had been associated in the pastoral office eighteen years. As Dr. Rodgers was ordained in 1749, and, of course, was among the early ministers of the Presbyterian Church, the record of his life involved, necessarily, to some extent, the history of the body with which he was connected; and we can hardly imagine how this service could have been performed in a more felicitous manner. At the same time, one is constantly kept in mind of the tenderness of the relation that existed between Dr. Miller and his colleague; and, while there is nothing in the book that savors of extravagant praise, there is every thing to show that it was written under the influence of a grateful and reverent spirit. The other memoir is that of the Rev. Dr. Nisbet, the first president of Dickinson College,-a man who was justly reckoned among the celebrities of his time. At the time this memoir was written, Dr. Miller was one of the few men living who had personal recollections of Dr. Nisbet, that could be rendered available in a biography; and it was well that so faithful and gifted a pen should have been employed upon so worthy a subject. Not only does the volume contain a very satisfactory account of his connection with Dickinson College, and of what he did, and what he was in his various relations during his residence in this country, but it also traces his eventful history in Scotland, especially showing the value of his services in connection with the interests of evangelical religion. As Dr. Nisbet's character was strongly marked, so Dr. Miller's account of him is full of simplicity and beauty, and worthy to be an enduring memorial of one whom both hemispheres may well consider it a privilege to honor.

Several of Dr. Miller's publications, and those, too, which had the widest circulation, were of a decidedly controversial character. In 1807 he published his letters on the "Constitution and Order of the Christian Ministry;" and, two years later, published another work on the same subject in reply to strictures from several Episcopal clergymen, which the preceding work had called forth. In October, 1820, he preached a sermon at the ordination of the Rev. William Nevins, as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, in which were some very plain utterances concerning Unitarianism.

The sermon was noticed in the Unitarian Miscellany, a periodical then published in Baltimore, with marked disapprobation; and this seems to have been the occasion of Dr. Miller's writing a series of "Letters on Unitarianism," making an octavo volume of upward of three hundred pages. In 1840 he published a volume, entitled "The Primitive and Apostolical Order of the Church of Christ Vindicated," containing a somewhat elaborate view of the claims of Presbyterianism and the objections to Episcopacy. Several other of his works, especially his "Essay on the Office of Ruling Elder," and his "Sermons on Baptism," have more or less of a controversial bearing. While Dr. Miller's natural gentleness of spirit and love of peace disinclined him to controversy, his clear and comprehensive mind, his freedom from prejudice and love of the truth, eminently qualified him for it; and hence he may be regarded as one of our best authorities in that department of theological literature. While his aim was to confound his adversary by unanswerable arguments, and to bring out what he believed to be the truth in the light of noonday, he never sought aid from vague insinuations or bitter invective; never forgot his own personal dignity even in the closest conflict in which he could be engaged. It is within our distinct recollection that an individual who had held for some time the relation of a vigorous opponent to him in a theological controversy, assured us that he was deeply impressed by his uniformly fair and gentlemanly bearing, and that, much as he differed from him, he could not but regard him with the highest respect.

Several other of Dr. Miller's works deserve special notice, both for the subjects to which they relate, and the able and interesting manner in which the subjects are treated. In 1827 he published a series of "Letters on Clerical Manners and Habits, addressed to a student of the Theological Seminary at Princeton," which have passed through several editions, and which deserve to pass through many more. These letters convey a most accurate impression of the writer's own character; and none who read them and knew him, will need to look at the title-page to settle the question of authorship. We have heard it objected that some of the rules are too

minute, and therefore unnecessary; but that they are not unnecessary is proved by the fact that they are very often violated, and that at the expense of lowering ministerial character and influence. In 1843 Dr. Miller published another small volume, containing "Letters from a Father to his Sons in College ;" and these again are adapted in the most felicitous manner to the end for which they are designed. They include every subject that a college student has occasion to consider; and it would be well if the work could be introduced as a manual in all our higher institutions of learning. In 1848 he published a work entitled "Thoughts on Public Prayer," the last, we believe, that came from his pen; and we know of nothing better fitted to aid and encourage the spirit of devotion on the one hand, or to render the exercise edifying and profitable on the other.

There are some other of Dr. Miller's works to which we might refer as evidence of the high place which he attained in the ranks of authorship, but enough has been said to show that he was among the most accomplished and most voluminous writers of his day. Considering the great number and variety of his productions-literary, theological, controversial, practical, and devotional; considering that nearly all of them have passed to a second or third edition, and have been received with great favor in every part of our country, while some have attracted much attention on the other side of the Atlantic; and finally, considering that they are still, and are likely to be for generations to come, the channels of a benign influence to the church; can we doubt that here was one of the elements of his greatest power; that though he might have been a great and good and eminently useful man, if he had never been known as an author, yet that, but for this, he could have not lived as he has done, and now does, in the thoughts and feelings of multitudes who never saw him.

After having thus glanced at Dr. Miller's life, and traced some of its results in the different departments of active usefulness, it is natural that we should contemplate what he did in connection with the higher power by which his character was formed, and his destiny controlled.

Dr. Miller possessed, originally, admirable qualities that

constituted the foundation of his eminently attractive character. With a finely-proportioned form, he had a countenance full of generosity, manliness, and intelligence; and though he could not be said to have an unusually vigorous physical constitution, his health was generally adequate to the arduous duties devolved upon him. His countenance was indicative of great purity and nobility of character; and his manners, though cultivated possibly at a slight expense of naturalness, were uncommonly bland and graceful. His intellect was naturally clear, comprehensive, and symmetrical. His taste was so perfect as to set criticism at defiance, insomuch, that in reading his published works, one rarely meets with an expression that admits of being essentially improved. Well do we remember to have heard an eminent scholar and author, who had been brought into sharp antagonism with Dr. Miller, say that he hardly knew a writer in the English language, who he thought equalled him in a fine and classical style. And his intellect, we may safely say, though richly endowed, was no better than his heart-he was naturally genial, gentle, and sincere; incapable alike of double dealing and of needless severity. We remember instances in which some of his expressions of dislike were characterized by great intensity; but there was usually a reason for it in the circumstances that called them forth. And we remember many other occasions, on which his native kindliness of spirit found an apology for mistakes, or delinquencies, which a different temperament would have met with severe reprehension.

So also the hand of God was strikingly manifest in the ordering of Dr. Miller's lot. His grandfather, John Miller, emigrated from Scotland, and settled in Boston, in the very early part of the last century, and was a well-educated and highly-respectable man. His father, John Miller, was a native of Boston, where he received his early training, became a member of the Old South Church, studied for the ministry, and finally was ordained with a view to his becoming the pastor of two associated churches in Delaware. He was a man of excellent talents, of liberal culture, and of great devotedness to his work. He was married to a Miss Millington, a lady of superior education, of great personal attractions, and of de

voted piety. Trained under such a parental influence, it was to be expected that the son, especially considering the original qualities of his mind and heart, should early develop the germ of a noble character. His first eighteen years were spent under the paternal roof, and his preparation for college was all made under the direction of his father. In 1788, he became a member of the senior class in the University of Pennsylvania, having already gone through the studies of the previous years. Here he found himself surrounded by influences, social, intellectual, and religious, that were eminently favorable to the development and culture of his naturally fine qualities. He graduated in 1789, with the highest honor in his class, in token of which it devolved on him to deliver the salutatory oration. It was during his college life that he first became acquainted with the Rev. (afterward, Dr.) Ashbel Green, of Philadelphia, with whom he continued on terms of great intimacy until the close of Dr. Green's life. Among his instructors, the provost of the university, Rev. Dr. Ewing, with whom he afterward became connected by marriage, seems to have left upon him the most enduring impression. He prosecuted his theological studies at Carlisle, under the learned, and justly celebrated, Dr. Nisbet; and the acquaintance thus commenced he recognized as an enduring source of gratification and improvement. In due time he became one of the pastors of the Collegiate Presbyterian churches in New York; and though he was called, in 1799, to the First Church in Philadelphia, he preferred to remain with his first charge, and did remain with them until his removal to Princeton, in 1813. By his settlement in the ministry he was placed in circumstances most favorable to his improvement and usefulness. His associates in the pastoral charge were men of commanding powers and far-reaching influence, while there were ministers outside of his own denomination, with whom he was in the habit of familiar intercourse, who were justly reckoned among the lights of their day. Indeed it were hardly possible that his lot should have been cast in any other clerical circle in which he could have had better opportunities for communicating a fresh impulse to great minds, or coming under their quickening powers. And then, it is to be borne in mind that

« ElőzőTovább »