While a student at Princeton Seminary, the great Presbyterian Charles Hodge began to form a close and life-long relationship with Archibald Alexander. In those days, Alexander was the president of the seminary and would, on a weekly basis, preach to the student body in the basement of the Old Library building. This left a lasting impression on them all. Commenting on this, Hodge wrote:
That room is to this day sacred in the eyes of the old students of the College. It was then, and for forty years afterwards, the birth-place of many souls. We were thus brought under the influence of a man, who, as an ‘experimental’ preacher was unequalled and unapproached. It was said of him, that while most other ministers preached about religion, he preached religion (AA Hodge, The Life of Charles Hodge, 26).
That’s an interesting distinction to make and one that has been on my mind for the last year. I was struck with this again last week. In Galatians Paul says, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1). Calvin’s comments are worth quoting at length:
The actual sight of Christ’s death could not have affected them more powerfully than his own preaching…The meaning therefore is, that Paul’s doctrine had instructed them concerning Christ in such a manner as if he had been exhibited to them in a picture, nay, ‘crucified among them.’ Such a representation could not have been made by any eloquence, or by ‘enticing words of man’s wisdom,’ had it not been accompanied by that power of the Spirit.
Let those who would discharge aright the ministry of the gospel learn, not merely to speak and declaim, but to penetrate into the consciences of men, to make them see Christ crucified, and feel the shedding of his blood.
May the Lord grant to his church, in these desperate and dead days, men who blessed by the Spirit preach in such a way.