An Able and Faithful Ministry – S.Miller

With humble thanksgiving to God, the PRC Seminary begins its 90th year of instruction today (1925-2014). With our eye on this, I want to use the next few weeks to explore some thoughts of the Presbyterian churchman Samuel Miller on the role of the church in training men for the ministry of the Word.

Dr. Samuel MillerThese thoughts are collected in a sermon Miller delivered on August 12, 1812 at the founding of Princeton Seminary and the inauguration of Rev.Archibald Alexander as “professor of didactic and polemic theology”. At the time Miller was pastor of the Wall-Street Presbyterian Church in New York. The next year Miller was appointed by the General Assembly to be the second professor at Princeton, according, serving as professor of ecclesiastical history and church government for thirty-six years.

This sermon of Miller has been published separately in booklet form by various publishers for years. The copy I have was published by Presbyterian Heritage (Dallas, TX, 1984) and includes the full title of the sermon: “The Duty of the Church to Take Measures for Providing an Able and Faithful Ministry”. I might add here that this work can be found online as well (a very special edition too, as you will see).

The second main part of this sermon contains the answer to this question raised by Miller: What are the means which the church is bound to employ, for providing such a ministry? His answer consist of three parts, which I would like to reference today and in the next few weeks.

But first, we should hear what Miller said by way of preface to his three-fold answer. That was this:

And here, it is perfectly manifest that the Church can neither impart grace, nor create talents. She can neither make men pious, nor give them intellectual powers. But is there, therefore, nothing that can be done, or that ought to be done by her? Yes, brethren, there is much to be done. Though Jehovah the Savior has the ‘government upon his shoulder,’ his kingdom is a kingdom of means; and He is not to be expected to work miracles to supply our lack of exertion. If, therefore, the Church omits to employ the means which her King and Head has put within her power, for the attainment of a given object, both the sin and the disgrace of failing to attain that object will lie at her own door (p.15).

Able&Faithful Ministry-SMiller_Page_1And then follows the first part of Miller’s answer to that question above (slightly edited for ease of reading):

1. The Church is bound, with  a vigilant eye, to search for, and carefully select, from among the young men within her bosom, those who are endowed with piety and talents, whenever she can find these qualifications united. Piety is humble and retiring; and talents, especially of the kind best adapted to the great work of the ministry, are modest and unobtrusive. They require, at least in many instances, to be sought out, encouraged, and brought forward.

And how, and by whom, is this to be done? The children of the Church are, if I may so express it, the Church’s property. She has a right to the services of the best of them. And as it is the part, both of wisdom and affection, in parents according to the flesh, to attend with vigilance to the different capacities and acquirements of their children, and to select for them, as far as possible, corresponding employments; so it is obviously incumbunt on the Church, the moral parent of all the youth within her jurisdiction, to direct especial attention to such of them as may be fitted to serve her in the holy ministry.

And it may be asserted, without fear of contradiction, that whenever young men are found, who unite fervent piety, with talents adapted to the office, it is the duty of such to seek the gospel ministry; and it is the duty of the Church to single them out, to bring them forward, and to endeavor to give them all that preparation, which depends on human means, for the service of the sanctuary (pp.15-16).

Powerful thoughts for us, the Church of Christ in this 21st century, to think about. Are we carrying out this calling to the best of our ability?

Published in: on August 26, 2014 at 11:32 AM  Leave a Comment  

What the ‘death of the library’ means for the future of books – The Week

What the ‘death of the library’ means for the future of books – The Week.

DigitalLibraryAs the traditional library continues to take a beating in modern technology’s world of ideas, there are those who continue to rise to her defense. This article by S.E.Smith for “The Daily Dot” is a case in point (posted August 18, 2014). Again, though written from a secular perspective, the article points out well the significance of libraries throughout the history of the world.

And I hope in the light of this significance that you will continue to make use of the tremendous resources found in your local libraries. And maybe even the PRC Seminary’s. 🙂

Forbes contributor Tim Worstall wants us to close public libraries and buy everyone an Amazon Kindle with an unlimited subscription. “Why wouldn’t we simply junk the physical libraries and purchase an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription for the entire country?” he asks. Worstall points to substantial savings on public funds, arguing that people would have access to a much larger collection of books through a Kindle Unlimited subscription than they could get through any public library and that the government would spend far less on a bulk subscription for all residents than it ever would on funding libraries.

Is he right? Are libraries obsolete? He might be correct — but only if libraries were just about books, which they are not. Libraries are actually an invaluable public and social resource that provide so much more than simple shelves of books (or, for those in rural areas, a Bookmobile like the one this author grew up with). A world without public libraries is a grim one indeed, and the assault on public libraries should be viewed as alarming.