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An Able and Faithful Ministry: Samuel Miller and the Pastoral Office (Garretson)

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Samuel Miller (1769–1850) played an integral part in founding Princeton Theological Seminary, which became one of the most influential training grounds for Presbyterian ministers in the nineteenth century. While Miller is most commonly remembered for his writings on church office, he also played a significant role instructing students and shaping their theology of preaching and pastoral ministry. In the present volume, Jim Garretson highlights the narrative of Miller’s life and the major ministerial emphases found in his published writings, sermons, and unpublished lecture notes. As a result, readers will come to know the spiritual convictions of Miller’s heart and understand the theology of ministry he imparted over the course of his lifetime.

Table of Contents:


Part One: Life and Ministry

  1. Heritage of Piety
  2. Pastoral Ministry in New York City: 1793–1803
  3. Pastoral Ministry in New York City: 1804–1813
  4. Plans for a Presbyterian Theological Seminary
  5. An Able and Faithful Ministry
  6. Seminary Professor: 1813–1850
  7. Confessional Churchman
  8. Preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  9. Gospel Promises and The Hope of Christian Missions

Part Two: Theological Foundations for the Gospel Ministry

  1. The Importance of the Gospel Ministry
  2. The Importance of Mature Preparatory Study
  3. Sermon Preparation: An Introductory Overview
  4. Preparation of Sermon: Texts
  5. Preparation of a Sermon: Style
  6. Preparation of a Sermon: Parts of a Discourse
  7. Holding Fast the Faithful Word
  8. Spiritual Weapons for a Spiritual Battle
  9. Preaching the Gospel in Great Cities
  10. A Theology of Public Worship

Part Three: Ministerial Deportment and the Work of the Christian Ministry

  1. Clerical Manners and Habits
  2. Final Days
  3. A Life Well Lived



James M. Garretson serves as ministry director for the Christian union at Harvard Law School.



“James Garretson has already provided erudite and welcome additions to the history of American pastoral theology with his work on Archibald Alexander. Now he has moved on to look at the life and teaching of another Old Princeton giant, Samuel Miller. Once again, his contribution to antebellum American religious history is remarkable. By contextualizing Miller’s pastoral teaching within his larger life and historical setting, Garretson reveals much to us about why Miller was so hugely influential among Presbyterians (and others) during his lifetime. Miller himself would appreciate Garretson’s emphasis on the practical uses of religious biography and history for contemporary readers. It is a profoundly welcome work on an Old Princeton figure who has received far less attention today than he deserves.”— Paul Gutjahr, professor and chair, Department of English, Indiana University

“There is much debate today about exactly what the pastoral ministry should look like, what its priorities should be, what the tools of its trade are, and what kind of man should hold it. Once again, Jim Garretson has enriched the literature on this topic by opening up the world of the Old Princetonians for us. This book is not only a moving portrait of one of the great nineteenth-century Presbyterian pastors and thinkers but also a stimulus to practical reflection on how the traditional ordinary-means-of-grace model of church and pastor can be applied today. A wonderful volume.”— Carl Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary

“James M. Garretson’s book on Samuel Miller and his teaching on the pastoral office brings one of the founding fathers of American Presbyterianism back to life.  Herein, Miller enriches us with his piety, guides us with his wisdom, and equips us to be more able and faithful preachers of God’s Holy Word.  This study will clarify your call to gospel service or serve as a refresher course on the godly practice of Reformed ministry.”  — Peter A. Lillback, president, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

“James Garretson’s An Able and Faithful Ministry: Samuel Miller and the Pastoral Office enhances the growing study of Old Princeton by bringing to our attention Samuel Miller’s contributions to theological education. His courses ‘Composition and Delivery of Sermons’ and ‘Pastoral Care’ show how Miller and his colleagues construed pastoral ministry as a spiritual calling. With ample illustrations, Miller unfolds the ministry’s ‘Grand Design’ as ‘preaching the Gospel.’ His detailed lectures on sermon content and delivery focused on careful explication of the text and applying the truth of the Bible to daily life. Garretson thereby demonstrates Princeton’s view of Christian ministry before it was professionalized in the twentieth century."— W. Andrew Hoffecker, emeritus professor of church history, Reformed Theological Seminary,Jackson, Mississippi

“For those of us like myself who knew Samuel Miller primarily as a historical author, this book is worth its weight in gold. As James Garretson demonstrates through careful research and pellucid prose, Miller has much to teach moderns when it comes to biblical theology, sermon preparation and delivery, and ministerial character and deportment. All in all, a highly extremely helpful work for anyone concerned about pastoral ministry or seriously considering such a calling.”— Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Samuel Miller, Old School Presbyterian minister and Princeton Seminary’s unsung hero, was both an intellectual and experiential Christian, and a servant of Christ armed with both truth and power. James Garretson’s fitting combination of biography and wise counsel allows Professor Miller to mentor us still today in a host of ways. This fascinating volume is a tour de force for practical theology; I devoured every word. Every pastor, elder, seminary professor, and seminary student should read this book, and return to it again and again for direction and encouragement.”— Joel R. Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan