When Archibald Alexander was 40 years old, he became the first professor of Princeton Seminary. That was August 12, 1812. His inaugural address was based on John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures!” It is full of wise counsel. For example:
The student of sacred literature should be possessed of sincere and ardent piety. He should be. . . conscious of his own unsufficiency, but confident in the help of the Almighty. Indeed, when we consider the weakness of the human intellect, and the various prejudices and false impressions to which it is constantly liable, we must be convinced that without divine assistance, there is little hope of arriving at the knowledge of truth, or preserving it when acquired. He, who would understand the Scriptures, therefore, ought not to “lean to his own understanding,” but by continual and earnest prayer should look unto the “Father of lights,” from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift; and who hath promised to give wisdom to those who lack it, and ask for it.
A fourteen-year-old boy was leaning on the rail of the gallery enthralled by Alexander's address. His name was Charles Hodge. Alexander was 26 years his senior, but they were destined for an amazing relationship.
In 1813 Samuel Miller was elected to be the second professor of the new seminary. And in 1820 Charles Hodge, now 23, began to teach as an instructor. For 31 years these three men labored side by side in the preparation of men for the ministry. Hodge said that Alexander filled a gap left in his life by the early death of his own father.
The harmony of this team of scholars was astonishing. Charles Hodge's son, A. A. Hodge, said that they lived and worked together
in absolute singleness of mind, in simplicity and godly sincerity, in utter unselfishness and devotion to the common cause, in honour preferring one another. Truth and candour was the atmosphere they breathed; loyalty, brave and sweet, was the spirit of their lives.
This story moves me very deeply because that is what I want for the ministers and leaders of our church. Pray that the Lord will preserve (for 31 years?) the precious singleness of mind, the atmosphere of truth and candor, the spirit of courageous and sweet loyalty which already exists in our hearts.
United with you for the cause of God and truth,