A Gem From Charles Hodge

Just as the Apostle Paul speaks of a distinction between "godly sorrow" and "sorrow of the world" (2 Cor. 7:10), so a distinction can be made between Christian humility and secular or worldly humility. The latter is often portrayed as a virtue that characterizes the good man considered in himself; the former acknowledges the good gifts in a believer in a manner which exalts the grace of God, as Paul does in 1 Cor. 15:10, when he says "...but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." 

Charles Hodge in his Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 318, helps to flesh out the reality of our cooperation with the grace of God and how that squares with the principles that all good in us is to be ascribed wholly to the grace of God: "Yet not I, i.e. the fact that I laboured so abundantly is not to be referred to me; I was not the labourer — but the grace which was with me....In the one case grace is represented as co-operating with the apostle; in the other, the apostle loses sight of himself entirely, and ascribes every thing to grace. 'It was not I, but the grace of God.' Theologically, there is no difference in these different modes of statement.... True, he did co-operate with the grace of God, but this co-operation was due to grace — so that with the strictest propriety he could say, 'Not I, but the grace of God.'"

Hodge further gives us a definition (p. 317) that is worthy to meditate upon: "Christian humility does not consist in denying what there is of good in us; but in an abiding sense of ill-desert, and in the consciousness that what we have of good is due to the grace of God."

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

Charles Hodge Entered Glory

It was on June 19, 1878, at the age of 80, that Charles Hodge, the great principal and professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, entered into glory. This writer was privileged to stand at his grave today (June 19, 2018), 140 years later, on the anniversary of his passing. 

His son, A.A. Hodge, closed the biography he wrote of his father's life with a poem by Anson Davies Fitz Randolph, which comes to mind now: 


A Prince, wise, valiant, just, and yet benign;
His own will free, and still by law controlled:
No King, with armaments and fleets untold,
Such mastery had with purpose so divine,
O'er unseen forces active and malign.
He fought th' invisible spirits of the air,
Nor for himself alone, but for his race,
And men grew wiser, better, unaware
That he in silence, by his faith and prayer
Saved their beleaguered souls. Spirit of Grace
Who in him wrought, and held him in the strife.
We give Thee thanks that Thou didst him ordain
Unto a work wherein no act is vain.
And death but longer makes the service and the life.

A. D. F. R

Sabbath Afternoon Conferences

In keeping with the Puritan practice of "godly conference," grounded on 1 Cor. 14.29-31 and 1 Thess. 5.20, there were Sabbath afternoon conferences at Princeton Theological Seminary, "in which [those involved] talk[ed] over together the blessed promises of our God, and seek[ed] to learn better his will for the ordering of our lives" (Robert Jefferson Breckinridge, quoted in David B. Calhoun, Princeton Seminary: Faith and Learning, Vol. 2, p. 126). 

After Archibald Alexander and Samuel Miller, the tradition was continued by Charles Hodge. We have his Conference Papers (1879), which, according to Francis Patton, "are simply the theology of the lecture room thrown into homiletic form, with rich and precious application to Christian experience" (Francis Landey Patton, "Charles Hodge," The Princeton Review Vol. 1, No. 6 (1886), quoted in James M. Garrettson, ed., Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton: Memorial Addresses for the Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary, 1812-1921, p. 303). 

Hodge's "favorite pupil," William Irvin, had this to say about the Sabbath afternoon conferences led by Hodge:

"No triumph of his with tongue or pen ever so thrilled and moved human hearts as did his utterances at the Sabbath afternoon conferences in the Seminary Oratory, which will live in the immortal memory of every Princeton student. A subject would be given out on the Sunday before, generally some one which involved practical, experimental, spiritual religion—such as Christian fidelity, love of God's word, prayer, the Lord's Supper, the great commission. After brief opening services by the students, the Professors spoke in turn; but Dr. Hodge's was the voice which all waited to hear. Sitting quietly in his chair, with a simple ease which seemed born of the moment, but was really the fruit of careful preparation, even with the pen, he would pour out a tide of thought and feeling which moved and melted all—solemn, searching, touching, tender—his eye sometimes kindling and his voice swelling or trembling with the force of sacred emotion, while thought and language at times rose to a grandeur which held us spellbound. Few went away from those consecrated meetings without feeling in their hearts that there was nothing good and pure and noble in Christian character which he who would be a worthy minister of Christ ought not to covet for his own" (A.A. Hodge, The Life of Charles Hodge, p. 459).

These conference papers are a spiritual treasure indeed. Download them now for future Sabbath afternoon reading and meditation. 

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 19th Century Debate over Unlawful Marriages

Among the debates that became prominent during the 19th century American Presbyterian (and Reformed) churches was the debate over what restrictions the Bible taught concerning relations of affinity and consanguinity within marriage. 

The Westminster Confession (24:4., 1646) states: 

"IV. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man, or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together, as man and wife. The man may not marry any of his wife's kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own, nor the woman of her husband's kindred nearer in blood than of her own."

The annotations of the Dutch Statenvertaling Bible, authorized by the Great Synod of Dort, on Leviticus 18:16, 18 also show the view of the Dutch Reformed Church, which was consistent with Westminster.

However, this particular understanding of the Levitical laws regarding marriage (the Westminster Assembly's proof-texts include New Testament passages as well as those from the book of Leviticus), has been often challenged in the years since. 

"When Samuel Miller was examined for licensure and ordination he took exception to the affinity sentence [WCF 24:4], but later in his ministry his view changed and he became convinced of the accuracy of the sentence." (Barry Waugh, The History of a Confessional Sentence: The Events Leading up to the Inclusion o f the Affinity Sentence in the Westminster Confession o f Faith, Chapter 24, Section 4, and the Judicial History Contributing to its Removal in the American Presbyterian Church, 2002 Ph.D., p. 274) Dr. Waugh notes the inclusion of two particular volumes contained in Samuel Miller's library after his death, which shed light on Miller's thinking on this matter. In a footnote on p. 111 of Dr. Waugh's most helpful dissertation, he writes: "Dr. Miller maintained some interest in the issues of marital affinity because the inventory of his library following his death revealed two near-kin titles. One book is Janeway’s, Unlawful Marriage, 1843, and the other is an 1816 work described as a Dissertation on Marrying a Wife's Sister, which may be Livingston’s A Dissertation on the Marriage of a Man with His Sister in Law (New Brunswick: Deare & Myer, 1816). See: Samuel Miller, “Catalogue, As Found at his Death,” PTSEM 1:3, pp. 2, 35."

Jacob Jones Janeway (1774-1858), in fact, studied under John Henry Livingston (1746-1825), who was not strictly speaking a Presbyterian, but was a leader of the Dutch Reformed Church in America. Janeway notes in the introduction to his book that the Dutch Reformed Church rescinded the rule against marriage to a deceased wife's sister in 1842. Both men opposed the tide that was overtaking both the American Presbyterian Church and the Dutch Reformed Church in America. Charles Hodge (1797-1878) in his Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 413ff, and elsewhere, also argued likewise. 

Nevertheless, in 1886, the Presbyterian Church in the United States officially removed the affinity sentence from WCF 24:4. This revision was retained in the 1936 WCF by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and, later, by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). 

The works touching on this topic highlighted above can be read online at Log College Press. They provide a window not only into Samuel Miller's library, but also into a controversy that occupied many 19th century Presbyterian General Assemblies, and, though decided in certain branches of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches, continues to reverberate today. 

Happy Birthday, Charles Hodge!

Dr. Charles Hodge was born on December 27, 1797 (220 years ago today). He was one of the great leaders of the 19th century American Presbyterian church, and a very prolific writer. We continue to add works by him to Log College Press, among which are his commentaries on Romans, Ephesians and First and Second Corinthians. Less well-known, but very much worth reading still, are the study guides he prepared to go along with his commentaries on Romans and First Corinthians. Be sure to check out these works and more by a remarkable pastor-scholar. 

Charles Hodge on the way of life.

"It is one of the clearest principles of divine revelation, that holiness is the fruit of truth; and it is one of the plainest inferences from that principle, that the exhibition of the truth is the best means of promoting holiness. Christians regard the word of God as the only infallible teacher of those truths which relate to the salvation of men. But are the Scriptures really a revelation from God? If they are, what doctrines do they teach? And what influence should those doctrines exert on our heart and life?"

Thus begins The Way of Life (1841), by Charles Hodge. This book first establishes that the Scriptures are the very word of God, then that all men are sinners. After reflecting on the causes of the indifference of men to the charge of sin, and the way the Spirit convicts men of sin, Hodge covers justification, faith, repentance, the sacraments, and holiness. 

May the Lord continue to use Hodge's words to teach truth and promote holiness! 

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! 

Have you heard of these 19th century Presbyterian systematic theologies?

Most pastors and seminary students are aware of Charles Hodge's three volume Systematic TheologyIt is one of the most recognized works of the 19th century, and can be purchased here. But this set certainly was not the only systematic theology published by Presbyterians in the 19th century. Sometimes remembered are William Greenough Thayer Shedd's Dogmatic Theology (you can purchase the modern edition of this book here) and Robert Lewis Dabney's Systematic Theology (you can purchase the Banner of Truth reprint of this volume here). Very few people know that Robert Jefferson Breckinridge published a two volume systematic theology, entitled The Knowledge of God Objective Considered and The Knowledge of God Subjectively Considered

Older systematic theologies weren't asking all the same questions we ask today, of course - but that's a big reason why they are so helpful to use. They ask questions we don't even know we need to be asking. So the next time you're wrestling with a theological question, dip into one of these volumes and see what riches you might find.