Subscribe now

Pastor – Teachers of Old Princeton

By Various
February 2013 | Review by David Cooke


For those who with C. H. Spurgeon ‘value every morsel about the Princeton worthies’, this book will be a source of inspiration as well as information. For the first time a number of important primary source documents relating to ‘old Princeton’ have been brought together to form what is a remarkable story of devoted service to Christ and his church. Funeral sermons, memorial addresses, and magazine articles, honouring the labours of the leading faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary during the years 1812-1921, provide fascinating insights into the lives of such worthies as the Alexanders, the Hodges, Samuel Miller, Henry A. Boardman, Alexander T. McGill, James C. Moffat, William Henry Green, William M. Paxton, and B. B. Warfield. Established in 1812 by the Presbyterian Church in the USA, Princeton Theological Seminary grew from humble beginnings – just three students meeting in the home of Dr Archibald Alexander – to become the premier ministerial academy in the English-speaking world. This was due in no small part to a succession of godly and gifted pastor-teachers whose piety and faithfulness to the Bible as the Word of God bore an abundant spiritual harvest in the lives and ministries of the seminary’s many graduates. The record of their lives demonstrates afresh the vital truth so memorably put by Robert Murray M‘Cheyne: ‘In great measure, according to the purity and perfection of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.’

  • Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
  • ISBN: 978-1-84871-161-7
  • Pages: 574
  • Price: 17.00
Buy this book »

Book Review

Pastor – Teachers of Old Princeton

Banner of Truth Trust
574, £17.00
ISBN: 978-1-84871-161-7
Star Rating: 3

This book contains an interesting collection of articles (mostly funeral addresses) recounting the lives of the leading teachers at Princeton Theological Seminary in the 19th and early 20th Century, beginning with Archibald Alexander and ending with B B Warfield. It provides an insight into the piety of the Seminary throughout that period as evidenced in the lives of its leaders, and shows that their often profound learning was combined with child-like faith. In the course of these cameos, the reader is provided with good devotional material (for example, the opening paragraphs of Charles Hodge’s sermon “He preached Christ”, preached on the occasion of the death of J W Alexander).


As is perhaps inevitable in a work of this sort, with many authors, the quality is somewhat variable, and the 19th century style makes for heavy going in some places. Also, for most of the men more than one address or article is provided, with the result that there is some overlap and also some imbalance in the amount of space given to each man (from 16 pages in the case of Alexander M’Gill to over 90 pages on Charles Hodge).


Perhaps the occasion for most of the addresses explains their biggest weakness. Notwithstanding James Garretson’s defence in his introduction, many of the articles’ authors fall into the trap of religious hagiography. For example, it does not seem appropriate to say that Archibald Alexander “came nearer to being infallibly right than any Pope” (p.24) – even if that is not saying very much! There is also the repeated breach, particularly in the earlier pieces, of our Lord’s instructions to call no man our father (Matt.23.9). The constant eulogising does grate somewhat.


Nevertheless, subject to this caveat, this volume contains much that is heart-warming and edifying, and is a telling demonstration of the truth of Proverbs 10.7, “The memory of the just is blessed”.

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Why Should I Trust the Bible?

We should trust the Bible, says Timothy Paul Jones, because it is ‘grounded in the words of a man who died and rose again’ (p.111). Jones’s basic presupposition is this: ‘If we live in a world where it is possible…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Who Am I? Human Identity and the Gospel in a Confusing World
Thomas Fretwell

In today’s secular society, religion is often regarded as without rational or scientific basis, and therefore irrelevant to life in the modern world and all areas of public engagement. If that is our social context, then it is no wonder…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Pastor’s Life: Practical Wisdom from the Puritans
Matthew D Haste & Shane W Parker

This book highlights ‘some of the many lessons that today’s pastors can learn from the Puritans’ (p.151). As such it is aimed at pastors, but the lessons are really for anyone who is a Christian leader. The opening chapter provides…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
5 Minutes in Church History: An Introduction to the Stories of God’s Faithfulness in the History of the Church
Stephen J Nichols

What a breath of fresh air this book is! Stephen Nichols has given us 40 vignettes from church history that are brief enough to be digested over a bowl of cereal. The book doesn’t aim to be a beginner’s guide…