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Giants of Old Princeton – Reviews by Barry Shucksmith

Category Book Reviews
Date November 9, 2012

Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1

In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the time, ‘Events, people, and thought are all given their place, and readers will be both instructed and gratified with the author’s thorough and balanced account.’ The same must be equally said of Dr James M. Garretson in this recent work, a truly worthy addition to numerous other Princeton titles published by the Trust.3

It would be a great mistake to think that Christian men of a previous generation, particularly men of high intellectual stature and sure Calvinistic persuasion have nothing to say to us today. The lives of great men of God are full of instruction and nourishment, and are singularly pertinent to our own needs and times. We lack such spiritual giants today. It is admirably right to be grateful to the Banner of Truth Trust for allowing us a window on their lives. Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, Samuel Miller, James Waddell Alexander, Joseph Addison Alexander, Henry Augustus Boardman, Archibald Alexander Hodge, Alexander Taggart M’Gill, James Clement Moffat, Caspar Wistar Hodge, William Henry Green, William Miller Paxton, and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, are the chief subjects. But one can learn also largely from the preachers and writers who deal with their subjects so effectively and warmly.

Basically, the sources are biographical, sermonic – including memorial addresses – as well as such contributions taken from magazines and periodicals. The sheer wealth of material is deeply impressive and comprehensively enriching.

Dr James Garretson, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, brings his selected items together in a thoroughly engaging manner. While some contributions are longer than others, the book is really a compendium allowing the reader to taste short extracts. The book can be put down, or ‘dipped into,’ as time allows. Some subjects are accompanied with a ‘pen portrait’; all have made major contributions to the historic reformed movement – some like the Hodges and B. B. Warfield still significantly drive the reformed movement forward in our own times. They knew what it was to come to terms with ‘the whole counsel of God.’

If we are pastor-teachers we can learn things old and new for our day. If we are elder-deacons our understanding will be focused on how to more effectively support a godly biblical ministry – being a pastor-teacher is the most difficult job on earth! As church members our love for Christ will be greatly stimulated. These men really knew God and lived close to him. They prayed and worked for the church to be glorious. They reveal to us a passion for souls, ambition for spiritual integrity, sanctified humanity, and a holy ambition to live for God’s glory in every respect. Although established in 1812, the Princeton history, theology, and experience is needed more than ever, to counteract the shoddy, superficial, and, sometimes, cowardly new evangelicalism of our Western world.

The closing words of the commemorative address on the death of Rev. Samuel Miller say it all.

Hold to your mind the transcendent beauty of a Christian life, and especially the placid triumph of a Christian death. Thus will it be good for you not only that Christ has died, but that the saints die also; for while, in the blood of the former your robes will be washed and made white, in the death of the latter you may catch some quickening view of immortal glory, as the heavens open to receive you.

A beautifully produced and economically priced hardback – to the usual high BOTT standards – accessible to the intelligent discerning reader. Highly commended as a single volume and also as an introduction for the larger two volume set, Princeton and the Work of the Christian Ministry.


Princeton and the Work of the Christian Ministry4

Those who have read Augustine, and perhaps have the works of Calvin, Turretin, the Hodges, and feed upon the Westminster Standards, will not need persuading to purchase these two outstanding volumes. Where else will you get 1350 pages of consistent, unabated, and scintillating material relevant to the work of the Christian minister? These books are fundamentally a collection of Addresses, Essays, and Articles by Faculty and Friends of Princeton Theological Seminary. The first volume opens with William Buell Sprague (1795-1876) and the second volume ends with Caspar Wistar Hodge (1970-1937).

These contributions are not locked in a time-capsule. The sinful human heart, the priority of rebirth, the complexity of living the Christian life, the need for sound ministry in pulpit and pew, and the Christian hope of life beyond the grave, call for faithful, biblical, and trusty application of biblical truth at all times. In one sense, this is all the Christian ministry is – expounding and applying Holy Scripture to the individual heart and to the gathered church, while keeping mission and outreach at a high level of prayerful and active engagement. Such subjects, dealt with here (Vol.1), as the Duty of the Church, The Nature of Christian Piety, The Cure of Souls, Pastoral Fidelity and Diligence, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, Preparing Candidates for the Ministry, The Duty of Catechetical Instruction, Why Sunday Schools?, Difficulties and Temptations in Preaching the Gospel in Great Cities, Evangelists and Missionaries, The Public Worship of God, Preparatory Study for the Ministry, Christ the Model of Gospel Ministers, The Duties, Benefits, and Proper Method of Religious Fasting, Revivals of Religion, and Christian Education, to mention a few, are always contemporary.

Similarly, (Volume 2) when did such subjects as Christ Crucified the Characteristic of Apostolic Preaching, The Lord Jesus Christ the Example of the Minister, The Scripture Doctrine of a Call to the Work of the Gospel Ministry, The Nature of the Atonement, The Teaching Office of the Church, Preaching the Gospel to the Poor, Faith in Christ the Source of Life, Christianity without Christ, Practical Theology, The Call to the Ministry, The Place of Doctrine as the Essential Ground of Practical Christianity, The Idea of Systematic Theology considered as a Science, What is Calvinism?, Christianity and Culture, Liberalism or Christianity, and The Significance of the Reformed Theology Today – cease to be relevant? These two volumes serve virtually as a reference library for some of the most up-to-date issues confronting us. There is much more that space does not allow me to mention.

These volumes are a rich treasure house and an investment which will repay a hundredfold. If the wise ministerial candidate has to wait a year or two to reach the Bible College of his choice, he could set himself the discipline of mastering these two splendid volumes. And not only is there an immediate effect. A spiritually-orthodox diversion will be inspired by following the lines of investigation raised by contributors and in drawing spiritual refreshment from the deep wells made available. Take, for example, as a line to be pursued and applied in our own day, Alexander Taggart M’Gill’s (1807-1889) comment on Practical Theology:

The greatest fault of Luther and Calvin’s age was the disparagement of practical theology; arising from the fact that such theology, in its perversion, had been everything of religion, under the darkness and tyranny from which they had just revolted. But for such a tacit disparagement, Luther would not have left his church burdened with ceremonies, benighted on the doctrine of a sacrament, and deformed with the most diversified accidents of polity and discipline. And, but for the same disparagement, though less incomparable, Calvin would not have left his, a mixture of form and opinion, so mottled, that presbytery and prelacy, charity, bigotry, and latitudinarianism, could have claimed, with any colour of right, the same denomination. The reaction of Popery punished the former; the troubles of Puritans punished the latter . . .

For the present reviewer – having faced a lifetime of liberalism in Anglican circles – hardly diminished in contemporary churches – I find J Gresham Machen’s contributions invaluable. He died the year I was born. Few writings have been more helpful than his analyses of Contemporary Culture and Liberal Theology. He features large in Volume 2 of this priceless set. Every minister (potential and serving) should have these volumes and local churches should help their ministers to acquire them. We shall long be in debt to Dr Garretson and the Banner of Truth Trust.

Notes

    • Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton

      Memorial Addresses for the Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary 1812-1921

      by James M. Garretson


      price $32.00 $28.80

      Description

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1 In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the […]

    • History of Princeton Theological Seminary

      Princeton Seminary

      Volume 1: Faith & Learning, 1812 - 1868

      by David Calhoun


      price $32.00 $28.80
      Avg. Rating
      Rated 5.00 out of 5

      Description

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1 In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the […]

    • History of Princeton Theological Seminary

      Princeton Seminary

      Volume 2: The Majestic Testimony, 1869 - 1929

      by David Calhoun


      price $30.00 $27.00

      Description

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1 In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the […]

In addition to the books under review here, and those cited above, see for example:

    • Princeton and Preaching

      Princeton and Preaching

      Archibald Alexander and the Christian Ministry

      by James M. Garretson


      price $28.00 $25.20
      Avg. Rating
      Rated 5.00 out of 5

      Description

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1 In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the […]

    • Book Cover for 'A Commentary on the Holy Bible'

      A Commentary on the Holy Bible

      Volume 1: Genesis-Job

      by Matthew Poole


      price $59.75 $53.78

      Description

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1 In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the […]

    • Princeton Sermons

      Princeton Sermons

      Outlines of Discourses, Doctrinal and Practical

      by Charles Hodge


      price $26.00 $23.40

      Description

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1 In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the […]

  1. Princeton v. The New Divinity – articles from the Biblical Repertory and Theological Review.
    • Life of Charles Hodge
      price $32.00 $28.80

      Description

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton 1 In 1994 and 1996 respectively, the Banner of Truth Trust published two magnificent volumes on the faith, learning, and majestic testimony of Princeton Seminary.2 Professor Calhoun’s work was highly commended by a number of outstanding scholars, including Bruce M. Metzger, Collard Professor of New Testament Emeritus. Metzger wrote at the […]

Rt Revd Dr J Barry Shucksmith Royal Navy (Rtd) is a reviewer for the English Churchman, in which his review of Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton was published in July 2012. Notes added.

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