alexander from his Thoughts on Religious Experience thus: "As here knowledge is acquired by the aid of instructors, why may not the same be the fact in heaven? What a delightful employment to the saints who have been drinking in the knowledge of God and his works for thousands of years to communicate instruction to the saints just arrived! How delightful to conduct the pilgrim, who has just finished his race, through the ever blooming bowers of paradise, and to introduce him to this and the other ancient believer, and to assist him to find out and recognize, among so great a multitude, old friends and earthly relatives. There need be no dispute about our knowing, in heaven, those whom we knew and loved here; for if there should be no faculty by which they could at once be recognized, yet by extended and familiar intercourse with the celestial inhabitants, it cannot be otherwise but that interesting discoveries will be made continually; and the unexpected recognition of old friends may be one of the sources of pleasure which will render heaven so pleasant."

This is a subject of great interest to many. Be sure to add this volume by John Aspinwall Hodge to your reading list. 

Princeton Studies for Your Reading Pleasure

From the original Log College (1723-1746) to the College of New Jersey (1746-1896) to Princeton University (1896-present) and to Princeton Theological Seminary (1812-present), we are developing here at Log College Press a wealth of resources for further study about the history and character of our namesake during its golden era. We owe a debt of gratitude to the fine folks at PTS today who have worked so diligently to make accessible so many works from their libraries through Internet Archive, from which many of the resources noted below are derived. 

Beginning, of course, with the companion books by Archibald Alexander, the first professor of Princeton Theological Seminary, Biographical Sketches of the Founder, and Principal Alumni of the Log College (Alexander wrote: "It may with truth be said, that the Log College was the germ from which proceeded the flourishing College of New Jersey") and Sermons of the Log College (not forgetting also his inaugural sermon at the College in 1812 and other related works), one may learn about the Log College founded by William Tennant, Sr. 

His son, Samuel Davies Alexander, also wrote a useful volume titled Princeton College During the Eighteenth Century (1872), and a smaller work, Princeton College, Illustrated (1877).

Samuel Miller, the second professor installed at Princeton Theological Seminary, published A Brief History of the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton, New Jersey, Together With Its Constitution, By-Laws, &c (1837), and who can forget his famous "Able and Faithful Ministry" inauguration sermon for Archibald Alexander in 1812? It was Miller who laid out one of the primary goals of the seminary: "It is to unite, in those who shall sustain the ministerial office, religion and literature; that piety of the heart, which is the fruit only of the renewing and sanctifying grace of God, with solid learning: believing that religion without learning, or learning without religion, in the ministers of the Gospel, must ultimately prove injurious to the Church.

Thomas Murphy's The Presbytery of the Log College; or, The Cradle of the Presbyterian Church in America is another excellent place to begin by examining Princeton's roots, and growth into the 19th century. 

William Armstrong Dod wrote a History of the College of New Jersey from the period of 1746 to 1783; as did John Maclean, the college's 10th president, in two volumes, spanning 1746 to 1854. Both men are buried at Princeton Cemetery. 

John Thomas Duffield published The Princeton Pulpit in 1852, which is a fine collection of notable Princeton sermons. Charles Hodge's Princeton Sermons are available to read here, as is B.B. Warfield's inaugural address at Princeton. There is also a wonderful compilation of Princeton Sermons published in 1893. We have William Henry Green's inaugural discourse, as well as the celebration of the 50th anniversary of his tenure on the faculty of Princeton, which coincided with the sesquicentennial of the college (1896).

John DeWitt, an alumni from the Class of 1861, published Princeton College Administrations in the Nineteenth Century as well as The Planting of Princeton College, both in 1897.

Charles Adamson Salmond, another Princeton alumni, wrote the most remarkable work Princetoniana: Charles & A.A. Hodge: With Class and Table Talk of Hodge the Younger, from the perspective of "a Scottish Princetonian." 

Our library is growing. If this topic interests you, please click on the author links above. We have catalogued many more secondary resources about Princeton here. We are thankful for the "able and faithful ministry" of the Princeton men, and the books we have identified here are a great way to introduce yourself to them. 

The Story of the Original Log College

Founded c. 1726, by William Tennent, Sr., (1673-1746), who saw the great for theological training in America, the story of the original Log College, which was the antecedent to the College of New Jersey / Princeton University, and the Log College Men, is a story that we think our readers will enjoy as much as we do here at Log College Press. It was the first seminary to serve Presbyterians in North America, and its alumni played important roles in the Great Awakening, the Old Side-New Side Controversy, and in the theological training of ministers for generations. The story in all its branches is bigger than can be told here, but we have the resources to help our readers dig further into it themselves.

For the first telling of this story, we look to Archibald Alexander, whose Biographical Sketches of the Founder, and Principal Alumni of the Log College, explains how the Log College was founded, and outlines the lives of the Log College Men, men such as William Tennent, Jr., Gilbert Tennent, and Samuel Davies, among others . Of these ministers, Alexander said it well: "These men may be said to have lived fast. They did much for their Lord in a short time. Being burning as well as shining lights, they were themselves consumed, while they gave light to others. Oh, that a race of ministers, like-minded, burning with a consuming zeal, might be raised up among us!" For more specimens of the writings of these Log College Men, see also, his Sermons and Essays of the Tennents and Their Contemporaries, which was published posthumously by S.D. Alexander, and has since come to be known as Sermons of the Log College

For another valuable resource, turn to Thomas Murphy's The Presbytery of the Log College; or, The Cradle of the Presbyterian Church in America. Among the many details of the story to be gleaned here is a tribute to Catharine Tennent, née Kennedy, who Murphy describes as "the real founder of the Log College." Murphy, like Catharine, came from Ireland (as indeed did Francis Makemie, the first Presbyterian minister in America), and like her as well embraced the Presbyterian cause in America. The support she gave to the cause is worthy of remembrance. The scope of the Log College story first told by Alexander is greatly expanded in Murphy's work. 

These three volumes combine to tell a story not merely of a theological school derisively termed "the Log College," but also of men who sacrificed much and gave of themselves to the ministry of the Lord in colonial America, on whose shoulders we stand today. 

Have You Read Archibald Alexander's Preface to Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary?

Have you read Archibald Alexander's (1772-1851) preface to the first American edition of Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary? First published in 1828, it is both a wonderful introduction to a most excellent commentary on the Word of God ("as long as the English language shall remain unchanged, Henry's Exposition will be highly appreciated by the lovers of true religion"), and also is in itself a guide to what characteristics are most desirable to find in a good Bible Commentary: "perspicuity and conciseness...vivacity...felicity and frequency with which the text, at any time under consideration, is elucidated by parallel passages." As Alexander takes us through the genius and piety of Matthew Henry's great commentary, we are guided in the method by which the reader can make most use of this valuable expository and practical tool, and thus become more deeply enriched by the treasury of God's Word. As we consider the work of Henry and as we approach the Word of God, we must in humility concur with Alexander who says, "Let God have the glory of every invention, of every gift, and of every work, by which the progress and diffusion of truth are promoted or facilitated; and let all that is said in praise of men, be so spoken, as to redound to the honour and glory of the Triune God!—Amen."

Even presuppositionalists need to be familiar with Alexander's "Evidences"

Sticking with the Princeton theme of this week, we've recently posted Archibald Alexander's Evidences of the Christian Religion (1832). Not every modern Presbyterian will agree with his approach (although check out Paul Helseth's "Right Reason" and the Princeton Mind for an "unorthodox proposal" regarding the Princetonian apologetic), but every stripe of apologist needs to be familiar with the external and internal evidences for Christianity. Alexander's book, though written for a different era, still has much to teach Christians (and non-Christians!) today.

What did an aged Archibald Alexander want to say to the young people in his life?

Log College Press exists to bring back to the church's memory books like this: Archibald Alexander's Counsels of the Aged to the Young (1852). Far too often, younger generations could care less what older generations have to say. But the wise man or woman takes the experience and advice of the aged to heart. Alexander's book was highly regarded in his own day, and it should be remembered in our day.

Here is Alexander's introduction:

It is a matter of serious regret, that young persons are commonly so little disposed to listen to the advice of the aged. This prejudice seems to have its origin in an apprehension, that austerity and rigour naturally belong to advanced years; and that the loss of all susceptibility of pleasure from those scenes and objects which afford delight to the young produces something of an ill-natured or envious feeling towards them. Now, it cannot be denied, that some of the aged are chargeable with the fault of being too rigid in exacting from youth the same steady gravity, which is becoming in those who have lived long, and have had much experience in the world; not remembering that the constitutional temperament of these two periods of human life is very different. In youth, the spirits are buoyant, the susceptibilities lively, the affections ardent, and the hopes sanguine. To the young, every thing in the world wears the garb of freshness; and the novelty and variety of the scenes presented keep up a constant excitement. These traits of youthful character, as long as irregularity and excess are avoided, are not only allowable, but amiable; and would in that age be badly exchanged for the more sedate and grave emotions which are the natural effects of increasing years, and of long and painful experience. But it is greatly to be desired, that the lessons of wisdom taught by the experience of one set of men should be made available to the instruction of those who come after them. We have, therefore, determined to address a few short hints of advice to the rising generation, on subjects of deep and acknowledged importance to all ; but previously to commencing, we would assure them, that it is no part of our object to interfere with their innocent enjoyments, or to deprive them of one pleasure which cannot be shown to be injurious to their best interests. We wish to approach you, dear youth, in the character of affectionate friends, rather than in that of dogmatical teachers or stern reprovers. We would therefore, solicit your patient, candid and impartial attention to the following counsels...

Tolle lege - take and read! 

What did 19th century Presbyterians think about the canon of Scripture? Here are two sources.

The topic of the canon of Scripture is always interesting and difficult for Christians. We must remember, however, that we are not the first to ask questions about the canon. In the 19th century, Archibald Alexander and Francis Smith Sampson each wrote on the topic of canon. Alexander wrote a book entitled The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained, or The Bible Complete without the Apocrypha and Unwritten Traditions (1851), and Sampson gave two lectures on "The Authority of the Sacred Canon and the Integrity of the Sacred Text."  Undoubtedly, the way we approach this question has changed since the mid-1800s. But there is bound to be wisdom and insight we can glean from these fathers in the faith.

Two tracts by Archibald Alexander

The 19th century saw the publication of a large number of tracts and pamphlets. We hope to find as many of those as possible for the Log College Press website. Two are found on Archibald Alexander's page - "Christ's Gracious Invitation" (printed "for the soldiers" in 1861) and "Love to An Unseen Savior" (printed by the Evangelical Tract Society in 1863). Prepare for the Lord's Day and grow in your boldness as you witness to the lost. 

Two for one - Archibald Alexander's Systematic Theology lecture notes - written down by Charles Hodge!

What would it have been like to sit in Archibald Alexander's class on Systematic Theology in the early days of Princeton Theological Seminary? Fortunately, Princeton has scanned in Charles Hodge's notes from that class - just think, if you had been sitting next to Charles Hodge and snuck a peak at his notes, this is what would you have seen. It's a remarkable thing that we have these, but I'm sure there are many other manuscripts of classroom lecture notes (and professors' lectures!) holed away in archives around the country. If you know of any others that are accessible online, please let us know! 

The Practical Writings of Archibald Alexander

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) was an academic: nine years the President of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, and thirty-nine years the first Professor of Princeton Theological Seminary. But he was also an author that aimed to take his great learning and bring it down to the level of the people. One of the last volumes he published in his lifetime (Practical Sermons, 1850) , and a volume published posthumously (Practical Truths, 1857), are proof. The former was written for families to use in family worship, and the latter was a "Collected Writings" that contained "about forty articles written by Dr. Alexander in the latter years of his life, for the American Messenger; seven standard Tracts on high evangelical themes, for the Tract Society's general series; six small books written in simple style, and issued in large type, to gain the attention of common readers; selections from his cheering correspondence with the Society, and brief sketches of his life and character" (from the Preface).