From an Earthly General Assembly to the Heavenly General Assembly
by Rev. David Myers
Our subject today is Moses Hoge. Yes, he was an American Presbyterian minister from the past, in the nineteenth century, down in our Southern states. Yes, he had both the calling of being a faithful pastor in two Presbyterian churches and a Calvinist theologian in the halls of collegiate and seminary education. Yes, he was an insightful author of several books and published sermons which enriched the hearts of many believers in his day.
So what else is new, you, the reader might be thinking or saying, having read many a post from our This Day in Presbyterian History blog with similar qualifications for other Presbyterian personalities? This author challenges you to consider the following characteristics of his life and ministry.
Early on, a statement by Samuel Stanhope Smith challenged the young Moses Hoge. What Smith said was “sanctified learning is the greatest blessing; unsanctified learning is the greatest curse.” This concise statement sank deep into the heart and mind of our subject today. He determined that he would be a man of learning, even sanctified learning. Early on, he gave his heart to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. After that spiritual commitment, he made up his mind to serve Him in gospel ministry.
Being born in Cedar Grove, Frederick County, Virginia, on February 15, 1752, and raised by godly parents, his beginning commitment aided him in his calling. Learning at the feet of William Graham at Liberty Hall Academy (later Washington and Lee university), Hoge graduated in 1785, thus adding to that “sanctified learning,” so decided upon in earlier days. He next studied theology under the tutorship of the blind preacher, James Waddel. Thereafter, Rev. Hoge’s pastorates were at Moorefield, Virginia and Shepherdstown, Virginia, in the then pre-Civil War times era.
But it was in the area of Christian education that he “made his mark” in training others in “sanctified learning.” In 1807, he moved to Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia as president, resuming the theological education started there by others. And when in 1812 the General Assembly moved to begin the theological seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, the Virginia Presbyterian Synod resolved to have its own seminary, electing Dr. Hoge to serve as their professor at the newly established Union Theological Seminary, in Richmond, VA. Dr. Hoge served both the Hampden-Sydney College and Union Seminary in the role of teacher. Married twice, two of his sons followed him into the ministry and that “sanctified learning” lifestyle.
It was in Philadelphia that he was translated to heaven and buried in the Third Presbyterian Church burial ground, on This Day in Presbyterian History, July 5, 1820.
Words to Live By:
It is testified that near the pulpit of Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is a slab which records these words: “Near this monument erected by filial affection, reposes all that was mortal of the Rev. Moses Hoge, D.D., president of Hampton-Sydney College, and professor of Divinity in the Union Theological Seminary of the Synod of Virginia. A man of genius, profound erudition, and ardent piety, he lived, loved, and died lamented, aged sixty-eight. From the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to the General Assembly of the Church in Heaven, his translation, inflictive to his friends, but joyous to himself, was accomplished July 5, 1820.”
Question to our Readers:
We have the remarkable testimony of a servant of the Lord Jesus. It all began with “sanctified learning.” Where are you in such a spiritual quest in your Christian lives?