Pious Sorrow – Charles Hodge

By | July 29, 2012

“His wife fell ill in September 1849, and despite the doctor’s optimism that she would recover, she grew worse. Hodge kept his brother apprised of Sarah’s condition almost daily via letters. Hugh visited several times from Philadelphia but could do little to comfort Charles and the family. Hodge recorded conversations that he and Sarah had during his bedside vigil as she prepared to die. Those accounts resemble earlier letters in which they exchanged thoughts of the God they served together. At her request he repeated the words of favorite hymns, and he elicited her final words of faith. She succumbed early Christmas morning with the family by her side, and Hodge wrote to his brother, “She was full of peace, humility, faith and has left us a rich treasure of blessings.”

Deeply affected by Sarah’s death, Hodge expressed his grief by visiting her grave at least weekly. He remembered her in his “Memoranda,” a daily account of weather conditions and other miscellaneous notes, sayings, and records, by numbering the Sundays following her death (“first Sunday after,” “second Sunday after,” etc. for 132 weeks) and he placed a thick black line beside each December 25 entry from her death until 1854. He never, however, let his sorrow degenerate into melancholy. In a consoling letter to his brother almost a year later when Hugh lost a son, he wrote, “Pious sorrow, that is sorrow mingled with pious feeling, with resignation, confidence in God, hope in his mercy and love, is [in] every way healthful to the soul; while melancholy is irreligious, and is a cancer to true peace and spiritual health. The great means of having our sorrow kept pure is to keep near to God, to feel assured of his love, that he orders all things well, and will make even our afflictions work out for us a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory.””

“Charles Hodge, The Pride of Princeton” pages 219-220