Monday, December 25, 2017

2017.12.25 Ministry Monday - An Able and Faithful Ministry (Garretson), pp24-32

Today being Ministry Monday, we continue in Samuel Garretson's An Able and Faithful Ministry: Samuel Miller and the Pastoral Office.

Chapter 2
"O Lord, accept of my dedication! Fill me with thy love; prepare me for thy service; help me to be more and more like Christ, and more and more to glorify Christ! [...] Oh, the unutterable importance of having the care of precious, immortal souls committed to my hands! Father, give me knowledge--give me wisdom--give me strength, to perform my duties aright. Blessed Saviour, whom I trust I have chosen as the hope of my own soul, may I be strong in thee and in the power of thy might! Oh, help me to live, and study, and preach and act, like one habitually and deeply sensible that he must give account!"
--Samuel Miller, quoted in An Able and Faithful Ministry, p24

This chapter covers Miller's pastoral ministry in New York City from 1793 to 1803. It highlights how involved he was in the local and broader community.

Garretson includes an excerpt from a paper Miller gave on the necessity of a gradual plan for manumission of slaves that would include giving them intellectual and moral training so that they could function as honest citizens and truly be freemen (p27).

In 1798, an outbreak of yellow fever brought great suffering to the city, and though many fled, Miller stayed precisely to minister in the midst of it. What troubled him the most, however was that the people were not spiritually moved by the calamity and that he did not know of a single conversion that had come by means of it (p30). It alarmed him that he grew accustomed to this, and he worried that the providence that he observed to harden others might harden himself (p31).

As a member of a literary club, he wrote a two-volume history of the eighteenth century, for which he was awarded two honorary doctorates and membership in the Philological Society of Manchester, England (p32).

Finally, on a personal note, Miller finally married on October 24, 1801. 49 years of marriage to Sarah would produce ten children, four of whom would precede him in death (p33).

This chapter reminds of how ministry takes place in real-life circumstances, and of how ministers' souls and lives are subject to all of the same ills, afflictions, and joys as the people whom they shepherd. Surely, this is a wise and helpful design of God. It enables them to understand and attend to their flock better, and it causes their labors for the flock to be available to the minister for the care of his own soul.

The paper on manumission was interesting. 60+ years before the war of Union v.s. States, before the issue was being pressed for political and financial purposes, here was a northern minister publishing a much wiser approach to manumission than was eventually foisted upon the nation. One wonders how different the nation would be today if such wisdom had been followed.

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