Charles Hodge

I. Introduction

Charles Hodge was a leading nineteenth century theologian and has been described as one ably equipped to speak on any subject of his day.[1] And speak he did, he wrote almost one-hundred and fifty articles for Princeton’s Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review addressing most, if not every, major issue of his day. Since Hodge had to navigate many new issues uniquely allowed for by a diverse and youthful nation, he proves himself to be quite a commendable figure. However, Hodge was forced to comment on perhaps the most controversial issue in American history. The issue was the involuntary enslavement of Africans in the United States.

While commendation might be in order for his intellectual labors and broad ranging accomplishments, analysis and assessment of his position on the critical issue of slavery is equally pertinent for understanding Charles Hodge. Traditionally it has been the case that Hodge has been either scorned or venerated,[2] but the proposal of this paper suggests an understanding Hodge’s views of slavery reveal his evil and goodness, as well as an ultimate rejection of simplistic one-sided categorization. In this paper we will examine Charles Hodge’s understanding of the function of providence with regard to Scripture, humanity, church, and civil government, and how these issues shaped and influenced his views on slavery.

There are many issues inevitably raised in addressing highly sensitive and controversial concerns of the past. One example of these difficulties relative to our present concern is the unavoidable imposition of a contemporary ethic or theological ideology onto a past socio-intellectual landscape. Evaluating the issue of slavery in the nineteenth century through the lens of a contemporary ethic might produce an unhelpfully charged vigor inhibiting us from viewing the context as accurately as we might. On the other hand, the temptation of Calvinism seems to be a theological complacency which allows for gross injustices to take place from both within and without the Church. In the present paper we will seek to avoid both vices, while not denying a commitment to both traditional Reformed theology and at the same time abhorring the Reformed advocacy of slavery. For this dilemma Charles Hodge has left us with invaluable counsel equally helpful for understanding him as a person and the views he expressed: “Unmixed good or evil, however, in such a world as ours, remains a very rare thing.”[3]

II. The Human Person and Human Rights

Charles Hodge’s views of man were formed in the debates and discussions centering on the rise of evolutionary theory and the presence of optimistic views in theological anthropology. While Charles Hodge maintained an overall traditional Calvinist view of man, what is interesting is how that view was contextualized in the nineteenth century America. He did not hesitate to engage the scientist over the issues of the unity of mankind and the unity of mankind’s origin; however he did limit his engagement to “the logic and metaphysics of his [the scientist’s] speculation.”[4] Nor did he hesitate, consciously or unconsciously, to adopt much of the idioms and implicit consequences of Scottish philosophy’s view of man and his moral nature. These things taken together with the cruelty he observed through both the excesses of slavery and the utter physical devastation of the Civil War, Hodge’s milieu proves to be a very challenging one to discuss the nature of man and the nature of human rights.

Nearing the eve of the Civil War Hodge published a piece in the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review (BRPR) entitled “The Unity of Mankind.”[5] It was intended to be a review of a book published in 1859, which was “a summary of the conclusions at which the highest scientific authorities have arrived as to the unity of mankind.”[6] Although it was intended to be a review, it was also a chance for a position paper on the subject. This was characteristic of Hodge’s reviews, as they were often exercises in extended written reflection on a particular issue. In the beginning of the paper he set out a brief discussion of the relationship between science and theology. The two were to “pursue” their own “course independently yet harmoniously.”[7] Hodge did not feel comfortable with criticisms often launched from the scientists about the “narrow-mindedness of theologians” or with the presumptuousness of the scientists who were exclusive themselves, neglecting “moral and religious truths.”[8] This is a particularly revealing theme in much of Hodge’s work; he desired in all realms balanced dialogue.[9] And he demonstrated this by paying close attention to the detailed arguments of the scientists and critiquing them on their own ground and thereafter providing a theological perspective arguing that the bible endorsed man’s single origin.

The significance of Hodge’s paper “Unity of Mankind” lies in the fact that it demonstrated Hodge’s awareness of the discussions surrounding scientific accounts of racial diversity, yet he maintained mankind was a unity and shared the same origin. What he terms the “grand objection” against the theories of “diversity of species” amongst men was that they were “opposed to the authority of the Bible, and to the facts of our mental, moral, and spiritual nature.”[10] This is important because it was a twofold statement about epistemological authority and the nature of humans, including Africans. He earlier noted his awareness of the reasons issuing discussion over the unity and diversity of mankind. One of them was “apparently for the purpose of furnishing a satisfactory foundation for the perpetuity of African slaveholding.”[11] Hodge certainly advocated the humanity of the African, assuming he had a “mental, moral, and spiritual nature” combined with “the same organs, the same senses, the same instincts, the same faculties, the same understanding, will and conscience, the same capacity for religious culture.”[12] However, this does not entirely explain Hodge’s view.[13]

In 1836 Hodge published, for the first time, an extended reflection on slavery. This was the year slavery was to be readdressed at General Assembly. It was also the year before the abrogation of the Plan of Union (started in 1801) and the year prior to the Old School expulsion of “four Northern New School synods from the denomination” allegedly on “theological grounds, an event that led to the creation of two competing denominations.”[14] While there was a tendency for the Old School to be in some sense proslavery, and the New School to be in some sense abolitionist, this was not the underlying cause of division. George Marsden remarks, “the New School party itself was by no means united in support of immediate abolition” and additionally “the Northern Old School leaders who effected the division had only slight concern over the anti-slavery position found among New School adherents.”[15] According to E. Brooks Holifield, Presbyterians were not divided on the exclusive basis of theology or slavery, but also about “interdenominational voluntary societies, social reform, and the Plan of Union.”[16] This is important because it functions as the backdrop against which Charles Hodge’s most fierce writing on slavery was produced.

Hodge’s article was initiated with a desire to review the Unitarian moderate abolitionist William Ellery Channing’s book Slavery, but it ended up interacting less with Channing than it did with a generalized extremist view of abolitionism. The paper’s tone on the whole was a defensive one, it thoroughly defended that slavery was not a “malum in se,” an evil in itself. In the time of Jesus Christ, Hodge argued, “slavery in its worst forms prevailed over the whole world” and yet Jesus Christ did not denounce it but taught the “dignity, equality and destiny of men; by inculcating the principles of justice and love; and by leaving these principles to produce their legitimate effects.”[17] These effects were allegedly intended to improve the “condition of all classes of society.”[18] Utilizing this literal parallelism he understood the behavior of Jesus and the apostles to be paradigmatic for answering the slavery problem. On these grounds he challenged the radical abolitionist to question themselves as to whether they were truly “wiser, better, more courageous than Christ and his apostles.”[19]

Hodge used William Paley’s definition of slavery from his book Moral Philosophy, slavery was a “deprivation of personal liberty, [an] obligation of service at the discretion of another, and the transferable character of the authority and claim of service of the master.”[20] For the person enslaved, there involved a “loss of many of the rights which are commonly and properly called natural,” but this was not a problem for Hodge. Since Christ and the apostles proved themselves to not be social revolutionaries, the burden of proof rested on the shoulders of the abolitionist. Although Hodge would later argue (or in the case of the African, grant) during the Civil War that man is “endowed with a superior nature—with reason, freedom, morality, and immortality.”[21] Part of man’s superior nature is to be rational and free, and these two liberties were constrained in a significant way for enslaved Africans. Whatever the assault may have been on the African man’s natural rights and his actual positive endowment, the contention of the abolitionist could not override the “decisive” conduct of Jesus and the apostles. Slavery could never be considered “necessarily and universally sinful.”[22]

Hodge worked his way around the assault on man’s natural rights, by claiming that it was tolerable to refer to the slave as property because “the argument rests on the vagueness of the term property.”[23] Property, to Hodge, was essentially a “right of use” in harmony with the object’s nature. If the object were a horse, then the usage would have to be in harmony with the nature of the horse. If it were a tree, then the usage should be in harmony with a tree’s nature. In the case of slavery, man was to be used as property, but only insofar as it was done in harmony with man’s nature. There existed a reciprocal duty for all members of society to promote one another’s improvement in all aspects of life - “moral, intellectual, and physical.” The issue for Hodge was discovering “the proper method of effecting the removal of evil.” Because Hodge considered slavery in itself distinct from slavery with its concomitants, he assumed the possibility of eradicating those undesirable concomitants.[24] Allen Guelzo argues it was at this point that Hodge’s best argument was advanced against slavery.[25] Guelzo argues that since Hodge so strictly defined slavery in the abstract and distinguished the institution from its tendencies to manifest evil, he put the slaveholders in an inescapable bind. Slavery in the abstract and stripped of all its negatives was an impossibility itself. Whether this was Hodge’s intent or not, it certainly corresponded to his overarching convictions about the continual improvement of the slaves’ conditions. Hodge thought the elimination of slavery was only possible through the protection of slaves’ rights to family, permitting their ownership of property, and cultivating their intellectual, moral, and religious development. This was his long-term argument.

Man, even the African was made in the image of God and had rights. It was the duty of all of society to promote the mutual good of one another. It was unfortunate for the African slaves that while they were in a perpetual state of bondage, their children were subject to the same end. This was not due to a type of hereditary argument but on the basis of the “forms of society.” It was the forms of society that allowed for the continuation of slavery, and the gospel was to be applied only from within the forms. Christianity was not a revolutionary social project, but it was a system that promoted good and the inevitable eradication of evil.

Even though the main thrust of his energies in 1836 was directed towards thwarting the radical abolitionists’, he could still be interpreted somewhat ambivalently. Hodge’s arguments were never one-sided enough to prevent him from claiming consistency in retrospect.

III. Scripture

Hodge’s literal parallelism was a hermeneutical decision employed to demonstrate that the behavior of Jesus and his apostles, with regard to slavery, was paradigmatic for his own contemporary context. When William Ellery Channing attempted to argue from vaguely biblical principles, similar to Hodge’s own understanding of the notion of property, Hodge rejected the methodology on the basis of his well articulated hermeneutic. He wrote:
It is our object, therefore, not to discuss the subject of slavery upon abstract rational principles, but to ascertain the scriptural rule of judgment and conduct in relation to it. We do not intend to enter upon any minute or extended examination of scriptural passages, because all that we wish to assume, as to the meaning of the word of God, is so generally admitted as to render the laboured proof of it unnecessary.[26]
This passage admits two things about Hodge. First, he did not believe overarching themes of the Bible could be literally applied to the institution of slavery. Secondly, he admitted of a common sense reading of the text, such that no “laboured proof” from Scripture was necessary. Only a straight forward interpretation of selected passages which seemingly had a direct bearing on slavery, was to be taken as authoritative. What is interesting about this move by Hodge is succinctly stated by Mark Noll, “American belief in Scripture was never as simple as believers in the Bible alone assumed.”[27] Hodge was a part of what is commonly called today an “interpretive community.” His community implicitly endorsed what Noll terms an “American literalism” and it was literal in the sense that it “privileged commonsense readings of scriptural texts.”[28] What was not exercised by Hodge and others of his day was a critical examination of the sources that informed and shaped their sensibilities when it came to interpreting Scripture.[29]

B. B. Warfield wrote a short piece on his teacher Charles Hodge for a volume put together by Charles’ son Archibald Alexander Hodge. In it he noted that:
He [C. Hodge] made no claim, again, to critical acumen; and in questions of textual criticism he constantly went astray. Hence it was that often texts were quoted to support doctrines of which they did not treat; and a meaning was sometimes extracted from a passage which it was far from bearing. But this affected details only, the general flow of thought in a passage he never failed to grasp, and few men could equal him in stating it.

From what I have written you will see that Dr. Hodge commanded my respect and admiration as an exegete, while at the same time I could not fail to recognize that this was not his forte. Even here he was the clear, analytical thinker, rather than a patient collector and weigher of detailed evidence. He was great here, but not at his greatest. Theology was his first love.[30]
Warfield, a student of Hodge, was in an ideal place to perceive and understand Hodge’s handling of Scripture. While Hodge was commended for his ability to synthesize and systematize, he was critiqued for his lack of ability to delve into meticulous intricacies of exegesis. Even though Hodge argued that theology was a science, and the Bible was to the theologian as nature was to the scientist, the finer details of a more nuanced interpretation of Scripture at a critical time in history escaped him.[31]

IV. The Church and Civil Government

As momentum increased towards the Civil War, tensions between the North and the South correspondingly increased. While Hodge’s arguments over slavery remained largely the same, resembling the content of his first essay “Slavery,”[32] he wrote his next landmark paper relative to our interests in 1851. It was a review of Moses Stewart’s Conscience and Constitution. [33] This was the year after the Compromise Measures of 1850. These were measures that attempted to establish some form of peace between the significantly divided North and South. The most controversial of the five points of the Compromise was the initiation of the Fugitive Slave Law. The law required citizens to help return escaped slaves to their owners. One historian notes that the “court-appointed federal commissioners who determined the fate of a captured Negro were paid twice as much for deciding that the black before them was a fugitive slave than for making the opposite ruling.”[34] This requirement and all its implications only stirred unrest in the North, especially amongst the abolitionists. This was the main issue Hodge pursued in his review of Moses Stuart.

In that paper he argued that “There is no more obvious duty, at the present time, resting on American Christians, ministers and people, than to endeavor to promote kind feelings between the South and the North.”[35] And to this end Hodge invested his energies. He argued “we ever maintained that the proper method” to oppose the abolitionists “was to exhibit clearly the falsehood of its one idea, viz: that slaveholding is a sin against God.”[36] Positioning himself, as was his method in past articles, he clearly distinguished his discussion from any connection with the abolitionists’ cause. But from there he exercised a thought experiment investigating “in what sense government is a divine institution” and also to “determine the nature and limits of the obedience which is due the laws of the land.”[37] What he concluded was nothing novel. The government was a divine institution in the sense that it was a power given by God. This power, similar to the church, was instituted by God and placed man “under obligation to recognize its existence, to join its ranks, and submit to its laws.”[38] On this view, the “laws of the land” became a “religious duty,” and “that disobedience is of the specific nature of sin.”[39] In turn compliance with the Fugitive Slave Act became a holy duty. Hodge knew this would bind the consciences of many, so he continued his logic by emphasizing God’s “universal providence.” It could not be disputed that a sovereign God was in charge of all things that come to pass, even in the realm of situating rulers. It did not matter whether the ruler was bad or good, he was situated in his very place and time by the “infinite intelligence” of God. What resulted was a sort of hermeneutic of providence, in which it was said “A good government is a blessing, a bad government is a judgment.”[40]

The foundation of this doctrine was asserted to be in the authority of God. By investing this conviction with the authority of God, not only did it bind the citizen to connect the two realms, but also brought to the fore of consciousness other things God had called the Christian to do in his Word. It was on this basis that Hodge would then allow, that no “human power can come between God and the conscience.” Hodge’s emphasis on the individual committed him to pointing out that “every man was responsible for his own sins, and therefore every man must have the right to determine for himself what is sin.”[41] This “right of judgment” he grounded in the life story of the biblical characters of Daniel and the apostles, and also noted that it “received the sanction of good men to every age of the world.”[42] The right of judgment led Hodge to consider the theoretical scenario, “What is the duty of private citizens….when the civil law either forbids them to do what God commands, or commands them to do what God forbids? We answer, their duty is not obedience, but submission.”[43] The distinction between obedience and submission, was to allow for civil dissent. If law binds you to something God or conscience would not let you otherwise do, then you must not obey that law but rather obey God and conscience and prepare to receive the legal consequence. This was his understanding of “submission.” While he admitted his views on Civil government in Conscience and Constitution were “elementary,” it is worthy to point out how well they coincide with his arguments on slavery. The basic principles of non-radicalism and accepting the social forms and structures of the day as instituted and designed by God, were to be received with all their particularities both good and bad.

This understanding of the government as a providential institution would become a critical part of his arguments in 1861 in his paper The State of the Country.[44] He argued that maintaining the union was a duty, a “moral bond.” Since the North and South were “bound together in covenants and oaths,” disunionists were bound to conflict with the opinion of God. Hodge’s metaphysics of national identity purported that the “immutable law of God, as expressed in nature, makes this territory assigned to the Anglo-Saxon race on this continent one nation.”[45] If disunion were to come, it would cause the “laws of nature” to respond by avenging themselves of “their violation” by “terrible disasters.”[46] Hodge was here exercising his hermeneutic of providence, which was not all that uncommon in his era. Mark Noll summarizes the era well, “Americans thought they could see clearly what the world was like, what God was like, what factors drove the world, who was responsible for events, and how the moral balance sheet could be read.”[47] Only in this context could Hodge assert an “organic” unity of the nation and anticipate natural law-like consequences resulting in their violation.

In next installment of the BRPR, Hodge reluctantly expected and assumed the disunited Country as fact, but his desire to maintain as much unity as possible pressed to him to ask “Must our church also be divided?”[48] Since “Union is the rule, separate organization is the exception.”[49] Hodge would not allow the church to be divided without a thorough argument against it. Early in the paper he called upon his readers to consider the possibilities for the Church’s testimony by remaining united in the midst of national and social upheaval. He argued there was no ecclesiastical reason for division. He was even willing to allow for keeping the slavery issue “as it is” so as to avoid any further difficulties. Hodge’s main concern was whether “our church may survive this conflict”[50] and despite his efforts, his pleas were rejected.

V. Providence and Slavery

By 1863 solemnity had fallen upon Hodge and the country. He wrote on the War with caution and reservation unmatched in his previous writings. Hodge critiqued the “legal spirit” which wanted to interpret Providence in terms of punishment and reward. Two years later, the year of Lincoln’s assassination, Hodge wrote an article on the President. He began the article with a discussion of the “scriptural doctrine of Providence.”[51] While guarding God and His goodness through affirming the efficiency of secondary causes, he also endeavored to comfort the American people with the knowledge that:
God, as an infinite and omnipresent spirit, is not a mere spectator of the world…but he is everywhere present, upholding all things by the word of this power, and controlling, guiding, and directing the action of second causes, so that all events occur according to the counsel of his will.[52]
Given the many tragedies surrounding this time Hodge’s footsteps were much lighter than usual. He admitted that the “interpretation of Divine providence is indeed often a matter of great difficulty and responsibility.”[53] He was therefore hesitant to forcefully impute guilt in the way he had in the past, as he did with the abolitionists. However, he did not shy away from attributing to the “authors of rebellion” the desire to extend and preserve “the system of African slavery.”[54] While Hodge became less enchanted with his proslavery brethren in the South, he became more assertive in identifying the evils of the Southern slave laws. Where he had once been overly reluctant to attribute any wrong to his Old School brothers in the South, the division of the country and church helped him towards ethical improvement. Little did he anticipate the trials of evil which slavery would bring would not only work towards the improvement of the slaves’ condition, but also serve as spiritual improvement for those advocating slavery.

Hodge’s views of slavery and providence changed only slightly over the course time. He let up only little in his stringent advocacy of slavery, only to move towards more readily identifying wrongs connected with it yet still distinguishable. His boldness in appealing to providential institutions and defending the structure of things as they were was eventually humbled through calamities of war. His desire to see peaceful static social structures was never fulfilled.

VI. Conclusion and Assessment

The difficulties Hodge faced are almost unfathomable to a present observer. Assessing him proves to be a much simpler task one and half centuries later. The decision Hodge made to be more critical of the abolitionists than he was of the slaveholders is quite revealing. But it should be kept in mind that the decisions he made were never simple and never without some acknowledged ‘positive’ long-term conviction. It is interesting to think about what or how Hodge might have argued had he been a slave and given the same intellectual capacities. Understanding his view of Providence and its geographical distribution might prove helpful in assessing him. He argued in 1865 that had he born in India or Africa, he would have been an idolater. Had he been born in Italy or Spain, a papist. Had he been “born and educated” in the South, he would “have acquiesced and defended it.”[55] For our purposes we may say, had Hodge been a slave, certainly the evils essentially connected with slavery, would have been much more transparent. Hodge’s wavering views and attempts to moderate relationships as broadly as possible left him to abandon those he viewed as inferior image bearers. Even if he acknowledged that inferiority was circumstantially conditioned, he allowed value judgments to come to expression in remembering the evils of radical abolitionism more than he did the evils of relentless oppression of Africans.

Hodge’s situation raises many challenges for those who would identify themselves with his legacy. There is the obvious challenge of defining the relationship between God’s providence and our place in the world. Simple answers to the effect of “God’s ordained it, so just accept it” expose themselves to be seriously loaded. William Barker raises the question of whether conservative Calvinism inhibits social progress.[56] This is not an altogether worthless question, since Calvinism, at least in recent times, coupled with a desire for static social structures seem to fit extremely well together. For those of us who want to affirm the truthfulness of the former (to differing degrees) and reject the latter when necessary, a tenability question surfaces. Why was it that Unitarians and New Schoolers, who tended to have optimistic views of man and questionable views of God, seemed to be more open to abolitionism? Historically considered, it appears that it has been much easier for the upper class elite to embrace stringent views of divine providence than it has been for people struggling in desperate social circumstances.

These issues are worth our time and warrant more attention than they have received in the past. We might say it is our duty, in the spirit of Charles Hodge, to look to have a Gospel-centered prophetic voice in a world that desperately needs Jesus Christ. Hodge wrote in 1836 that “If this war should burn into the national consciousness the conviction that what is wrong never can be expedient, we shall not have suffered in vain.” Applied to the present, if the evils of the Civil War and slavery can burn into the Christian consciousness a desire to take seriously the calling of the Gospel and consider the true complexity of the cultural dimension of their religion, then the people of the nineteenth century shall not have suffered entirely in vain.

Alex Vargas


1. “When viewed in the broader context of nineteenth-century American theology, however, Hodge exemplified the nascent ideal of the professional theologian as an incisive and broad-ranging thinker able to comment on any question of theology that might arise.” E. Brooks Holifield, “Hodge, The Seminary, and the American Theological Context,” in Charles Hodge: A Critical Appraisal of His Life and Work, eds. James H. Moorehead and John W. Stewart (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 128. “Hodge was a certain kind of American theologian and he labored to insure that his theological discourses were relevant to the American political, social, and ecclesial landscapes. No other nineteenth-century American Reformed theologian commented on as many issues or analyzed them quite the way Hodge did.” John Stewart, “Introducing Charles Hodge to Postmoderns,” in Charles Hodge Revisited, eds. Moorehead and Stewart, 3. See also William Barker, “The Social Views of Charles Hodge (1797-1878): A Study in 19th-Century Calvinism and Conservatism,” Presbyterion: Covenant Seminary Review I (Spring 1975): 3, fns. 5-6.
2. See James Moorehead, “Afterword: Where does One Find the Legacy of Charles Hodge?” in Charles Hodge Revisited, 327-34, for a brief survey and an assessment of responses to the life and legacy of Charles Hodge.
3. Charles Hodge, “Slavery,” The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, hereafter BRPR (April 1936): 273.
4. Charles Hodge, “The Unity of Mankind,” BRPR (January 1859): 144.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid., 103.
7. Ibid., 104.
8. Ibid., 104-5.
9. For a substantial argument generally defending this description see: John Stewart, Mediating the Center: Charles Hodge on American Science, Language, Literature, and Politics (Princeton: Princeton Theological Seminary, 1995).
10. Charles Hodge, “Unity of Mankind,” BRPR (January 1859): 148.
11. Ibid., 112.
12. Ibid., 148-9
13. For another piece written by Hodge interacting with the same issue see Charles Hodge, “Diversity of Species in the Human Race,” BRPR (July 1862): 435-64.
14. J. R. Fitzmier, “Old School Presbyterians,” in the Dictionary of the Presbyterian and Reformed Tradition in America, eds. D. G. Hart and Mark A. Noll (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2005), 181.
15. George M. Marsden, The Evangelical Mind and the New School Experience: A Case Study of Thought and Theology in Nineteenth-Century America (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), 93.
16. E. Brooks Holifield, Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War (New Haven: Yale University, 2003), 374.
17. Charles Hodge, “Slavery,” BRPR (April 1836): 275.
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid., 276.
20. Ibid., 279.
21. Charles Hodge, “Diversity of Species in the Human Race,” BRPR (July 1862): 463.
22. Hodge, “Slavery,” 292.
23. Ibid., 293.
24. “We may admit all those laws which forbid the instruction of slaves’ which interfere with their marital or parental rights; which subject them to the insults and oppression of the whites, to be in the highest degree unjust, without at all admitting that slaveholding itself is a crime. Slavery may exist without any one of these concomitants.” [emphasis mine] Hodge, “Slavery,” 278.
25. See Allen Guelzo, “Charles Hodge’s Anti-Slavery Moment,” in Charles Hodge Revisited (2002), 299-326.
26. Hodge, “Slavery,” 275. A similar statement can be found in a later paper where he states that “Let God be true, but every man a liar. Into this scriptural argument however we cannot persuade ourselves to enter at any length, because the matter does not admit of argument. It is as plain as can be made.” Charles Hodge, “Abolotionism,” BRPR (October 1844): 554.
27. Mark A. Noll, America’s God (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 376.
28. Ibid.
29. See Mark Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), especially ch.3.
30. B. B. Warfield, “Dr. Hodge Considered as a Teacher, Preacher, Theologian and Christian Man,” in A. A. Hodge, Charles Hodge D.D. LL.D.: Professor in the Theological Seminary Princeton N.J. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1880), 590.
31. See Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology. 3 vols. (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2001), 1:1
32. However there is, one might argue, a slight progression from the position of an almost exclusively defense of the slaveholders to a position increasingly at unrest with the slaveholders’ complacency in their poor treatment of their “property” which coincided with the divisive tides inevitably surfacing between the North and the South. See Hodge’s “Abolitionism,” BRPR (October 1844): 545-581. And also Hodge’s “Emancipation,” BRPR (October 1849):582-607. Hodge’s seemingly increased openness in the latter article was perhaps due to it being written by the respectable, but controversial Old School Presbyterian Robert J. Breckinridge who held to a gradualist view of emancipation while living in the South.
33. Charles Hodge, “Conscience and Constitution,” BRPR (January 1851): 125.
34. David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 265.
35. Hodge, “Conscience and Constitution,” 127.
36. Ibid., 128.
37. Ibid., 131-2.
38. Ibid., 133.
39. Ibid.
40. Ibid., 134.
41. Ibid., 145.
42. Ibid.
43. Ibid., 151.
44. Charles Hodge, “The State of the Country,” BRPR (January 1861): 1-36.
45. Ibid., 3.
46. Ibid.
47. Noll, Civil War as Theological Crisis,, 75.
48. Charles Hodge, “The Church and The Country,” BRPR (April 1861): 322.
49. Ibid., 323.
50. Ibid., 376.
51. Charles Hodge, “President Lincoln,” BRPR (July 1865): 435.
52. Ibid.
53. Ibid., 436.
54. Ibid., 437.
55. Hodge, “President Lincoln,” 451. In that context it is worthwhile to note that he extends his definition of slavery to include the slave laws, which would have translated into a significantly different view for him. Since it was a comment in passing and not an argument against slavery, it is somewhat questionable to take it as his final view.
56. Barker, “The Social Views of Charles Hodge,” 1-2.