Charles Hodge [1797-1898], an American Presbyterian theologian, was ordained in 1821, and taught at Princeton for almost his whole life. In 1825 he founded the Biblical Repository and Princeton Review, and during forty years was its editor, and the principal contributor to its pages. In 1840 Dr. Hodge was transferred to the chair of didactic theology, retaining still, however, the department of New Testament exegesis, the duties of which he continued to discharge until his death. He writes:
Paul, in writing to Titus, speaking of Christians before their conversion, says: “They were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior, that, being justified by grace, we should be heirs according to the promise, of eternal life.” They, therefore, labored for the reformation and salvation of men, by going everywhere preaching Christ as the only Savior from sin.
What Christianity was in the hearts of the apostles, it has been in the hearts of Christians of all ages, and in all parts of the world. Of this, every Christian has the evidence in his own experience. Christ is to him both God and man-God manifest in the flesh; God surrounded by the rainbow of humanity, which softens, diversifies, and beautifies his rays. Christ he worships, trusts, loves, and obeys. Christ is his wisdom, his righteousness, his sanctification, his redemption. Christ is ever near him, so that he can be spoken to, appealed to, and communed with; a present help in every time of need. Christ is the Christian’s portion for time and for eternity. With Christ he has everything, and without him he has nothing.
The experience of one Christian is the experience of all. This is the conscious bond of their union. The hymns which live through all ages are hymns of praise to Christ. All Protestants can join with St. Bernard, when he says:
“Jesus, the very thought of Thee,
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.
When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then light begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart;
Then kindles love divine.
Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize shalt be;
Jesus, be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.”
(“Christianity without Christ”)