Miller trained the students through his regular lectures, his copious writings (including a manual on preaching), and his sermons. To him, preaching was a spiritual calling that an ordained pastor could never put aside in this life. His commitment to remain faithful to this calling and never merge his office “as a minister of the gospel in that of professor” was part of his seven resolutions.
Samuel Miller – Conscientious Pastor and Teacher
In 1813, Samuel Miller was offered a position as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at the newly established Princeton Theological Seminary. At that time, the Seminary had only one teacher, who was also its founder and president: Archibald Alexander. Miller accepted the offer after much prayer and consideration.
While reflecting on his task ahead and the unusual situation of working as second-in-charge in a two-men administration, he wrote a short list of resolutions. Making resolutions is still a common practice, and it was so particularly at that time (most people are familiar with Jonathan Edwards’ 70 resolutions). Miller made only seven. What stands out about them is their focus on the task ahead and a tremendous sense of responsibility, born of his concern for God’s glory and the men who were to be committed to his care.
After resolving to remember who he was as a servant of Christ for the benefit of his students, he focused on his upcoming relationship with Alexander: ”Resolved, that I will endeavor, by the grace of God, so to conduct myself toward my colleague in the seminary, as never to give to give the least reasonable ground of offence. It shall be my aim, by divine help, ever to treat him with the most scrupulous respect and delicacy, and never to wound his feelings, if I know how to avoid it.”
He knew by experience (through a difficult relationship in New York) that avoiding giving offense to others was not enough. “By the grace of God,” he added, “I will, in no case, take offence at his treatment of me.”
On this last clause, he was both emphatic and specific. He was determined to do it, he said, “whatever may be the sacrifice of my personal feelings – whatever may be the consequence – I will not take offence, unless I am called upon to relinquish truth or duty. I not only will never, the Lord helping me, indulge a jealous, envious, or suspicious temper toward him; but I will, in no case, allow myself to be wounded by any slight, or appearance of disrespect.