In 1826, Hodge's growing sense of his own linguistic deficiencies "became more intense" and he made application to the Board of the Seminary to study for two years in Europe. Leaving his wife and two small children with his mother, he set off to study French, Arabic and Syriac and become acquainted with the developing discipline of biblical criticism.
In one of his early letters to Hodge, Dr. Alexander warned him, "Remember that you breathe a poisoned atmosphere. If you lose the lively and deep impression of Divine truth if you fall into scepticism or even into coldness - you will lose more than you gain from all the German professors and libraries.. "
Hodge would later reflect on the unbelief that covered much of the theology he encountered during his time in Europe. As he sought to understand how the birthplace of the Reformation could become a citadel for unbelief, he remarked that the Reformation was followed by "a period of cold orthodoxy brought about principally by perpetual controversy on unimportant subjects."
Ian Hamilton, extract from a paper on the life of Charles Hodge given at the Westminster Conference 2003.