Monday, August 14, 2017

2017.08.14 Ministry Monday - An Able and Faithful Ministry (Garretson), pp i-23

Today being Ministry Monday, we (re-)began Samuel Garretson's An Able and Faithful Ministry: Samuel Miller and the Pastoral Office.

Samuel Miller was the second founding professor of Princeton Theological Seminary. He, and that institution, were used mightily of God to preserve, strengthen, and grow the American Presbyterian churches faithfully, throughout the 19th century.

Prefatory Matters
The foreword (pp vii-ix) by William S. Barker basically whets our appetite for, and commends, the material.

Garretson does much of the same in the preface (pp xi-xiii), and also in the introduction (pp1-5), but in the latter he also helpfully outlines the book (Part 1, mostly biography; Part 2 mostly Miller's instruction on preaching and shepherding; Part 3, mostly Miller's instruction on the minister's character).

Chapter 1 content
Chapter 1, Heritage of Piety (pp8-23), begins with Miller's grandparents, then his father, John. Miller's formation came largely as a pastor's son, growing up helping his godly mother on the family farm. After his conversion at 18, he went to stay with a brother-in-law and sister while studying at the University of Pennsylvania. They, too, were very careful of his spiritual life.

As he finished his degree, and developed a sense of call to the minstry, various diary entries draw the picture of a man both well-educated and warm-hearted to God, often taking a day in fasting and prayer before the Lord. He reflected frequently upon the character of God demonstrated in His providence.

The sequence of tests and trials for him to enter even into licensure, let alone the ministry, suggest a time of much more carefulness about the quality of ministers than in the Presbyterian denominations with which I am familiar today.

The chapter concludes with Miller choosing from two calls that were available to him, deciding at last to accept the call from the United Presbyterian congregations of New York City.

The following were my favorite quotes from the chapter (they are actually from opposite the chapter's title page).

Chapter 1 quotes
"Doctrinal knowledge is apt to be undervalued by private Christians, and especially by the young. They imagine, according to the popular prejudice, that if the heart be right, and the conduct correct, the doctrines embraced are of small moment.  
This supposes that the heart of any one may be right, while his principles are essentially wrong; or that his practice may be pure, while his religious opinions are radically erroneous. But nothing can be more contrary both to Scripture and experience. The great Founder of our holy Religion declares that men are 'sanctified by the truth.'"
--Samuel Miller, quoted in An Able and Faithful Ministry, p8

"If the young, and even the thinking and serious portion of the young, were as careful to store their minds with elementary principles, and with clear, discriminating view of revealed truth, as they are with the best and most accredited elements of other sciences, we should not find so many hoary-headed Christians unable to defend their own professed principles, and led astray by the artful votaries of error."
--Samuel Miller, quoted in An Able and Faithful Ministry, p8

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