Biography and History

Charles Hodge (Dec. 27, 1797 - June 19, 1878), theologian and leader in the Presbyterian Church, was born in Philadelphia, son of Dr. Hugh Hodge, a surgeon in the Continental Army and later in Philadelphia, and Mary Blanchard. Charles was educated at Princeton (Class of 1815) and went on to attend the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 1819. His training in theology, especially his instruction by Archibald Alexander, was later to shape his thought and life's work. He became an instructor at the seminary in 1820 and taught there all his life, except for two years of study in France and Germany (1826-1828). His subjects were Biblical and Oriental literature from 1822 to 1840, after which date he concentrated on theology.

Hodge was an extremely gifted teacher, able to arouse the minds of his students with his tools of clear analytical statement, strong certainty, solid learning, and knowledge of contemporary thought. However, his personal religion and piety were more powerful tools of instruction, as demonstrated by his famous Sunday afternoon conference addresses. His theology was centrally Calvinism, as purported by the Westminister divines, but also from other sources, notably Turretin. His theology was always deeply Biblical, and he held it unchanged, even in the face of disintegrating Calvinism (in America), altering conceptions of the Bible, and the emerging force of Darwinism. The theology he established at Princeton was a powerfully conservative force, not only in the Presbyterian Church, but also in other churches. He started in 1825 the publication that would come to be known as the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, which he edited for more than 40 years. In his essays contributed to it, he defended vigorously the Princeton theology, especially against that of Andover. His first book, A Commentary on the Epistle of the Romans, brought him high repute. His other works include The Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, commentaries on other Pauline epistles, The Way of Life, and finally his Systematic Theology, which had extensive circulation. Posthumously appeared Discussions in Church Polity, a book of much importance, and Conference Papers.

He held a commanding position in the Presbyterian Church through both active participation and his articles in the Review. He was moderator of the (Old School) General Assembly in 1846, as well as being on both the missionary and education boards. In the church schism of 1837, he supported division and argued against the New School views. Although rigid in his views, he was also tender-hearted and affectionate. In 1822, he married the great-grand-daughter of Benjamin Franklin, Sarah Bache, daughter of Dr. William Bache and Catharine Wistar. Two of their eight children, Archibald Alexander and Caspar Wistar, became professors at Princeton Theological Seminary. His first wife died in 1849, and in 1852 he married Mrs. Mary (Hunter) Stockton.

Source: From the finding aid for C0261