Vance Havner once lamented that many churchgoers sit and yawn over the truths for which their forefathers shed blood; thus “the living faith of the dead has become the dead faith of the living.” It wasn’t so for Charles Hodge, one of America’s greatest theologians, who was born on December 28, 1797. He studied the old and familiar Scriptures with fresh excitement. Three thousand pastors prepared for ministry in his theology classes at Princeton, and multitudes have benefited from his three-volume Systematic Theology. In a sermon once, Hodge warned his listeners against becoming bored with the Bible. Referring to Romans 3:29 (Does God belong only to the Jews? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, he is!), Hodge said:
We are so familiar with the truth contained in these words that we do not appreciate its importance. Accustomed to the varied beauties of the earth, we behold its manifold wonders without emotion; we seldom even raise our eyes to look at the beauteous canopy of heaven, which every night is spread over our heads. The blind, however, when suddenly restored to sight, behold with ecstasy what we regard with indifference. Thus the truth that God is not a national God, not the God of any one tribe or people, but the God and Father of all men, and that the Gospel is designed and adapted to all mankind, however little it may affect us, filled the apostles with astonishment and delight. They were slow in arriving at the knowledge of this truth; they had no clear perception of it until after the day of Pentecost; the effusion of the Spirit which they then received produced a most remarkable change in their views and feelings. Before that event, they were Jews; afterwards, they were Christians.
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that if the constellations appeared only once in a thousand years, what an exciting event it would be. Because they’re there every night, we barely look.
“Don’t lose the wonder,” Gipsy Smith said. God’s mercies are new every morning, and his Word is fresh every day.
You, Lord, are all I want!
I praise you, Lord, for being my guide.
Even in the darkest night,
Your teachings fill my mind.
With all my heart, I will celebrate,
And I can safely rest.
You have shown me the path to life,
And you make me glad by being near to me.
Sitting at your right side, I will always be joyful. (Psalm 16:5a,7,9,11)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Dec. 28.