Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

22 June 1878 AD. Princeton Hushed & Silent: Prof. Charles Hodge's Funeral

22 June 1878 AD.  Princeton hushed for funeral of Mr. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) Charles Hodge, the leading 19th century theologian.  Every store and shop suspended all business in Princeton for the day.

Dr. Rusten tells the story.  Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. The One Year Christian History. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. Available at:

Charles Hodge was born in Philadelphia to an Army Surgeon in 1797.  The father died in Hodge’s youth.  His mother reared him on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

While at Princeton College in the winter of 1814-15, he confessed, confirmed and affirmed his faith.  After graduating from the College, he crossed the street and attended Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS).  He received his degree in 1819, became an instructor in Biblical languages in 1820, and remained at PTS the rest of his life.

58 years later, 22 June 1878, was the day of the funeral.  PTS’s giant had fallen and rested in Jesus.

3000 students had passed through his courses.  1000s had heard Prof. Hodge’s sermons.  And 10s of 1000s read his writings. 

In 1971, my own father—a wise and godly man—handed me Prof. Hodge’s 3-volume Systematic Theology and said, “Son, read 10 pages/day and 10 chapters of the OT and 10 chapters of the NT per day.  Do this and you’ll learn much.”  What did I know?  I’d never read a systematic in 1971.  But, I took Dad’s counsel and did that.  One book led to another and another and another.   By the time of REC’s Laud Leo’s lectures in systematics (or really, his literally robotic reading, nearwise literally, of Berkhof), I was attending, listening, but was—ahem—a bit beyond Mr. Riches or at least where he was.  How could that be?  Well, it was. He’s now a TFO (Tracto-friendly operative) while we remained Reformed, but we digress.

Prof. Hodge wrote over 5000 pages for the Biblical Repertoire, later called The Princeton Review, a publication that Prof. Hodge started. The 3-volume ST is still a standard.

But, perhaps his greatest legacy was the 3000 students and, through them, the 1000s affected by them—church leaders, pastors, congregations, missionaries, college professors and other faculty members.

A tradition emerged at PTS c. 1868 and continued each year till the Prof.’s death. Out front, after the benediction, the graduating class would encircle the Godly Professor.  The would sing several verses of “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.”  After that, they would tighten the circle, arm around their fellow graduate, still encircling the Professor, and sing “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds” followed by the “Doxology.”  The Professor would offer another closing prayer. This much, the beloved Professor was a titan and hero to younger Churchmen.

One former student gave the funeral address said, “When  due allowance is made for his intellect and learning…his chief power was his goodness.  Christ enshrined in his heart was the center of his theology and life.  The world would write upon his monument GREAT; but we, his students, will write it GOOD.”

Every shop and business closed operations on that day.  The funeral procession of the great Princetonian moved slowly down Witherspoon St. 

His sons laid him in a grave next to the wife of his youth.  They read what their father said at the mother’s funeral.  Charles Hodge said when he buried his wife, “We lay you gently here, our best beloved, to gather strength and beauty for the coming of the Lord.” 

Appropriate for the wife and mother and repeated for the father…but also, appropriate for the Great General and Field Marshall in Israel.

Lest we forget.


Calhoun. Princeton Seminary. 2: 47-62.

Shelly, Bruce. “Hodge, Charles (1797-1878).” NIDCC. 473-4.

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