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Full text of "The life of Dr. J. R. Miller; "Jesus and I are friends.""

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DR-J-R- 



FE • OF 

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OHN • T • F AR,1 S 



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^ PRINCETON, N. J. ^^ 



Presented bfTVo^. lAj."^. S^r-cSene. ,33733, 



BX 9225 .M46 F37 1912a ^ 
Paris, John Thomson, 1871- ! 

1949. 
The life of Dr. J. R. Miller 



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The Life of Dr. J. R. MiUer 





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THE LIFE OF 



NOV 1 2 1912 



Dr. J. R. MILLER 



''Jesus and I Are Friends 



yy 



JOHN T. FARIS 

Associate Editor of the Presbyterian Board of Publication 
and Sabbath School Work 




PHILADELPHIA 
The Presbyterian Board of Publication 

191^ 



Copyright, 1912, 
By John T. Faris 



FOREWORD 

Dk. Miller was too mucli occupied witli things 
deemed by Mm more important to give any atten- 
tion to file selection and putting aside of material 
concerning his life. He was so busy writing and 
speaking and living and loving, with the shaping 
of the lives of others in view, that he took no time 
to think of the world 's interest in his life. It never 
occurred to him that there would be any demand 
for the story of his life, and he discouraged the 
efforts of friends who sought to gather material 
for a biography. 

Yet Dr. Miller was the author of the truest pos- 
sible description of himself. He did not think of it 
as a description — in giving it he was only telling 
the reality of his faith in his Master. But all who 
knew him agree that the description was true and 
accurate. He said, ** Jesus and I are friends." 
This is the story of the life of Dr. J. E. Miller, 
told in five words. 

Dr. Miller gave glimpses of his life in his books. 
Whenever he wrote to others of things they should 
do from day to day, he was telling unconsciously of 



vi FOEEWOED 

things lie was doing himself. This fact is apparent 
from the brief quotations from his writings on the 
page facing the beginning of each chapter in this 
volume. These quotations, taken together, help to 
fill out his own descriptive statement : *^ Jesus and 
I are friends." 

J. T. F. 

Philadelphia, September, 1912. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 

I. Ancestry and Early Years 

II. With the Christian Commission 

III. At the Front .... 

IV. In Camp and Hospital 

V. The Theological Seminary and 
Pastorate .... 

VI. The Pastor at Work 

VII. Thirty-Two Years an Editor . 

VIII. How Editorial Associates Viewed 
Work 



IX. The Author of Devotional Books 

X. Ministering Through the Mails 

XI. The World His Parish . 

XII. Vacation Days . 

XIII. The Last Years . 

XIV. Tributes of Affection 
Bibliography 



the 



His 



PAGE 

3 
21 
41 
55 

69 

87 
107 

133 
147 
167 
183 
199 
215 
231 
245 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

De. J. R. Miller Frontispiece 

PAGE 

Headquarters in the Field .... 46 

J. R. Miller (1868) V2 

J. R. Miller (1875) 96 

Dr. J. R. Miller (1904) 192 



ANCESTEY AND EAELY YEAES 



An honoured parentage is a good heritage. It puts one 
under tremendous responsibility, too, for its blessings are a 
sacred trust which must be kept unsullied, and accounted for. 
To be unfaithful in such circumstances is not only to leave our 
work undone, but to mar, possibly destroy, the good work of 
others which had been put into their hands to finish. — From 
*' Morning Thoughts for Every Day in the Year/' 

The Master sets before us the goal of our being. He has a 
beautiful plan for each life. There is something definite for 
which he has made us, into which he would fashion us, and 
toward which all his guidance, education and training will 
tend. This is not a world of chance — it is our Father's world. 
All the experiences of our lives have their part in making us 
what Christ would have us become, in bringing out the pos- 
sibilities that he sees in us when we first come to him. — From 
" What Christ's Friendship Means/' in " The Beauty of Self- 
Control" 



CHAPTER I 

ANCESTEY AND EARLY YEARS 

(1840 to 1862) 

James Russell Miller was always too mucli en- 
grossed in the service of God and men to pay any 
attention to collecting facts concerning his an- 
cestors. But those who have had the opportunity 
to trace the Miller family to its source across 
the sea, have learned facts both interesting and 
illuminating. 

The ancestors on the mother 's side were named 
McCarrell. The McCarrells came originally from 
Scotland, where Sir Lachlan McCarrell — the chief 
of the clan — ^was a friend and companion of Sir 
William Wallace. Early in the seventeenth cen- 
tury the McCarrells went for religious freedom to 
Ireland. In Ulster they found the blessings they 
sought. Samuel McCarrell, one of the descendants 
of the transplanted Scotchmen, died in County 
Armagh in 1789, at the age of ninety-five. His 
son, Thomas — the great-grandfather of J. R. 
Miller — ^was born in County Armagh in 1741. He 
learned the trade of a weaver, and later came to 
America in 1777, in a merchant ship commanded 
by his uncle. The blockading of the ports pre- 

3 



4 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

vented his immediate return home. Soon he had 
no desire to return: his heart was so stirred by 
what he had seen and heard of the struggles of 
the Colonies that he became a soldier of the Revo- 
lution about October, 1777. He was with George 
"Washington in the camp at Valley Forge the fol- 
lowing winter. He had with him his Bible and 
his Confession of Faith, which are treasured to- 
day by his descendants.* It is a tradition among 
these descendants that he was once struck in the 
breast by a bullet, but that the Bible saved his 
life. 

During the first years after the close of the war 
the young Scotch-Irishman lived in Virginia. In 
1789, with his wife and three children, he took the 
hard journey across the mountains to Washington 
County, Pennsylvania. Two of the children were 
carried in the ends of a pack thrown across the 
back of a horse; the third was held by his 
mother as she sat on her horse. In 1811 Mr. 
McCarrell bought the farm *^ Pleasant Hill," 
near Eldersville, which is still in the possession 

*Oii the title page of his Confession of Faith is this inscription: 

THOMAS McCARRELL, HIS BOOK 

God give him grace therein to look 
That so he may the truth contain, 
And these improve while life remains. 

Lest some should find the owner's name 
Or if he lose and you. should find, 
I pray you to restore again. 

Thomas McCarrell, 1774. 



ANCESTRY AND EAELY YEARS 5 

of the family. He was a Ruling Elder in 
the ** Seceder " Church now known as the 
Cross Creek United Presbyterian Church. The 
members of this godly household frequently 
made the trip of sixteen miles to Canonsburg to 
attend service. He died March 29, 1836, at the 
age of ninety-five. His wife, Eleanor Rusk Mc- 
Carrell, died at the same age, on September 19, 
1846. Surviving them were ^ve children — three 
daughters and two sons. Four of these married 
and founded Christian homes, in which the family 
altar was always maintained. From two of these 
homes and the homes that succeeded them, came 
seven ministers of the gospel, whose combined 
service has been more than two hundred and fifty 
years. 

Mary McCarrell, who was born November 21, 
1782, married Robert Creswell. Their daughter 
Eleanor married James Alexander Miller, whose 
great grandfather, Samuel Miller, — also of Scotch- 
Irish descent — was born in 1717. Samuel Miller's 
home was near Hickory, in Washington County, 
Pennsylvania. Here he spent most of his life. In 
1794 the headquarters of General Lee in the cam- 
paign to suppress the Whisky Insurrection were at 
his house. His son James — the third of his eleven 
children — moved in 1798 to a farm near Tomlinson 
Run Church in Beaver County. In 1812 — ^when 
ninety-five years of age — Samuel Miller rode on 
horseback from the Washington County home to 
the Beaver County farm. The distance — thirty 



6 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

miles — ^was made in a single day, with a rest at 
noon for dinner. He lived seven years after this 
memorable trip, dying in 1819 at the age of one 
hundred and two. In his last will and testament 
this godly man provided funds for the purchase 
of a Bible to be given to each of his grandsons. 
He felt that he could make them no better 
bequest. 

James Miller married Polly Russell. Their son, 
James Alexander Miller, married Eleanor Cres- 
well. Ten children blessed their home — three sons 
and seven daughters. One son and two daughters 
died in infancy. Both of the surviving sons be- 
came ministers of the gospel. James Russell 
Miller was the second child, though his older sister 
died before he was bom, on March 20, 1840. 

In 1840 the family home was near Frankfort 
Springs, Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Big 
Traverse, a merry little mill stream, which drains 
one of the most beautiful valleys in the southern 
part of Beaver County. The old homestead and 
the mill, where the father spent his days labour- 
ing for the support of the family, are still 
standing. 

The home on the Big Traverse was a house of 
prayer. When it was founded the family altar 
was set up, and it was never suffered to be broken 
down. As the children came into the home they 
soon learned that whatever else of the household 
routine was omitted, family worship was never 
forgotten, and never slighted. Neither pressure 



ANCESTRY AND EARLY YEARS 7 

of business nor the presence of guests was ever 
offered as excnse for the omission of morning 
and evening Bible reading and prayer. The fam- 
ily worship took time: the hurried repetition of 
a verse of Scripture and a sentence prayer was 
never considered enough; but there was invariably 
the reverent and devout singing of a Psalm, the 
reading of a chapter from the Bible, in regular 
course, and a prayer in which the members of 
the family were committed to God's keeping, and 
the interests of the kingdom of God, at home and 
abroad, were remembered. It is recalled by one 
who often participated in these sacred services 
that a petition seldom omitted pleaded that the 
love of God might be shed abroad in the hearts 
of the kneeling suppliants, — ** that love which 
works by faith, which purifies the heart, which 
overcomes the world.'' For a long time the one 
who tells of the petition wondered where in the 
Bible it could be found, until diligent search 
showed him that it is a mosaic from the words 
of Paul and Peter and John. The priest at that 
family altar was a Bible student. 

He was also a man of prayer who knew how to 
point out to the family the way to the Throne 
of Grace, because he had found it himself and was 
travelling it daily. He knew the meaning of the 
exhortation, ** Pray without ceasing." One of the 
burdens of his private prayers was that his boys 
might become ministers of the gospel. It had been 
his wish to become a minister, but the way was 



8 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

closed — the claims of his dependent parents on 
his time conld not be passed by. After the death 
of their first-born, the husband and wife promised 
God that if a son was given them, he should be 
dedicated to the ministry. 

In this godly home the Sabbath was sacredly 
set apart. Seldom, if ever, was the family pew 
empty, though the church was several miles dis- 
tant, and the roads were frequently well-nigh im- 
passable. There were no evening services in the 
churches in those days, but the home became a 
little sanctuary. The devout father was the min- 
ister. Matthew Henry's '' Commentary " was 
taken from the shelf, and his exposition of the 
text of the evening was read aloud. Then came 
the reciting of the Shorter Catechism; as the chil- 
dren grew old enough they were required to learn 
this as rapidly as possible. Each took part in 
the recitation as far as the questions had been 
learned, and read the answers which had not yet 
been memorised. When all the children had com- 
pleted the one hundred and seven answers, no 
catechism was ever seen at the Sabbath evening 
service. The father would propose the first ques- 
tion, which was answered by the one sitting near- 
est to him. This one would become questioner in 
turn, while the one answering the second question 
would propose the third in order, and so on to 
the end of the series. The method required the 
memorising of both questions and answers, but 
those who mastered the book in this way had a 



ANCESTEY AND EARLY YEAES 9 

working knowledge of theology that served them 
excellently in later life. Every member of the 
family felt as James did when he said in later 
years, *' I owe to my father's home the religious 
training which has meant so much to me in my 
life.'' 

The home in which religion was given such 
prominent and constant place was not the abode 
of gloom. The children were glad to spend the 
evening in the company of their parents. Music 
was their solace during many of these evenings. 
James frequently took part in this relaxation, 
either with his rich tenor voice or on the violin. 
Frequently there would be a guest in the family 
circle, for not many days passed without the com- 
ing of one or more visitors. Frequently on Sun- 
day a minister who had come to assist the pastor 
at the communion service or on some other oc- 
casion would be entertained by Elder Miller. The 
conversation of these visitors did much to shape 
James's purpose in life. 

A visitor to the neighbourhood of an entirely 
different sort left an indelible impression on the 
mind of the growing Eoy. When he was an old 
man he said of this visitor: 

* * Sixty years ago a man went through Western 
Pennsylvania, making infidel or atheistic speeches. 
He had some eloquence and spoke persuasively, 
and many men's minds were poisoned by his 
words. Some years later he met Christ and sur- 
rendered to Him, becoming an earnest believer 



10 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

and a zealous Christian. One of the earliest recol- 
lections of my boyhood is of this man holding 
meetings around my home and speaking boldly for 
Christ. When he became a Christian he saw his 
terrible error in having laboured so against 
Christ. He saw that he had done great harm to 
many lives by his arguments against Christianity, 
against the Bible, against God. And he went to 
the same neighbourhoods, where he had sown 
seeds of infidelity, and spoke in the same halls 
and schoolhouses, trying to undo the evil work of 
his earlier years. Very pathetic was the sight 
of the old man at his unavailing work.'' 

The picture of the vain efforts of this old man 
to undo the evil work of his earlier years was 
afterwards to point the warning that evil words 
once spoken are gone beyond recall. 

Mr. and Mrs. Miller were a blessing in the homes 
of others as well as in their own family circle. 
Seldom was there sickness or sorrow in a neigh- 
bour's house when one or both of them did not 
go at once on an errand of mercy. Their readi- 
ness to help in this way soon made an impression 
on James, who was noted when quite young for that 
eagerness to go to houses where there was sick- 
ness, which was a characteristic to the end of his 
life. Neighbours of early days lovingly tell of 
his ministry to a large family, all of whom were 
stricken with typhoid fever; for weeks he gave 
himself to the care of the household, till all but two 
were nursed back to health. The father and one 
son died. After these deaths the volunteer nurse 



ANCESTRY AND EARLY YEARS 11 

— then a student away from home — made frequent 
visits of sympathy to the bereaved family. 

With his sisters James attended the district 
school in Hanover Township, where he learned 
the elements of a fair English education. That he 
was an eager student was testified by an early 
teacher, Wallace Wilson, who died only a few 
months before his pupil of those early days. He 
said it was always a pleasure to teach James Rus- 
sell Miller, and he took particular delight in telling 
of the ambitious student's request that algebra 
might be added to the curriculum. The teacher 
frankly confessed that he knew nothing of the 
subject, and proposed that both should study it 
together. The old man's eyes kindled as he re- 
counted the success of that winter. With the un- 
assuming spirit for which he always was noted, 
his pupil aided him in understanding the new 
branch of learning. 

When James was about fourteen years old, his 
father moved to a farm near Calcutta, Ohio. In 
the new home James was popular among his 
schoolmates, as he had been in his Pennsylvania 
home. The young people of the neighbourhood 
delighted to gather at the Miller fireside to enjoy 
one of the evenings of good-fellowship for which 
the household was noted. It is easy to understand 
this when the lovable James had lively sisters, 
one of whom he described in fascinating manner 
in a letter to a friend, written years after he went 
out into the world : 



12 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

*^ Your letters always remind me of a little 
sister at home whose wicked pranks are never to 
be forgotten, and whose letters always come filled 
with little bits of wit and sarcasm. She delighted 
always in teasing me when I was at home, in con- 
tinually playing tricks with my letters, hiding my 
books and papers, and otherwise endlessly annoy- 
ing me — but always with such good humour, and 
with such a quiet, innocent air, that, no matter 
how evil-disposed, I could not for the world get 
angry with her. However, she knows very well 
that her big brother is very good-natured and 
never apt to grow angry, and, moreover, that he 
enjoys teasing quite as well as she does. She is 
a good girl, and next to my mother the dearest on 
earth to me. I like spirit and have a particular 
fondness for a style of intercourse which some 
very punctilious and exact people call impu- 
dence. ' ' 

The writer of this letter was looked up to as a 
leader by the members of the household and by 
his boy friends from other homes. A younger 
companion was deeply impressed by his earnest- 
ness of purpose and his integrity of character. 
In a letter written years later this companion 
said: 

* * You have been a constant uplift to me all my 
days. You know that naturally I was a shiftless 
creature. My only ambition in the early days of 
my existence was for a broomstick horse. Your 
example and gentle influence did much to wake 
me up, and it has been a mighty inspiration to 
me ever since. If my life has been of any service 



ANCESTRY AND EARLY YEARS 13 

to the world, this is owing to God's blessing on 
your life.'' 

One day James chiselled his name most neatly 
on a great stone near the Calcutta home. The 
companion just mentioned saw the letters and 
carved his initials beneath those of the one whom 
he desired to imitate. Other boys followed his 
example, leaving their initials on the stone, not 
always with the same neatness and skill, but in 
a way that showed the power of example. That 
stone, with its silent testimony to the influence 
of one earnest youth on his companions, may still 
be seen by visitors. 

For three years after going to Calcutta James 
attended a district school during the short winter 
months and worked on the farm during the sum- 
mer. Many of his evenings were spent in private 
study. Thus, in 1857, he was well prepared for 
entering Beaver Academy in his native county. 

In a letter written in 1911 to Daniel W. Fisher, 
D.D., concerning Calvin W. Mateer, D.D., long a 
missionary in China, he said: 

*^ Dr. Mateer was my first teacher in Latin and 
Greek. I never can forget how he received me 
when I first went to the academy at Beaver. I 
was a bashful country boy, full of enthusiasm and 
eager to learn, but knowing almost nothing. 
There was no room ready for me in the academy 
the first night, and the young principal took me 
into his own room and into his own bed. The im- 
pression he made upon me that night, especially 



14 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

at the time of prayer before we went to bed, is 
one I never shall lose from memory." 

At once he became known as a good student. 
It was not long before he was asked to assist in 
teaching some of the lower classes in the acad- 
emy. Later he taught also in the Beaver Female 
Seminary. Always he was diligent and painstak- 
ing in the performance of his double duties as 
student and tutor. 

Rev. J. A. McGill, then principal of the acad- 
emy, was still living when his pupil-teacher of 
those days closed his life on earth, and he wrote 
this testimony: 

** Mr. Miller gave himself heartily to every- 
thing that was for the good of the academy. He 
was a diligent student, a genial companion, a 
trustworthy friend.'' 

He was not content to study merely to make 
recitations and pass examinations, but he inspired 
those he taught with a like spirit. He not only 
thoroughly mastered the subject in hand, but so 
far as his time would permit he made himself 
familiar with the general literature that came 
within his reach. The poets were his great de- 
light, and his mind and soul were enriched by 
many of their treasures. He seldom attempted 
to phrase his own thoughts in rime, yet all that 
he wrote revealed the true spirit of the poet. It 
was his habit to try to reproduce from memory 
sentences and paragraphs which had impressed 



ANCESTRY AND EARLY YEARS 15 

him, thus making them his own. Then he would 
write original sentences and paragraphs modelled 
on those of the masters. He was a painstaking 
composer, often making many drafts of his com- 
positions, until they reached as nearly as possible 
the high standard which he set for himself. His 
ideal was simplicity and purity of diction, and 
he was fond of illustrations that would be like 
windows through which the visions of the soul 
might become real to others. 

Yet he took equal delight in studying the book 
of Nature which was spread out so entrancingly 
before him. Those who are familiar with the 
scenery of the Ohio Valley, especially in the vi- 
cinity of Beaver, know that no praise of its beauty 
can be called extravagant. In the autumn season 
especially, the fields and forests of that region 
present a wealth of beauty. Long walks in the 
country and extended rowing excursions on the 
river increased his love for God and God's world 
and all mankind. 

Busy as he was — ^in preparation for recitation, 
in hearing his own classes, in athletic interests — 
he had time for the ministry to others for which 
he was always known. A daughter of Matthew 
Duff, an assistant in the school, wrote in the sum- 
mer of 1912: 



** I have heard both father and mother speak 
of the way J. R. Miller had of doing little kind- 
nesses that boys are not in the habit of doing. One 



16 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

such kindness was taking care of me one night 
when I was a very sick baby and my parents were 
worn out. ... It has been my habit for years to 
read to mother from Dr. Miller's ^ Year Book.' 
I don 't think she ever realised that he had grown 
old." 

Very early in life he had begun to manifest a 
deep interest in vital personal religion, and this 
was intensified during the first winter at the acad- 
emy. Those who were his fellow students speak 
of him as a young man of prayer. He was a reg- 
ular and devout worshipper in the church, where 
his voice joined heartily in leading its service of 
praise. He despised ostentation in religion, yet 
religion was to him a matter of daily life, and it 
shone out in every word and deed. One has said, 
** His life was a happy illustration of the Mas- 
ter's promise, ^ He that believe th on me, from 
within him shall flow rivers of living water.' " 

He made no parade of the fact that his fullness 
of life came from God, yet his intimate relations 
with God could not be hidden. His associates 
knew that his life was renewed by daily contact 
with Him whom, even then, he was fond of calling 
his Friend. 

On October 10, 1857, he united with the Asso- 
ciate Presbyterian Church of West Union, located 
near Calcutta. As the Associate Reformed Church 
was one of the bodies which formed the United 
Presbyterian Church — on May 26, 1858 — he was 
from that date a United Presbyterian. 



ANCESTRY AND EARLY YEARS 17 

Thereafter, whenever the young Christian was 
at home, he took his turn in leading family 
prayers. The younger members of the household 
gladly accepted him as assistant, for they realised 
his sincerity and earnestness of purpose. Already 
they knew him as a prince in prayer. One of the 
distinct recollections of his sisters is that he was 
much given to secret prayer. One sister has told 
of his coming home one evening after the family 
had retired, bringing with him a friend who was 
to share his room for the night. Before retiring 
he stepped into the room where two of his sisters 
slept, and, supposing them to be asleep, knelt in 
prayer. As she saw his countenance in the moon- 
light it seemed to be like the face of an angel. 
She was only a child, but she felt that the humble 
room was the very gate of heaven, for he who 
knelt by her bedside was holding converse with 
the Father. 

His brother, too, recalls vividly how, when 
James would go to bed after spending an evening 
in study, he would pray long and earnestly. 
James thought his brother was asleep and he gave 
himself without reserve to his prayers. He 
would frequently kneel for an hour at a time, and 
would whisper as if talking to a friend. '^ He 
didn't talk about his religion,'' the brother has 
said, ** but he made it very real to me when he 
gave me a Bible in which he wrote this message : 

** * Read this Book as a letter from the dearest 
of all friends. ' ' ' 



18 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

There was no trace of tlie I-am-holier-than- 
thon spirit. He was as simple in his bearing 
when a boy as he was when a man. There was 
a deep, genuine sympathy in his heart that 
made all he met feel at once he was their friend 
who understood them and in whom they could con- 
fide. He was free from that patronising air which 
too often impairs the influence of those who would 
be helpful to others. Those who worked beside 
him in the harvest field or met him in the neigh- 
bourhood social gatherings, as well as those who 
were his schoolmates, agreed that he was one of 
themselves, who showed in every word and action 
that he was interested in them and wanted to be 
of use to them. So, as he advanced gradually be- 
yond the companions of the home, no jealousy 
was aroused, but on all sides there was rejoicing. 

During his academy course he taught one term 
of school at Industry, Pennsylvania, and another 
at Calcutta, Ohio. So he did not enter West- 
minster College at New Wilmington, Pennsyl- 
vania, until 1861. He was so far advanced, how- 
ever, that he was graduated in June, 1862. In the 
autunm of that year he entered the theological 
seminary of the United Presbyterian Church at 
Allegheny, Pennsylvania. 

Throughout the first year at the seminary his 
mind was full of the war. He longed to enlist. 
But he had almost completed the year before his 
course was interrupted by military service. 



WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 



We should not be content to let a single day pass in which 
We do not speak some gracious word or do a kindness that 
will add to the happiness, the hope, or the courage and 
strength of another life. Such ministries of love will redeem 
our days of toil and struggle from dreariness and earthli- 
ness, and make them radiant in God's eye and in the record 
they make for eternity. — From '' Upper Currents J' 

We represent Christ wherever we go. He is not here to-day 
in human form, but He sends us in His place. We are to act 
for Him, speak the words of kindness we would speak if He 
were here, do the deed of love He would do if He were in our 
place. We must be faithful to our mission. We must never be 
silent when we ought to speak. We must never speak when 
we ought to be silent. — From ^' Witnesses, for Christ" in '' A 
Heart Garden." 



CHAPTER II 

WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 
(March, 1863, to Sept. 19, 1864) 

Mr. Miller was in college when Fort Sumter 
fell and the country was plunged into the throes 
of civil war. He had just reached his majority, 
and like ho" ts of other young men, felt the patri- 
otic impulse to offer his life at once for his coun- 
try's defence. Some months passed, however, be- 
fore his enlistment, and then circumstances pre- 
vented his serving in the ranks, as it was his 
earnest purpose to do. He enlisted as a member 
of a company recruited in and about Calcutta, 
Ohio. The company left for Camp Dennison, near 
Cincinnati, Ohio, where they were encamped for 
a time. Their enlistment was on the condition 
that they were to be placed in a regiment as a 
company. At that time, however, there was no 
place where they could be so attached, and the 
only way the officials in the department could ac- 
cept them was as individuals, to fill vacancies 
in other companies. This was not in accord with 
the wish of the young men, and they returned to 
their homes. In the meantime Mr. Miller con- 
tinued his studies until he saw the opportunity 

21 



22 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

for effective service through the new Christian 
Commission, which was organised soon after the 
disastrous Battle of Bull Run. 

During the early months of the Civil War the 
Young Men's Christian Association of Washing- 
ton and New York and the Tract Society of New 
York and Boston sought to give help both tem- 
poral and spiritual to the soldiers. The work was 
too great, however, for the handful of workers 
which these agencies could put in the field. So the 
National Committee of the Young Men 's Christian 
Association called a convention which met in New 
York City November 14, 1861, to consider the 
needs of the army. The work of the United States 
Christian Commission was outlined and the organ- 
isation completed next day. Twelve members 
were named who were to carry out the purpose of 
the convention. George H. Stuart of Philadelphia 
was made chairman of the new organisation, 
which began its work at once, with the hearty en- 
dorsement of President Lincoln, the Secretary of 
War, the commanding general, and others in au- 
thority. 

The work of the Commission, as outlined at 
the convention, was both special and general. 
The official records of the body defined the activi- 
ties thus : 

^' The relief and care of the wounded, during 
and immediately after battle, and meeting the 
wants of men in such places as parole and con- 



WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 23 

vale scent camp, and other emergencies, may be 
called ^ Special Work. ' 

'' The supply of religious service in aid of 
chaplains, or in their place, for hospitals and regi- 
ments without chaplains, the supply of reading 
matter to men in hospitals and throughout the 
army, the distribution of bodily comforts, and the 
promotion of intercourse with home, may be called 
* General Work.' '' 



The work was done by voluntary and paid dele- 
gates, under the direction of Field Agents. Each 
agent had charge of one army corps, and directed 
the activities of from five to ten or more delegates. 
General Field Agents supervised the Field Agents* 
In all 191 delegates were commissioned in 1862; 
1,067 in 1863; 1,880 in 1864; and 934 in 1865. 
Many of these served from four to six weeks only, 
but a large number were active for much longer 
terms. The average number at work in 1862 was 
48; in 1863, 115; in 1864, 217; in 1865, 310. 

The work was supported by gifts of money, 
clothing, printed matter, food and comforts from 
all parts of the North. Many gifts came from 
abroad. The total value of gifts of all kinds ad- 
ministered during the war was more than six mil- 
lion dollars. 

A statement made by General Grant concerning 
the work of the Christian Commission at the final 
meeting of the representatives in Washington 
City, February 11, 1866, indicates its great value 
to the country ; 



24 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

** By the agency of the Commission much suf- 
fering has been saved on almost every battle field 
and in every hospital during the war. No doubt 
thousands of persons now living attribute their 
recovery, in great part, to volunteer agencies sent 
to the field and hospitals by the free contributions 
of our loyal citizens. The United States Sanitary 
.Commission and the United States Christian Com- 
mission have been the principal agencies in col- 
lecting and distributing these contributions. To 
them the army feel the same gratitude that the 
loyal public feel for the services rendered by the 
army. ' ' 

Equally strong and hearty was the testimony 
of General Meade on the same occasion : 

** One of the brightest pages in the history of 
the great war from which we have just emerged 
will be the record of the noble spirit displayed by 
our people, in their devotion to the wants and 
comforts of our soldiers. No one not in the field 
and witnessing the scenes of distress there ex- 
hibited, can fully appreciate the services thus ren- 
dered to humanity. The United States Christian 
Commission was conspicuous in the great work of 
love and charity, and I am sure that the survivors 
of the war will, like myself, ever have in grate- 
ful memory the debt of gratitude so greatly due 
to it.'' 

It was in March, 1863, when Mr. Miller— then 
a middler at Allegheny Seminary — ^began his 
service as delegate. He promised to serve for six 
weeks. But his work was so well done that at 
the expiration of this period he was urged to 



WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 25 

remain for tlie summer campaign. A good sit- 
uation was waiting for him at home, but he deter- 
mined to give this up and stay where he felt he 
was needed more. He was, therefore, assigned 
to the Army of the Potomac. As Assistant Field 
Agent, it fell to him, together with two others, 
to direct the extensive operations of the Com- 
mission at Gettysburg after the notable battle 
fought in July of that year. The Annals of the 
Commission contain this reference to the service 
there rendered: 

** Every station occupied by the Commission on 
this field of blood is worthy of a special record. 
Suffice it to say that at every point of this field, 
as at others of like character, the effort to relieve 
temporal wants was blended with Christian coun- 
sel and consolation, and as ever before, so here, 
the Holy Spirit attended such ministrations with 
the divine blessing." 

The following extract from a letter written by 
Mr. Miller a few weeks after the battle of Gettys- 
burg gives an insight into the character of the 
work in which he was engaged: 

** General Meade and staff were at the service 
last Sabbath morning. Two of his staff are known 
to be religious men, and take part in religious 
services, I have noticed, and Captain P. of Gen- 
eral Meade's staff remarked the same to me, that 
there is a marked change in the observance of 
the Sabbath around headquarters during the past 
month. Every Sabbath grows stiller and quieter. 



26 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

I was at headquarters last Sabbath morning. It 
was the calmest and most like the Sabbath of any 
I have spent in this army. I blessed God for it. 
Flags were down, offices were closed, and none 
but the most important business was transacted. 
General Patrick called at our tent, conversed for 
a half hour, inquired concerning arrangements 
of service during the day, selected some books, 
papers, etc., and then attended services himself, 
morning and afternoon. He says : ' We have just 
got what we want. We have talked the matter 
(of having service at headquarters) over many 
times, and have made efforts to have this end ac- 
complished. Burnside tried it, and sent off for 
ministers, but the services never succeeded in 
awakening interest. Now we have the very thing 
we want, and we mean to keep it. Soldiers are 
becoming most deeply interested themselves at 
all our stations, and I believe that we have never 
had so much encouragement to work.' '' 

Several weeks after this letter was written an 
attack of typhoid fever was brought on by his 
tireless labours, and Mr. Miller lay for some time 
in the hospital at Washington. The only hint 
of this illness in the notebook kept by him during 
the campaign with the Commission is given thus : 

*' A sweet little Scotch girl came every day into 
my chamber with a bunch of flowers, or a cup of 
nice tea, or a whole miniature tray of delicacies 
for me, or — if nothing else — always with a sweet 
smile on her face, a look of encouragement and 
cheer, and a tender, sympathising word. I always 
longed for her coming, and believe that she did 



WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 27 

more to cure me than my physician. Her sweet, 
winning ways were made donbly so by her native 
Scotch manners, her broad accent, her captivating 
frankness, and her choice little delicacies. I shall 
always remember that gentle tap on my chamber 
door, after a stealthy, velvet-slippered pit-a-pat 
through the hall, and then the slow, quiet open- 
ing of the door, and the little face with bright, 
sparkling eyes, and smiling lips peeping in, as 
if half fearful to enter, and then the tiny little 
creature with the gifts of flowers or luxuries from 
the table, gliding up to my bedside. Ah, what is 
dearer than a sweet child ! I love the simple prat- 
tle and the innocent mirth and the unaffected 
frankness of a child." 



Soon after leaving the hospital, on October 25, 
1865, Mr. Miller was appointed General Field 
Agent, and was assigned to the Army of the Cum- 
berland. He wrote in his journal : 

* * I left Pittsburgh November 10 to take charge 
of my field, and, stopping for a few days in Cin- 
cinnati to make arrangements for my work, I 
passed on to Crab Orchard, Kentucky. Here 
transportation was wanting, and the remainder of 
the way had to be made on foot. It was still one 
hundred and sixty miles to Knoxville, over a 
mountain road of terrible muddiness, and one 
which was in many places next to impassable. I 
started, however, and reached Barboursville only 
to learn that Knoxville was besieged, and that my 
further progress was stopped. Waiting there a 
few days I passed on to Cumberland Gap, de- 
layed there a week, and reached Ejioxville at last 



28 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

on December 10, one month after leaving Pitts- 
burgh.'' 

On December 15, 1863, he wrote further of his 
activities ; 

** I find in the city at present about seventeen 
hundred sick and wounded. All the hotels, 
churches and other public buildings, besides sev- 
eral private dwellings, are occupied as hospitals. 
I have visited most of these and find there con- 
ditions as good as could be expected under the 
circumstances, but there is still a great want of 
sufficient food and clothing. The army, during 
and before the siege, made such demands upon 
the subsistence of the country, that the citizens 
cannot do much. I trust we shall be able to bring 
these gallant fellows many of the comforts of 
home. They are worthy, and will not be forgotten 
by the kind and generous ones who are working 
for the soldiers." 

In January, 1864, he wrote : 

** The opening of the month found me on a 
Tennessee river steamboat at Chattanooga, await- 
ing its departure to return to my field. I had with 
me a small supply of stores and a delegate, Eev. 
William Gaston, of East Liverpool, Ohio. . . . 
Our boat was without accommodations, and we 
found ourselves poorly prepared to endure the 
violent storms and most bitter cold of many years. 
We left Chattanooga on New Year's evening, and 
reached London Sabbath morning. ' ' 

Next day he reached Knoxville, where he opened 
rooms and commenced distribution of the scanty 
supplies available. 



.WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 29 

On January 18, Mr. Gaston left for home, his 
term of service having expired, and Mr. Miller 
was alone for a week. 

^ ^ I felt discouraged. Day after day closed with 
a heavy heart and an unsatisfied spirit. On Sab- 
bath morning my heart was gladdened by the re- 
ception of a telegram from London, stating that 
stores and two delegates would reach Knoxville 
by the evening train. Never was news more 
welcome. My heart was rejoiced and my hopes 
brightened. The train came and brought two min- 
isterial delegates. . . . 

^' Early in the month I made application for a 
church which I found unoccupied, intending to 
have it fitted up as a soldiers' chapel. It was a 
Methodist church, formerly, and was occupied by 
the congregation till the time of the siege. Then 
it was taken in some irregular way as barracks, 
and when again left vacant after the siege, was 
in a terribly filthy condition. On the 26th I ob- 
tained permission to fit it up as a chapel, and 
incidentally got a squad of prisoners and went to 
work at cleaning it. By Sabbath I had it in tolera- 
bly good condition, and on Sabbath morning 
(31st) it was opened for divine service and re- 
dedicated to God. The attendance was respect- 
ful and encouraging. ... A daily prayer meet- 
ing was appointed at 1 :30 p.m. each day. ' ' 

The work during February was sadly inter- 
rupted by the departure of delegates who had 
served their appointed time, and the arrival of 
others to take their places. But Mr. Miller knew 
how to inspire green workers. Within a few 



30 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

days after the arrival of delegates from the North, 
they were, in most cases, doing effective work. 
This month a new department of activity became 
popular with the soldiers : 

*^ In our room a writing table sufficient to ac- 
commodate twenty or thirty men has been fitted 
up, and paper, envelopes, pens and ink constantly 
supplied. From one hundred and twenty-five to 
two hundred letters are written daily. In our 
reading room files are kept of the Pittsburgh, Cin- 
cinnati, Louisville, Nashville and New York 
dailies, besides the magazines and miscellaneous 
periodicals. No one can realise the value and 
importance of these facilities to the soldiers till 
he has some experience of the privation of army 
life. . . . Our rooms are always crowded. 



77 



On March 1 a station was opened at London, not 
far from Knoxville. A humorous incident of the 
work there was included in the journal ; 



n 



The room assigned to us for a reading room 
had been previously used by a band of minstrels 
for a concert room. When we took possession of 
it, they erected their tents close by, and carried 
on their performances. For several nights they 
had some success, but soon their former crowds 
diminished till the concerts were almost deserted. 
The reason was that our religious meetings in the 
church attracted all. After a week or so, the pro- 
prietor came into the Commission rooms one 
morning and said : * We can 't run these things to- 
gether. Your prayer meeting is drawing away all 
my patrons.' ' Well, which do you think is the 



WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 31 

more profitable, the prayer meetings or your per- 
formances? ' lie was asked. * I like the fifty cents 
mighty well,' he replied. . . . However, after 
one other trial he left the town, and donated his 
lumber, etc., to the Commission." 

On April 15, after directing the opening of sev- 
eral of the stations, and the advance of delegates 
with supplies to the front, Mr. Miller left Knox- 
ville, expecting to spend some weeks at home in 
preparation for licensure at the June meeting of 
his Presbytery. After Presbytery it was his pur- 
pose to visit the churches in the North, present- 
ing the work of the Christian Commission and 
soliciting financial aid. One of the delegates at 
Knoxville wrote of him : 

** He leaves behind him a warm host of friends, 
whose unanimous testimony is that he faithfully 
discharged the many and laborious duties that de- 
volved upon him. The high estimation in which 
he is held here is well expressed in the words of 
George, the coloured cook, who says, * Massa 
Miller am a gemman, ebery inch of him, from the 
crown ob his head to the sole ob his feet.' " 

In his journal Mr. Miller told something of the 
difficulties of war-time travel : 

** I took the cars to Chattanooga and the train 
ran off the track near Athens, and we were all 
tumbled head over heels, so that it was a marvel 
anyone escaped. As it was, however, none were 
killed, though fifteen soldiers were injured; but 
I escaped unhurt. I reached Chattanooga at mid- 



32 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

night, and pressed on toward Nashville the same 
night. We took the Alabama road, via Decatur 
and Athens, thence north to Nashville. Stopped 
a few hours in Nashville, then moved northward. 
Train soon broke down again, and we lay all 
night near Bowling Green. In the morning we 
were tied on behind a freight train and pulled 
along to Cave City. Here we stopped for the pur- 
pose of visiting Mammoth Cave. . . . We spent 
the night partly in the cave, and returned to Cave 
City Hotel in time for the train. Then we pushed 
forward for Louisville, where we arrived before 
night. . . . Next day at noon we took steamer 
for Cincinnati. . . . Went to church in the morn- 
ing, to Sabbath school in the afternoon, and 
preaching again in the evening. . . . On Tues- 
day I started eastward. 

** I had scarcely reached Pittsburgh, however, 
when I was telegraphed for, to proceed to head- 
quarters at once, to assume direction of the work 
in General Butler's Department. Thus all my 
fond anticipations were blighted, and I went away 
to the field again. The Pittsburgh Committee 
made a most strenuous effort to have the order 
countermanded, but to no effect. I must go, and 
at once. I reported accordingly in Philadelphia 
on April 25, and left after a few hours' consulta- 
tion for Baltimore and Fortress Monroe." 



Then began some of the most important work 
of Mr. Miller's service. He was sent to the front 
with the Army of the Potomac. He directed the 
delegates — ^who were now available in large num- 
bers — for service in camp, on the field of battle, 
and in the hospital. A station was established 



WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 33 

very early in May at Bermuda Hundred. This 
was for work in General Butler's army. There 
were two hospitals here, and a number of batteries 
without chaplains. At Point of Rocks, four miles 
up the Appomatox, a hospital was erected which 
remained throughout the war. From Bermuda 
Hundred, the wounded of Sheridan's Cavalry 
were visited, and large quantities of stores dis- 
tributed to them. When the Eighteenth Infantry 
went to White Horse Landing, Mr. Miller and 
his corps of delegates accompanied them, estab- 
lishing the station which did so much to relieve 
the wounded. 

A vivid paragraph was written at Cold Har- 
bour, where fifteen thousand men were cut down 
in fifteen minutes : 

** Our delegates all went to work at once, and 
that right earnestly. I divided them off into sev- 
eral companies. One company was to carry water 
and wood, and keep up fires, another to prepare 
cornstarch, soup, lemonade, etc., another to carry 
these articles to the men, another to write letters 
and converse with the dying. And thus the work 
began and went on during the whole day. The 
next day was Sabbath, and it came upon the earth 
in all its beauty and sacredness. I rose early. 
The sun was just above the horizon, and the first 
beams of morning were still struggling through 
the trees. The birds were singing sweetly, the 
air was moist and dewy, and everything was still 
and hushed, as it used to be at home on the blessed 
Sabbath. For once the deadly instruments of war 
were hushed, and it seemed like a Sabbath morn 



34 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

of peace. But a few rods from where I stood lay 
some two thousand mangled men, suffering, some 
of them dying, while almost at my feet was a big 
open trench, and at its edge lay eight or ten dead 
bodies ready for interment. Soon the shrill crack 
of the pickets' rifle bursts on my ear, the cannon 
thunders off at the left, and all the illusions of 
a moment since are dispelled. It is still Sabbath 
morn, but a Sabbath morn of blood. And it rises 
upon us in the midst of a bloody battle field, with 
carnage, death and war all around. 

" Monday afternoon, June 6, we had a brisk 
shelling. The villainous things shrieked and ex- 
ploded over us and all around us. It was hot 
enough for an old soldier, and went rather roughly 
with certain newer ones. Two batteries were 
opened in the spot occupied by our hospital — one 
hurled its shot and shell from the right, another 
from the left. It was a serious enough matter 
that afternoon, but now in my quiet I can see the 
ridiculousness of some of the scenes I beheld. A 
chaplain had been stopping with us since we 
pitched there and had been quite sick, unable to 
leave his cot of fir boughs under our flag. As 
soon as the shells began to whiz and burst around 
our tent, he straightway brightened up, for the 
time forgetting his sickness, and was soon en route 
for a distant part of the woods where safety 
might be found. In his haste he left his coat and 
valuable books and papers. Next day he returned, 
but his memories were still vivid, and he tarried 
but briefly, saying nothing about being sick. 

'* All our delegates but one left for parts un- 
known. The woods soon covered their line of re- 
treat, and shut them away from danger. After 
the shelling had ceased they gathered back to the 
tent one by one, till all but two returned. Their 



WITH THE CHEISTIAN COMMISSION 35 

stories were amusing. Two positively affirmed 
that they had no regard for themselves, but they 
felt bound to seek their safety on account and for 
the sake of their wives and children. One or two 
confessed frankly that they did not like to be shot 
at, and deemed discretion the better part of 
valour. Only one had courage enough to stay with 
me till morning, while all the rest went back two 
miles to another camp hospital. When morning 
came two went straight to White Horse, resolved 
to find a place where they could be free from the 
terrible scorching of rebel shells. A tall rock on 
the crest of the hill had to shield a number of 
boys from real or supposed danger. They formed 
a line for twenty or thirty yards behind it, and 
just as the direction of the coming shell seemed 
to them, so they shifted. When a shell came from 
the right, the whole pendulumlike column swung 
to the left, and vice versa/' 

Delegates and stores reached City Point June 
15. A station was at once established which existed 
for more than a year. Here some of the most 
strenuous work of the campaign was carried on 
by the Commission. Mr. Miller was active here 
as well as at Point of Eocks. Of his work at the 
latter place he wrote, under date of August 31, 
1864, a report that gives a splendid glimpse of 
the activities at a busy station. 

n There are now about two thousand patients 
in the hospital. Our establishment here consists 
of one chapel tent for storeroom, one chapel flag 
for sleeping tent, one for religious services, one 
wall tent for warehouse and one for office. I have 
only eight delegates at present, though I should 



36 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

have at least ten. Here is my mode of work in 
the corps and hospitals. Early in the morning 
six or seven delegates go in a two-horse wagon 
to the front, carrying with them a good quantity 
of reading matter and hospital stores, — for every 
regiment has a number of patients in its regi- 
mental hospital. These delegates all spend the 
whole forenoon in one or two brigades, taking the 
troops in their order on the line. They aim to 
see every man as they go, and either give him 
something or speak a kind word to him. This 
^ front ' work I deem very important, even when 
we have the hospital work, and I have always 
aimed to keep it up as regularly as practicable. 

*' We have dinner at half-past twelve. From 
noon till half-past two are resting hours. From 
half-past two till half-past five they spend in the 
hospital. Each delegate has four or five wards. 
During this visit no services are held. The delegate 
passes through his wards, speaking a word to 
every man, and relieving his wants, as far as pos- 
sible, but making the visit as far as practicable 
a pastoral one. After tea, he holds a brief reli- 
gious service in each ward, and this closes the 
day's labours. The work goes on thus from day 
to day, and a more delightful success could not be 
expected. All the delegates are in the best of 
spirits, and all are hard workers. At night all 
are weary, and sleep is welcome, but morning finds 
all refreshed, and ready and anxious to begin a 
new day's labours. At the front, on this part of 
the line, there is no picket firing, so that we can 
visit every part of the line safely, and see the 
men at their work. This adds greatly to our 
work, and enables us to make it complete and thor- 
ough. It is my aim to have every regiment visited 
at least once each week." 



WITH THE CHRISTIAN COMMISSION 37 

The campaign closed for Mr. Miller in Septem- 
ber, when he was made General Field Agent in the 
Shenandoah. He reached his new field September 
19, the day the Battle of Winchester was fought. 
There, in the midst of the wounded and dying, the 
young Field Agent entered the final stages of his 
services for the Christian Commission. 



AT THE FEONT 



A very little love for our neighbour wrought out in a bit 
of everyday kindness is worth a great deal of talk about love 
which finds no expression in act. — From ^'Letting God In" 
in "Finding the Way" 

Fill the day with love. Forget yourself and think of others. 
If there is a call for kindness, show the kindness now, to-day j 
it may be too late to-morrow. If a heart hungers for a 
word of appreciation, of commendation, of cheer, of encour- 
agement, say the word to-day. The trouble with too many 
people is that they fill the day with neglects, with postpone- 
ments, with omissions, with idle words and idle silence. We 
do not realise vividly enough that there are many things 
which if not done to-day need not be done at all. If we have 
slept through the hours when duty waited, we may as well 
then sleep on. — From " Guarding Our Trust" in " A Heart 
Garden" 



CHAPTEE III 

AT THE FRONT 
(Sept. 19, 1864, to April 1, 1865) 

From the beginning of his work in the Christian 
Commission, Field Agent Miller did his best to 
persuade the delegates to leave with him full reo- 
ords of their work. He even prepared a large 
notebook, on the cover of which he wrote the 
request : 

** Delegates will please note all incidents of 
their work in this book. Also full reports before 
leaving. ' ' 

In a few instances the request was observed, but 
evidently most of the men were too weary when 
they felt free to seek their rough beds to do any- 
thing but go to sleep. The book devoted to them 
would have been sadly neglected but for Mr. Mil- 
ler's own observation and reports. He was as 
weary as the delegates when night came — proba- 
bly more weary, for during his service in the army 
he was as unceasingly active as in his later life. 
Yet he would remain at his table hours after 
others were sleeping, writing his story. On No- 
vember 16, 1869, he said : 

41 



42 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

^^ Nearly midnight, and around me thickly 
packed in layers on the floor the rest of the ^ fam- 
ily ' are sleeping, while I have been drudging all 
night through piles of letters, stereotyped business 
sheets, trying to get square with life and my work. 
As the finale I wrote a long letter to mo7i cher 
ami Crammond Kennedy, away in Scotland. I 
was to have gone with him over the water, had 
not the meshes of duty to my country and human- 
ity so entangled me that I could not escape from 
the army." 

In these records, written while others slept, it 
is noteworthy that he gave full credit to the dele- 
gates, speaking of them in the highest terms if 
he could, passing over their faults and failures 
without a word when this was possible, and mak- 
ing excuses for them when it was necessary to 
make some reference to their shortcomings. Per- 
haps the bitterest comment he permitted himself 
concerning a delegate was written after trying 
experiences with ** a very bright and fascinating 
young man, who has occupied a full-sized dele- 
gate's place in bed and boarding houses, but who 
has not done very much of a delegate's work 
. . . one of two young gentlemen, who look for 
all the world like a flower pot. He had a pretty 
face, a fine coat, a clean shirt, polished boots, 
smoothly combed hair, a bewitching smile, a grace- 
ful bow, a smooth tongue, a neat hand, a gentle 
voice, and was altogether decidedly Frenchy, ar- 
tistic.'' Then followed a sentence in which Mr. 
Miller, who was already showing the passion for 



AT THE FEONT 43 

service that later made him so remarkable, re- 
vealed his attitude to life, '^ But I always liked 
the bee better than the butterfly." This is the 
only reference in his notes to such a butterfly; 
there was too much to be said of the bees in his 
reports. 

The monthly reports of the activities of his de- 
partment were made up from the daily records. 
These reports are accurate and complete. A num- 
ber of them are quoted in the records of the Chris- 
tian Commission. The largest of those thus se- 
lected for preservation was written at the close of 
his first quarter's service with the Army of the 
Shenandoah. Those who would read a vivid story 
of the work at the front of the heroes of the Com- 
mission should study this document as it is given 
in the full in the volume of annual reports of the 
organisation. Generous portions are quoted here, 
not only because of the glimpses they give of Mr. 
Miller's work in the last year of the war, but also 
because they clearly reveal so much of the ripen- 
ing character of the thoughtful, diligent, humble 
writer. 

The paper is dated at Harper's Ferry, Decem- 
ber 30, 1864, and begins : 

** I have the honour to submit the following re- 
port of the operations of the Christian Commis- 
sion in this field, from the organisation of the 
department, in September, till the close of the 
year. The impossibility of keeping full records 
during the hurried work of organising, while an 



44 THE LIFE OP DR. J. R. MILLER 

active campaign was in progress, will account for 
any deficiencies in the first part of my report." 

After speaking of his arrival at Sandy Hook, 
Maryland, on September 19, he says : 



<< 



Both difficulties and dangers attended the for- 
warding of supplies and delegates to the field for 
the sufferers at Winchester. The railroad from 
Harper's Ferry to Winchester was destroyed. 
Guerrillas infested the country in search of plun- 
der. We had to hire poor wagons and teams, until 
good ones could be purchased and sent to us. The 
difficulties were overcome, the dangers did not stop 
us. Our wagons, supplies and delegates were has- 
tened forward, and reached the front in safety. 

** Arriving at Winchester, a room was secured, 
where the stores were deposited, while the wagons 
went back immediately for more supplies. In two 
days we again went forward with two wagonloads 
of choicest hospital stores, and with a reenforce- 
ment of ten delegates. This second supply I ac- 
companied myself. I at once visited all the hos- 
pitals, and reported to all the different surgeons 
in charge that we had a band of workers who had 
come to do their part in caring for the brave suf- 
ferers. In every instance the proffered aid was 
gratefully accepted. To many of these officers, as 
well as to their men, the Christian Commission 
was almost unknown. The Sixth Corps had 
served long in the Potomac army, and, of course, 
had met the Commission in every camp and field 
since its organisation. But the Nineteenth Corps 
had known but little of our operations previously 
to this campaign. And the Eighth Corps, having 
been serving in the mountains of West Virginia 



AT THE FEONT 45 

mainly, knew but little of us. However, every 
facility was granted us, and with no ceremony, 
our ten delegates, fresh from home, and anxious 
to do all in their power to alleviate suffering, went 
to work. Since that time, we have had a great 
and uninterrupted work at Winchester. 

^^ The battle of September 19th was a most im- 
portant one. Previously to the campaign that so 
auspiciously opened with this engagement, the 
Valley of the Shenandoah had indeed been our 
* valley of humiliation.' There we had suffered 
defeat after defeat, and the brave men who had 
fallen on many disastrous battle fields, lay scat- 
tered over every portion of the valley. But the 
19th was a new day in the history of our military 
operations in this section. Instead of constant 
and disastrous defeat, we now entered on a series 
of as brilliant successes as have marked the his- 
tory of any army of similar power and strength 
since the war began. Morning saw the enemy, 
proud, defiant, and confident, — anight found him 
routed, reduced in numbers by many thousands, 
flying in disorder, leaving the machinery of war, 
and the debris of battle scattered all along his 
path. The victory was complete, overwhelming, 
and destructive; and the news that went to the 
world thrilled loyal hearts everywhere with joy. 
But victory always costs something; always 
leaves sad wrecks behind ; amid the shouts of the 
victors on the field are heard the groans and wails 
of the dying; and with the rejoicings at home over 
the news of victory, there are always mingled 
the throbs of saddened hearts ; for loved ones fall 
on every field of strife, and every battle sends 
sadness and desolation to many homes. 

** The battle of the 19th was bloody. Hundreds 
of brave men fell to rise no more, and several 



46 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

thousands were wounded. The sufferings for 
many days were very great. In addition to our 
own wounded, there were two thousand of the 
enemy ^s wounded left in our hands. These were 
collected in distinct hospitals, with their own sur- 
geons and nurses ; yet they demanded care at our 
hands, on the principle — ' If thine enemy hunger, 
feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink.' The 
great number of friends that these rebel wounded 
have in the city of Winchester and the scarcity of 
the friends of the Union made it certain that as 
far as help from citizens was concerned, the rebels 
would fare much better than our own men, and on 
this account I directed that the principal efforts 
of our delegates, at the first, should be on behalf 
of our own men. However, one delegate was ap- 
pointed to visit the rebel hospitals daily, to supply 
them with reading matter, Testaments, papers, 
etc., and in cases adjudged really needful, to sup- 
ply also small quantities of hospital stores. 

** The scene presented after the battle was truly 
a heart-rending one. Winchester was literally one 
vast hospital. All the churches and other public 
buildings were filled; while almost every private 
house had its quota of wounded and bleeding sol- 
diers. There have been but few times since the 
war began when there was greater need of ex- 
ternal relief. There was nothing left in the coun- 
try; the government supplies were all back; the 
nearest base was Harper's Ferry, over thirty 
miles distant; and the intervening country was 
overrun with guerrillas, so that nothing could go 
forward safely, unless under the protection of a 
strong military escort. I cannot pass over this 
period without bearing testimony to the noble 
and self-sacrificing labours of the loyal ladies of 
Winchester. When they saw the brave defenders 




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AT THE FEONT 47 

of the old flag, which they still so dearly loved, 
stricken down in the streets of their city, they 
at once entered on their work of mercy, and ceased 
not till all the brave men were made comfortable. 
They shared their last morsel with them; they 
washed, and dressed, and cheered the weary suf- 
ferers, and bent over the dying to catch their last 
whispered message to dear ones far away. There 
are a few names in Winchester which will go down 
into history garlanded with honours, and coupled 
with deeds of heroism and magnanimity. 

^ * The world will never know the nature, value, 
or importance of the work performed in the hos- 
pitals by our delegates. It was a quiet, unosten- 
tatious work of mercy. Entering on their labours 
there in a time of greatest suffering, they worked 
by day and by night among the wounded thou- 
sands, washing, dressing, feeding, praying with 
the dying, burying the dead, and calling upon the 
living to repent and be saved. It is now nearly 
three months and a half since the work began, but 
it is not yet ended. During this time, ^ve hundred 
men have died in these hospitals ; several thousand 
have been transferred to other hospitals; while 
several hundred still remain. 

** As soon as the railroad was restored, Martins- 
burg became a place of great importance to our 
work. Almost every wagon train from the front 
brought down two, three, or ^ve hundred men on 
their way to the hospitals of Baltimore and other 
cities. During the first few weeks, these men were 
taken, as soon as they arrived, into the churches 
and other public buildings, from the wagons, and 
there remained till the following afternoon. ^ It 
is twenty-two miles from Winchester to Martins- 
burg. And over all this distance, in hard army 
wagons, over rough roads, with no beds, or even 



48 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

straw to lie upon, and with no rest, and nothing 
to eat by the way, these poor, mangled men had 
to travel. We were always apprised of their com- 
ing an hour or more before they began to arrive, 
and large camp-kettles full of water were placed 
over the fire, and soon forty or fifty gallons of 
tea were ready. Then, with tea, crackers, cheese, 
meats and fruits, our delegates hurried about 
from place to place, till all were fed. Then came 
the bathing, and washing, and dressing, and it 
was usually well-nigh morning before all was 
done; but after a night's hard labour our dele- 
gates have always felt amply repaid for their toil 
in the gratitude of many noble hearts. In the 
morning the same routine began again; and at 
noon the brave fellows were placed in the cars 
for another long, hard ride ; and our last act was 
always to make them as comfortable as possible 
on their hard beds on the cars. 

** Too much cannot be said in praise of the noble 
ladies of Martinsburg, and their deeds of benevo- 
lence performed toward our suffering soldiers dur- 
ing the campaign. The many men who have from 
time to time lain in the hospitals of Martinsburg 
will always remember with gratitude the loyal 
people who so gladly and so freely shared with 
them the comforts and luxuries of their own 
homes. 

*^ During the campaign the twofold object of 
the Christian Commission has been kept steadily 
in view. While caring for the body, and labour- 
ing to alleviate bodily sufferings, we have aimed to 
lose no opportunity to speak a word for Jesus. 
We have always borne in mind that our soldiers 
are beings for immortality; and, in going from 
cot to cot, among thousands, our delegates have 
not failed to remind them, if but by a hastily 



AT THE FRONT 49 

spoken word, that they have interests far higher 
than those of time. Prayer meetings and other 
brief religious services have been regularly held 
in all our hospitals; and a quiet, but powerful, 
work of grace has been constantly moving for- 
ward. 

** The only station of the Commission in opera- 
tion, in the department, at the opening of the cam- 
paign, was the one at Sandy Hook. To-day we 
are represented at Sandy Hook, Harper's Ferry, 
Martinsburg, Cumberland, Beverly, Stevenson's 
Station, Winchester, and at the front, four miles 
south of Winchester. At that time we had but 
two delegates in the field. During the campaign 
over eighty have been enrolled, who, with few ex- 
ceptions, have laboured faithfully and diligently 
in the service of our Master. ' ' 

The admirable report closes with this para- 
graph : 

* * Our plans for the winter contemplate the erec- 
tion of chapels in every camp, so that all may have 
an opportunity to hear the gospel; the establish- 
ment of libraries in reach of all who desire to 
read; the organisation of prayer meetings; and 
the distribution of Testaments, papers, books, 
tracts, etc., everywhere. The field is ready and in- 
viting, the harvest promises to be plenteous, and 
we ask for the reapers. Many thousands who now 
ask for the Word of life, in one year hence will 
sleep quietly beneath the sod. The time for work 
is now. We ask for grace to begin the new year 
with renewed zeal, and to enable us to do more in 
the future than in the past." 

An editor of the Pittsburgh Gazette visited Har- 
per's Ferry in February, 1865. In his leading 



50 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

editorial on February 13, after speaking of the 
workers, lie said : 

" The General Field Agent is Mr. J. R. Miller, 
of the United Presbyterian Church, a man of in- 
defatigable industry and fine administrative abil- 
ities. A nobler or more generous man we never 
met ; and if we were to relate even what fell under 
our observation of his deeds of substantial kind- 
ness to all around him, but especially to a be- 
reaved and sorrow-stricken woman, and at serious 
expense to himself, our language would be thought 
extravagant. 

^^ The headquarters is a decent * shanty ' con- 
taining three rooms and a little kitchen. There 
they live and labour and hold their nightly meet- 
ings for religious worship. The soldiers are al- 
ways coming and going, and here they congregate 
every evening to sing and pray, and discuss their 
joys or sorrows. Here they often linger to talk 
or sing together of those better things which only 
true believers realise and understand. . . . Dur- 
ing the present winter hundreds of soldiers have 
become earnest Christian men at Harper's Ferry 
and in the camp around. Even the delegates 
themselves are astonished and delighted at the 
progress of the work. But it is not more than 
might be expected ; for probably nothing has been 
so much like the work of the great Master himself 
as this work of which we are speaking.'' 

Always extremely modest and unassuming, Mr. 
Miller said nothing of his part in persuading the 
soldiers about him to give themselves to Christ. 
But it is certain that God used his untiring, sym- 
pathetic, prayerful efforts in the salvation of hun- 



AT THE FEONT 51 

dreds. Between the lines of the Field Agent's re- 
ports and private records one can read hints that 
tell how he was serving his apprenticeship for the 
work of later years, that was to be so marvellously 
blessed. Once he sorrowfully wrote a record of 
failure that tells how earnest he was in seeking 
the lost ; 

'^ I talked to a man in the hospital and urged 
him to accept the Saviour's gracious offer of 
pardon. ^ No,' said he, ^ I have lived a most sinful 
life for thirty-five years, and have always refused 
a Saviour's love. I know what you tell of Christ 
is true. I know that I shall suffer eternal punish- 
ment, yet I do not repent ; but, sir, I am too brave 
a man to come now at the last hour and beg for 
pardon. It is cowardice that drives men to Christ 
when they are going to die. They seek salvation 
just when — and not till — they find that they can- 
not live in sin any longer. No, I will die as I have 
lived.' And nothing could overcome his deter- 
mination. Before morning his spirit had flown." 

With what joy he turned from a record like that 
to a letter to the secretary of the Christian Com- 
mission, in which he said : 

** Again we have to thank God for another 
month of prosperity and success. Everywhere his 
Spirit has been preached and his glory advanced 
in the salvation of souls. Such a great outpouring 
of the Spirit amid the rude and ghastly scenes of 
war, imparts a new and holy light to the cause for 
which we are struggling." 



52 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

In this letter workers were mentioned by name, 
and much is said of their success as winners of 
souls. Of himself, as the leader of the work, he 
said nothing, although in the last paragraph he 
revealed his agency in inspiring the workers in 
the only true way: 

** I have always believed that the secret of the 
greatest success of preaching the gospel in the 
army is in the fact that the gospel only is 
preached. We have no time nor opportunity for 
pulpit embellishments. Men are taught their true 
condition, and told of the only Saviour. The per- 
sonal conversation, the earnest prayer meeting, 
the brief and simple sermon, and the Bible lesson 
are the means which God sees fit to bless.'* 

Thus in the closing month of the war Mr. 
Miller's time and thought were largely taken up 
with the problems to which he was to devote his 
life — the problems of the hearts of men. 



IN CAMP AND HOSPITAL 



Christ is our Friend. That means everything we need. 
No want can be unsupplied. No sorrow can be uncomforted. 
No evil can overmaster us. For time and eternity we are 
safe. It will not be the streets of gold, and the gates of 
pearl, and the river and the trees, that will make heaven for 
us — it will be the companionship, the friendship of Christ. 
. . . The consciousness that Christ is our Friend and we are 
His should cheek every evil thought, quell every bitter feeling, 
sweeten every emotion, and make all our life holy, true and 
heavenly. — From " Christ and I Are Friends/' in " The Booh 
of Comfort." 

How are we to find what our place in the universe is, and 
what we ought to do with our life? Does anyone know, 
and can anyone show us, but He whose we are, who has made 
us and planned us for our course? We see at once that if 
we leave God out of our life, ignore Him, fail to recognise 
Him as our Master, seek no direction and guidance from 
Him, we can only wreck our career. The only ambition in 
life that is wise and safe is the ambition to be what God 
made us to be, to do what God sent us into the world to do, 
to fulfill the divine purpose for our life. And it follows that 
only Christ can guide us in choosing our place and our work. 
— From " This One Thing 1 Do," in " A Heart Garden." 



CHAPTER IV 

IN CAMP AND HOSPITAL 
(To September, 1865) 

Mr. Miller's notes of his life at ttie front tell of 
many letters and visits from anxious mothers 
and other relatives who sought information of 
wounded soldiers. It was one of his greatest 
pleasures to do what he could for these inquirers. 
Once he wrote : 

'^ I have never felt happier than to-day when 
receiving the blessings of a dear old Scotch 
woman, who came here to seek her son. We have 
in this office a list of all the patients in the Win- 
chester hospitals, and then we take a list of all 
who pass through from there on their way to Balti- 
more and other hospitals. We found that he had 
passed through two days since. She heaped bless- 
ings on our heads for our kindness to her boy, 
for we had fed him on his way through. Leaving 
some gifts for her other boy to be forwarded to 
him — he is well and at the front — she turned her 
feet to find the wounded son.'' 

Thus the writer revealed his eagerness to min- 
ister to the sorrowing that was so characteristic 
to the end of his life. Another characteristic — ■ 

55 



56 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

Ms ardent love for children — was shown when he 
wrote : 

^* The soldiers who have lain in the hospitals at 
Martinsburg will never forget the sweet little girl 
with the blue eyes and chestnut curls who, every 
day, stole noiselessly to their cot, having in her 
hand some little dainty, and on her sweet face 
a smile of welcome. She is not more than eleven 
or twelve, but womanly beyond her years, and 
possessing a heart large enough and good enough 
for a Florence Nightingale. Up bright and early 
in the first golden beams of morning, and with 
her hands laden with the little luxuries of home, 
away she trips lightly, gayly to the hospital. She 
hastens noiselessly around through the rooms, 
stopping at the side of every weary sufferer, 
asking him how he rested, and how he feels this 
morning, and leaving here and there some deli- 
cate morsel. When she has fuiished her morn- 
ing's work, away she goes to school, but no sooner 
are her duties over there than off she glides again 
to repeat her morning's work, and again at even- 
ing she bears cheer and comfort to many a droop- 
ing heart. She is tender-hearted, and often drops 
a tear over some poor sufferer, to see how sorely 
he is pained, and as he tells her of his home, and 
the dear friends whom he will never see agaia. She 
was passing through a ward with us one morning 
when we came to a man whose sufferings were 
most agonising, and whose face was already pal- 
ing before the approach of death. It would have 
been a heart of stone that could have looked un- 
moved on that scene. The dear child laid her 
face in her hands as the great tears flowed from 
her eyes. When we had left the hospital she 
looked up through her still weeping eyes and said, 



IN CAMP AND HOSPITAL 57 

' I was not a baby to cry when I saw that poor 
man, was I? ' '' 

After reading this passage, one is not surprised 
to find this also: 

*' Somehow I can never get over my foolish 
weakness of falling in love with little girls. Bine 
eyes, chestnut curls, rosy cheeks, neat dress, sweet 
smiles, and kind winning manners in a little girl 
of ten or twelve are not to be withstood. . . . 
Little girls can do more by the sweetness and in- 
nocence of their free young hearts to allay 
troubled spirits and to cheer and soothe in the 
hour of suffering than most of those who are older. 
There is a purity and a sincerity and a simplicity 
in their manners and words that captivates 
hearts." 

He had a prophetic insight into his own future 
when he said, a little later : 

*^ I have always felt that by the peculiar traits 
and talents which God has given me I am able to 
do more for the instruction and culture of children 
than many men who have different capabilities. 
I have laboured much among children, and I have 
in many instances been able to soften the rudest, 
to tame the wildest, and to overcome the wilful- 
ness of the most stubborn. And all, too, by the 
sweet, gentle, winning power of kindness. 

^ ' Last Sabbath I met for the first time a dozen 
little boys and girls in my own room, and organ- 
ised them into a Sunday school. To-day we met 
there again. There were several new ones, and 
the interest is certainly very great. During the 
past week the little girls have been almost wild 



58 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

with enthusiasm. . . . They hang around me 
like children over a parent, or sisters around a 
brother. ' ' 

The man who could minister so tenderly to 
children was capable of the heartiest sympathy 
with the woes of older people, as was evident 
from the very next record in the journal : 

* ^ Five men were sentenced to be shot to-day for 
the crime of desertion. Wednesday afternoon, 
while waiting on the platform for the train going 
eastward, my attention was directed to two ladies 
also waiting for the train. One of these was 
very old and frail, with tottering step, bowed head, 
and time-silvered hair. Her eyes were sore with 
weeping, and a swift glance told me that some 
great burden was resting on her heart. The other 
was young, evidently a daughter of the elder 
lady, with a face sober and thoughtful, and while 
she stood her eyes wandered listlessly and absent- 
mindedly upon the scenes around. A common- 
place inquiry on the part of the younger lady 
opened a conversation between us, and on the 
way to Relay House I had frequent conversation 
with her. She told me of her mission to Harper's 
Ferry. Her brother was one of the number to be 
shot that day. The old lady was his mother. His 
father was an old man of nearly eighty, too frail 
to leave his room, and both parents were evidently 
near death. Eleven weeks ago her brother left 
home without telling anyone of his intentions. 
No tidings came of him till last Friday morning, 
when the telegraph bore the sad message : * Fa- 
ther, I am in prison here, sentenced to be shot the 
17th. Am not guilty of desertion as they say. 



IN CAMP AND HOSPITAL 59 

Can 't you do something to save me 1 ' The father 
could not leave his chamber, but the heartbroken 
mother and sister hurried forward at once to 
Washington, and by an interview with the Presi- 
dent had the sentence suspended. Then they came 
to Harper's Ferry to see the boy. They saw him 
twice, and then hurried forward again to Wash- 
ington, on which journey I met them. . . . 

^' Before the hour appointed for execution all 
but two of the convicted men had been respited. 
The execution of the sentence on the remaining 
three was suspended. The hour came, however, 
and the two for whom there seemed now no hope 
of mercy were borne off to the appointed place, 
and all the solemn preparations were enacted. In 
a few minutes more, or perhaps only seconds, the 
ill-fated men would have been launched into 
eternity. But just at the last moment, when their 
hands were pinioned and preparations were mak- 
ing for the sentence, an orderly dashed up on 
horseback with an order to stop the execution of 
the sentence. The orderly had ridden with all 
possible speed. His horse had fallen in the road 
and was able to go no farther. He seized another 
horse and dashed on, waving the paper in his 
hands, that they might see him coming, lest he 
should be too late. He was just in time, and the 
poor men yet lived.'' 

Little wonder if amid such scenes the young 
worker was sometimes cast down. His heart was 
continually going out to the sufferers about him, 
and vitality was so exhausted that he could not 
always be cheerful. He was careful not to tell 
others of his depression — he was never willing to 
be a discourager. The pages of his journal only 



60 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

were told the secret, and they did not betray him. 
On August 8, 1864, he wrote : 

^^ How these gloomy hours weigh me down! 
I know it is wrong to be gloomy. I have no right 
to walk under dark clouds while over all the sun 
is shining. I know I should always be cheerful 
and bright and happy. God makes us to enjoy 
life, and he desires us to be happy. The general 
tenor of my life is even and bright. Fortune 
favours. I have won for myself a high position 
among those who labour for the temporal and 
spiritual welfare of our soldiers. All seems to 
be moving well, and I should be happy at all times. 

^ ^ Yet at times, in spite of my strongest efforts, 
I feel the shadow of a cloud, as it steals over me. 
A sigh or two, a few hours of despondency, a 
sleepless night, a useless day, and then all is 
bright again. Life is a strange medley, a check- 
ered pathway indeed, streaked with light and 
draped in gloom. Especially in the army is life 
liable to its hours of darkness. How I long at 
times for the quiet, the leisure, the enjoyments, 
the privileges, the love of home ! I was brooding 
the last hour over the wrecks, the sad home- 
wrecks, the heart-wrecks, the wrecks of pleasure 
and of joy, that the war has made. I was think- 
ing of the happy hours of three and four years 
ago, of the happy friends with whom I mingled. 
I was thinking of my dear associates. I remember 
as if it were but yesterday the walks, the talks, 
the tender words of love, the calm, cheering words 
of counsel and encouragement. I had my dark 
hours then, my hours of discouragement and some- 
times almost despair. I had my rivals and my 
enemies. ... I had my anxieties and cares, for 
I have borne my share of responsibilities. Per- 



IN CAMP AND HOSPITAL 61 

haps few so young have had more. And I often 
felt the burdens resting upon me, crushing me 
almost to earth. . . . 

* * To-night I have none to whom to bear my sor- 
rows. There is no human being that listens to 
my words of discouragement, no tongue to whisper 
words of cheer, no heart to love, no heart to re- 
ceive my aching head. I am a stranger far from 
home. I am sad to-night. I have been looking 
on society rent and torn by the ravages of war. 
My friends of boyhood, my associates of past 
years, my fellows in Latin and Greek, are nearly 
all gone. The enemy's balls have laid them low.'' 

The entry that makes this record worth its place 
in this biography follows immediately afterwards. 
It tells of the triumph of the strong faith of the 
lonely helper of the soldiers as he wrote in tri- 
umph: 

* * Jesus is my friend, and why then languish in 
vain for earthly comforters'? Christ alone is true 
and sure — Jesus Christ my all shall be." 

The reader can see the strong man throwing 
off his discouragements, squaring his broad shoul- 
ders, and rising with new courage to face the bur- 
dens of his life of ministry. 

It was by daily, hourly communion with his 
Friend that he gained strength for his tasks. And 
the knowledge that others were praying for him 
cheered him. 

'^ As I have knelt late at night in my tent, to 
praise God for his goodness and invoke still longer 



62 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

the sunshine of his favour, I have always felt that 
I was not alone. I have felt that far-away loved 
ones were — possibly at that very moment — bow- 
ing like myself in prayer. I have known that for 
me a voice of prayer arose to him who answers. 
I have felt stronger in heart and stronger in faith. 
I bless God for the privilege of prayer, and 
doubly, when it becomes the electric chain that 
binds heart to heart, and all to heaven." 

And again he wrote : 

** Gradually the clouds of war are lifting, and 
rays of glorious light are bursting upon us. May 
we not hope that the end is near, and that when 
this terrible tragedy is over, our land may never 
again be called to witness such scenes of suffer- 
ing and strife! The only fitting posture for the 
Christian in these days of blood and heart-wrecks 
and home-wrecks is on his knees. Let us never 
cease to beseech God to have mercy on us, and to 
take away His sore judgments from us. ' The 
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit : a broken and 
a contrite heart, God, thou wilt not despise.' '' 

Not long after these words were written there 
came the event that tried the faith of the strong- 
est and drove them to their knees in voiceless, 
agonising prayer. Under date of April 15, 1865, 
this appears in the journal: 

'' Every man's heart is broken to-day. The sor- 
row could not have been greater if in every hab- 
itation in the land a loved one lay dead. One sees 
no smiling faces to-day, and hears no more peals 
of laughter on the streets. All is sad and solemn. 



IN CAMP AND HOSPITAL 63 

Thousands of flags had been flung to the breeze 
yesterday in honour of raising the national em- 
blem over the ruins of Fort Sumter. Every win- 
dow had its bright colours, and from every build- 
ing the gay bunting streamed. But this morning, 
immediately after the news that Abraham Lincoln 
was dead, every banner was placed at half-mast, 
and draped in the symbols of mourning, while 
on every house front were festoons of somber 
black." 

Two weeks after the assassination of Presi- 
dent Lincoln there was a delightful communion 
service at Pleasant Valley, near Harper's Ferry, 
when the saddened hearts of soldiers and dele- 
gates were gladdened as they drew close to the 
Lord. Eemount Camp was to be broken up within 
a few days, and the men who had been companions 
through so many campaigns were to separate, so 
the service was arranged. Mr. Miller wrote of 
this primitive observance: 

' ^ The appointments of the table were of a hum- 
ble description. The plates were of tin, the cups 
pewter, the bread came from the commissary, the 
table cover was two religious newspapers, and 
over the bread were two small napkins, clean but 
not whole. Though the circumstances were so 
novel, and there was so much of discomfort, and 
the appointments of the table were so informal, 
yet the service was both interesting and profit- 
able.'' 

Professor Stoever of Gettysburg Colles^e — 
whose house had been opened as a Christian Com- 



64 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEB 

mission hospital after the battle of Gettysburg — 
was present, most unexpectedly, at the communion 
in camp. Deeply impressed, he told of the day 
in these words : 



'* The services were held in one of the chapels 
erected by the Christian Commission, and con- 
ducted by two delegates, clergymen of evangelical 
churches. The scene reminded one very much of 
primitive apostolic times. Everyone present 
seemed pervaded with the solemnity of the occa- 
sion. The chapel was filled with our veteran sol- 
diers. As the men consecrated the elements con- 
tained in the humble vessels, it seemed as if all felt 
that Jesus was present.'' 



Soon after this communion service Mr. Miller 
was called to Philadelphia and Baltimore, then 
to Washington, where, to his own tasks for the 
Army of the Shenandoah, he added the direction 
of the Commission's work in the Army of the 
Potomac and Sherman's Army. These heavy 
duties were so well performed that in July it was 
possible for him to resign his commission. The 
resignation took effect on July 15. 

During the last weeks of service he suffered 
from fever, brought on by overwork. In July 
he went to Atlantic City for a few days of 
rest and change. The sea breeze proved to be the 
tonic he needed. Within a few days he once more 
felt strong and well. 

The days at Atlantic City gave him leisure to 



IN CAMP AND HOSPITAL 65 

think back on the past and forward to the futuref. 
He spoke of his experience thus : 

** It has been a good service to me, in that it 
has fitted me better for my life's great work. 
Some young men enter their professional life too 
early. Especially do those who enter the uni- 
versity do so before they are fitted for their work. 
... I came into the army just soon enough to 
prevent myself entering life at this same unfit age. 
Now I have seen a good deal of life . . . and I 
think I see a course that will fit me for more and 
greater usefulness. I have had opportunities of 
learning to read human nature, and perhaps know 
a little of the art of dealing with men. ... I am 
satisfied with the dispensation that holds me back 
from early follies. . . . 

* ^ I can truly say that I have had such views of 
Christ's character, and have learned such love of 
Christ himself here, as I should not have gained 
for years anywhere else than in the army." 

On July 12 Mr. Miller left Atlantic City for 
Washington. There he made out his final reports. 
Then he left for his home in Ohio, where he ar- 
rived — after making a number of visits on the way 
— on August 1. 

At once he was besieged by requests to do work 
that would turn him aside from the ministry for 
an indefinite period. The American Union Com- 
mission, The American Kailway Library Union, 
and the United Presbyterian Freedmen's Mission 
clamoured for his services. But he decided not 
to make his decision till he had taken time for 



66 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

study. In the meantime he prepared for his long- 
delayed licensure. He did not like to think of 
turning aside from the ministry, yet he trembled 
as he thought of the responsibility of standing in 
the pulpit : 

** How shall I dare to open my lips or speak 
forth my words? A mistake here is a mistake 
fatal, eternally. As I think of these things my 
poor weak heart cries out, * Oh, my God, who is 
sufficient for these things? ' . . . I hear a voice 
that answers, ' My grace is sufficient for thee, and 
I will perfect strength in weakness.' 



>> 



The closing weeks of the summer were spent 
in the composition of sermons. For these the 
young student had received far better preparation 
in ministering to the needs of others than he could 
have received in the classroom alone. 



THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AND THE 

PASTORATE 



We do not begin to understand what great waste we are 
allowing when we fail to put the true value on little oppor- 
tunities of serving others. Somehow we get the feeling that 
any cross-bearing worth while must be a costly sacrifice, 
something that puts nails through our hands, something that 
hurts till we bleed. If we had an opportunity to do some- 
thing heroic we say we could do it. But when it is only a 
chance to be kind to a neighbour, to sit up with him at night 
when he is sick, or to do something for a child, we never 
think for a moment that such little things are the Christ- 
like deeds God wants us to do, and so we pass them by and 
there is a great blank in our lives where holy service ought 
to be.— From "In That Which Is Least/' in "The Book of 
Comfort.'' 

We need great wisdom for the ministry of comfort. . . . 
We need to be sure that we understand God^s way of giving 
comfort. ... A professor in a theological seminary said to 
the students : " Never fail in any service to speak a word of 
comfort. No congregation, however small, ever assembles but 
there is in it at least one person in sorrow who will go away 
unhelped if in Scripture lesson, hymn, prayer, or sermon 
there is nothing to comfort a mourner or to lift up a heavy 
heart." An American preacher said, " I never look over a 
congregation of people waiting for a message from my life 
without thinking of what burdens many of them are carrying, 
through what struggles they are passing, what sorrows they 
are enduring, and how much they need comfort and encour- 
agement that they may be able to go on in their pilgrimage 
journey." — From "The Message of Comfort/' in "A Heart 
Garden/^ 



CHAPTEE V 

THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AND THE 

PASTORATE 

(1865 to 1912) 

Mr. Miller resumed Ms interrupted studies at 
the Allegheny Theological Seminary in the fall of 
1865. His experiences during the war had so 
broadened his mind that he was able to make the 
most of his opportunities under Dr. John T. 
Pressley and Dr. David R. Kerr and their asso- 
ciates. The number then in the faculty was not 
nearly so large as in this and similar institutions 
to-day, but the men were all giants of intellectual 
and spiritual strength, and knew how to inspire 
the young men enrolled in their classes. 

Fellow students who had valued Mr. Miller be- 
cause of his unusual attainments marvelled at 
the way in which his character had been enriched 
by the service with the Christian Commission. 
They rejoiced in the opportunity for daily fellow- 
ship with one who was living so near to heaven 
that every word and act of his seemed to lift them 
close to God. His brotherliness of spirit, his ear- 
nestness of purpose, his humility and gentleness, 
and his never-flagging zeal won all who knew him. 

69 



70 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

His roommate in 1865 — J. G. D. Findlay, later 
pastor at Newburgh, New York — said of him: 

*' I found him a genial and heartsome com- 
panion, and we passed the time pleasantly to- 
gether. He was studious, fond of reading, and 
much interested in all Christian work. My asso- 
ciation with him was especially helpful and up- 
lifting." 

Lifelong friendships were formed during these 
years. Perhaps the most intimate was with 
Charles A. Dickey, whom he assisted at a newly 
organised mission in Allegheny which grew into 
the Fourth United Presbyterian Church. There 
— in Sunday school, in prayer meeting, and the 
pulpit — he was a conscientious and unassuming 
associate. One of the great joys of later life in 
Philadelphia was friendship and fellowship with 
Dr. Dickey, then pastor of Bethany Church. 

When the seminary celebrated its seventy-fifth 
anniversary, Dr. Miller wrote a hearty letter tell- 
ing of his indebtedness to the institution. In this 
he said: 

** By far the most lasting influences of my 
seminary life were its fellowships. . . . That 
which has stayed with me most persistently dur- 
ing these years has not been the theology, the 
church history, the New Testament Greek, or the 
Old Testament Hebrew, but the memory of cer- 
tain men and the impressions which they made 
upon my life." 



SEMINARY AND PASTORATE 71 

He completed his course in tlie spring of 1867. 
During the summer he accepted a call from the 
First United Presbyterian Church of New Wil- 
mington, Pennsylvania, the seat of Westminster 
College, from which he had graduated five years 
earlier. His ordination and installation took 
place September 11, 1867, and he at once devoted 
himself heartily to the work of pulpit and pas- 
torate. Being a college centre, the field gave in- 
spiration for the most careful sermon prepara- 
tion, and men who sat under his preaching in their 
student days — ministers, doctors, lawyers, and 
others — tell of the uplift which it brought to them. 
A number of men testified in later years that they 
were led by his strong personality and the spirit 
of his work to the determination to devote their 
lives to the gospel ministry. 

Nor was it only the students who were helped 
by his preaching at New Wilmington. From the 
first there was a persuasiveness in tone and mes- 
sage, and an earnestness in utterance which made 
his preaching — to use the words of an admirer — 
** peculiarly his own.'* There was nothing stilted 
in his pulpit work, no straining after rhetorical 
or dramatic effect, but there was a simplicity, a 
directness, an elegance and richness in diction and 
illustration, combined with evident sincerity and 
earnestness that carried his messages directly to 
the heart. 

It was evident to all who watched his work that 
he was winning a strong hold upon the hearts of 



72 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

children, because they always had a warm place 
in his hearths love. A mot' ; still living in New 
iWilmington tells of the interest manifested in her 
only son by the young pastor, and of the affection 
which the child soon began to manifest in return. 
One of the ways in which he showed his interest 
in children and young people was in the encour- 
agement he gave them to cultivate missionary gar- 
dens, or rows of corn or potatoes in their fathers' 
fields. Wherever there were children in the home 
there was a well-cared- for garden bed, or rows of 
corn or potatoes, or a tree in the orchard, the 
products of which were to be given to God. At 
Thanksgiving there would be a general ingather- 
ing of the fruits of the consecrated ground. 

Though this first pastorate lasted but two years, 
nearly two hundred names were added to the 
church roll — eighty-five on confession of their 
faith and one hundred and thirteen by letter. 
Most men would have thought it unreasonable to 
expect such results in a circumscribed country 
field, but the young pastor discovered the people 
and went after them. He believed in calling re- 
peatedly on all who would receive him. A phy- 
sician, with whom he was then specially intimate, 
has since spoken of the list of more than one hun- 
dred families living within a radius of five miles 
from the village which his pastor visited during 
those two years of service. 

He was not satisfied merely to receive members 
into the church; he felt that his duty was then 




J. R. MILLER (1868) 



SEMINARY AND PASTORATE 73 

just begun. The next thing was to train them 
for Christian service. This he was able to do 
with marked success. One who later became a 
pastor of some distinction gives this glimpse of 
methods that succeeded in his case : 

*^ I had been for several years a member of 
the church, but I had never the courage to lead 
publicly in prayer. One Wednesday evening 
after prayer meeting he came to me personally 
and asked if I would not lead in prayer the next 
Wednesday evening. I was afraid, and would not 
consent. He talked with me very kindly and ten- 
derly for a short time and asked me to think it 
over and pray about it. He said that he would 
pray also that the Lord would give me strength 
and courage to do as he asked. He said that I 
need not fear my being called on to pray until I 
could willingly give my consent. I was a green, 
backward country boy, and had it not been for his 
kind, sympathetic spirit and strong personal in- 
fluence I could not have made the venture. But 
I did as he asked. The next steps were not easy, 
but his sympathy and suggestions helped me to 
continue after I had made the start." 

Though his labours in this first pastorate were 
abundantly fruitful, Mr. Miller was not wholly 
satisfied with his ecclesiastical relationships. He 
held firmly to the great body of truth professed 
by the United Presbyterian Church, in which he 
had been reared, but he did not like the rule re- 
quiring the exclusive singing of the Psalms, and 
he felt that it was not honest for him to profess 



74 THE LIFE OF DB. J. R. MILLER 

this as one of the articles of his Christian belief. 

He had no prospect of a field of labour in any- 
other denomination, and his people were daily 
becoming more devoted to him, when — in July, 
1869 — ^he wrote a long, tender letter to his father 
and mother, telling them of his scruples and of 
the decision he had formed, after much prayer 
and consideration, to resign his pastoral charge 
and to seek member sliip in the Presbyterian 
Church, U. S. A. He made no reflections whatever 
upon the Church in which he had been trained and 
by which he had been ordained. On the contrary, 
he acknowledged his deep indebtedness to the 
United Presbyterian Church, and to the godly par- 
ents who had so earnestly and faithfully taught 
him the way of life, and who had followed him 
with their earnest prayers all his days. 

In August, 1869, he announced to the congre- 
gation his intention to resign the pastorate charge 
and asked them to join him in his request to 
presbytery for a dissolution of the relationship 
existing between them. The congregation reluc- 
tantly acquiesced in his request. By the action of 
the Presbytery of Mercer he was released Au- 
gust 24. 

There was sorrow among the ministers and 
members of the United Presbyterian Church. 
There was a wide feeling among its ministers that 
the Lord had a work for Mr. Miller among them 
which would have been abundantly blessed. But 
those who knew the spirit of his life recognised 



SEMINARY AND PASTORATE 75 

the honesty and sincerity of heart with which he 
made the change, and followed him with their 
best wishes, their prayers and their unceasing 
interest. They recognised that the Lord had led 
him out into a wider field, and always rejoiced in 
the fact that his life had been so abundantly used. 
While his relationship to the Church of his boy- 
hood had ended, his interest in that Church was 
not at an end. Until the close of his life he was 
quick to acknowledge the great blessings that had 
come to him through the Church of his fathers. 
He recognised that although its membership and 
ministry were comparatively few in number, they 
were characterised by an intensity of life which 
made their witness and their service a blessing 
to the world. He recognised the strength and 
the sincerity of the convictions which governed 
its people and the tenacity with which these con- 
victions were held. He made no effort to lead 
others to follow his example in transferring their 
membership from one church to the other. His 
answer to any who sought advice as to such a 
change was that they should be satisfied as to 
their own convictions of truth and duty, and then 
should faithfully follow them. To one who con- 
sulted him in reference to this matter, he said 
that not even the prospect of greater usefulness 
should lead one to make such a change, for God 
only knows where our lives can be most richly 
blessed; our place is to surrender our lives to 
God and seek to follow only where He leads. 



76 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

After resigning his church at New Wihuington, 
Mr. Miller did not know what was to be his next 
step. No church had opened to him. But he felt 
he was following God's leading, so he was content 
to wait for further indications of God's will. He 
went to Allegheny, where he read and studied for 
two months. 

Then came an invitation from the Bethany Pres- 
byterian Church of Philadephia to undertake the 
pastorate. This was one of the very first calls 
issued after the reunion of the Old School and 
New School Churches, which was consummated in 
Pittsburgh, November 12, 1869. The invitation 
was accepted, and the new pastor began his new 
work November 21, 1869. On December 4 he was 
received by the Presbytery of Philadelphia. 

On June 22, 1870, Mr. Miller was married to 
Miss Louise E. King of Argyle, New York, whom 
he had met in May, 1868, while attending the meet- 
ing of the General Assembly of the United Pres- 
byterian Church in Argyle. From the day of his 
marriage Mrs. Miller was his inspiration and his 
helper in all his work. He was never weary of 
telling of his great debt to her. In his letters to 
young married people, he frequently told of what 
she was to him, and said that he could wish them 
no greater happiness than a home such as she 
was making for him. The secret of Mrs. Miller's 
helpfulness was not only her beautiful character, 
but her recognition of the fact that her husband 
belonged to those who listened to his preaching, 



SEMINARY AND PASTORATE 77 

who received him in their home, who read the pub- 
lications he edited, or who were inspired by his 
books. That he might be free to serve them she 
saw to it that he was relieved of all home cares 
which she could take upon herself. In these ef- 
forts she was most successful. 

At Bethany Mr. Miller gathered about him such 
an earnest and increasing band of workers that the 
church speedily outgrew the modest quarters in 
which he found it, and a larger building became 
necessary. In the problem incident to its con- 
struction, as in the spiritual problems of the field, 
he leaned heavily on a devoted session of which 
John Wanamaker was a member. The large 
Sunday school, of which Mr. Wanamaker was then 
— and is still — superintendent, called for much of 
the young pastor's time and thought. His rela- 
tions with the young people were cordial and 
intimate, and he was able to persuade many of 
them to accept Christ. 

When he became pastor at Bethany the mem- 
bership was seventy-five. When he resigned in 
1878 this was the largest Presbyterian church 
in Philadelphia, having about twelve hundred 
members. 

The regard in which he was held there is indi- 
cated by the fact that fifteen years after he re- 
signed the pastorate the session pleaded with him 
to return as one of the associate pastors of the 
church. 

Nine years at Bethany so exhausted him that 



78 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

he thought it wise to accept the call that came 
to him from the new Broadway Presbyterian 
Church of Rock Island, Illinois. He wished 
greater opportunity for study than he could have 
in the city parish. For nearly two years he re- 
mained in his new field, devoting himself without 
reserve to the one hundred members who were 
there to welcome him and the many who were re- 
ceived during his pastorate. 

With great skill he adapted himself and his 
methods to the peculiar conditions of his new 
field. In order to make headway against dances, 
tea parties and similar gatherings, which inter- 
fered with church work, he organised a library 
club. This met weekly in different homes. The 
forty or fifty who attended the meetings were 
helped and strengthened; many of them were led 
to take a new interest in the church. He was also 
a factor of moment in the life of the public-school 
teachers, whom he encouraged in their work with 
the young people by calling on them and entertain- 
ing them in his home. The ministers of the town 
— ^who had never worked together very well — were 
given a vision of the possibilities of cooperation. 

In 1880 Westminster College, his alma mater, 
conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. 
Later in the year came the invitation to undertake 
editorial work for the Presbyterian Board of Pub- 
lication which led him to Philadelphia. There 
he became interested in the Hollond Mission, 
a down-town work with a discouraging history. 



SEMINARY AND PASTORATE 79 

He preached his first sermon in the little chapel 
of the mission January 2, 1881. A few days later 
he wrote this message to the people whose invita- 
tion to lead them he had accepted : 

** You can help to make this chapel a warm, 
loving place, into which the weary, the sorrow- 
ing, the poor, the friendless, and the stranger 
will love to come. It costs but little to be kind, 
to reach out a cordial hand, to speak a few wel- 
coming words; and yet whole families have been 
won by just such simple courtesies in church 
aisles. Do not wait for introductions. Those 
who enter our church doors are our guests, and we 
must make them feel at home. 

'* I desire to have a place in your confidence, 
and in your affections. The work of a true pastor 
is more, far more, than the faithful preaching of 
the Word. He is a physician of souls, and his 
work must be largely personal. I desire, there- 
fore, to become the close, personal friend of every- 
one. I invite you to come to me freely for counsel 
and prayer in every matter that may concern your 
spiritual welfare. In sickness I want you to send 
for me. If you are in trouble, I claim the privi- 
lege of sharing it with you. I shall ever have a 
warm, ready sympathy, and a brother's helping 
hand for each of you when any burden presses, or 
any sorrow tries you. And in turn, I ask from 
you continual prayer, large patience, the firmest, 
truest friendship, a place in each home and heart, 
and ready cooperation in all the Master's work/' 

The mission was organised as a church March 
24, 1882. Dr. Miller was installed pastor April 23, 
1882. At that time the church reported 259 mem- 



80 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLER 

bers, while there were 1,024 in the Sunday school. 
During the sixteen months of the pastorate the 
church grew rapidly, both in numbers and influ- 
ence. 

On September 3, 1883, the pastoral relation was 
dissolved in order that Dr. Miller might devote 
himself to his editorial work. A month later Rev. 
William M. Paden became pastor. Dr. Miller as- 
sisted him in every way in his power, and the 
church grew rapidly. 

In January, 1886, the hunger of the congrega- 
tion for Dr. Miller's continued service led to the 
request that he become associated with Dr. Paden, 
His own hunger for the pastorate and intimate 
contact with the people led him to assume once 
more a burden that he had once decided was too 
great for him. For more than eleven years the 
new relation continued. Dr. Paden and Dr. Mil- 
ler worked together in delightful harmony. For 
ten years Dr. Paden was a member of Dr. Miller's 
household. 

In October, 1897, Dr. Paden accepted a call to 
Salt Lake City, Utah, and both pastors resigned. 
At this time the membership of the church was 
1,164, and there were 1,475 members in the Sun- 
day school. Dr. Miller acted as moderator of 
the session and supply of the church until June, 
1898, when the new pastor was on the field. Then 
the church property was worth $125,000. 

Concerning his resignation of the pastorate Dr. 
Miller wrote to a friend : 



SEMINAEY AND PASTORATE 81 

** In one sense it is a pleasure to me to lay this 
burden down. My duty has seemed very clear in 
the matter. My editorial and literary work have 
been growing continually during recent years, and 
now fill my hands so full that I cannot in justice 
to myself undertake any extended work outside." 

But the busy man could not be satisfied out of 
the pulpit. Every Sunday he was busy in some 
church, after a week whose evenings were spent 
calling on those who needed his help. To a Phila- 
delphia pastor he wrote of his desire to keep his 
Sundays occupied : 

** You know I am now free from Sunday work 
and I need not say to you that at any time when 
I can relieve you either for one service or for a 
whole Sunday when you want to rest a little, it 
will not only be a privilege but a real pleasure 
to me to do it. I would not accept compensation 
for any such service.'' 

A few weeks after concluding his work at Hol- 
lond Dr. Miller moved with his family to Ger- 
mantown, one of the delightful residence sections 
of Philadelphia. He had made up his mind not 
to accept an active pastorate. He thought he 
might learn of some little church that needed him 
where he might preach once a Sunday, conduct 
a Bible class, and do pastoral work. 

The appearance of the desired work was an- 
nounced in a letter to one who inquired about his 
future movements : 



82 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

** There is a piece of summer work in West 
Philadelphia which is pressing very much npon 
my heart at present and which I may decide to 
take up." 

In the summer he assisted in the tent where this 
work was being carried on. In the fall a small 
frame chapel was bought. This was dedicated 
October 29, 1898, and the services were continued 
there. On October 29, 1899, St. Paul Church was 
organised with sixty-six members. Dr. Miller 
who had given much help and encouragement dur- 
ing the intervening months was chosen temporary 
supply. 

The church prospered. It was located in a rap- 
idly growing section of the city, and it had a 
pastor who was speedily on the ground when a 
new family moved in whose members were not 
connected with some other church. On May 11, 
1900, a lot was purchased, and in this a stone 
chapel was erected at a cost of about $20,000. 
This was dedicated March 24, 1901. Thus — in less 
than three years — a discouraged group of work- 
ers, inspired by Dr. Miller, had become an active 
church, possessed of a property worth $35,000. 

During these early years Dr. Miller would not 
accept a salary. Later, when it seemed wise to 
permit the church to provide a salary, he man- 
aged in one way or other to restore every dollar 
to the church. During the fourteen years of his 
connection with St. Paul he did not profit finan- 
cially by his service. He felt that he should live 



SEMINARY AND PASTORATE 83 

on his salary as editor, and that the salary pro- 
vided by the church should always be used in the 
varied activities of the congregation. 

Additions were made to the church building 
until— on October 7, 1906— the beautiful $150,000 
property was dedicated. One month later Dr. 
Miller — who had continued as stated supply all 
these years — was called as pastor. The installa- 
tion followed on December 12. 

The relationship thus established continued till 
January 1, 1912, when Dr. Miller was made Pas- 
tor Emeritus. Rev. J. Beveridge Lee, D.D., who 
had been associated with him in the work for two 
years, then became the pastor of a church of 1,397 
members and a Sunday school of 1,193 members. 

Thus, during thirty-nine years. Dr. Miller 
served three Philadephia churches. He had taken 
charge of three struggling fields, which he left 
among the largest churches in the city. 

The annual growth of these churches was mar- 
vellous. During the nine years he was connected 
with the Bethany Church, 1870-78, 1,620 persons 
were received into the membership of that church, 
making an average of 180 a year; during the six- 
teen years of his association with the Hollond 
Memorial Church, 1881-1897, 1,817 persons were 
received, an average of 113 each year; and dur- 
ing the fourteen years of his connection with 
St. Paul Church, 1898-1912, 1,904 persons were 
received, an average of 136 a year. In the thirty- 
nine years of his pastoral relations with these 



84 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

three churches, 5,341 persons were received, mak- 
ing an average of 137 for every year. The largest 
number of accessions was in Bethany, in 1876, 
when 367 were received on confession, and 68 by 
letter, making a total of 435. Hollond received 
175 members in 1894, and St. Paul 251 in 1909. 



THE PASTOE AT WORK 



No name of Christ means more to us in the interpretation 
of His life and love than Friend. We are not only to tell 
those we teach of the beauty of the friendship of Christ, we 
must interpret that friendship in ourselves. What Christ 
was to those to whom He became a personal friend we must 
be to those we make our friends. He did not seem to do 
many things for them. He did not greatly change their 
condition. He did not make life easier for them. It was in 
a different way that His friendship helped them. He gave 
them sympathy. They knew He cared for them, and then 
the hard things meant less to them. It is a great thing for 
a boy to know that a good man is his friend, is interested in 
him. To many a lad it is the beginning of a new life for 
him. " If you will be my friend I can be a man," said a 
pupil in a mission school to his teacher who had spoken to 
him the first really kind word he ever had heard. The great- 
est moment in anyone's life is when he first realises that 
Christ is his Friend. — From '' The Master and the Children" 
in "The Book of Comfort." 

Our errand in this world is in a small way the same that 
Christ's errand was. He does not now ... go about doing 
good — ^we are to go for Him. The only hands Christ has for 
doing kindness are our hands. The only feet He has to run 
the errands of love are our feet. The only voice He has to 
speak cheer ... is our voice. — From " The Lesson of Love." 



CHAPTEE VI 

THE PASTOR AT WORK 

In 1910 a younger minister in the West wrote to 
Dr. Miller asking him to tell him how to make 
his ministry a success. The letter sent in reply 
concluded with these paragraphs; 

** Cultivate love for Christ and then live for 
your work. It goes without ^saying that the su- 
preme motive in every minister's life should be 
the love of Christ. * The love of Christ strength- 
eneth me/ was the keynote of St. Paul's mar- 
vellous ministry. But this is not all. If a man 
is swayed by the love of Christ he must also have 
in his heart love for his fellow men. If I were 
to give you what I believe is one of the secrets of 
my own life, it is, that I have always loved people. 
I have had an intense desire all of my life to help 
people in every way ; not merely to help them into 
the church, but to help them in their personal ex- 
periences, in their struggles and temptations, their 
quest for the best things in character. I have 
loved other people with an absorbing devotion. 
I have always felt that I should go anywhere, do 
any personal service, and help any individual, 
even the lowliest and the highest. The Master 
taught me this in the washing of His disciples' 
feet, which showed His heart in being willing to 
do anything to serve His friends. If you want 

87 



88 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

to have success as a winner of men, as a helper 
of people, as a pastor of little children, as the 
friend of the tempted and imperilled, you must 
love them and have a sincere desire to do them 
good. 

** Eight here is where professionalism works 
so much of its mischief. I have heard men say 
that they would not see people, say, at certain 
hours of the day, because these were hours they 
had set apart for something else in a professional 
way. I have heard of ministers refusing to go 
out on stormy nights because they thought they 
had done their work for that day. This kind of 
spirit will never succeed in the highest way. It 
may bring a man up to a noted professional stand- 
ing but it will never make him a real helper of 
his fellow men. The man that wants you is the 
man that you want to see. When you love men 
you must love every man and any man. I mean 
whoever needs you you must seek to help, what- 
ever the cost may be, in whatever little way you 
may be able to serve him. 

*' It seems that your secret of success just now 
will be, not in developing the professional ideals, 
not in following any rules which you have learned 
in the seminary, but in caring for people with 
such intensity that you will/be ready to make any 

, self-sacrifice to do them good. 

f-' << If you would win men for Christ you must 
win them first to yourself. That is, you must 
make them believe in you, love you. Mary and 
her lamb have a lesson for us. ' '' What makes 
the lamb love Mary so? " the eager children cry. 
** Oh, Mary loves the lamb, you know," the teacher 
did reply.' If you love people they will love you 
and you can lead them anywhere and make any- 
J;hing of them it is possible to make/' 



7 



THE PASTOR AT WORK 89 

This letter was valuable because its writer bad 
lived out every statement in it. He loved bis 
people. He forgot bimself . He delighted to quote 
the words of Alexander Maclaren, ^ ^ To efface self 
is one of a preacher's first duties." His people 
loved him because he thought nothing of himself 
and everything of them. 

His self-effacement was never more apparent 
than when he was in the pulpit. He seemed to be 
unconscious of the existence of J. R. Miller. He 
seemed to think only of God, and the people; of 
his Friend and those whom he longed to intro- 
duce to his Friend. And he had his reward. 
Thousands learned from his life the way to God. 

A correspondent of The British Monthly once 
wrote of his sermons : 

** Though void of the sensational, they are 
never commonplace. He never loses sight of the 
fact that they are to supply spiritual food and 
instruction to immortal souls, and right royally 
do they perform their mission. All are marked 
by simplicity of speech, lofty ideals, tender ap- 
peals, the statement of the heart's great need, 
and the magnifying of the all-powerful Helper. 
In them there is neither theorising nor temporis- 
ing; no man can mistake their meaning — all is 
plain, direct, earnest, forceful. Men listen atten- 
tively, reverently, prayerfully; they instinctively 
feel that the preacher is expressing great truths, 
that he is setting forth their spiritual needs, 
that he is translating into words the nobler long- 
ings of their lives. * Thou art the man ' is what 
every thoughtful person thinks of himself when 



90 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

listening to Dr. Miller's earnest condemnation of 
sin and to his pleadings for more of purity, use- 
fulness and holiness. It is little wonder then that 
people who sit under his preaching strive to lead 
clean, helpful lives, and to do the will of the 
Master." 

He never forgot the universal need of comfort. 
** We forget how much sorrow there is in the 
world,'' he one day remarked. ^' Why, there are 
hearts breaking all about us. I have made it a 
rule of my ministry never to preach a sermon 
without giving some word of comfort to the sor- 
rowing. In every congregation there is sure to 
be some soul hungering for consolation. ' ' 

The mails brought him many such letters as 
this: 

* * Will you let me write you a word of gratitude 
and appreciation? I wish that I might tell you 
how much you are to others, but the lines you 
quoted in your sermon of November 27 best ex- 
press my thought. 

*' Through the reading of Darwin's writings, 
and other things in my life, I was left with faith 
in nothing except a vague, uncertain belief in God 
and immortality which was half obscured by 
doubt. But through the force and beauty of your 
life and words my thoughts have broadened and 
faith in God and the Christ Child, and the possi- 
bility of true and beautiful lives have come back 
to me. Though the questionings remain unan- 
swered I am content to forget them in the desire 
for an unselfish and sincere life." 



THE PASTOR AT WORK 91 

Another listener who was helped wrote: 

** Where do you get all your good sermons? 
Straight from God ! You make them such a part 
of one's life I know it must be possible to live 
them even if I do fail. Even trying makes one 
better and happier. 

'' This little note only wants to thank you for 
your preaching and for your influence which has 
done and is doing a good work in me." 

All parts of a service conducted by Dr. Miller 
were made helpful and inspiring. His prayers 
especially were strengthening and uplifting. 
They took one into the presence of God, whom he 
seemed to see as he was speaking. In 1904 a 
famous minister who preached for him wrote, 
after returning home: 

'* In the morning I found it very hard work 
to ask God's blessing on such a sermon as seemed 
to be inevitable. I would gladly have remained 
at home, but this was childish. Your prayer broke 
my heart, and I had a few minutes of humble con- 
fession and supplication as they were singing, 
which were refreshing to my soul. I would travel 
the distance between my home and your church 
to hear you pray." 

It was a delight to Dr. Miller's people to know 
that this prince in prayer was interceding for 
them. They understood that he had his special 
prayer list, on which were the names of all who 
sought prayers for any reason, as well as those 
who, Dr. Miller felt, should be remembered. In 



92 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

addition to tliis, he had his regular list, on which 
the names of every member of the church and 
congregation appeared. The year was begun with 
a month of prayer for these. The fact was an- 
nounced by a note like this, put in the hands of 
all members in December : 

* * January is to be our month of prayer. Every 
member of the church and all others who desire 
to be included will be remembered personally, by 
name, on a particular day. All whose names be- 
gin with A will be remembered January 1, all 
beginning with B will be remembered January 2, 
all beginning with C January 3, and so on. 

* * As your name begins with A, you will be 
remembered next Monday. This notice is sent 
to you that you may write to Dr. Miller before 
your day, mentioning any special requests for 
prayer you may have, either for yourself or for 
any of your friends. These letters will all be con- 
fidential. ' ' 

Another letter mailed to the people was the an- 
nual pastoral greeting sent in September, after the 
summer vacation was over and workers were re- 
turning to their places. These letters never were 
perfunctory — they seemed a part of Dr. Miller's 
self. Here are paragraphs from one : 

*^ Our past is full of splendid inspiration. The 
way God has helped us has been marvellous. We 
have increased greatly in numbers. Bu<t better 
far than that, blessing has gone out from this 
church and has helped many lives. 

^' More than ever befoi^, our church must be 



THE PASTOR AT WOEK 93 

this year a cliiircli of Christ. It must be a house 
of bread. "When the hungry come here, they must 
be fed. When the sorrowing come, they must be 
comforted. When the lonely come, they must find 
love and companionship. 

^* Everyone has a share all his own, in the re- 
sponsibility, something to do which no other one 
can do to make the church what it ought to be this 
year. Every boy and every girl has a bit of work 
to do. W^hat can we dol We may invite people 
to come with us. We may welcome those who 
come, and make them feel at home. We may be 
always here ourselves. Our place is here. Let 
us not scatter our wofk, but put all our strength 
and influence in right here. This is the best way 
we can help our Master. We may make every 
service here a little better by always being present. 
^ii There is something else: We may love one 
another. That is our church creed. There is no 
place in the religion of our Master for selfishness, 
grumpiness, touchines?, bad temper, bitter feel- 
ing, disobligingness, * Little children, love one an- 
other. ' 

** We want to make the church this year the 
homiest church in our city. This is our church 
home. Let us always meet as members of the 
same family — cordially, cheerfully, affectionately. 
In our own homes we are hospitable to everyone 
who comes to our doors. Let us show hospitality 
also to all strangers who come to our church. The 
Bible says, * Forget not to show love unto 
strangers : for thereby some have entertained an- 
gels unawares.' Let us watch for angels. 

*' I am deeply conscious of the need of divine 
help as we pledge ourselves to each other and to 
our Master for another year. We can do nothing 
ourselves alone. But the divine help is ready if 



94 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

we will do our part. When Christ sent ont his 
disciples, saying, * As the Father hath sent me, 
even so send I yon, ' he also breathed on them, and 
said, * Eeceive ye the Holy Spirit.' The Master 
is ready to send us out, and also to breathe his 
Spirit into our hearts to prepare us for holy life 
and blessed service. Shall we receive the Spirit ? ' ' 

The mails always played an important part in 
Dr. Miller's pastoral work. The printed letters 
were merely an incident; his daily habit was the 
writing of a number — sometimes scores — of letters 
to members who needed tham. To discouraged 
workers the postman would deliver a letter of 
cheer. Young Christians would be given an op- 
portunity to read a message of counsel or sug- 
gestion. Those struggling with temptation would 
be apt to find that the pastor had in some mys- 
terious way become possessed of their secret and 
had written to them in their need. All sick mem- 
bers of the church would receive a letter on the 
afternoon of Saturday before communion. Those 
about to unite with the church were sure of a 
letter. No exception was made to this rule even 
when he was on his vacation in Europe. Learn- 
ing through an officer of the church the names of 
those who were to confess Christ at the com- 
munion during his absence, he wrote an encourag- 
ing letter to each one, and gave instructions that 
a helpful booklet should be sent to each as a me- 
morial of the service. After the communion an- 
other letter was always mailed to those whose 



THE PASTOR AT WORK 95 

names he had placed on the roll of the church. 
Here is one of the after-communion letters : 

* * No words can tell my pleasure at the privilege 
which I have of receiving you into the church. 
I know how earnest and sincere your life has 
been. It gives me, therefore, the greatest pleasure 
to be permitted to take you by the hand and wel- 
come you into the communion of the church and 
the fellowship of Christian people. I know well 
that while you have been happy in your religious 
experience, you will find new blessing and new 
joy in taking this public step. It is always so — 
however earnest one may have been as a Christian 
and however sincere, there is something in the 
public confession of Christ which always brings 
a blessing with it. You will therefore have great 
joy and deep peace and I am sure your influence 
and usefulness will be largely extended. May 
God bless you and your dear wife and your chil- 
dren all.'' 

To another young Christian he said : 

* ^ One of the mottoes which I give my young peo- 
ple continually is, ^ Always keep sweet whatever 
the experiences may be. ' Let me give this to you 
as the aim of your life. Always keep sweet. You 
have fallen into the habit of being blue sometimes. 
This is not a beautiful thing in life, and I am sure 
it only makes you unhappy and makes others un- 
happy. A little word of our Saviour's says, * In 
the world ye shall have tribulations,' but he adds, 
* In me ye shall have peace ; therefore be of good 
cheer.' You want to learn to trust Christ with 
all the affairs of your life, to let him keep you 
and care for you and provide for you, and shape 



96 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

your circumstances. If you do this, every day 
committing your life to God, trusting him, and 
then going forward in sweet confidence and joy, 
you may be sure of peace all the while. 

^' I think I have given you enough for one les- 
son. Please write me soon and tell me how you 
get on. I want to hear from you often, especially 
until you get well started in this new life. You 
have turned to me as your friend and I want to 
help you.'^ 

Many of the young converts were encouraged 
to be present at the prayer meeting, and to take 
part, and so many responded that the weekly 
meetings were always a joy and inspiration. 
Dr. Miller would speak only about ten minutes; 
the remainder of the hour was filled by many 
eager participants. No wonder the meeting be- 
came famous throughout the city, and beyond. 
Once members of the senior class in Princeton 
Theological Seminary visited many prayer meet- 
ings in New York and Philadelphia, and then de- 
cided which was the most helpful. In the ballot 
Dr. Miller's prayer meeting led all the rest. 

Dr. Miller was as faithful on Sunday as on 
week nights. He was not content to attend 
preaching service only; he was a regular attend- 
ant at the Sunday school, where he taught a large 
and enthusiastic class of women. At Hollond the 
membership of his class was about four hundred ; 
his class at St. Paul was half as large. His 
loyalty to the Sunday school was delightfully in- 
dicated by a little girl whose parents asked her if 




J. R. MILLER (I875j 



THE PASTOR AT WORK 97 

she knew Dr. Miller. ^^ Oh, yes! '^ w^s the reply, 
* ' he goes to our Sunday school ! ' ' 

In the Christian Endeavour Society, too, this 
young people's pastor who never grew old was 
a constant encourager and helper. He never for- 
got a meeting. When in Europe in 1896 he sent 
this message for the monthly consecration meet- 
ing of his society: 

** No matter where we go — away from home, 
away from work — we can never get away from 
God. We must be careful to live so that we shall 
never want to get away from ourself ; and we must 
also live so that we shall never desire to get away 
from God. ' ' 

He was just as acceptable and effective in his 
work with the older members. He knew how to 
take them, and he could get along with them when 
no one else could. One of his elders once said : 

** I do not recall ever having seen any indication 
of a factional difference or lack of harmony in 
the church during Dr. Miller's pastorate. He had 
a way of anticipating trouble. If he saw any per- 
son or any organisation which showed indications 
of getting out of touch with the work, it was his 
custom to go to the one or the group, as the case 
might be, give them a few encouraging words, tell 
them how much he depended upon them, and tell 
them how much they had helped him in his work, 
and show them ways of further assistance and 
service. His matchless tact, as well as his exam- 
ple, kept everyone in harmony. ' ' 



98 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

In every church to which he ministered he in- 
spired young men to give themselves to the work 
of the ministry. Two of the members of one of 
his Christian Endeavour Societies who took this 
step afterwards wrote to him telling of his part in 
their lives. One said: 

*^ I have never forgotten the care you gave to 
me and the inspiration I received from you as 
pastor and friend during college and seminary 
years." 

The other wrote from the foreign mission field: 

** I can never, never repay the debt I owe to 
you. And as it was with me so it was with count- 
less others. I thank God fervently for what your 
life has meant to me." 

Love for the young people led Dr. Miller to 
consent to direct the Wellesley school for young 
women, which was financed by John Wanamaker. 
Dr. Miller looked on this as part of his pastoral 
work. For several years he gave much time and 
thought to the young women and their teachers, 
and both teachers and pupils gratefully acknowl- 
edged their indebtedness to him. One of the 
teachers in the school he had first met when pastor 
at Rock Island, Illinois. There he encouraged 
her with the words : ^ * Move right on, with a brave, 
cheerful heart. The Master is with you and your 
work cannot fail. ' ' Through him she was invited 
to Philadelphia and there he continued to say 



THE PASTOR AT WORK 99 

the words that enabled her to go on to noble 
achievements. 

But the heart of Dr. Miller's pastoral work 
was not the school, or his association with the 
young people, or his helpful letters. The greatest 
thing in his life among the churches was his habit 
of calling from house to house. 

Once a visitor to St. Paul Church looked from 
the characteristic Sunday evening audience that 
filled the building, to the speaker who could be 
heard only with difficulty in the back of the room, 
and said: *^ How does he do it? "Where is that 
man's power! " One standing near said: ^^ Oh, 
sir! if you were in trouble, and Dr. Miller called 
on you or wrote to you, you would never ask that 
question again. He has built up*this church by 
his wonderful pastoral work." 

His pastoral work did not mean simply making 
a specified number of rounds each year among 
his members. He had only three or four evenings 
a week for calls — the other evenings he was at 
the church; but in these evening hours he made 
more calls than any other pastor in Philadelphia. 
He had a way of learning just when and where he 
was needed. 

Wherever he went he inspired to earnest living. 
Thousands would join in the message of one who 
was privileged to receive his calls, ** The sweet- 
ness of his presence in our home was just like 
what I think the presence of Jesus must have 
been in the home of Mary and Martha." One on 



100 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

whom he called frequently said he lived in ac- 
cordance with the simple words of what he called 
his creed, *^ Jesus and I are friends. '^ 

The way he was welcomed in the home of suf- 
fering is well shown by a letter from a physician : 

^ * The comfort you ministered to our dear Mabel 
in her dying hours has ever been held by us as 
too sacred for discussion. I have often heard that 
pleading voice as she anxiously turned her eyes 
to you and said, * Don't go. Dr. Miller.' 



7> 



The calls were made on rich and poor alike, but 
he felt that he was needed more in the homes of 
the poor, and he was there more frequently. 

Another principle that guided him as he made 
his calls he once stated thus: 

** If there is a house which nobody wants to 
visit, or a person in that house whom everyone 
avoids, I feel that I should be derelict in my duty 
as a Christian minister, and recreant to the Mas- 
ter, whose I am, and whom I serve, if I did not go 
to that house and try to comfort, help and save 
that person." 

To one who found fault with him because he 
seemed to pay attention to one girl in the congre- 
gation more than to a companion, he made an 
explanation that was in perfect accord with the 
declaration just quoted. He said : 

* ^ You speak of Mary and Alice. You think that 
I have been drawn more to the former than to the 



THE PASTOR AT WORK 101 

latter. This is scarcely the case. Mary may have 
appealed to me more just because she needs more 
help. Alice is comfortable and happy, surrounded 
by love and kindness and does not need so much 
as Mary does. Somehow my heart goes out first 
of all, and most deeply, toward those who need 
most. For many years I have sought to be help- 
ful to those whom other persons are not likely 
to help. People who are happy and comfortable, 
with many friends about them, do not therefore 
appeal to me in the same way as those who lack 
these earthly blessings. I think Alice has a beau- 
tiful character. I want to know her better. I 
want to be her close, personal friend. I am sure 
I shall get to love her very deeply and truly. 
But I have not felt that God has called me to 
help her in any special way. Perhaps she may 
need me more than I imagine. I should love to be 
helpful to her in any way I can be. 

'' I think this statement will show you just 
how the matter rests in my mind. It is not so 
much a comparison of the two girls as to their 
worth, their beauty of character, their nobleness 
of womanhood, but rather a comparison of the ap- 
peals they make respectively to me. Do I make 
my meaning clear ? ' ' 

All who knew him marvelled as they saw how 
full his days were of varied service. Frequently 
some one would tell him he was doing the work 
of three men. He would insist that this was not 
true. Once he said: 

** It is only one man's work. Most ministers 
have their ^ free Mondays ' and their evenings 
for symphony concerts, and all that sort of thing, 



102 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

or sitting down at home. I give up every hour 
to activity of some sort. I am very busy at the 
office all day; my people are there with their 
troubles all the time. In the evening I go out 
visiting sick people and others. At about 9:30 
I return and have an hour with my family before 
they scatter off. And I think my evenings save me 
from growing old. I feel younger every year. ' ' 

But at last the burden proved too heavy, and 
the pastor resigned his last charge. In telling 
the church session of his purpose, he said : 

^ ^ It has been a dream of mine that I might con- 
tinue in the work, in the co-pastorate which has 
brought to me such joy and such delightful fellow- 
ship, ending my days at St. Paul's. None but my- 
self can ever know how dear the people are to 
me. They have been gathered one by one with 
thought and love. In many homes I have been in 
times of suffering or sorrow and with hundreds 
I have walked in experiences of joy or of pain 
which have bound them to me in very sacred ties. 
The church has come to be to me, in a very real 
sense, like my own family, and I have thought 
that it would be a joy to spend my last days among 
the people and be buried among them. 

** But the condition of my health in recent 
months is such that I cannot hope to carry any 
important part of the work hereafter. It seems 
wise, therefore, that I should resign my position 
at an early day.*' 

When the congregation met to act on his resig- 
nation a letter was read, in which he said : 



THE PASTOR AT WORK 103 

'' We have liad a good time together as pastor 
and people these dozen years. Last Sunday as I 
looked into the faces of the great congregation 
sitting at the Lord's table, I conld not help recall- 
ing the first communion in the wooden chapel, 
twelve years ago. The little handful has become 
a great throng, and instead of the rude little 
building where we broke bread that morning we 
sat last Sunday in our beautiful church edifice. 
A wonderful story lies between these two com- 
munions — a story of love, of Christian fellowship, 
of self-denial and service, of earnest Christian 
work, of prayer, of sacrificial life, of joy and sor- 
row, of great spiritual blessing. 

" I want to say to you, friends, that St. Paul's 
is the crowning joy of my life. It has been a most 
sacred privilege to live with you, to grow up 
with you in this church, to be your friend, to share 
your burdens, to help you through hard places. 
While I may no longer be your pastor, no disso- 
lution of an ecclesiastical relation will break the 
personal bond that binds you to me in love. I hope 
to live among you as one of you while God lets 
me stay in this world. When I can be of any com- 
fort or help to any of you, it will be a joy to me." 

His last official message was sent to the elders 
of the church at Christmas, 1911. He closed with 
these words : 

'* May the Christmas Day mean more to you 
than any Christmas before has meant. May it 
be the real coming anew of Christ into your heart, 
not as a mere sentiment, but as a living power, 
transforming you more and more into the divine 
beauty, and imparting to you divine strength, 



104 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

which shall make your life henceforth a richer 
influence, a greater power than ever it has been 
before. You have a large responsibility in your 
position ; you will meet it with faith and courage. ' ' 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 



Loyalty to Christ is shown in using our life in whatever 
way we may be able and may have opportunity to use it. 
You cannot be loyal to Christ and not be good. You can- 
not be loyal to Christ and not be always abounding in His 
work. — From ^^ Loyalty to Christ," in " The Wider Life" 

If we fail to make little garden spots round about us where 
we live and where we work, we are not fulfilling our mission, 
nor obeying the teaching that we should be in the world what 
He was in the world, repeating His life of love among men. — 
From " Upper Currents." 

Whatever else we may do or may not do, we should cer- 
tainly train ourselves to be kind. It may not be an easy 
lesson to learn, for its secret is forgetting ourselves and think- 
ing of others — and this is always hard. But it can be learned. 
To begin with, there must be a gentle heart to inspire the 
gentle life. We must love people — if we do not, no training, 
no following of rules, will ever make us kind. But if the 
heart be full of the love of Christ, the disposition will be 
loving, and it will need no rules to teach the lips ever gracious 
words and the hands to do always the things of kindness, and 
to do them always at the right time. Too many wait till it 
is too late to be kind. — From ^' The Ministry of Kindness" 
in ^' Upper Currents" 



CHAPTER VII 

THIETY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 

DuKiNG the closing months of his service with the 
Christian Commission Dr. Miller thought seri- 
ously of turning aside from the ordained min- 
istry that he might devote himself to a wider 
ministry by the pen. Already he felt the longing 
to give to the world burning messages that would 
reach hundreds of thousands instead of the few 
hundreds who might be attracted by his preach- 
ing. To some of his intimate friends he outlined a 
plan of preparation for newspaper work to which 
he had all but committed himself. He thought 
of taking a year for study in Edinburgh, to be 
followed by a year in Germany. As he travelled 
he proposed to live in the homes of the people 
that he might learn of their life and their prob- 
lems, and so be able to carry back to America an 
enlarged knowledge of the human heart and its 
needs. This he felt would be necessary if he was 
to be successful in the best sense in the work of 
which he dreamed. Letters were written to the 
editors of several metropolitan newspapers telling 
of his plans, and asking for an engagement to 
write articles about his experiences; in this way 

107 



108 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

lie would be able to pay a portion of the expense 
of the projected two years abroad. 

Yet he could not give up the ministry for which 
he had been preparing when the war interrupted 
his course. Thoughts of foreign travel and of 
later editorial work were put aside, while he 
returned to the seminary and entered the pas- 
torate. 

But God was planning for him the joy of com- 
bining the pastorate and editorial work. During 
the remainder of his seminary days and while he 
was at New Wilmington, Bethany Church, Phila- 
delphia, and Eock Island, articles from his pen 
were welcomed by the religious papers. When 
>-in 1875— Henry C. McCook, D.D., of Phila- 
delphia, discontinued his weekly articles on the 
International Sunday School Lessons for The 
Presbyterian, published in Philadelphia, he recom- 
mended Dr. Miller as his successor. The lessons 
of the new writer were prepared in such a helpful 
manner that when the Presbyterian Board of Pub- 
lication began to look for an assistant to work 
with John W. Dulles, D.D., the Editorial Secre- 
tary, Dr. McCook suggested the young pastor 
at Eock Island. Dr. McCook had planned the 
early periodical publications of the Board, had 
suggested their name — ^^ The Westminster Lesson 
Helps '^ — and had been for a time their editor. 
So the recommendation was favourably consid- 
ered, and on March 15, 1880, Dr. Dulles wrote to 
Dr. Miller asking him if he would consider becom- 



THIETY-TWO YEAES AN EDITOE 109 

ing assistant to the Editorial Secretary. He said 
frankly that the position would not be conspicu- 
ous, but assured him that there would be oppor- 
tunity for abundant service. 

The call to service always meant more to Dr. 
Miller than conspicuous place, so he did not hesi- 
tate to reply favourably. On March 23 Dr. Dulles 
wrote a second letter, defining the position more 
clearly, and stating his feeling that while an old 
editor may be as hard for an assistant to get along 
with as an old pastor, he felt there could be no 
room for friction, since both editor and assistant 
had one aim only — not self, but results for the 
kingdom of Christ. 

His belief in Dr. Miller was justified. The two 
worked together in harmony and affection so long 
as Dr. Dulles had strength for his duties. The 
experiment was so successful that Dr. McCook 
later wrote : 

** I am sure that there is nothing which I have 
done, directly or indirectly, or nothing which I 
have influenced to be done, which I regard as so 
well done as the recommendation of you for the 
position you now hold.'' 

As soon as it was known that Dr. Miller planned 
to remove to Philadelphia, overtures were made to 
him by one of the churches of the city which de- 
sired him to become pastor in connection with his 
new work. Dr. Miller looked with favour on the 
proposition, but Dr. Dulles, writing in behalf of 



110 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLEE 

the Board, urged that it would be impossible to do 
justice to the Board and that church at the same 
time. This was a perfectly natural suggestion, for 
Dr. Miller's remarkable ability to do the work of 
three men had not yet been proved. The history 
of the next thirty years was to show that he was 
not to be judged by the standards set for the aver- 
age man. 

When Dr. Miller entered on his work the 
Board's only periodicals were The Westminster 
Teacher, The Westminster Lesson Leaf, the 
Senior Quarterly, The Sahhath School Visitor, The 
Sunbeam and The Presbyterian Monthly Record, 
While he had something to do with all of these 
it was The Westminster Teacher that benefited 
most by his painstaking, sympathetic writing. 
The lesson pages were enriched by his extremely 
practical and spiritual comments on the lessons. 
His articles were soon eagerly awaited by pastors, 
superintendents and teachers all over the coun- 
try. Soon workers in Great Britain asked for the 
Teacher, attracted most of all by his writing. 

In 1890, in writing to a reader who thanked him 
for these lesson articles, he said : 

** My only aim has been to make the Bible 
teaching plain and simple for ordinary Sunday- 
school teachers, especially to suggest to them the 
practical applications which they may make in 
teaching. I have always felt myself, in reading 
commentaries and lesson helps, the lack of this 
practical character. That is, while men have made 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 111 

the meaning of the text clear enough, they have 
not given suggestions which will aid teachers in 
applying the words of inspiration to the common 
life of those they teach. Most Sunday-school 
teachers lack the skill themselves to draw infer- 
ences and suggest applications, and therefore 
need, I think, such simple helps as I have tried 
in these years to give them.'' 

On January 1, 1881, the magazine was enlarged 
that Dr. Miller might have more pages for his 
work, and that provision might be made for some 
of the features for which his brilliant editorial 
mind was arranging. This was the beginning of 
development that continued to the end of Dr. Mil- 
ler 's editorial service. Year after year the maga- 
zine was improved; always it kept pace with the 
practical visions of Sunday-school leaders, among 
whom Dr. Miller was numbered from the begin- 
ning. But through all the changes of more than 
twenty-five years his explanatory notes and lesson 
comments were continued, because subscribers in- 
sisted on having them. In later years the attempt 
was made several times to omit them, but clamour 
was so great that they had to be restored. This 
was a surprise to the author; in his modesty he 
thought that people would be growing weary of 
his work, and would wish to be led in their study 
by some more up-to-date man. But it was the 
verdict of all who knew him — whether personally 
or through his writing — that he was always up-to- 
date; his daily heart-contact with people in their 



112 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

homes and in his office taught him the secret of 
perpetual youth and almost universal acceptance. 

The Westminster Teacher was always very dear 
to him. Only a little while before his death, when 
the slightest exertion was wearisome, he asked an 
associate to spend an hour with him in his home, 
in order that he might talk over plans for the 
magazine for the year 1913. 

Dr. Dulles cooperated with his assistant as he 
outlined the needs of the Sunday school for addi- 
tional periodicals. "When their plans were laid 
before the Board of Publication, they were usually 
adopted with alacrity. At the beginning of 1881 
the first copies of the Junior Lesson Leaf and the 
German Lesson Leaf were issued. Forward made 
its appearance in 1882. The Morning Star fol- 
lowed in 1883. Two years later the Junior Quar- 
terly was launched. 

From 1885 to 1894 earnest thought and untiring 
labour were devoted to the development of the 
periodicals already on the list, and to remarkably 
discriminating book work. Dr. Miller — who be- 
came Editorial Superintendent in 1887 — ^was a 
genius in securing and encouraging authors whom 
he wished to have in the catalogue of the Board. 

In 1894 began another period of expansion. In 
four years the Lesson Card, the Intermediate 
Quarterly, the Question Leaf and the Blackboard 
were introduced to the Sunday schools. In 1899 
the Home Department Quarterly followed. Then 
came the Primary Quarterly in 1901, the Normal 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 113 

Quarterly and the Bible Roll in 1902, the Begin- 
ners Lessons — forerunner of the Graded Lessons 
— in 1903, the Primary Teacher in 1906, the 
Graded Lessons for Beginners, Primary, Junior, 
Intermediate and Senior departments, in 1909- 
1912, and The Westminster Adidt Bible Class in 
1909. The Sabbath School Visitor — the Board's 
oldest periodical — ^became The Comrade in 1909. 

In the meantime The Presbyterian Monthly 
Record became The Church at Home and Abroad^ 
and was transferred to other hands by direction 
of the General Assembly. The Junior Lessons, 
the German Lesson Leaf, the Question Leaf and 
the Blackboard were discontinued, as their place 
was taken by other publications. 

The total issue of the periodicals on the list 
was, in 1911, 66,248,215 copies. In 1880, when Dr. 
Miller became assistant editor, the total was 
9,256,386. 

Editors and publishers of other Sunday-school 
periodicals generally agreed that each new period- 
ical of the Westminster series set a new stand- 
ard, which they were glad to keep before them 
as they made their plans. Both in editorial ex- 
cellence and mechanical appearance the period- 
icals and magazines have always been models. 

The secret of this continued success was that 
Dr. Miller was never satisfied. He was glad to 
hear from readers who complimented him on pro- 
ducing what — as they enthusiastically said — 
** could not be made better." But it was always 



114 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

his desire to make every publication of a new 
year superior to that issued during the old year. 
^^ Now what can we do to make the publication 
better next year? '' was a question that became 
familiar to members of the editorial staff. Then 
he helped them plan the improvement — ^helped 
them so skillfully that they thought they had done 
the planning. He let them think so, for it meant 
more to him that the work was done than that 
the praise should be given to him. He was al- 
ways glad to pass on the praise to others. 

He was a master in developing and inspiring 
assistants who could help him with the varied 
work of the office. His staff was so well organ- 
ised that it continued to do efficient work if he was 
away from the office for a few days or a few 
weeks. Yet he always knew all about every peri- 
odical. All correspondence came to his desk, and 
was answered by him; all arrangements with 
writers were made by him ; for years he read the 
manuscripts submitted; all proof came to him, 
and was carefully scanned, sometimes read word 
by word. In short, every slightest detail of office 
management was understood by him. Even the 
coming of associates chosen by the Board for 
his relief was not the signal for losing touch with 
any part of the work. He had the rare ability to 
know all that was going on while giving asso- 
ciates full opportunity for development. 

To every one of the periodicals Dr. Miller gave 
his best thought. Yet there were three of the 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 115 

publications wliich were especially dear to him — ■ 
The Westminster Teacher, as already noted; the 
Home Department Quarterly; and Forward. 

It was his idea that the members of the Home 
Department should be given a magazine prepared 
for them especially. He was not pleased with 
the suggestion made by some houses that — for the 
sake of economy — this publication should be in 
large part a reprint of the Senior Quarterly. His 
knowledge of the homes of the people, especially 
the homes of invalids and busy mothers who make 
up a large proportion of Home Department mem- 
bership, made him anxious to give them an inter- 
pretation of the lesson adapted to their peculiar 
needs. It was his plan to follow the verse-by- 
verse comment on the text with a message for each 
day on some truth in the lesson. This was done 
with such marvellous skill that many a reader 
would feel that the paragraphs were special in- 
dividual messages, and that the editor somehow 
must have learned of his circumstances and his 
needs. This impression was intensified by an in- 
troductory letter in each number addressed '^ To 
the Home Department Students. ' ' In one of these 
he said: 

** There probably are a great many shut-ins 
among Home Department pupils — persons who 
cannot get away from their homes, some who 
cannot leave their rooms or even their beds. You 
must not feel that because you are shut in, unable 
to go out into the big world, therefore you need 



116 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

to be especially lonely or that you cannot take 
your part in the work of Christ. Some of the 
most active and efficient Christian workers I know 
are Christians who cannot go out at all, month 
after month. ' ' 

Another quarter he said: 

^* This Quarterly is used chiefly in homes. 
Nothing in this world is worthy of more thought, 
prayer and effort than the home. Sometimes 
mothers of young children think that their life 
is one of privation, because they are shut in so 
closely and miss many of the bright and happy 
things that so many people enjoy. But the moth- 
er's work is so sacred, and means so much to her 
children, that she can well afford to miss a good 
many things outside which would be very pleas- 
ant." 

Often such an invitation as this was given : 

'* I shall always be glad to have letters from 
the Home Department students, bringing to me, 
when they so desire, questions, difficulties, experi- 
ences of trouble or sorrow, in which I may be per- 
mitted to give a little assistance.'' 

The letters came in numbers. And always a 
warm personal message was sent in answer that 
brought correspondents nearer to the editor's 
Friend. 

Dr. Miller always emphasised as a prime requi- 
site for successful editorial work that a writer 
must prepare his work with individuals in mind. 
To an associate to whom he committed the Home 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 117 

Department Quarterly lie expressed his feeling 
thus: 

^< Try writing each paragraph with some 
definite home in mind. Think of yourself as a 
pastor giving help and counsel to the invalids 
or the burdened in that home. Then your work 
will have the lifelike quality, and you will hear 
from many who will wonder how you came to 
know of them.'' 

It was owing to just such writing as this that 
Dr. Miller saw the circulation of the Home De- 
partment Quarterly grow within twelve years 
from nothing to 128,000. 

The story of the development of Forward, the 
Sunday-school paper for young people, is one of 
the most striking evidences of Dr. Miller's edi- 
torial sagacity and ability. When he began his 
work for the Board he dreamed of a paper that 
would give the young people in the Sunday school 
the best stories and general articles, and a page 
of wholesome, cheerful Christian counsel. Within 
a brief time the first number was sent to the 
schools. The paper was small, but clearly it 
showed the characteristics that later made it great. 
In 1897 the pages were so enlarged that it became 
possible to carry out many plans long held in 
abeyance. At once Forward became a power. Not 
only the young people wanted it, but parents and 
even pastors insisted that they must have it. The 
editorial page — long the product of Dr. Miller's 
heart and brain — ^was called ^* the best editorial 



118 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

page in the country. ' ^ It was so simple that young 
people read it with delight, and so suggestive that 
pastors said they found there the germ for many 
of their best sermons. One reader wrote : ^ ' I have 
had more help from that editorial page than from 
any other literature outside the Bible. ' ' This mes- 
sage is a fair sample of hundreds. Circulation 
increased rapidly, until in 1912 more than three 
hundred thousand copies were issued each week. 
Editions furnished to other churches, under other 
names, brought the total circulation well up to- 
ward half a million. 

"When the paper was enlarged, Dr. Miller told 
his readers of his plans : 

*^ Forward will have its words for home life, for 
school life, for social life. It will seek to help the 
young people in their reading, and in their choice 
of books, in their friendships, in their pleasures. 
Everything that belongs to the life of a young 
man or a young woman will be a proper subject 
for treatment in its pages. 

a 'I'liere shall be no dull pages in Forivard, no 
loose or careless writing, no light or trivial treat- 
ment of subjects, nothing sensational either in 
matter or illustration, and yet the paper will be 
made as bright, attractive and interesting as it 
will be possible to make it.'' 

In a letter to a contributor he stated even more 
fully his ideals. 

'* No other young people's paper in the land, 
with the single exception of The Youth's Com- 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 119 

panion, reaches so many young persons, or exerts 
such a wide influence. It is thoroughly whole- 
some. It is always optimistic — ^not a dishearten- 
ing sentence is ever admitted to its columns. Its 
aim is never mere entertainment — every article, 
every story, every briefest paragraph, to be 
thought worthy of publication, must have some 
motive of helpfulness or inspiration. The paper 
thus starts every week a great wave of pure, 
wholesome and invigorating influence which goes 
round the world, and makes thousands of people 
braver, stronger and happier, and puts into their 
minds higher thoughts of life's meaning, and 
loftier and more beautiful ideals.'' 



Readers of Forward soon learned to look on the 
editor as their personal friend to whom they could 
write freely about anything that troubled them. 
Once he wrote editorially of their letters : 

** The editor refers to this matter to say that 
nothing in all the range of his work gives him 
more pleasure than this personal correspondence. 
There is no more sacred privilege given to any- 
one in this world than that of helping another in 
some actual experience of life. The Master puts 
no higher honour on any of his servants than when 
He sends younger souls to them to be guided 
through some perplexing way, sorrowing ones to 
be comforted in their hours of grief, or tempted 
ones to be strengthened to endure in sin's fierce 
struggle. No other work which we can do for 
men or women is more really the very work of 
Christ himself than is this ministry in life's deep 
experiences." 



120 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

If possible every routine letter that left the 
office carried with it some kindly, helpful word. 
Contributors to Forward and the other periodicals 
learned to look for these letters, and they pre- 
served them even when other business letters were 
destroyed. 

One who began to write for the periodicals in 
1901 has said : 

*^ He never failed to make any business letter 
which he had occasion to write the opportunity for 
saying a kindly personal word. Once he said, ' I 
think of you in your work day by day, and want 
always to keep near you in personal thought and 
interest, so that if ever you need me I can know 
at once.' " 

The receipt of articles from beginners was usu- 
ally followed by the despatch of a letter of coun- 
sel and encouragement. A number of those who 
became valued contributors have declared that 
they owed their success in large part to his cheer- 
ing, inspiring words. 

One instance of this kind may be told at some 
length. In 1905 the pastor of a home mission 
church was compelled to resign his charge be- 
cause of throat trouble. His prospects were dark. 
Then he began to write, and sent some of his first 
articles to Dr. Miller. He said nothing of his 
needs and his hopes, but the sympathetic editor 
soon learned the facts. He was not content to per- 
mit one whose letters were frequently on his desk 
to remain a mere name. So he wrote : 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 121 

^' Tell me a little about yourself sometime when 
you are writing, for I should like to know as much 
as possible about our writers. 



>> 



The information asked for was given, and the 
two were at once on a friendly footing. 

One year many of this contributor's manu- 
scripts were returned as unavailable. The editor 
detected a note of despondency in a letter which 
came from him just then. So he wrote : 

** You must not be discouraged because some- 
times stories of yours are returned. If you knew 
how often we have to do this in the office with out" 
very best work, you would not have a moment for 
such a thought. Furnishing articles for papers 
is a good deal like a salesman's work in the stores 
— bringing goods down for the purchaser to look 
at. It is never expected that every piece taken 
down and exhibited will exactly meet the pur- 
chaser's need." 

Again this contributor was despondent because 
friends had been condoling with him on account 
of his dwindling influence: they told him it was 
too bad he had to give up the work of the ministry 
to be a mere writer for the press. Dr. Miller 
had just the right message for this time also : 

** The assurance that words of yours have 
touched two millions of lives this year is a very 
comforting one. Some day you will know what 
it all means. It is a great privilege to be allowed 
to put touches of beauty upon immortal lives, to 



122 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

start impulses toward higlier ideals in human 
hearts." 

Letters from the editor brought him more 
than encouragement ; they were full of kindly in- 
structions for the new work for which the min- 
ister was in training. The appreciative recipient 
has said: 

*^ Dr. Miller taught me to forget myself and 
to think only of my readers. He reminded me 
that perhaps a half or two-thirds of the read- 
ers of the Board's publications are in country 
places, small towns, villages, or farming dis- 
tricts, where their opportunities are not large, 
where they cannot see much of the big world nor 
learn what is going on, nor what the openings may 
be for usefulness and activity. When I had in 
preparation a series for The Westminster 
Teacher, he asked me to remember in writing 
these that the great bulk of the Sunday-school 
teachers who would read them would be plain 
people, not many of them college people, and that 
it was necessary, therefore, to write simply, and 
not upon too high a plane. He said that he had 
always tried to prepare all his work for persons 
of average intelligence, knowing that in doing 
this he would probably help most even those more 
intelligent. ' ' 

Every year, at Christmas, it was Dr. Miller's 
custom to send a personal letter to his contribu- 
tors. These were never formal. All of his helpers 
expected them, and they were never disappointed. 

One of the letters read thus: 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 123 

*^ I want to thank you for the great help you 
have been to me during the year in your work. 
I need not say a word in detail about what you 
have done, t merely thank you for it all and 
assure you of sincere and most hearty apprecia- 
tion. 

'' As the Christmas comes near my heart goes 
out to you in special warmth and interest. You 
know that your relation to me has not been merely 
that of a writer, but that of a personal friend. 
It has been a high privilege to me to stand by you 
through the experiences of the year, experiences 
of pain and sorrow, many of them, and to keep you 
very close to my heart in sympathy, love and 
prayer, all the while. I want to thank you for all 
that you have been to me and for what I have 
had the privilege of being to you. 

^^ Let me wish for you for the Christmastide 
the sweetest blessings, with the gentlest revealings 
of Christ 's grace and love in your life. May it be 
the best year that you ever have lived. May it 
bring an uplift to you, an uplift in courage, joy, 
strength, peace, victoriousness. May God bless 
you and make you very happy. ' ' 

There are those who find it easier to be thought- 
ful of those who are far away than of those who 
are near at hand. This was never true of Dr. 
Miller. He was always most considerate and 
thoughtful of his editorial helpers. When he 
wished to see one of them, he preferred to go to 
that one, even if a trip into another room was 
necessary. If he wished the service of his stenog- 
rapher, he preferred to say to her, ^* I have a 
few letters for you, if you are not too busy," 



124 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

rather than give her a curt direction to take his 
dictation. Always his associates in the office 
looked on him as a father and friend. 

He was never too busy to plan for their comfort. 
On a rainy afternoon, knowing that the cars would 
be unusually crowded by the rush of men and 
women going home at &ve o'clock, he would fre- 
quently ask them to leave at ten minutes to &Ye, 
in order that they might have seats. On a spe- 
cially warm day in summer he would be apt to 
send out for a generous quantity of ice cream for 
*^ my editorial girls/' as he called them. But his 
kindly interest went further than this. He en- 
tered into their lives. He knew their circum- 
stances, and followed with interest the fortunes of 
other members of the household. 

Although he hardly knew what it was to take 
a vacation, he always insisted on the period of 
summer rest and refreshment for the assistants. 
He would write them a message of good-bye as 
they started, they would be apt to hear from him 
while absent, and his welcome was sent on their 
return. During the summer of 1911, although him- 
self under the care of a physician, he wrote from 
Atlantic City to his secretary these notes : 

** I am not writing letters, but I send just this 
little note to assure you and your mother of 
loving thought these days. I hope you are both 
enjoying your stay at Ocean City. You are meet- 
ing lots of friends, I think. Stay as long as you 
can.'' 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 125 



a 



This is just to welcome you back to the office. 
I hope you have had a good time and that both 
yon and your mother are well." 

In September, 1910, after an absence of three 
months caused by illness, he wrote this letter to 
^' The Good Friends of the Editorial Depart- 
ment ' ' : 

*^ I want to thank you for your faithfulness dur- 
ing the summer when I have been necessarily ab- 
sent. I had not a moment's anxiety, knowing 
that you were all in your places and that every 
item of the work would be carefully attended to, 
so that nothing would be neglected or overlooked, 
nothing scamped. I am not surprised, therefore, 
to find my confidence realised and to find that 
everything has gone on so beautifully. I do not 
believe there is another editorial office in the coun- 
try in which all the work is so splendidly organ- 
ised, and in which the personnel of the office is 
so happy, so loyal to duty, so conscientious, so 
kindly in spirit, in every way so beautiful and 
worthy. No other editor could be away nearly 
three months as I have been and come back to 
find that there have been no mistakes made, no 
blunders, no careless performances of duty, but 
that all has gone on just as well as if he had 
been at his desk every day. 

** I can only thank you, one and all, for your 
diligence and fidelity, and assure you of confi- 
dence and loving interest in the days to come. 

** As we enter another year of work together 
I am sure we will be happy. I have no new re- 
quirements to exact. Let me make these simple 
suggestions for 1910-1911. 



126 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 



a 



We will work together in love, in patience, in 
kindness, in mutual thoughtfulness and helpful- 
ness. 

' * We will make this the best year ever we have 
lived, in personal life, in habits, in character, and 
in our work in the office, — even surpassing our 
best in the past. 

'' We will be in our places in the office at least 
five minutes before nine every morning, so as to 
be ready for our work by nine o'clock. 

^^ We will study our particular work and master 
all its smallest details, making ourselves more 
and more proficient, that when we have no definite 
assigned tasks we shall not be idle but shall our- 
selves find something to do that will prepare us 
for better usefulness. 

*^ I cannot begin to tell you of the depth and 
sincerity of my interest in each one of you. I 
want you to let me be your personal friend. If 
you have any difficulty, trouble, sorrow, anxiety, 
or any question which you would like to bring to 
me, I shall always be glad to give you any cheer 
or help I can.'' 

One who was his assistant for years in the 
editing of Forward told of his kindness and help- 
fulness in the office. 

*^ No one could be with Dr. Miller and not 
be both shamed and inspired by his daily exam- 
ple. He was one of the quietest, simplest and 
humblest of workers; but his work shone out in 
its completeness and its ungrudgingness, and 
made me unsatisfied with any other kind. It was 
an education to work under him. He seldom 
criticised and he loved to praise — but a shirker 



THIRTY-TWO YEARS AN EDITOR 127 

could not live in his atmospliere, just the same, 
and soon faded away from the staff. Those who 
remained were knit to Dr. Miller as his friends. 
He was interested in their lives, and anxious to 
have them reach their best. ' ' 

That Dr, Miller thought of the employees of 
other departments in the large etablishment as 
well as of his own was shown when in 1910 he 
talked with other heads of departments of ways 
to make the workers' lives brighter. As a result 
of his counsel and encouragement The West- 
minster Club was organised by the heads of de- 
partments and their associates. Monthly meet- 
ings were arranged for. At these meetings plans 
were perfected for welfare work among the em- 
ployees of the Board, who then numbered nearly 
one hundred. At the beginning of 1911 an oppor- 
tunity was given to all employees to deposit 
weekly in The Westminster Savings Fund. Thus 
many were taught to save who had always spent 
all they earned. The annual gathering of The 
Westminster Club was made an open meeting, 
when all employees were invited to a supper. 
Dr. Miller and Dr. Henry, the Secretary of the 
Board, being the hosts. 

Dr. Miller was the first president of the club. 
At the close of his term this letter of thankful 
appreciation was sent to him, signed by all the 
members : 

** On the occasion of our first anniversary meet- 
ing, we, the undersigned members of The West- 



128 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

minster Club, wish to tell you of the joy it has 
been to us to have you as our first president. We 
feel that the helpfulness of the club has been in 
large measure due to your wise counsel, your con- 
stant thought, your inspiring presence. We re- 
joice that you have been able to meet with us 
so many times this year, and we are glad to look 
forward to other meetings when you will rejoice 
us by your presence. 

** We thank God for the years of your service 
as Editorial Superintendent of the Board, and for 
the special privilege that has been given us of 
coming in touch with you in your work. Some 
of us do not see you very often, but the same 
impression is made on all of us when we do see 
you, we feel that we are in the presence of one 
whose religion is so well expressed by your own 
words, ' Jesus and I are friends.' By your words, 
by acts, by your sympathetic letters, you bring 
us into His presence. 

** We thank you for the gift of remembrance 
sent us this evening. Your photograph will be 
a treasured possession, as your friendship is a 
cherished fact." 

During these last years of Dr. Miller's service, 
when he seemed busier than ever in manifold 
ways, a friend asked him to tejl the secret of his 
ability to get so much done. His answer was, ^ ^ I 
never worry, and I try never to lose a minute." 
A brother editor, commenting on these words, 
said : 

*^ Here was a divinely guided economist in the 
art of life. There was no burning of the brakes, 



THIRTY-TWO YEAES AN EDITOR 129 

no overstraining of the engine, no inordinate re- 
pair needed after the daily journey, but a mech- 
anism closely geared to its work with as little 
lost motion as possible, and a spirit within the 
machine that was so much in fellowship with the 
Spirit of God that his life was not subjected to 
the terrific and sinful strain of anxious concern 
over the outcome of any day. Now he did not 
achieve this life course by daily struggle, but 
rather by daily yielding to the daily guidance and 
control of his heavenly Father. ' ' 

A briefer statement of the reason for Dr. Mil- 
ler's efficiency was given by Dr. M. C. Hazard, long 
editor of the Congregational Sunday School and 
Publishing Society, when he said : 

** He came as near as man may to embodying 
what is said about love in the thirteenth chapter of 
First Corinthians. * Love suffereth long, and is 
kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, 
is not puffed up, . . . seeketh not its own, . . . 
taketh not account of evil; . . . believeth all 
things, . . . endureth all things. Love never 
faileth.' " 



HOW EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES VIEWED 

HIS WORK 



We are likest to Christ when we are nearest to the hearts 
of men, when our sympathies are widest, when we are the 
gentlest, when our hands are readiest to minister. — From 
*' One Thing I Do," in ^' Finding the Way." 

We do not begin to understand what our lives mean to 
others who see us and are touched by us. It is possible to 
do too much advising or exhorting of others, but we never 
can do too much beautiful living. One can send a blessed 
influence out through a whole community, just by being a 
splendid man. He may not be eloquent or brilliant, he may 
not be a statesman, an architect, a distinguished leader, a 
noted physician or surgeon, a gifted orator, but simply to be 
a worthy, noble, good man for ten, twenty, thirty years in a 
community, is an achievement gloriously worth while. Men 
who are living nobly do not begin to know how many others 
are living well, too, just because they are. — From ^' A Call to 
Christian Manliness" in '^ The Gate Beautiful." 



CHAPTER VIII 

HOW EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES VIEWED 

HIS WORK 

When at last the unwearied worker had entered 
on his larger service in the world beyond, several 
of those who had been most intimately associated 
with him in his editorial work wrote of him and 
his achievements. 

One of these was Judge Robert N. Willson, since 
1889 President of the Board of Publication: 

** Dr. Miller's life touched mine in more ways 
than one, and my association with him ran through 
many years. His home was for a long time di- 
rectly opposite my own, and his children and mine 
grew up together as close neighbours and friends. 
The ties thus formed of personal relationship 
were never forgotten in the close official connec- 
tion which existed between Dr. Miller and myself 
for many years. 

^ * Indeed it may be said that the characteristics 
he displayed as a man were largely responsible for 
the success which came to him in his capacity as 
editor and writer. Sincerity, simplicity, gener- 
osity, frankness and tact were conspicuous factors 
in his equipment for work. He possessed a rare 
faculty of fairness and poise of judgment and ex- 
pression in regard to matters as to which opinions 
differed. His industry was indefatigable, and his 

133 



134 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

devotion to the work of our Board whicli was en- 
trusted to him was most marked. He was loyal to 
our Church, to its doctrines and polity, and he 
endeavoured with sincerity and integrity to dis- 
charge his duties as editor in that spirit of loyalty. 

'* He had a rare faculty for collecting and re- 
taining for ready use incidents, illustrations and 
quotations of a simple, practical character, which 
he used with great effect in his brief articles, as 
well as in the books that came from his mind and 
heart. 

* * The simplicity of his style, and the sympathy, 
natural and overflowing, that was expressed by his 
words, made his utterances attractive and helpful 
to young and old. No religious writer of whom I 
have knowledge, has ever touched the sorrowing 
heart with a softer and more comforting balm than 
did Dr. Miller. 

'^ He was a great editor and a manly man. It 
would have been a great mistake if anyone had in- 
ferred from his mild and gentle conduct that he 
was without force of character or positiveness of 
opinion. These strong qualities he possessed, but 
in sure control, and under the cover of a warm 
heart and a kindly nature. 

'' Our Church, in my opinion, will never obtain 
a wiser, abler or more successful editor of its 
publications. ' ' 

Professor W. Brenton Greene, D.D., of Prince- 
ton Seminary, chairman of the Board's Editorial 
Committee, said: 

** Dr. Miller was not a man to be estimated as 
I would estimate myself or other men. He was in 
a class by himself. I used to feel thus whenever 



ASSOCIATES^ VIEW OF HIS WOEK 135 

I contemplated the work that he did. I do not 
refer to his combination of the pastorate of a 
great church with his editorial functions or his 
putting himself, in addition to all this, at the un- 
limited disposal of anyone who needed him; but I 
refer simply to his editorial functions. The Sab- 
bath-school literature of our Church, both in its 
extent and in its quality, literary and spiritual 
alike, is a monument of industry and ability that 
would be incredible if we had not ourselves wit- 
nessed them in operation so long as to have be- 
come accustomed to them. Yet he never seemed 
hurried; he was never nervous ; he was never back 
in his work. At first I could only look on in won- 
der ; I now look back in reverence. 

^^ Then there was his progressiveness. Other 
men, as they grow older, even the best of them, 
drop from the head of the column. Dr. Miller 
never did. He died at the head of it. He was 
never more full of plans for the improvement of 
our Sabbath-school literature than during the last 
years of his earthly life. 

*' Perhaps, however, it is as a religious editor 
and writer that we think of him as greatest. He 
popularised religion in his books. Who else in 
our day have done it! Who of them, at all events, 
have done it as he did it? If we consider both the 
number and the sale of his books, I think that 
we must pronounce him the greatest religious 
writer of our day." 

A veteran pastor and editor gave this remarka- 
ble tribute : 

^* The efficiency of Dr. Miller as editor and 
executive was highly complex in process and 



136 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

product, but its secret is simple. A tornado has 
been known to drive a soft pine board, end on, 
through the bole of a hardwood tree without frac- 
ture of the board. Dr. Miller's character was dis- 
ciplined to compactness of fibre ; but also he had 
accumulated the tremendous momentum of a man 
consciously operating ^ under authority,' and thus 
had constantly back of him the incalculable force 
of the Unseen. From his early years he accus- 
tomed himself to be in vitalising, close and con- 
stant touch with God, acquiring a profound, ten- 
der and intimate sense of his presence as Father, 
Redeemer, Lord, Guide, Friend, Comrade and 
Portion. His life thus became saturated with a 
sense of obligation to * redeem the time,' or as 
the phrase is now read, to ^ buy up opportunity ' ; 
so that, automatically, waste of energy and time 
was eliminated. He prolonged no interview in 
dilatory pleasure or pause of vacancy or inde- 
cision; no speech or writing was pressed beyond 
due limits ; prompt to begin a task, he was direct 
and quietly forceful in the performance, and fac- 
ile in adjustment and transfer; and he always 
knew when to quit. No wilfulness, no selfishness, 
no momentary vacuity, remained perceptible 
among his traits so that he easily weeded out from 
his manner and utterance all that could hinder or 
offend, and thus became distinguished for noise- 
less and effective performance. And we must 
add to this his genius for friendships, which gave 
accumulative power to his work as organiser and 
leader. 

** The depths of his secret are not probed until 
we reach the magic word, love. Probably more 
than any other executive of his time, his life 
served to redeem that word from the sentimen- 
tality, inanity and feebleness which characterise 



ASSOCIATES' VIEW OF HIS WORK 137 

the common notion of its meaning. With him love 
was absorbed direct from God, and thus had 
breadth, depth, height and scope; substance, tang 
and force; the texture of polished steel; the mo- 
mentum of light; the propelling power of elec- 
tricity and the generative force of a great dy- 
namo; directness of action like that of gravity, 
with its impeccable precision; and the rhythmic 
harmony of perfect machinery. * God is love,' 
and J. R. Miller was God's own child, to a very 
remarkable degree reflecting the likeness and re- 
producing the majestic but quiet force of Him who 
is set before us as ' the express image ' of our 
heavenly Father ; so that in his career, somewhat 
as — supremely — in that of Jesus Christ, we come 
to see how practical and potent genuine love is, 
how fit for harnessing to the wheels of daily life 
and modern enterprise, how skilful in adjusting 
effort to human machinery and providential oc- 
casion. 

'^ Presbyterianism has always been supposed 
to be distinguished for system and intellectual 
quality, and to be peculiarly hospitable to the 
arts of literature; but until the year 1880 the 
critical were wont to deplore a painful lack of 
all this in our official publications addressed to 
youth. That in 1912 this status has been re- 
versed is largely due, under God, to the wisdom, 
piety, skill and persistence of Dr. Miller. To 
have developed either The Westminster Teacher, 
or Forivard, would of itself have been enough to 
mark an era. To have developed the one and 
created the other, to have transformed the Visitor 
into The Comrade and to have developed the com- 
plete and close- jointed series of high-grade quar- 
terlies which culminate in the Teacher, was to 
bring our denomination well abreast of the times 



138 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

thus far, as related to the unfolding needs of our 
Sunday-school work; to justify anew its reputa- 
tion for weight and momentum ; and thus to attach 
its tentacles firmly and diversely to remarkable 
providential opportunity as related to the train- 
ing of the young in a day of growing laxity and 
appalling change. 

^' To meet the disheartening conditions due to 
widespread decay of family worship, home train- 
ing, and catechetical instruction, to rapid absorp- 
tion of unschooled masses by the Church, and to 
bewildering changes in forms of thought and in 
educational methods, was a task to call for more 
of delicacy, tact, force, industry, varied knowl- 
edge, practical wisdom and executive skill than 
any one man could be expected to compass; yet 
under the leadership of Dr. Miller this has to 
a notable degree been effected within the bounds 
of our body; and it has been so effected as to 
organise effort for smoothly and rapidly devel- 
oping the large enterprise as occasion may re- 
quire in the future. Dr. Miller, in the spirit and 
to a remarkable degree with the skill of the Mas- 
ter, so shaped his labour and so impressed on it 
the stamp of his personality, as to pave the way 
for its increasing efficiency at the hands of his 
successors amid the unfolding conditions of the 
generations to come. 

*^ This is far from all that his varied and un- 
tiring industry effected in the organic educational 
and literary work of the Church. His own books, 
and his editorial services in the book department 
of the Presbyterian Board of Publication, set new 
standards of quality and aim, addressed with 
kindly shrewdness to the changing conditions of 
thought and life. Denominational acerbities dis- 
appear under his touch. Needless frictions are 



ASSOCIATES' VIEW OF HIS WORK 139 

abated. Truth is so presented as to seem at once 
weighty and winsome. Inanities, crudities, dis- 
cords, clumsiness and antiquated forms cease to 
clog our literary machinery. Doctrinal soundness 
becomes wedded to an engaging manner and mod- 
ern attire. The entire output of our publications 
is on a higher level and wears new charm. Sub- 
soil tillage clothes worn fields of truth with living 
green and adorns the very roadside with fruitage 
and bloom. Books and periodicals become good 
to look at, easy to read, and no longer adulterated 
with materials nauseous to taste and trying to 
digestion. The entire work of generating an au- 
thoritative Christian literature has to a notable 
degree been unostentatiously rejuvenated, and in- 
fected with new vigour and attractiveness. 

*' How did he so accurately forecast events, 
show such skill in selecting assistants and asso- 
-ciates, acquire such sanity of judgment, so fully 
and firmly grasp a novel and complex situation, 
and maintain such indomitable and diversified in- 
dustry to the end? Where did he secure such sin- 
gular wisdom in adjusting his methods at once 
to the exacting machinery of denominationalism, 
to the vigorous mechanism of print, publication 
and finance, and to the needs and appetites of his 
vast and inchoate public? The answer is that all 
this was a vital outgrowth and product. The 
tides of the divine life coursed freely through 
his spare frame, and were laboriously wrought 
into all his energies and capabilities. He was a 
man of heart, and at the same time of ideas, 
method, momentum and ceaseless activity. His 
achievements, here as in other domains of toil, are 
the embodiment of his spirit, his conception and 
his unhurried but ceaseless labour. 

** He brought to his great task a life thoroughly 



140 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

disciplined. He had scliooled himself to be al- 
ways gentle, considerate, appreciative, wary; and 
thns he seldom or never failed in his judgment 
of persons sought as associates and helpers, nor 
in winning and inspiring them, and in holding 
them steadfast. He had acquired decision of 
character, serenity of spirit, a persuasive win- 
someness of manner, and an aromatic piety fed 
daily at the springs. If * the final aim of art is 
to reveal the attractiveness of personality,' then 
Dr. Miller was a great artist. But he did not ar- 
rive at his unique power of specific and large 
achievement without assiduous toil reaching daily 
to the roots of his being. Sympathetic study of 
Dr. Miller, perhaps most notably in presence of 
his career as editor, is that most interesting and 
alluring thing, the study of a gracious and charm- 
ing personality highly vitalised by the Spirit of 
God." 

A more intimate message was given by Louis 
F. Benson, D.D., for many years a member of the 
Board's Editorial Committee: 



** When I became a member of the Board of 
Publication, now many years ago, Dr. Miller was 
well started on his work as Editorial Superin- 
tendent, but had not as yet developed the period- 
icals and lesson helps to anything like their pres- 
ent proportions. His beautiful character and per- 
sonality, and something of his work and writings, 
were of course already known to me, but I was 
nevertheless by no means prepared for all that 
I found in him, and for the remarkable develop- 
ment of the periodical work under his hands of 
which I became the witness. 



ASSOCIATES^ VIEW OF HIS WOEK 141 



iC 



The scope of the Board's work is very wide, 
and few of its members can be expected to have 
the time and ability to cover the whole area. One 
has to choose the special department in which he 
hopes his own resources or experience can con- 
tribute something to the common stock. In this 
way my own attention was turned toward the 
periodical and book-making sides of the Board's 
work, and I came into very close personal and 
official relations with Dr. Miller. 

* ' To know him intimately was a great privilege 
to any man, and such knowledge had inevitably a 
retroactive effect. Your heart went out to him 
for what he was, and in the process of admiration 
and affection, it became greatly enriched also. 
His point of view was so high, his aims were so 
unselfish, his methods were so self-denying, that 
you could not but regard them with a deep ad- 
miration and even reverence; but with them all 
you discovered a humility that was not a garment 
but a constitution. You came to feel that it was 
not your admiration that was being sought, nor 
any expression of it that was wanted, but only 
your sympathy in the aims and the work. Your 
special task was not to compliment Dr. Miller, 
but to try to lift yourself, for the occasion at 
least, to the level which with him was habitual. 

^* The first impression I gained of him in his 
official capacity was the perfect ease with which 
he did his work. I had indeed the feeling that 
he was a man larger than his sphere; though he 
meanwhile was already planning and preparing 
for the enlargement of the work to its present 
proportions. He was a born editor and writer, 
and the most indefatigable worker I have ever 
known. The time, pressure and the creak of the 
machinery in periodical work were no incon- 



142 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

venience or cause of nervousness. His ' thousand 
words ' were always ready when wanted ; but their 
writing could at any time be suspended at the call 
of anyone who wanted his judgment or his help. 
It was, however, not the ease of his writing that 
was the phenomenon, but its unfailing accepta- 
bility. We have the high authority of Sir Robert- 
son Nicoll (in The British Weekly for July 25, 
1912) for saying that Dr. Miller may * be justly 
called the most popular religious writer of his 
time.' We think of such a position as won by 
unfailing discipline of the mind, the diligent study 
of great models, the conscious culture of literary 
style. In Dr. Miller's case it seemed to be won 
rather by the simpler expedient of being himself 
and of speaking in the way natural to him. He 
loved others, and by loving them understood them. 
He addressed literally millions of people, and each 
one of them felt his personal touch and was con- 
scious of the ministry of love. He had only one 
theme, the beauty of being better than we are. It 
is said that he repeated himself; and that saying 
probably reveals one of the secrets of his success. 
He was no more afraid of repeating himself than 
life itself is. 

*^ Much of his work for the Board was the ex- 
position of Scripture. It was done with a min- 
imum of apparatus. He liked the Cambridge 
Bible best as the framework for his exposition; 
and it was not a learned exposition. What con- 
cerned him was the application of Scripture to 
life. He was not unaware of the progress of his- 
torical criticism, but his religious experience was 
of a character so intimate, that he felt lifted above 
the problems of criticism, and into that serene air 
he attempted to lift his readers also. Incidentally 
he kept the Board of Publication outside the arena 



ASSOCIATES^ VIEW OF HIS WORK 143 

of controversy in periods of some agitation in the 
Church. 

'*■ When he began to realise his projects for the 
improvement of the young people's literature and 
the lesson helps, he called me into innumerable 
conferences, and consulted me at every step. The 
effect, however, was to make apparent to me that 
he had not only editorial experience but some- 
thing that may be called editorial instinct or even 
genius. He had nothing whatever to learn from 
me that could frame or modify his own decisions. 
I came to feel that in offering hearty cooperation, 
warm sympathy and earnest support to his proj- 
ects, I was doing the best the circumstances of 
our official relations made possible. And I cherish 
the assurance that in that way I became something 
of a comfort to him. In all our relations I had 
never a discomfort or question, except only the 
abiding knowledge that he was overworked. This 
he never once acknowledged, and only in repeated 
efforts to relieve him was there any lack of co- 
operation on his part. 

** Forward may stand as a monument of Dr. 
Miller's editorial genius; for what it is and for 
what it has compelled its rivals to become. It 
was his conception, and to his constant super- 
vision and planning its wonderful success and in- 
fluence are due. But even it does not measure his 
editorial capacity. He was capable of giving this 
country a great religious newspaper, like The 
British Weekly, and he cherished such a hope. 
Very often I have talked the matter over with 
him. Offers came to him from the outside looking 
toward such a project. Even within the Board 
of Publication the matter was discussed, but de- 
nominational restrictions made such an undertak- 
ing impracticable. The need of such a periodical 



144 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

remains, but I doubt if anyone can be found whose 
personality and gifts would bring to it the as- 
sured welcome that would have come with Dr. 
Miller at its head. 

** Now that he is dead, more appealing even 
than the measure of the work he accomplished is 
the memory of the spirit in which he worked. 
One^s own ideal of faithful service tends to as- 
sume a likeness to his person, and so becomes his 
best memorial.'' 



THE AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 



Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the 
lowlands because we are afraid to climb into the mountains. 
The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in 
the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills. 
We do not know what we lose in our self-indulgence, what 
glory awaits us if only we had courage for the mountain climb, 
what blessing we should find if only we would move to the 
uplands of God. — From '' The Preface," in " Unto the HillsJ^ 

We should begin now to live the immortal life, to practise 
immortality. We should think and plan and choose, these 
common days, for immortality. We should do nothing we 
should ever wish we had not done. We should say no words 
we shall ever want unsaid. We should build only fabrics we 
shall be glad to look upon in endless years. Immortality has 
begun already in the youngest life. It is not something we 
shall enter upon when we get to heaven. It is going on now 
in the schoolroom, on the playground, in the friendships and 
amusements of the young people, and in all their hours, how- 
ever spent. We must practise immortality all our days if 
we would realise its fullest meaning. — From " The Meaning 
of Immortality/' in '^ The Book of Comfort." 



CHAPTER IX 

THE AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 

Dr. Miller's first books were prepared in answer 
to the clamour of those who heard his sermons on 
Sunday and read his helpful, stimulating articles 
in The Westminster Teacher, The Sunday School 
Times, and other periodicals. The first volume 
was issued in 1880; two final volumes from his pen 
were given to the public in the fall of 1912, these 
having been planned and prepared during his last 
months on earth. In all more than sixty books 
and booklets were issued, the total circulation dur- 
ing his lifetime being more than two million 
copies. Not only were they in demand in America 
and Great Britain, and all the colonies, but in 
other foreign lands as well. One or more volumes 
have been translated into German, French, Italian 
and Norwegian. The claim made by his pub- 
lishers that Dr. Miller is '^ the most widely read 
devotional writer in the world '' is well founded. 
The reason for this popularity was easily seen 
by anyone who knew him and his methods of 
work. During the week he lived close to people. 
He saw them in their homes and in his office and 
entered into the deepest secrets of their hearts. 
On Saturday afternoon and evening he thought 

147 



148 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

over the week, and prepared his sermons for Sun- 
day. On Sunday he gave his people messages 
that reached their hearts because they were pre- 
pared with a sympathetic knowledge of their 
needs. On Monday, from the sermons of Sunday, 
articles would be written for the papers. Almost 
at once after publication messages would begin 
to come from those who had been helped by read- 
ing them. In a few months a new volume would 
be made up by revising and rewriting the articles 
which had already served double duty. This vol- 
ume would not be long out of the publishers' hands 
before — from all parts of the world — letters 
would pour in from readers. Many of these let- 
ters would bring heart-revelations that inspired 
fresh sermons and articles and books. 

The sermons that adapt themselves to publica- 
tion as newspaper articles and then for insertion 
in books for popular reading are scarce. But Dr. 
Miller could write them — in fact, he seemed un- 
able to write any other kind. Long discipline in 
writing simply, and long and varied experience in 
loving men, women and children fitted him to 
be author of more ^* best sellers " among reli- 
gious books than anyone else. 

Simple writing was a hobby with him. To an 
associate in the editorial office he once said, ** I 
would like to see you make these articles so simple 
that an eight-year-old child cannot but understand 
them.'' His work showed how completely he had 
kept this ideal before his own mind. One whose 



AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 149 

business it was to estimate the space required for 
manuscripts by various authors, soon learned that 
a thousand words by Dr. Miller would need one- 
fifth less space than one thousand words by almost 
any other writer — all because he was so fond of 
words of one syllable! Simple language was il- 
luminated by apt and copious illustration. Many 
of his illustrations were given in a single sentence.- 
Most of these were illustrations that no other 
writer would ever have used — because they were 
drawn from homely life, and because they were 
so simple that no one else thought of the applica- 
tion that was so plain to Dr. Miller. Yet no sooner 
did he use them than they were copied by nu- 
merous other authors and used in sermons every- 
where. 

A reader of Dr. Miller's books discovers that 
in every chapter, sooner or later, he says some- 
thing comforting. This characteristic was notice- 
able during the days of the Civil War, when the 
papers printed his first messages. Letters from 
the front were apt to contain a message of cheer. 
When he could get time he would write a full 
article on the one theme that took possession of 
him as he went to hospital cots or to soldiers 
dying on the battle field, or as he came in touch 
with grieving parents. In 1863 he wrote to The 
United Presbyterian '^ A Study on Sorrow,'' in 
which he said : 

* * I had spent the afternoon of Wednesday with 
two or three sore sufferers. In conversation with 



150 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

them I had spoken freely of their trials and their 
comforts. . . . Comfort is one of life's best 
blessings. Even the comfort of earthly friends is 
soothing and sweet. But the real comfort which 
the Holy Spirit brings to the heart of the Christian 
mourner is infinitely better. . . . It is better to 
go into the furnace and get the image of Christ 
out of the fire, than to be saved from the fire and 
fail of the blessed likeness.^* 

Another war-time article, entitled * * A Word of 
Comfort/' contained this illustration: 

*' When a hard frost comes after a rain it 
catches the silvery drops that fasten upon the 
trees, and freezes them solid, and holds them 
there in beautiful crystals which no wind can 
shake off. So death catches all the beauty and 
sweetness of those we love and fixes it in solid 
crystals which will hang upon the tree of memory 
forever/' 

The titles of some of the books published a 
generation or more after the close of the war show 
plainly that the passing years only intensified the 
feeling of the young Field Agent that the world 
needs comforting words. As one reads the list 
of Dr. Miller's works he is at once attracted by 
such refreshing titles as '^ Silent Times," ** Come 
Ye Apart," " Bits of Pasture," " The Hidden 
Life," '' The Blessing of Cheerfulness," '' By the 
Still Waters," '' Strength and Beauty," '' The 
Ministry of Comfort," *' Upper Currents," ** In 
Perfect Peace." No one was surprised to 



AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 151 

learn that the last book of the Silent Times series, 
and the last book prepared by Dr. Miller for pub- 
lication, was entitled simply '^ The Book of Com- 
fort."* 

To one who spoke of the constant recurrence of 
the comforting, soothing note in his sermons, Dr. 
Miller once said, ^* I have long made it a rule 
never to preach one sermon on any subject without 
putting in it, somewhere, a message of comfort for 
the sorrowing and the overborne.'' And to one 
who commended his books he wrote words that 
told the secret of his life : 

* ' You speak specially of the uplifting influence, 
the cheering and encouraging tone of my work. I 
feel that it is one of the highest missions of the 
Christian teacher to be an inspirer of others. 
Enough people write the sad words, the depress- 
ing words, which make life heavier and harder 
for those who are meeting its responsibilities and 
enduring its struggles. Those who sing always in 
a minor key, and breathe out sad and dispiriting 
words, do not know how much harm they are 
doing in the world, what hurt they are giving to 
other lives. It seems to me that those who know 
Christ should sing the note of gladness and joy. 
Life is sad enough even at its best. As we go 
forth each morning we meet on every hand those 
whose hearts are burdened, who are carrying 
heavy loads, who find the battle too sore for 
them. If we speak discouraging words or if we 
even refrain from speaking glad and joyous 
words, we are making life a little harder for those 

* Published in England under the title, *• Life's Open Doors." 



152 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

people. But if we have in our hearts the cheei* 
of Christ, the encouragement of Christ, we shall 
be all the better helpers of others. I have been 
greatly impressed by a word in the prophecy of 
Isaiah, referring to the Messiah, in which the 
prophet says, ^ He shall not fail nor be discour- 
aged.' As you study the life of Christ you find 
that He never was discouraged. All His days He 
met life's trials and persecutions and sorrows with 
a shining face and a courageous heart. I never be- 
lieved that old tradition which said that He never 
smiled — I believe that on His face there was al- 
ways that sweet smile which told of peace within. 
It is our duty, therefore, as far as we possibly can, 
to be encouragers of others, never discouragers." 

Everywhere the critics received Dr. Miller's vol- 
umes kindly. A writer in the Edinburgh Exposi- 
tory Times said of *^ A Help for the Common 
Days ": 

** It is a work that for a moment may be con- 
founded with 's [naming a famous devo- 
tional writer] . It is really quite distinct. ^ 

at his best mounts up with wings as eagles. Dr. 
Miller is always at his best, and always is content 
to walk. And this is no disparagement of Dr. 
Miller. If we may believe Principal Reynolds, 
this steady upward plodding in a narrow path is 
better than raptures of reconciliation. Therefore 
for strength in daily duty, the duty of patient, 
silent waiting for the slow ^ grinding of the mills 
of God,' we shall seek Dr. Miller." 

A well-known American critic said of '* The 
Building of Character ' ' : 



AUTHOE OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 153 

** It has the charming simplicity of all your 
work. You have the rare art of saying things 
clearly, effectively, tenderly, applicatorily, and 
yet without the air of a pedagogue and without 
the tone of preachment/' 

But the best critics are those who buy and read 
books. These were not slow to express themselves 
about Dr. Miller's work. Nearly every morning's 
mail brought one or more notes of appreciation 
from some one who had been helped by a volume 
of comfort, or inspired to nobler living by a mes- 
sage prepared by one who was learning the lesson 
of life in the school of his Friend Jesus Christ. 
Sometimes praise was laughingly given, as when 
a father wrote that his daughters had a good- 
natured dispute every evening as to who should 
have the great privilege of reading a chapter in 
the latest volume, or when one told that a boy, 
asked if he was fond of a certain popular book of 
adventure, said, *^ Yes, it means as much to me 
as the last of Dr. Miller's books means to mother." 

Perhaps one of the best criticisms of Dr. Mil- 
ler's books ever made came from a humble reader 
in England : 

*^ It does seem to me the most wonderful thing 
in the world, when I consider your high standing 
and the many calls upon your time, that you 
should be so kind to me and give me so much of 
your help and thought. Do you know I think God 
must have meant you to be my teacher, because 
I can understand you so quickly and because it 



154 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

is such an intense joy to learn from you. I have 
been reading Emerson's Essays lately and like 
them very much, but not at all in the same way 
I like your books; for when I read Emerson I 
am at school ; when I read your books I am resting 
at home.'' 

In the same mail would come letters from read- 
ers at home and from readers beyond the sea. 
One day a message from the homeland said : 

*^ I have for twenty years been an invalid, and 
have had so many solitary hours, so many silent 
times, when the companionship of your books was 
comforting, inspiring and uplifting, that I love 
them. ' ' 

Another letter told of an evening gathering of 
men and women in a home for the aged to listen to 
the reading aloud of selected books. One of the 
listeners said: 

** Nothing which has passed through our hands 
has been so acceptable as * Finding the Way.' " 

From Melbourne, Australia, came a letter from 
a Christian Endeavourer who told of the purpose 
of his society to spend ^* An Evening with Dr. 
Miller." 

The English Consul at Kieif, Russia, told of a 
service held in the schoolhouse every Sunday 
afternoon for several years, at which a chapter 
from one of Dr. Miller's books was read. No ser- 
mon was allowed by the authorities, but the 



AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 155 

printed words of the American pastor met their 
needs. 

From a stranger in London, England, came 
these encouraging tidings ; 

** A friend, an architect in Bombay, Lidia, in- 
forms me that at Christmas he purchased three 
hundred copies of your ^ Come Ye Apart ' and 
distributed them among his friends and native 
clients. One of them went to a Mohammedan 
prince, for whom he had recently constructed a 
palace and in whose house he had great freedom. 
He afterwards said that the volume was being 
read with much interest both by the prince and 
his wife. Another copy was sent to a Moham- 
medan merchant, and on calling at his office the 
giver found the book lying on the table, it having 
been brought from the residence. I thought you 
would like to know of these silent influences at 
work. ' ' 

Famous people asked to have their part in the 
chorus of appreciation. From Hawarden Castle 
came an autograph letter: 

*^ Pray accept my thanks for your work on 
* The Building of Character.' It seems to me 
a work of great value on a subject requiring a 
skilful hand. 

* * Your very faithful servant, 

^^W. E.Gladstone." 

The Earl of Meath wrote from England : 

'* I have for some considerable time wished to 
write to you and express the pleasure which I 



156 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

feel in reading your books. I think I may truly 
say that tliey are the only sermons which have 
ever attracted me. Yours possess a life and prac- 
tical character which appeal to me, and I seldom 
read them without feeling that I rise strengthened 
for life's contests. They appear to me so differ- 
ent from the ordinary dry-as-dust sermons, which 
treat of abstruse questions of theology or con- 
tested points of the Bible narrative, which are of 
little practical use to the man of the world who 
is in need of guidance as to the way in which he 
should pick his steps amidst the dangers and pit- 
falls to be daily met with in the workaday world. 
Permit, therefore, an unknown friend to tender 
sincere thanks for guidance and encouragement. ' ' 

A Philadelphia visitor to the palace of the Czar 
in St. Petersburg wrote that he saw several of Dr. 
Miller's books on the reading table of the Czarina. 
She asked him to say to the author that she had 
read his books and enjoyed them very much. 
Later she sent a similar message through her 
secretary. 

Gratifying as were these evidences that he was 
reaching the hearts of the great, the author wel- 
comed even more the words that came to him 
from those in humble station. When in San Fran- 
cisco, in 1893, Dr. Miller visited the Chinese Quar- 
ter. Going into one of the houses, he was intro- 
duced to the owner, who showed the greatest de- 
light on meeting him, and exclaimed, '* Why, I 
know you well; I have read your books! " and go- 
ing to a table near by he held up several of them. 

Dr. Miller was particularly attracted by this 



AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 157 

letter, received from a student at the University 
of Mississippi : 

** Last summer a party of us students were over 
in South Carolina working during vacation to help 
get into school again. In the library of my board- 
ing house a little volume in green binding at- 
tracted my attention. It was your * Week-day Re- 
ligion.' I not only read the book myself, but read 
it aloud to my friends. We ordered copies at 
once, and more than one of us, I suspect, had 
copies sent to some dark-eyed maiden in the old 
Magnolia state. I have the book on my table 
now, and in the hurry and grind I take time to 
read it even though I have read it again and 
again. Its simple and sweet earnestness goes 
straight to my soul. You are a busy man in far- 
away Philadelphia, and I a farmer's boy and 
student among the vine-clad hills of Mississippi, 
yet I know that we are drawn close together by 
that greatest of all ties — the recognition of our 
duty to Christ.'' 

A young negro minister in the South evidently 
spoke from his heart when he said : 

*^ While at the seminary I got a plenty of doc- 
trine, but little of practical things, little of words 
suited to cheer the weary and heavy-hearted, but 
in your books I find many things that are good 
for the sufferings of my race. And I thank God 
for your life. ' ' 

The day before the author's death a maid- 
servant in England wrote : 

* * I want to try in writing to thank you for the 
great help I have received from reading books 



158 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

written by yon, namely: ^ Silent Times Series.' 
I have had the great privilege of being able to 
read and re-read, for years now, some of these. 
I find in counting up that I have read seventeen 
of the most beautiful and helpful books. Again 
and again I have thanked God for placing them 
within my reach. Again and again I have asked 
Him to reward you, though at the same time I 
know you have had already your reward. I can- 
not express in words my heartfelt thanks for the 
help I have received from them, and the joy it 
has given me to be able to lend to others the three 
volumes I possess as my own. I would like to 
have every one you have written as my very own. 
I hope yet to be able to read those I have not 
read. I am a domestic servant and, you will un- 
derstand, not well enough off to purchase them all 
for my own. But my mistress is as fond of them 
as I am, and it is through her kindness that I 
own three of them. For some time I have felt 
I would like to thank you, and I didn't know if 
you were in heaven above or in heaven below, for 
I know after being able to write such books, you 
must have known the blessed experience of heaven 
on earth. So I inquired of the publishers and 
they sent me your address. Dear Sir, please ac- 
cept again my sincere gratitude for those books. 
I pray that millions of them may be bought, and 
I know they cannot fail to be a blessing to all who 
read them. I say all, because I believe no one 
who is saved can read them without being blessed. 
Some day, when I meet the blessed Master, I will 
thank Him face to face, and you, too." 

Many letters told of lives that had been changed 
by God's blessing on these simple volumes. A 
useful minister said : 



AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 159 

** Dr. Miller's fine spiritual articles and edi- 
torials have often inspired me to higher living and 
greater devotion to the cross. One of his little 
books, ^ Go Forward,' helped me to determine a 
field of labour in harmony with the will of God. 
Had I not read it at the time, I might have gone 
to the other field." 

One who became an earnest Christian after the 
experience described in his letter, wrote : 

*^ When I took the book up, I was in utter de- 
spair. I had been longing for over a year to be- 
come a Christian, but had been unsuccessful, and 
had almost determined to give up the struggle. 
When I laid down the book all my miserable 
doubts and fears had vanished, and I was so per- 
fectly happy that I doubted the reality of the 
change. Not until two or three years had passed 
did I dare to believe in my new peace. ' ' 

An anxious mother cheered the author by 
saying : 

*^ I have thrown * The Every Day of Life ' in 
the way of my son, who is rather careless about 
reading such books, and I am glad to tell you I 
often find him reading it. And only this morning 
at breakfast, when we were talking about the book, 
he remarked, * I tell you. Dr. Miller is a great man. 
He knows how to say things that go to the heart. ' 
. . . Last night I received a letter from a young 
man, thanking me for a copy of the book which 
I had sent him, and expressing a desire to lead 
a new life.'^ 

From a deaconess in Toronto, Canada, came this 
encouraging note : 



160 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

'^ Your books have been my favourites for 
years, and I have been echoing their helpful mes- 
sages to all my patients in the seven hospitals of 
the city where my work calls me day by day; and 
also in our young people's meetings. I have come 
in from my work with my heart almost crushed 
with the sorrows and miseries of this wicked 
world, but would pick up one of your books, and 
it would give me just the message I needed for 
the hour. ... A good friend was kind enough 
to say to me the other evening, * I know now the 
secret of your unselfish life ; it is because you have 
read so many of Dr. Miller's books.' I want to 
say to you that they have helped me to get better 
acquainted with Christ. ' ' 

It was one of Dr. Miller's chief joys that his 
books were acceptable to people of all denomina- 
tions and all phases of belief. He prized highly 
a letter written in 1887 by Bishop William Bacon 
Stevens, of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of 
Pennsylvania. After receiving '' Practical Re- 
ligion, ' ' the Bishop wrote : 

'' Pardon me for thus writing to a stranger; 
and yet I feel that where our minds and hearts 
so run together, and find their common centre in 
the same precious Saviour, we are not strangers, 
but brethren in Christ, journeying, though it may 
be by different paths, yet each leading to the same 
Gate of Pearl, and to the one Father's house, of 
whom * the whole family in heaven and earth is 
named.' " 

On returning from a vacation trip a Philadel- 
phian said : 



AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 161 

^^ While stopping at a hotel on one of the 
islands in beautiful Casco Bay, the proprietress 
inquired whether I was acquainted with Dr. Miller. 
I was surprised at her question, because I knew 
her to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church. 

* I always have one of Dr. Miller's books with me 
wherever I may happen to be,' she explained. 

* His words have comforted me in my sorrow and 
helped me more than any others I have ever read ; 
he seems almost to know my problems, and in his 
books I have found a way out of many difficul- 
ties.' Then she added, ' I was advised to get Dr. 
Miller's books by the priest in charge of my 
church.' " 

A Roman Catholic Archbishop was heard by the 
proprietor of a bookstore talking to a parish 
priest. He said: ** Here is a book that I like. It 
is by J. R. Miller. I do not know who he is, but 
it is a good book and I advise you to read it." 

Dr. Miller's friends were not surprised by let- 
ters of praise and appreciation like these. But 
Dr. Miller was surprised. He never got over the 
feeling expressed in a letter to a friend : 



(< 



I thank you for what you say about the in- 
fluence of my articles and books on the other side 
of the sea. It is something which I cannot myself 
understand — how the books go and how kindly 
people write to me. This morning's mail brought 
me two letters — one from Southern India and an- 
other from England, both full of grateful thanks, 
out of loving hearts, for the simple words which 
God has enabled me to write. Nothing humbles 
a man so much as the consciousness that God is 



162 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

using him. The feeling of reverence which one 
has in such consciousness, instead of exalting, 
brings one down very close to the feet of Christ/' 

In similar vein he wrote to another corre- 
spondent : 

** There is something pleasant about the way 
my books have gone. I confess myself mystified 
when I think of it. The sales on the other side, 
through my British publishers, are quite as great 
as on this side. God has chosen to use these little 
books with their simple messages in a way which 
no thought of mine can understand or account for. 
The only solution I can find is that God graciously 
accepts the little things laid on His altar and uses 
them as He wills, to carry comfort, cheer, inspira- 
tion and help to His children.'' 

In 1893, after a Sunday in Oakland, California, 
where the people had thronged about him, he 
wrote to Mrs. Miller: 

*^ I am getting little glimpses of the place I 
hold in the people's hearts over the country 
through books, articles, lessons, etc. People say 
in their introductory speeches that my * name is 
a household word.' One stranger said that no 
man in this country has the place I have in the 
hearts of the Christian people. I feel silly to 
write this, as it seems like self-conceit. But you 
say I ought to tell you everything. It does not 
make me self-conceited at all, but just the re- 
verse. It gives me a sense of responsibility which 
will make me far more careful of my life here- 
after." 



AUTHOR OF DEVOTIONAL BOOKS 163 

Strong in that resolution, the gifted author re- 
turned to his desk to prepare fresh messages of 
comfort and stimulus for the friends of his Friend 
and those he would introduce to that Friend. 



MINISTERING THROUGH THE MAILS 



If you know a life that is dreary, that seems utterly deso- 
late and alone, do what you can to get a bit of bloom planted 
in it. — From '^ Upper Currents.'' 

Jesus never gave money to anyone in need, so far as we 
are told. He did not pay rents for the poor, nor buy them 
food or clothes, but he was always doing good in ways that 
meant far more to them than if he had helped with money. 
There are needs that only love and kindness can meet. Count- 
less people move about among us these days starving for love, 
dying for loneliness. You can help them immeasurably by 
becoming their friend, not in any marked or unusual way, but 
by doing them a simple kindness, by showing a little human 
interest in them, by turning aside to do a little favour, by 
manifesting sympathy, if they are in sorrow. A little note of 
a few lines sent to a neighbour in grief has been known to 
start an influence of comfort and strength that could not be 
measured. 

It is the little things of love that count in such ministry — 
the little nameless acts, the small words of gentleness, the looks 
that tell of interest and care and sympathy. Life is hard 
for many people and nothing is more needed continually than 
encouragement and cheer. There are men who never do any- 
thing great in their lives, and yet they make it sunnier all 
about them and make all who know them happier, braver, 
stronger. There are women, overburdened themselves, perhaps, 
but so thoughtful, so sympathetic, so obliging, so full of little 
kindnesses, that they make the spot of the world in which 
they live more like heaven. — From '' Comfort Through Per- 
sonal Helpfulness/' in ^' The Book of Comfort." 



CHAPTER X 

MINISTERING THROUGH THE MAILS 

Dr. Miller built up his large congregations as 
much by letter-writing as by the making of per- 
sonal calls. And the letters which played such 
an important part in the development of his work 
were not about the church at all — they were 
merely the friendly, thoughtful, considerate letters 
of one who was interested in the welfare of his 
correspondents and who did not allow himself to 
be too busy to let them know about his interest. 

For years it was his habit on Sunday evenings, 
after the day's work was done, to make note of 
all the people of whom he had heard during the 
day to whom letters might do good. Of course 
the names of the sick went down on that list, as 
well as those who had recovered from sickness, 
those who had returned from a journey, and those 
who were about to leave home; those who were 
going to college, or parents who had heard good 
news from a son or a daughter at college — in fact, 
everyone into whose life had come some event 
of special importance. Just as soon as possible, 
a letter was sent to each one of them, with an 
appropriate word of sympathy, congratulation, 
cheer, or good wishes. 

167 



168 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

Then he kept a complete record of all the im- 
portant dates in the lives of his people — ^birth- 
days, wedding anniversaries, et cetera — and he 
marked each of these by sending a short letter of 
remembrance. 

As if this was not enough, when he heard from 
acquaintances during the week of sickness or death 
in a family with which he was acquainted — ^whether 
in his own town or in distant parts of America, 
or even in foreign countries — ^he seized the chance 
to write a letter. In fact, it was the rule of his 
life to send each day at least one letter of cheer 
to some one who was in special need. Seldom, 
however, did he stop with one such letter; the 
day^s mail from his office was frequently loaded 
with a dozen or more messages of cheer. The 
chance word with the street-car conductor, or the 
passenger who sat by his side, or the elevator boy, 
or the teller at the bank would give him the hint 
that prompted a message. Perhaps the morning 
paper would tell him of some one who had been 
called to a position of honour, possibly a caller 
would casually mention the fact that a friend had 
just been married. A business associate might tell 
him of one who had recently come to the city to 
enter upon a new position. Notes would be made 
of each of these opportunities for a helpful letter 
— and before the day was done the message was 
on its way. 

Once when he was present as a speaker at an 
evening gathering he learned that two expected 



MINISTERING THROUGH THE MAILS 169 

guests had been unable to come because of illness. 
Quickly Ids memorandum book was in his hand, the 
fact was noted, and at the first opportunity he 
wrote letters of sympathy to both of the men. It 
made no difference to him that one was obscure, 
while the other was a man of note: the obscure 
man received a letter just as hearty as that penned 
for the well-known man. 

During the Torrey- Alexander meetings in Phil- 
adelphia in 1906, a service was held in the Acad- 
emy of Music, conducted by Charles M. Alex- 
ander. Different persons were testifying to their 
faith in Christ and relating experiences which 
had led them to accept Him. One of these persons 
spoke of the influence of a letter received from 
Dr. Miller in a time of deep trouble and distress. 
** Yes,'' said Mr. Alexander, ''• what a wonderful 
help Dr. Miller's letters have been to many a 
weary and troubled soul! I wonder how many 
persons in this gathering have received letters 
from Dr. Miller? " One might have expected to 
see a scattering show of hands here and there 
throughout the large congregation, but hundreds 
of hands were raised in silent but eloquent tribute 
to a man who, although extremely busy, found 
time to share the burdens of others. 

Once a visitor told Dr. Miller what one of these 
kindly letters had meant to him. Dr. Miller told 
the story himself in an article urging others to 
write such letters. It never occurred to him that 
friends would know at once that he wrote the 



170 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

letter of which the young man spoke. This is the 
story, with Dr. Miller's own comment: 

'* Only yesterday a young man took from his 
pocket a letter which he had carried for five years 
and which he has read no doubt hundreds of 
times. It was written when he was in great per- 
plexity of mind and was on the point of turning 
into the darkness of doubt and despair. He 
reached out his hands for help, writing to one 
he knew he could trust, and laying bare to him 
his heart's whole burden. He received a prompt 
answer which, if it did nothing else, at least 
brought to him the consciousness of human sym- 
pathy and interest. He was not alone. One cared 
for him. For the time, in the darkness, he could 
not see Christ, but he could see this human friend 
who stood close by him in love. This saved him. 
This friendship was a little lamp which kept on 
shining when every other light seemed to have 
gone out. 

* * The letter which came to him in answer to his 
heart's unburdening proved the very word of 
Christ to him. For months it was all the gospel 
he could read. Its few, strong, simple, confident 
sentences were like anchor-chains to his soul amid 
the waves. At last all the darkness fled away, the 
storms were quieted, Christ himself was revealed 
once more in blessed, glorious light, and holy 
peace filled his soul. 

' ^ But it was the letter that saved him. It was 
the hand of Christ to him. Is it any wonder that 
he cherished it as the most sacred of all his treas- 
ures 1 It has been kept so long and read so often 
that the paper is worn out. But no money would 
buy it from the young man." 



MINISTEEING THROUGH THE MAILS 171 

In homes all over the world letters from Dr. 
Miller are cherished possessions. A visitor in 
a New Jersey home was shown a series of seven 
letters received from him on seven successive wed- 
ding anniversaries. Most people would have 
thought the recipients had no claim on him, but 
he thought differently; everyone had a claim to 
whom he might be of use. 

^^ I can't understand how he could keep in touch 
with folks as he did/' a business man said a few 
days after the death of the letter-writer. ^ ' I have 
carefully laid away a package of messages from 
him. Somehow he kept track of me from the 
time I took my first position. Every time my 
salary was increased he wrote to me. There was 
a letter when I was married, and more letters on 
wedding anniversaries. When a child was born, 
when there was sickness in the home, when there 
were financial reverses, when we were rejoicing 
or sorrowing for almost any special reason, he 
wrote to us. And to think that he did no more 
for us than for thousands of others, some of 
whom he had never seen." 

A few samples of these letters serve not only 
to illustrate the story of the writer's helpful min- 
istry of the pen, but they reveal many of the 
secrets of his marvellous life. One day a letter 
came to his desk from a Sunday-school girl who 
asked for counsel as to her life work. After urg- 
ing patience before beginning the larger work she 
planned, he wrote ; 



172 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

^' 1 am glad to know that you have given your- 
self to Christ fully and wholly, that you desire 
not only to live for Him, but to live to be a blessing 
to others in His name. . . . Your best course 
is to put yourself in the hands of Christ, as I am 
sure you want to do, not only regarding the con- 
secration of the work, but regarding the details 
of the work. Do not be in haste. Do not feel that 
you must enter at once upon this larger work. 
The first thing for a worker is careful and sub- 
stantial preparation. Meanwhile you will not be 
idle, but you will be doing Christ's work and 
taking a part in Christian work from the very 
beginning. You will practise, for example, in 
Sunday-school work and in every line of work in 
which girls can engage with helpfulness to others. 
Let Christ choose the way and choose the line of 
work for you. I have had experience with a good 
many young people who have felt just as you 
feel now, having the beautiful spirit of consecra- 
tion and great earnestness, and I assure you that 
the course I recommend will be the wise one for 
you — not to be in a hurry, but to do the work of 
this day faithfully as a preparation for the work 
of the morrow. ' ' 

A student for the ministry, about to be gradu- 
ated from college, received this stimulating coun- 
sel: 

^* May God's blessing richly abide upon you in 
the future plans for the completion of your course. 
The seminary curriculum will be different alto- 
gether from that of the college. You are in a 
measure free from the trammels and drudgeries 
which have been thus far an essential part of 
your course. The work before you now is two- 



MINISTERINO THROUGH THE MAILS 173 

fold — first, to get the keys of the treasure house 
of knowledge, which will make available to you 
the rich stores which are laid up for your use; 
and, second, to learn to preach. A man must 
have something to say, otherwise rhetoric and elo- 
cution and all other such qualifications for expres- 
sion will be of little avail. The day has gone by 
when sounding brass and tinkling cymbal will 
make a man a permanent reputation in the pulpit, 
or enable him to be of much use in the world. 
There was a time when high-sounding rhetoric 
and graceful oratory took the place largely with 
many people of real thought. But now a man 
must know something, must have something to 
say to people, must be a thinker, otherwise he will 
find his rhetoric and elocution of but very small 
importance. It is impossible for you in the three 
years before you to learn everything that you will 
need to use in your ministry. But you can get the 
keys to the storehouse. That is, you can learn 
where things are to be found, and you can learn 
how to think. Reading alone does not prepare 
a man for being a great teacher. He must not only 
read, but also digest and assimilate. 

** The other part of your course will be to learn 
to express what you do know in such a. way that 
it will leave its mark in the hearts and lives of 
those who hear you. Nothing will be of more 
use to you than incessant writing. No matter 
how stiffly and laboriously a man may write at 
first, if only he persists in practice, writing every 
day, rewriting and striving to improve in his 
style, he will by and by be able to express his 
thoughts fluently and in such a way that others 
will be interested in the expression. Elocution 
is important, but I insist still that the men who 
move the world and make the deepest impres- 



174 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

sion upon lives are those wlio have learned to 
write in simple Saxon words of beauty and 
strength, the great thoughts that burn in their 
hearts." 

A Christian in another city on the morning of 
his birthday read this greeting : 

*^ I have just seen a notice in the New York 
Evangelist that to-morrow will be your birthday. 
I am constrained to write a word of sincere con- 
gratulation. There are many things upon which 
you are to be congratulated. One is, that through 
the grace of Christ in you, your life has been such 
a blessing to the world, so full of usefulness, such 
an educating, uplifting influence. You will never 
know the full value of what you have done until 
in eternity you see all the results and inspirations 
when the harvest is gathered. . . . 

*^ Another cause for congratulation is that you 
have an immortality before you, bright with pos- 
sibilities of growth, in which you are going to 
continue to work for Christ. This is the best of 
all. The ^ endless life ^ beyond the shadows of 
mortality is a great deal more real than the broken 
years we live in this world. There the oldest are 
the youngest and all life is toward youth. 

^ ^ May God continue you for many years of use- 
fulness here, and then introduce you to an eternity 
of glorious life." 

A letter from a stranger attracted Dr. Miller's 
special attention because it gave him the hint for 
which he was always looking — the hint that a letter 
from him would be helpful. So he wrote : 

'* Your stationery shows that you are in sor- 
row. I may not intermeddle with your grief, but 



MINISTERING THROUGH THE MAILS 175 

I may say at least that my heart goes out in sin- 
cere sympathy to you, whatever the grief may be 
which has touched your life. No doubt you have 
learned that sorrow is a great revealer. We never 
should see the stars in the sky, if the sun kept 
shining always; and the Bible is like a sky full 
of stars — stars of comfort, of divine revealing, of 
spiritual help, of which we never should know ex- 
perimentally did not the sun go down for us and 
the darkness come on. Very much of the Bible 
remains like a sealed book to God's children until 
they are called to pass into the shadows of grief. 
That is what our Master meant in the Beatitude 
for sorrow, ^ Blessed are they that mourn, for 
they shall be comforted.' Comfort is one of God's 
highest and best blessings. But we never can have 
comfort till we mourn." 

A young woman who was just entering on her 
service as governess in a private family was 
strengthened thus : 

^' My child, do not be afraid of your new duties 
and responsibilities. Keep near the heart of 
Christ yourself, for there you will receive 
strength, and your life will be enriched and your 
touch made more gentle and your heart made more 
tender. Your duties are new to you and may not 
be very easy, but I hope you will soon get accus- 
tomed to them. It is a great thing to be able to 
put an inspiration of good or beauty into the 
heart of a child. You never can know what the 
final outcome will be. May God bless you al- 
ways." 

Learning that an acquaintance was about to lose 
a position through the suspension of a business 



176 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLEE 

house, he entrusted to the mails these heartening 
sentences : 

'* May God bless you. You must not be afraid. 
You have come to one of those points in life where 
you must call up the resources of your Christian 
faith. You will find in due time that the things 
you have been saying to other people are true. 
God will not forget you. He has some plan for 
your life and some place for you to work, and He 
would not be your Father if He did not mean to 
guide you to the place and to the work in due 
time.'' 

On one of the anniversaries of a great sorrow 
which had come into the life of a friend, he took 
this way to ease the wound which would be opened 
anew by the day : 

*^ I sympathise with you in the feeling of lone- 
liness of which you speak. Anniversary days and 
vacation times are the hardest periods through 
which to pass in time of loneliness. They bring 
back the memories of other resting days and me- 
morial days when you were not alone. But these 
very experiences which try you so much are bring- 
ing you two blessings. First they are showing 
to you the value of strong human friendships, 
whose worth to you you would probably never 
have realised but for these experiences. Then at 
the same time they are making known to you the 
reality of God's help and mercy. I often say we 
get a new Bible in our time of trouble, just as a 
person gets a new sky when the sun goes down. 
During the day the sky is only blue — ^beautiful^ 
rich, deep in its majesty and serenity, but not 



MINISTERING THROUGH THE MAILS 177 

revealing all of its splendours until night comes. 
Then in the darkness the glory of the stars flashes 
out. So it is with the Bible. You know it, you 
read it, you love it, you feast your heart upon 
its promises, even in the days of joy and human 
friendship. But you have not yet seen its best. 
Shades of night come on, and in the darkness the 
promises flash out with all their tender meaning 
and all their strength and helpfulness." 

A young soldier enlisted for the Spanish War 
was in the midst of peculiar temptations. He was 
held back from vicious courses as he read these 
words : 

*^ I am sure you want to be a true man as well 
as a true Christian. I hope that nothing will lead 
you away from loyalty to Christ. I am sure you 
mean to be true, but I know well the temptations 
of a soldier's life, for I spent three years in the 
army during our Civil War. I know many men 
who were not able to withstand the temptations. 
But I know thousands of others who were made 
better men by the temptations because they met 
them bravely and were faithful. I hope that you 
will belong to the latter class. You have your life 
to live, and you must be a man not only successful 
in a worldly sense, but also respected by your fel- 
low men and beloved by all good people. You are 
now at school — these many days will test your 
character and bring out whatever is best in you, 
if only you are loyal and true. Stand like a rock 
therefore. You have given yourself to Christ, 
standing up before the whole congregation saying, 
* I am a Christian and I will be faithful to my 
Master while I live. ' You want to be a brave sol- 



178 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

dier when you stand in the face of danger; it is 
far more important that you should be a brave 
man, standing true to God in the face of all the 
temptations that you meet." 

One who reads these letters is ready to agree to 
the truth of an illuminating sentence contained in 
a missive to one who was struggling with doubts : 

*^ To me religion can all be expressed in one 
little line, * Jesus and I are friends/ That is my 
creed. ' ' 

Of course Dr. Miller's daily mail was full of 
answering letters from those privileged to receive 
the wonderful messages of counsel and help. One 
day this came from a weary minister whose heart 
was weighted with woe : 

*' Your note is like a breath from the balsams, 
bringing refreshment and cheer to my dear suf- 
fering wife and to me. Now and then when riding 
to my appointments when I was a country pastor 
in eastern North Carolina, I used to come sud- 
denly upon a little stretch of road which was made 
fragrant by the yellow jasmine, or bay. Your 
letter reminds me of such an experience, and I 
thank you with all my heart. ' ' 

One whom Dr. Miller had encouraged in his 
struggle to secure an education against odds 
wrote, years after his graduation : 

** Just a line to express my deep gratitude for 
all that you have been to me during the years that 



MINISTERING THROUGH THE MAILS 179 

have elapsed since we first met. In going over 
my effects I found letters of encouragement from 
you at the completion of my college and seminary 
career, and letters of cheer to greet a homesick 
boy arriving at Salt Lake City. In fact there 
were no experiences of joy or sorrow that met me 
that you did not share with me. I have treasured 
these letters all these years. 

*^ What little good I have done in the Master's 
cause is largely due to the stimulus of your in- 
fluence. ' ' 

On learning of the sudden death of a mission- 
ary, Dr. Miller wrote at once to the parents, al- 
though he had never met them. Not long after he 
received grateful acknowledgment from the fa- 
ther : 

** I write, thanking you for your most cordial, 
timely and useful letter of condolence. It com- 
forted both of us. Your allusions and illustra- 
tions were, as customary with you, most apt and 
telling. We have, in fact, felt more exultation 
and deep joy than grief, in hearing of our son's 
work, and its triumphant close — on earth. Your 
letter, so prompt, apt and extended, and from a 
source more appealing to us than you could know, 
went far to confirm and heighten in us the feelings 
named. That you could find time to write it, and 
that you took the time and thought, meant much 
to us, and lent emphasis to your kind and wise 
words. You doubtless do not need this response 
as an encouragement to like future ministries to 
others, but the circumstances forbid our silence: 
you ought to be told, sometimes, what flavour God 
lends to your words, and thus what power they 
carry for good." 



180 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

The passion for writing letters continued to the 
last. One day in May, 1912, while unable to leave 
his chair, Dr. Miller dictated letters to a minister 
who was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of 
his pastorate, to a young man who was that day 
moving into his new home, to a sick friend, and 
to a man who had just been highly honoured. His 
last letter — written several weeks before his 
death — was a message of appreciation to an as- 
sociate. He was so feeble that he fell asleep sev- 
eral times before the letter was completed, but he 
would not give up. He had thoroughly learned 
that 

^* Just the art of being kind 
Is all the great world needs." 

He had learned this lesson from his Friend. And 
tens of thousands have been the richer because of 
his desire to pass on what his Friend had taught 
him. 



THE WORLD HIS PARISH 



God is always sending people to us in providential ways. 
We do not know why they came to us, why they pass within 
the range of our influence. But in whatever way they are 
sent to us we have some errand to them. They may need our 
sympathy, our encouragement, our comfort, our protection, 
the influence of our friendship. Let us be careful lest while 
we are busy here and there they are gone without having 
received the influence which God intended us to give them. — 
From '' The Work of the Lord," in " The Gate Beautiful." 

We may do the peacemaker's work by seeking always to 
bring together those who have been estranged. In every com- 
munity there are such persons. Sometimes they live under 
the same roof and eat at the same table. There are brothers 
and sisters, there are even husbands and wives, who are 
further apart than any strangers, A thick wall of rock has 
been built up between them. It may be difficult to do any- 
thing to heal such estrangements. But even in the most un- 
happy and most hopeless alienations the peacemaker's holy 
work may yet be crowned with success. — From " On Being 
a Peacemaker" in " A Heart Garden" 

There are some whose lives are so set apart for ministry 
to others and so filled with calls for service that they seem 
to have no opportunity to be ministered to by others. They 
are always giving and never receiving. They spend their days 
in helping others, but no one helps them. They carry the 
burdens of many, but no one comes to cany their burden. 
They are comforters of the sorrow of all their friends, but in 
their own grief no one ministers consolation to them. They 
share their bread with the hungry, but when they are hungry 
no man gives unto them. Yet these find their help in the 
very serving to which they devote their lives. In feeding 
others, they are fed. In comforting others, they are com- 
forted. In blessing others they are blessed. It matters not 
that no others come to serve them — they are served in their 
service. — From " Getting Help from People" in *' Upper. 
Currents," 



CHAPTER XI 

THE WORLD HIS PARISH 

During the last year of his life Dr. Miller wrote 
what was — for him — an unusually personal mes- 
sage to one who sought to know his idea of con- 
secration. He wrote : 

*^ I have regarded myself as reaching the most 
real things of Christian life and privilege when I 
have let Christ possess me wholly, living in me 
and through me. I have felt that my work is 
simply to interpret Christ to others, to let Christ's 
love pour out through my love, to let Christ's 
cheer for others voice itself through my words, 
and to live out as far as I can the unselfishness 
of Christ in self -forgetful service of others. In- 
creasingly, during recent years, God has been 
trusting me with the helping of hundreds and 
thousands of people. He has sent them to me 
that I may do for them what the Master Himself 
would do for them if He were here in the flesh. 
He is here in the flesh to me, and in a small de- 
gree, at least, I am to let Him live in me and live 
through me. Persons come to me for advice and 
for guidance and for comfort and for help in al- 
most every experience, and for rescue, ofttimes 
when it seems almost to be impossible. Increas- 
ingly, also, I have found that God is ready to use 
me for the helping of those who come to me, some- 
times in almost startling ways. The real answer- 

183 



184 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

ing of prayers in a great many cases has been 
something that has awed me. ' ' 

In ^' letting Christ's love pour out " through 
his love he made no distinctions among people. 
No matter who they were, or where they lived, if 
they needed the help he could give, to them was 
help to be given. When he was asked to conduct a 
funeral service a favourable answer did not de- 
pend on the fact that the family worshipped with 
the congregation of which he was pastor; he at- 
tended scores of funerals in the homes of total 
strangers. Especially in the summer when other 
ministers were away on vacation he answered calls 
from members of many churches and from mem- 
bers of no church. 

So it was with his calls on the sick and the sor- 
rowing, ho was at the service of anyone and 
everyone. Once a woman asked him to visit her 
daughter who was dying of consumption. *^ She 
heard you pray in the house of a friend, and she 
wants you,'* was the explanation. *^ We are 
Catholics, but that won't make any difference, 
wiU it? '' 

One day a stranger asked him if he would go 
and see his invalid mother. ** She read your 
books, and she wants to see you.'' Dr. Miller went 
to her, but when he saw he was in a Catholic home 
he did not offer to pray. Yet not only was he 
asked to lead in prayer ; he was urged to return. 
This was the first of many calls there. 

He did not wait to be urged to go to homes 



THE WORLD HIS PAEISH 185 

outside of his own parisli where lie felt he might 
be useful. Learning that a member of another 
church, who lived near his own home, was an in- 
valid, and knowing that her own pastor was un- 
able to see her often, he called on her three times 
a week for several years. *' I am comparatively 
well now," the recipient of these visits. said a few 
days after the close of Dr. Miller's earthly serv- 
ice, ^^ and I feel that I owe my renewed health — 
in large measure — to God's blessing on the regular 
visits of that godly man. Oh, it was good to see 
his kindly smiling face and to hear his words of 
cheer and hope." 

One morning a message came to the editorial 
office telling of the death by accident of the little 
daughter of a woman not a member of his church. 
Dr. Miller took the next train and remained with 
the mother imtil she was calm and serene. 

Such visits made by some workers among the 
members of another church might cause friction — 
but never when Dr. Miller was the caller. His 
spirit was so thoroughly understood and appre- 
ciated that pastors of all denominations as well 
as priests of the Catholic Church welcomed his 
presence among their parishioners. They knew 
that his life was ordered in accordance with the 
plea once made by him in public: 

'* In the great central truths of Christianity all 
evangelical churches are agreed. Let us not waste 
a moment's time or a breath of energy in strife 
with other believers; let us rather unite all our 



186 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

energies in doing good, in honouring Christ by 
telling the story of His love to all men, and by 
carrying the joy and cheer of the gospel every- 
where. The church that shows the world the most 
love, and that lives the most sweetly, the most 
joyously, the most helpfully, is the church that 
comes the nearest to the Master's thought. That 
is the sort of church that every Christian should 
strive to make his to be. ' ' 

The more numerous the demands on his time 
and attention and sympathy the better Dr. Miller 
was pleased. He was always thinking of others, 
and he liked to be '^ spent clear out for others.'' 
His idea of the secret of happiness was given to 
one who asked him to compose a Christmas greet- 
ing to be sent to friends : 

** The less you think of what Christmas will 
bring to you and the more you think of what you 
can do for others, the happier will the day be. 
If you think of one who is not likely to receive 
any attention and plan to make the day bright for 
that one, joy will fill your own heart. This is the 
only secret." 

That this was his way of spending Christmas 
was learned by a friend who had been hoping to 
spend the holiday at home with his family. 
Christmas came on Sunday that year, and the 
friend had no engagements to preach. But on 
Saturday he was asked to preach in the morning 
for a pastor whose wife had just died, and in the 
evening for another pastor who was seriously ill. 
*^ I won't say it is too bad you are to have a 



THE WORLD HIS PARISH 187 

Christmas like that," was Dr. Miller's comment. 
*^ You are not to be pitied, but to be congratu- 
lated. The best Christmas is a Christmas of 
service. This morning at prayer I thanked God 
for the busy week he has sent me. It has been 
a glorious week. I have slept very little. The 
burdens and woes of many have been on my heart. 
There have been a number of special cases — some 
that could be met by money, and some that money 
could not reach. I rejoice that they have been 
brought to me. ' ' 

Many of these cases were brought to his atten- 
tion by visitors who came to the office. They came 
singly and together, from morning to night, all 
through the year. They were never denied ad- 
mission, but were received by the secretary who 
admitted them at once to Dr. Miller's room, — un- 
less there was already a visitor there. The secre- 
tary's room frequently looked like the anteroom 
of a famous specialist. It was a noticeable fact 
that few of the waiting men and women spoke to 
one another. Most of them were entire strangers. 
They came from all parts of the city, from other 
cities and states, and even from abroad. Fre- 
quently one came a long distance on purpose to 
confer about some life problem that was troubling 
him. 

'^ What tales those walls could tell," one of Dr. 
Miller's friends once said, '^ tales of tears, of 
blighted lives, of discouraged parents, of ambi- 
tious youths, of anxious business men, of down- 



188 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

hearted Cliristian workers, of penitent sinners ! I 
wish I dared to tell a few of the incidents that I 
know, illustrating what has resulted from these 
short conferences. Aspiring young people are 
assisted to an education; the needy are tided over 
hard places; the transgressor is helped back to 
manhood and truth; homes are healed of dissen- 
sions that seemed fatal. ' ' 

What passed in that room was sacred. Dr. Mil- 
ler did not betray the confidence of those who 
sought him. But sometimes circumstances made 
it necessary that one or two others should share 
a portion of the secret. For this reason it is pos- 
sible to give a few glimpses into the lives of those 
who made pilgrimages to the room of this friend 
of Jesus. 

A troubled woman told of her husband's diffi- 
culties. ^* He is a splendid man,'' she said, ** but 
I know there is something preying on his mind. 
I cannot help him in this. I do not know who can^ 
unless you will. He thinks everything of you, 
though you do not know him." So Dr. Miller 
went out in search of the husband, who held a 
position of trust with a large business house. 

A stranger told the sad story of a husband and 
wife. The wife was employed in a store from 
which she brought home many things for which 
her husband knew they could not pay. * ^ You can- 
not afford this, can you? " he would ask her. 
At last she was arrested for the theft of the goods, 
and he was arrested with her as a receiver of the 



THE WORLD HIS PARISH 189 

stolen property. Before the case was called for 
trial the wife collapsed and was sent to the hos- 
pital. To the judge the husband stated the case, 
and appealed in behalf of the wife. ^^ She will 
die if she goes to prison," he said. '' I will plead 
guilty. Send me in her place.'' The prosecuting 
attorney agreed, and the judge sentenced him to 
serve eighteen months in jail. Verifying the facts 
as told him, Dr. Miller was able to secure the re- 
duction of the term. Then the problem was to 
place the wife until her husband should be able 
to care for her. Learning that her mother lived 
in Boston, and that it would be possible for her 
to live with the mother and sew for a living, Dr. 
Miller arranged for this and paid the expenses 
to Boston. 

With averted face a young woman told her 
story : She had been detected in shoplifting by an 
officer in one of Philadelphia 's smaller department 
stores. When taken to the private office of a mem- 
ber of the firm, she confessed and asked for mercy. 
The business man told her she would be released 
on one condition — that she go to Dr. Miller, and 
tell him all about her sin, and listen to what he 
would say to her. And this man had no personal 
acquaintance with Dr. Miller, and was not a mem- 
ber of the church ! 

Two visitors from a town three or four hun- 
dred miles distant came to inquire for a boarding 
place within reach of St. Paul Church. *^ We 
have come down to spend the winter, ' ' the mother 



190 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

said to Dr. Miller, ^' because my daughter needs 
you. We have read your books, and we feel that 
she should be able to listen to your preaching, 
Sunday after Sunday. She is making a brave 
effort to overcome a besetting sin. We feel that 
you can help us as no other man can. ' ' 

The telephone announced the arrival in the city 
of two strangers who had hoped to reach the office 
that afternoon. Their train had been delayed and 
they wished to know if it was too late to call. Dr. 
Miller was just leaving his office, so he asked them 
to meet him at his home. There he spent half an 
hour with them in sympathetic conversation about 
their difficulties. After he had prayed with them, 
they hurried away to catch a night train back to 
the city from which they had come. They had 
travelled many hours for the one purpose of talk- 
ing with one who had already spoken to them 
helpfully through his books ! 

A stranger explained that her husband of a 
year had left her, and refused to return. Both 
husband and wife were unknown to Dr. Miller, but 
he went out at once, found the man, and persuaded 
him to go home for a conference with his wife. He 
himself went with the husband. For two hours 
the three were together. When Dr. Miller left the 
house the home which had been threatened with de- 
struction was out of danger. From that day hus- 
band and wife dated the real beginning of their 
happiness. Next day Dr. Miller wrote them a 
long letter. Here are some paragraphs: 



THE WORLD HIS PARISH 191 

' * You do not begin to understand my loving in- 
terest in you and your husband, and my desire for 
the complete restoration of the happiness of your 
home. It must not be possible for you two dear 
lovers to fall apart. Nothing really serious has 
happened to mar your fellowship. You have not 
understood each other quite perfectly — that is all 
— and you have not had quite patience enough 
with each other, so things have gone wrong a 
little, and your relations have become a bit tan- 
gled. But it is going to be all right now. You 
will not let anything so small do you both and 
your home such harm. 

'' Longfellow tells of going out one morning 
after a heavy night storm, and walking through 
his garden. Under a tree he saw a birds' nest 
lying on the ground. He pitied the birds, and 
stood there thinking sadly of their misfortune. 
But while he was musing, he heard a chattering 
overhead, and, looking up, saw the little birds 
busy building their nest again. They were not 
defeated nor greatly discouraged by the disaster. 

' ^ That is what I am sure you and your husband 
are doing already. The storm came and swept 
your nest to the ground. Yesterday it seemed to 
you that it could not be restored. But now you 
have taken time to think, and are bravely build- 
ing the nest again. And it is going to be more 
beautiful, and fuller of love, joy and song than 
ever it has been before. 

^* It may not seem very easy to save your home 
after all that has happened, but no matter what 
it costs, it will be a thousand times worth doing. 
Love is the sweetest thing in the world, but love 
is not easy. It means much self-denial, much 
forgetting of one's own wishes, much restraining 
of one's own impulses, much curbing and check- 



192 THE LIFE OF DB. J. E. MILLEE 

ing of one's own feelings. St. Paul tells ns that 
* love suffereth long, and is kind . . . doth not 
behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is 
not provoked, taketh not account of evil; . . . 
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all 
things, endureth all things.' It is not easy to love 
in this way. It takes the grace of God in our 
hearts to enable us to love after this fashion. 

** You and your husband love each other. You 
have not forgotten the lover days. When you 
were first married, your love was deep and tender. 
Somehow you have not always been happy since. 
Little things have come in to make you unhappy 
some days. But your love is really true and 
strong as ever. It would break your hearts to be 
separated. All you want is to get this love into 
the common relations of your lives. You have not 
quite learned yet how to deny yourselves and give 
up for each other. 

** There are wondrous possibilities in your mar- 
ried life. You two dear young people may be the 
happiest in the city, and your home may become 
the sweetest, happiest home in all the community. 
All you need in order to realise these possibilities 
is love worked out in thought, in word, in act, in 
disposition. Do not blame each other when things 
go awry — ^blame each, yourself. Never allow 
yourself to be vexed or hurt, at least to show it, 
no matter how much you think you have been 
wronged, or how unjustly you think you have been 
treated. Love each other as Christ loves you. 
Eepay unkindness with kindness. If you think 
you have been unfairly treated, or unkindly, be 
especially kind in return. That is the way to pay 
back an evil thing done to you. 

** God bless you. I believe that a year from 
now you will tell me you have had the happiest 




DR. J. R. MILLER (1904) 



THE WORLD HIS PARISH 193 

year you ever have had; that the nest which the 
storm tore down has been built again, and is more 
beautiful than ever it was before." 

The letter in full is given in the chapter 
* * Building Again the Home Nest " in ^ ' The Gate 
Beautiful." 

After reading of such experiences as these in 
dealing with the sorrows and anxieties of his 
visitors, no one will wonder that he gave this coun- 
sel to one who was perplexed : 

** With regard to yourself, let me say that the 
more implicitly you can trust Christ with your 
life and all its affairs, the sweeter will be your 
peace and the deeper the joy of your heart. It 
seems to me that people ofttimes miss blessing 
because they do not trust fully enough. God loves 
to have us trust Him. I know by experience the 
joy it gives to me to have some one repose im- 
plicit confidence in me, telling me everything. I 
often think that this must be a little hint of the 
joy which Christ has when we trust Him perfectly. 
We all know, too, how it pains us to have a friend 
withhold confidence, trust only partly, or perhaps 
fear and doubt us. This is also a suggestion of 
how Christ's heart must be grieved when we do 
not fully trust Him." 

One of those who unburdened his heart to this 
friend of the needy was a college student. In a 
letter written long after his graduation he told his 
own story: 

^* I recall very vividly how, when I was at 
Princeton making my own way through college, 



194 THE LIFE OF DE. J. K. MILLER 

I was once very much disheartened and stopped 
in for a little heart-to-heart talk with you on my 
way back from my home. The kindness with 
which you talked my burden into blessing I shall 
not soon forget. That was in my freshman year. 
At that time you gave me a little book which I 
prize most highly. Afterwards you wrote to me 
a few times and I called in to see you on several 
occasions. All this, I presume, is forgotten by 
you. With me it is a sweet memory." 

One secret of Dr. Miller's Christlike living is 
laid bare in these paragraphs from his own pen : 

r~ ^^ I seek in the morning to give myself to my 
Master for that day, saying : ' Take me, Lord, and 
use me to-day as Thou wilt. I lay all my plans at 
Thy feet. Whatever work Thou hast for me to do, 
give it into my hands. If there are those Thou 
wouldst have me help in any way, send them to 
me or send me to them. Take my time and use 
it as Thou wilt. ' I think no farther on than to-day, 
I make no attempt to give months and years to 
Christ. . . . 

^^ Sometimes the very first one to come to me 
in the golden hours of the morning, which are so 
precious to every student, is a book agent, or a 
man with fountain pens or stove polish, or per- 
chance only a pious idler who has no errand but 
to pass an hour, or it may be one of those social 
newswenders who like to be the first to retail the 
freshest gossip. Interrupted thus in the midst of 
some interesting and important work, my first 
impulse is to chafe and fret, but then I remember 
my morning consecration. Did I not put my plans 
and my time out of my own hands into my Mas- 
ter 's ? Let us beware that we do not bow out of our 



THE WORLD HIS PARISH 195 

door with a frown one whom God has sent either 
with a message or a benediction for ns ; for even 
in these prosaic days heaven sends angels, though 
they may come unawares, not wearing their ce- 
lestial robes, but disguised in unattractive garb.'' 

There was more to that morning prayer than 
consecration. There was a period of earnest in- 
tercession for people all over the world — people 
who had written to him, or called on him, or whose 
work he was following. One morning he turned 
from such a prayer to pen a message to Dr. F. B. 
Meyer in London : 

*' I write a word which I hope may reach you 
before you start on your Eastern preaching tour. 
I cannot tell you what deep interest I have in 
this journey of yours — this apostolic journey 
which you are to make for the Master. I am sure 
that God's blessing will be upon you. You will 
have the prayers of thousands of friends as you 
go your way to speak the words of Christ. Your 
journey through this country left a path of bless- 
ing, and in eternity you will meet those who will 
thank you for the words you spoke which made 
the truth of Christ more clear and brought them 
nearer to the Master's heart. I am sure that the 
same blessing will attend you in your work in 
India and elsewhere. Of course you will have the 
difficulty of speaking through an interpreter, but 
even this will not prove to be a serious hindrance, 
when the Spirit of God speaks through you. I 
write out of my heart just this word of farewell, 
to assure you of prayer for you as you go upon 
your mission. I trust that you will be preserved 



196 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

in good health and will come back in due tune re- 
freshed and strong. '* 

The return of the mail brought grateful re- 
sponse from Dr. Meyer : 

** I am sure that your letter was prompted by 
the Spirit to strengthen me in view of this jour- 
ney. Naturally my whole nature shrinks appalled 
and overwhelmed. But God says ' On. ^ And your 
letter is as a fresh assurance. I am full of 
preparation and work; so must be content with 
this. Only be sure that your words have been 
very sweet to me. What a comradeship there is on 
this battle field! What companionship when we 
get home! '' 

Every morning he renewed his touch with 
Christ so that he would not lose it through the 
busy hours. It was his habit to close every day 
by reporting to his Friend. Of this habit he said : 

** The disciples returned at evening and made 
a report to Christ of their work. Thus I tell Him 
of my life during the day, my dealings with per- 
sons who have come into it, and whatever has 
been attempted — in short, the whole day's work: 
its efforts, failures, mistakes, sins and joys. 
That is my evening prayer.'' 

Evening prayer like that prepared him for the 
next day's consecration, so that each day's 
glimpse of his Friend was more satisfying and 
complete than that of the preceding day, and he 
was the more completely equipped than ever for 
his world-wide ministry of comfort and help. 



VACATION DAYS 



There is no doubt that, even in the estimation of men, 
talking of oneself does one harm, defeating the very end 
one has in view in seeking honour. It is almost universally 
true that whenever a man begins to talk about himself, he 
hurts himself with those to whom he speaks. He makes him- 
self appear less noble and winning to them. The good things 
he says about himself, however true they may be, lose much 
of their lustre and worthiness by being proclaimed by his own 
lips. Self-praise never can appear lovely, no matter how true 
it is, nor how deserving. The spirit which prompts a man 
to talk about himself, however it may be disguised, is really 
self-conceit; and self-conceit is not only a disfiguring blemish 
in a character; it is also a mark of weakness in a life. Its 
revealing always makes one less strong and influential with 
one's fellows. Instead of taking the self -conceited man's own 
estimate of himself, people discount it so heavily that they 
are likely, on account of his self-praise, to rate him much 
below his true value. Thus a man's very object in talking 
about himself, and proclaiming his own virtues and good 
deeds, is defeated. He does not receive praise of men, but 
dislike and depreciation instead of praise. — From ^' Talking 
About Oneself/' in ^' Things to Live For." 



CHAPTER XII 

VACATION DAYS 

De. Miller was so busy ministering to others that 
he would seldom take time for a vacation. His 
pastoral work and his editorial duties were so 
pressing that the convenient season for vacation 
was usually just a little bit in the future. The 
thought of the sick who needed him and the homes 
from which some one might be called from earth 
held him in the city when the homes of many of 
his people were closed for a period ; desire to give 
personal supervision to the editorial work com- 
mitted to him by the Church kept him at his desk 
when his assistants were at the seaside or in the 
mountains. 

Yet he never lost sympathy with others as they 
planned for vacation journeyings. It was not his 
way to insist that vacations were a foolish waste 
of time, — ^he urged others to take the rest they 
required, the reward of earnest toil, and the 
preparation for further toil, but when he was 
urged to take his own advice, his only reply would 
be a smile. 

It was his delight to think of the pleasures of 
travel and the delights of the country for other 
people. But it never seemed to occur to him that 

199 



200 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

these pleasures and delights were for him. It was 
enough for him that he could live on the memory 
of rambles in the fields and woods in past years. 
Such memories enabled him once to say to vaca- 
tion wanderers : 

** The vacation days furnish opportunity for 
reading a book which is not printed in ordinary 
type — the book of Nature. God wrote it himself. 
Every leaf is a little chapter, every flower teaches 
its sweet lesson, every blade of grass has its touch 
of inspiration, every waving tree is a whole volume 
in itself. Then mountains and rivers and valleys 
and seas are written all over the great thoughts 
of God. Blessed is he who learns to read what 
God has written in these natural things. '' 

He used the vacation season as an opportunity 
to teach young people such lessons as these : 

** One should not take a vacation from being 
good and doing good, even while resting. There 
is only one record of Jesus giving or seeking to 
give his disciples a vacation, and his word to 
them was not, ' Go ye apart, and rest awhile/ but 
* Come ye apart, and rest.' They were to go with 
him. We are not to leave Christ and Christ's 
service or the Christ-life, when we turn aside for 
a little rest. Some people seem to think that they 
should drop everything, even their church life, 
sometimes their Christian behaviour, when they 
go away to take a vacation. But this is not right. 
We must be Christians wherever we go, for we are 
always on duty, we always represent Christ. 
Wherever we go we should go with Christ. 
Wherever we stay, even for a day, we should con- 
fess Christ." 



VACATION DAYS 201 

Again he gave this word of kindly counsel : 

* * A vacation should be fruitful in wayside min- 
istries of kindness. We lay down our routine duty 
and taskwork for a little while. We do not hurry 
away in the morning to school or office or field. 
We relax the tension and take life leisurely. But 
there is a work which we never should lay down — 
we should go on with lovers duty just as diligently 
in our resting weeks as in our busiest days. Love 
is like God — it ^ worketh hitherto/ it takes no 
vacations, knows no Sabbaths, never intermits. 
Love's ministry should go on while we are resting 
from business cares. Not always do people re- 
member this, however. Some grow selfish when 
away from home and fail in those gentle cour- 
tesies and graceful services which are the charm 
of a truly beautiful life. Countless opportunities 
occur when we are travelling or tarrying at sum- 
mer resorts for a ministry of gentle manners and 
thoughtful ways which leaves behind its unspeak- 
able blessing. The things we do when we are not 
supposed to be doing anything, the thousand little 
unpurposed acts, are truer tests of the real char- 
acter of our life than the things we do with pur- 
pose and intention. ' ' 

On the rare occasions when he would go away 
from the city to seaside, to mountains, or to the 
home of a friend, his days might have been de- 
scribed most fittingly and accurately by those bits 
of counsel given to others. Always he was God's 
messenger of helpfulness and love. Wherever he 
was — on the hotel piazza, on the beach, on the 
forest pathway — others were eager to gather 



202 THE LIFE OF DR. J. E. MILLER 

about him. When guests learned that he was in 
the house, as soon as possible they sought the 
author whose works they had read with delight, 
and when they talked with him they said to one 
another, '' He is just like his books.'' He was in 
demand for morning prayer service in one hotel 
where he spent a week or two on several occasions, 
and on Sundays he was urged to preach. He was 
glad to respond to such invitations when this was 
at all possible, for preaching was a joy to him. 

During the thirty-two years of his service as 
editor, he took but two real vacations. The first 
of these was in the spring of 1893. The Hon. 
John Wanamaker, his friend since the days of the 
pastorate at Bethany Church, was celebrating the 
close of his four years' service as Postmaster 
General in the cabinet of President Harrison by 
making a ten weeks ' trip to Mexico and the Pacific 
Coast. Dr. Miller was urged to join the party, 
which was made up of the merchant's family and 
intimate friends. The busy editor felt that he 
could not think of such a long absence from his 
duties, but he finally consented to join the party, 
four weeks after leaving Philadelphia, at El Paso, 
Texas, at the conclusion of the Mexican tour. 

At El Paso, where he spent Easter Sunday, the 
pastor of the Congregational Church took advan- 
tage of the opportunity to have Dr. Miller preach 
one of his tender Easter sermons. Dr. Miller's 
heart went out in sympathy to the lonely pastor 
whose nearest Presbyterian neighbour was two 



VACATION DAYS 203 

hundred miles distant, and whose people were zeal- 
ously working in their difficult field. This Sunday 
service by the wayside was a prophecy of later 
Sundays of the vacation — always such insistent 
demands were made on the traveller that he forgot 
weariness and spoke to people who heard his word 
with gladness. 

Next day Dr. Miller joined Mr. Wanamaker's 
party in their private cars, and continued the jour- 
ney to California. Every mile of the way was a 
delight to him, as was shown by full letters to the 
New York Evangelist. The busy pen was not per- 
mitted to be idle even one day. 

Many paragraphs of these letters were devoted 
to vivid descriptions of the scenery. But they 
were composed in such a manner that a reader 
familiar with the writer's devotional books would 
have recognised his hand. For instance, who 
could mistake this sentence : 

** We all know how much genuine human inter- 
est adds to the enjoyment of any place or any 
natural beauty. A visitor at a jeweller's looking 
at an opal, remarked that it seemed dead and lus- 
treless. The jeweller took it in his hand and held 
it a few moments, and when he laid it down again, 
it flashed with all the iridescence of the rainbow. 
It needed the warmth of the human hand to bring 
out its splendours. This country would seem to 
need nothing to give full life to its scenery. One 
might drive along through the streets and wander 
through the canyons and climb the mountains and 
breathe the wonderful air, and without receiving 



204 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

a mark of hospitality or the touch of a human 
hand he could not but be charmed. But when a 
party is received into the home life and social life 
as we were, a warm, rich glow is added to all 
the loveliness of the place. The opal was made 
to glow before our eyes with richest beauty by the 
warmth of the hospitality we enjoyed." 

Again an illustration was used most happily in 
connection with the narrative of natural beauty 
made more than ever memorable by reason of the 
loving greetings of friends of other days : 

** Love is never lost. Nothing that love does 
is ever forgotten. Long, long afterwards the poet 
found his song, from beginning to end, in the heart 
of a friend. Love shall find some day every song 
it has ever sung, sweetly treasured and singing 
yet in the hearts into which it was breathed. It 
is a pretty legend of the origin of the pearl which 
says that a star fell into the sea, and a shellfish, 
opening its mouth, received it, when the star be- 
came a pearl in the shell. The words of love's 
greeting as we hurry by fall into our hearts, not 
to be lost, but to become pearls and to stay there 
forever/' 

But the larger portion of each letter was given 
to a discussion of the problems and progress of 
the Presbyterian Church in particular and reli- 
gion in general in the places visited. At Pasadena 
he told of preacl^ng for Dr. Fife at the Presby- 
terian church. ^From Oakland, California, he 
wrote of a service in Dr. Coyle's church, and a 
Sunday afternoon visit to Mills College, where 



VACATION DAYS 205 

several hundred young women gathered to listen 
to him. From San Francisco he described China- 
town briefly, as if in a hurry to pass on to what 
he evidently considered a far more important sub- 
ject — the praise of consecrated men and women 
who were giving their lives to take the gospel to 
the transplanted heathen. Again from Tacoma 
he wrote of holding a church service. At Salt 
Lake City he preached one Sunday, and on Mon- 
day he excused himself when the party went to 
visit a silver mine, that he might visit the Salt 
Lake Collegiate Institute, speak to the pupils, and 
meet the teachers. At Kansas City he preached 
in the Second Church, and after service was 
waited on by six students from Park College who 
had walked the nine miles from Parkville to em- 
phasise the letters of urgent invitation to visit 
the college which he had been receiving for two 
weeks. At seven o'clock Monday morning two 
of the faculty and four of the students greeted 
him and Mr. Wanamaker at the Kansas City 
station and escorted them to the college town, 
where they were met at the train by the entire 
faculty and almost the entire student body. An 
hour was spent at the chapel, where both visitors 
talked.. 

At the close of each service held along the way 
there was an informal reception. Many people 
wanted to say a word to Dr. Miller about his books, 
and tell him how his words had helped them. As 
always, he was astonished at the evidence of feel- 



206 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

ing. He acted as if lie thought the words were 
meant for some one else. 

In a letter to Mrs. Miller, written a few days 
before reaching Philadelphia, he told his delight 
in the unusual vacation; 

*' The tour has not been a mere vacation from 
work for Mr. Wanamaker and myself. We have 
held services at every point. I am sure that Mr. 
Wanamaker has left encouragement and new 
strength in hundreds of Christian hearts, espe- 
cially by his words to Young Men's Christian As- 
sociations and Sunday-school teachers. Certain it 
is that we would hardly have done as much preach- 
ing and speaking if we had been at home. It has 
been almost like some of St. PauPs journeyings 
through the country to confirm the souls of the 
brethren. This fact reconciles me to what on one 
side seems to me almost a waste of time in sight- 
seeing. It does not look to me now as if the 
' rest ' element had come to much, for I have not 
often been busier than on this journey. I have 
a very heavy mail at every stopping place, and 
many local letters at every point, all of which must 
be answered. Still I am no doubt getting rest in 
the change, and will come home fat and strong.'' 

His last thought was not of himself, but of those 
whom he had met ; 

** It is to be hoped that we have left a little 
new cheer and courage in some earnest hearts 
along the way ; certain it is that we have received 
blessing in our hearts and lives from the people 
we have met." 



VACATION DAYS 207 

He returned from the six weeks' absence from 
his desk with humble heart : 

** It ought to be worth a great deal to one to 
have had the opportunity of seeing all this natural 
beauty. It ought to make a better man of him, 
this beholding so much of the loveliness and 
grandeur God has made. It ought to make his 
heart gentler, his life purer and sweeter, his spirit 
more lovely. It ought to make him more reverent 
and exalted in all his thoughts and feelings. As 
we take up again our tasks and duties we shall all 
remember the happy days of privilege we have 
enjoyed and be the better for them.'' 

Three years later, in the summer of 1895, Dr. 
and Mrs. Miller took their only real vacation trip 
together — six weeks in Europe. The outward- 
bound voyage gave Dr. Miller an unusual oppor- 
tunity to greet a number whom he had known by 
name and through correspondence, but had never 
met. In a letter to the Evangelist he spoke of the 
presence of ^ * several passengers whom everybody 
has wanted to meet, and whose inJfluence has been 
stimulative of good fellowship and a cheerful, 
kindly spirit." It did not occur to him that he 
was one of the most sought for passengers in a 
company that included a number of famous men, 
or that his words about others aptly described 
himself. 

A pleasant Sunday was spent in London. As 
usual, he was found in church, morning, after- 
noon and evening: 



208 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

*' For myself, I chose three preachers whom I 
wished to hear and sat through the full service in 
each place. In the morning, I visited the City- 
Temple and listened with real interest and profit 
to Dr. Joseph Parker. The great building, which 
is said to seat 2,700 people, was filled from pulpit 
to door. The prayer was reverent, inclusive, ten- 
der, and full of sympathy. Although it was brief, 
yet nobody was left out. Dr. Parker announced 
no text, but spoke in general on charity in judging 
others. The sermon was full of excellent thoughts 
and suggestions. In the afternoon, I went to 
Westminster Abbey to hear Canon Gore. There 
is not much comfort in attending services in the 
Abbey, as it is almost impossible to hear unless 
one gets a seat well to the front; there is so much 
confusion caused by people coming and going. 
To-day the throng was great, many of our coun- 
trymen attending. In the evening, I went to hear 
the Rev. F. B. Meyer. He is a preacher of rare 
power, Scriptural and spiritual. Few other men 
in the world are reaching out so widely in benefi- 
cent influence as Dr. Meyer. His little books and 
tracts have gone wherever the English language 
is read, and have carried everywhere a holy pro- 
gram of divine love and grace. He is a pro- 
digious worker, never resting, yet never seeming 
weary." 

In Paris he was invited to speak by Charles 
"VYagner. After the service an American came to 
him, and said : 

** I came to hear Mr. Wagner, and I was dis- 
appointed when you got up to speak. But I shall 
always be glad I heard you. I remember only one 



VACATION DAYS 209 

thing you said, but this I shall never forget. I 
refer to your definition of religion ; you said, ' To 
me religion means just one thing : Jesus and I are 
friends.' " 

The days in Paris were thoroughly enjoyed, 
but it was not until Geneva was reached that Dr. 
Miller felt at home. The knowledge that he was 
in the city where John Calvin lived and wrought, 
and where he was buried, stimulated him. 

** I took an early opportunity to visit the 
Cathedral where the great theologian used to 
preach. It is a plain, thirteenth-century building 
showing many marks of age and decay. Close by 
is the house in which Calvin lived. In the Plain- 
Palais Cemetery is his grave, although it is uni- 
dentified, as Calvin's express instruction was that 
no mark of any kind should be put upon his tomb 
to tell where his body rested. His grave needs 
no stone, no monument, for he is not dead. He 
lives wherever the reformed faith is held and the 
doctrines which bear his name are taught." 

From Geneva the journey was continued by way 
of Pisa to Eome. It was not the season ordi- 
narily considered favourable for a visit to the city 
by the Tiber, but Dr. Miller longed to see the 
scenes made forever memorable by the presence 
of St. Paul and the persecution of the early Chris- 
tians. A Sunday was spent in the city, and the 
travellers joiaed a little company of twenty-five 
people who gathered at the American Protestant 
Episcopal Church for the only English service 
held in the city that day. 



210 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

Naples, Pompeii, Florence, Venice and Milan 
were visited in turn. On two Sundays Roman 
Catholic Churclies were sought, as no Protestant 
Church was to be found. But when Lucerne was 
reached, the opportunity to attend the service 
maintained by the Scotch Free Church was wel- 
comed. 

Then came a leisurely trip through Germany, by 
rail and Rhine steamer. Attention was called in 
a letter to the Evangelist to the many relics and 
shrines in the cathedrals along the way, with this 
added comment: 

** We need not wish for such reputed relics in 
our country. Better, infinitely better, is the simple 
Christian life which is found in thousands of our 
churches. Far better is it to have the Holy Spirit 
abiding in our congregations and giving comfort, 
strength, joy, peace and love, than to have such 
shrines and treasures as they show us in many 
of these great churches and cathedrals, and not to 
have the divine Presence. It is better to have the 
true Christ with us than to possess any piece of 
the wood of the ' true cross,' even if this were pos- 
sible.'' 

Another pleasant company shared the home- 
ward voyage. One and another of these was sin- 
gled out for warm praise by the traveller who al- 
ways saw the best in others and rejoiced to be 
able to tell of it. Of one shipmate he said : 

** He was a genius for kindness, and few if any 
have missed receiving from him some word of 
cheer and encouragement during the voyage.'' 



VACATION DAYS 211 

Probably that is exactly what the passenger of 
whom the words were written would have said of 
Dr. Miller. 

But vacation was over, so the letter which told 
of the voyage concluded: 

^^ With gratitude to God for what we have en- 
joyed, we turn with eagerness to the work that 
waits.'' 

He lost no time in getting to the work that 
waited for him. From Naples he had written to 
his associates in the editorial office : 

** I shall be in Philadelphia on August 26." 

His train reached the city half an hour after 
noon. Before two o'clock he was seated at his 
desk, ready to begin the work of another long 
period without a vacation. 



THE LAST YEAES 



Some one say^ that the secret of a happy old age is a 
well-watched past. The secret of any to-day is a well-watched 
yesterday. And there is no better way to keep our days 
beautiful and free from memories that vex us afterwards than 
to tell Jesus every night all that we have said and done during 
the day. — From '^Making Our Beport/' in "A Heart Garden." 

By and by in even the best life we come to a door which 
opens into old age. Many are disposed to feel that this door 
can lead to nothing beautiful. We cannot go on with our for- 
mer tireless energy, our crowded days, our great achievements. 
But there is altogether too much letting go, too much drop- 
ping of tasks, too much falling out of the pilgrim march, 
when old age comes on. We may not be able to run swiftly 
as before. We tire much more easily. But old age may be 
very beautiful and full of fruit. This door opens into a period 
of great possibilities of usefulness, a true crowning of the 
life. Old age is not a blot, if it is what it should be. It 
is not a withering of the life, but a ripening. It is not some- 
thing to dread, but is the completion of Grod's plan. — From 
" Life's Open Doors," in '' The Book of Comfort." 

Death is not a period in the sentence of life — ^it is only a 
comma, a little breathing place, with more to come after. 
Just how the sentence after the comma will read, we cannot 
know. Just in what form we shall continue to live, we may 
not even guess. We know that we shall be the same persons. 
Individuality will never be lost. I shall be I through all 
changes and transformations. The being that shall be serving 
Grod a million years hence will be the same person that played 
about the home early in childhood, wrought in the hard tasks 
of mature days, and suffered and sorrowed. I will always be 
I — ^there never can be any confusion of individuality. This 
is perhaps all we can assert positively about the immortal 
life. But this is a great deal. We shall lose nothing in our 
efforts. This makes it immensely worth while to live. — From 
" The Meaning of Immortality;' in '^ The Book of Comfort." 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE LAST YEARS 

For years friends who looked on as Dr. Miller 
did the work of three men expressed the fear that 
he would break down long before he was seventy. 
As the years passed without the fulfillment of 
their prophecies they marvelled. They saw no 
appreciable difference in his strength until 1909, 
when he suffered a slight stroke of apoplexy. The 
effect of this seemed to pass off very soon, and 
for two years he was as active as ever, at his desk, 
in the homes of the people and in the pulpit. His 
physician urged him to spare himself — but he 
never knew what it meant to spare himself. 

On his seventieth birthday his office was a bower 
of bloom, and his mail was burdened with greet- 
ings from those whom he had cheered and helped 
by his personal words, his articles, his books, his 
sermons. They welcomed the opportunity to tell 
him what his life had meant to them. 

One of the first messages to reach him was this, 
from Rev. C. R. Blackall, D.D., Editor of Period- 
icals of the American Baptist Publication So- 
ciety : 

** You see that I have beaten you ten years in 
the life race, and feel my importance in dealing 

215 



216 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

with my junior brotlier. I send laving congratu- 
lations. You don't belong to one church, or to 
one denomination; you belong to all churches of 
all denominations! Who ever heard the faintest 
suggestion by you, with pen or voice, to crucify 
or ostracise somebody who dared to speak or to 
believe differently from yourself? You believe in 
a square deal with your brethren ; that is one rea- 
son why I love you so much. My love for you has 
grown deeper and deeper as the years have rolled 
on. God bless you. Your shadow will abide in 
the years ahead when the Master calls you to 
higher and more extended service with himself." 

A fellow editor made discriminating comment 
on the wonderful work done through thirty years : 

^* I have tried before to indicate to you my 
amazement at the voluminousness and variety of 
your wholesome and effective contributions to the 
life of the Church. The amazement grows, and 
with it thanksgiving to God. The nearest parallel 
to this that I know of in modem times was Spur- 
geon; and both in continuousness and in literary 
charm and lasting quality, even his rare genius 
seems to me outshone by your work; while also 
you keep it up to a riper age. I have always 
found rare pleasure and profit in perusing your 
pages. I am sure your writings have gone deep 
and far into the development of modem piety. 
I like your sanity and sagacious reserve much, 
as well as your delightful and potent simplicity 
of expression; and the touching tenderness of 
your own constant mood suffuses your work with 
a glow from Galilee which wins, soothes and 
strengthens. You seem to have an instinct for 
phases of truth which appeal to the hunger of the 



THE LAST YEARS 217 

heart and survive the changes of our jostling time. 
I imagine that few or none of your sentences will 
need to be expunged or passed over with silent 
apology a hundred years from now. Moreover, 
what you say ministers to the organic develop- 
ment of the Kingdom, as well as to the needs of 
individuals. The combination is extremely rare. 
Did you ever read of * the hand of steel in a 
velvet glove '? The surface of your work is al- 
ways unruffled, its form never rugged, so far as 
I have been able to note ; but one comes to feel and 
see the hard fibre beneath. Personally, and as 
a lover of the Kingdom, I thank God for your 
labours and your words, and for the bow that 
abides in strength beyond the threescore years 
and ten ; may it so continue long ! ' ' 

From a distant state came this birthday letter: 

** Five years ago one ignorant virgin who did 
not realise that she had a lamp at all was helped 
by your interest, friendship and sympathy to hold 
her lamp up and let it be lighted from the great 
Light. The foggy, unhealthy atmosphere of doubt 
and unbelief were driven out and disclosed right 
near was the great Friend. ' ' 

One who had worked with Dr. Miller for a long 
time told us of the thoughts the anniversary 
brought to his mind : 

'* What a tremendous sight it would be if all 
the millions of people who have been helped by 
you could gather in one company to give greeting 
to you as you enter on another decade of service ! 
What messages they would send if they could 
speak ! How they would tell of comfort received, 



218 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

of courage renewed, of inspiration given, of new 
visions of life, of glimpses of the Master — all 
through the life that God has so richly blessed 
during the nearly half a century of your min- 
istry. 

* * I am glad that I, as one of this vast company, 
have the opportunity to tell you how I thank God 
for the association with you which has become one 
of the greatest joys of my life.^' 

From the Board which he had served so long 
came this record of an action taken by a standing 
vote: 

** In view of the fact that Rev. J. R. Miller, 
D.D., the Editorial Superintendent of the Board, 
has just passed his seventieth birthday, the com- 
mittee desires to place upon its minutes an ex- 
pression of its high appreciation of his character 
and services. 

** For nearly thirty years he has been a most 
loyal and efficient helper in the work of the Board. 

^^ Genial, tactful and courteous in his bearing, 
he has also been wise and able as an editor to 
a degree which has brought great distinction to 
himself and honour to the Board. Under his su- 
pervision and direction, the periodical publica- 
tions of the Board have attained a standard of 
excellence which has not been surpassed, if it has 
been approached, by any similar publications. 

^* The committee desires to congratulate Dr. 
Miller that the passage of the years has not dimin- 
ished his capacity for, or interest in, his work, and 
to utter the sincere hope and prayer that he may 
be long spared to maintain his present relation 
to the Board and the activities of the Church. ' ' 



THE LAST YEAES 219 

One of the Philadelphia morning papers printed 
cons]3icuously a letter from Rev. Frank De Witt 
Talmage, D.D., in which he said ; 

*^ I doubt if there is a living minister in all 
the world who has done a greater work, or who 
is more internationally known, than the Rev. J. R. 
Miller, of this city, who is celebrating his seven- 
tieth anniversary. In the ecclesiastical life he is 
the marvel of the age. He has done the work of 
ten men, and yet to-day he is working harder than 
ever. 

*^ While others have been attending banquets 
or sitting by their firesides of an evening, his 
tireless feet have been tramping the streets of the 
city calling upon the sick and like Paul carrying 
the gospel into many homes. 

" I do not think it is an exaggerated statement 
to make that his name is known farther and loved 
more than that of any other Philadelphian, be he 
lawyer, merchant, or minister. Of all the great 
ministers of the past not one has wielded greater 
influence for good. The whole city should be 
thankful for the noble life of this wonderful man.'' 

Another Philadelphia daily said, editorially : 

** This day marks Dr. Miller's attainment of 
the allotted three score years and ten after a life 
that has had few, if any, idle hours. . . . His 
is a record of service of which any man might 
well be honestly proud. ' ' 

The anniversary was observed at St. Paul 
Church by a Sunday evening congregation of more 
than fifteen hundred people. In responding to 



220 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

addresses made by Dr. Lee, the associate pastor 
of the church, the Hon. John Wanamaker, Judge 
Willson, President of the Presbyterian Board of 
Publication, Dr. Miller said: 

*^ I cannot trust myself to say anything to- 
night. It must be some other man you are talk- 
ing about. You don't mean me — you must mean 
my congregation — not me. It is not what I have 
done; it is what you have done. The letters and 
the telegrams, so filled with love, have gladdened 
my heart beyond all description. I thank God 
that I have had a share in leading you in your 
lives. It has been a great privilege. My one pur- 
pose is to fill the years so full of humble, loving 
service that every birthday shall mark a year of 
complete consecration to the Master. I feel as 
Louis Kossuth said: * I would like my life to re- 
semble the dew, which falls so noiselessly through 
the night, and just as silently passes away, soon 
as the rays of the morning's sun beams upon the 
earth. Unnoticed by men's eyes, save for an oc- 
casional iridescent sparkle here and there upon 
some blade of grass, it is drawn upward and 
passes away — but all that it has touched is fresh- 
ened and beautified by its silent yet potent pres- 
ence.' " 

Three months after the anniversary service Dr. 
Miller had a second slight apoplectic stroke which 
affected his entire right side. An associate in the 
editorial office who found him sitting helpless at 
his desk was greeted with a smile, and the words : 

** It has come. It is all right." 



THE LAST YEAES 221 

This was the way he received what he thought 
was to prove the summons to his Friend. 

But he was to be spared yet longer to minister 
to the world. He rallied, and in September was 
again in the office. He made one slight conces- 
sion to failing strength — ^he reached his desk fif- 
teen minutes later in the morning and left as 
much sooner in the evening, but even so he was 
at work before the arrival of any of his assistants, 
and remained for some time after the last of 
them went home. He still allowed himself only 
ten minutes for lunch, as in previous years. 
Sometimes he did not leave his desk for even this 
brief interval. 

He continued to preach at St. Paul Church usu- 
ally once a Sunday, to conduct the prayer meet- 
ing, and to make his visits of comfort and inspira- 
tion. Dr. Lee did all he could to relieve him of 
responsibility, but he wished to be of the utmost 
possible use to his people while strength was given 
him, so he would not give up his work. 

The unusually warm days in July, 1911, were 
hard on him, and he was compelled to go to At- 
lantic City for the month of August. When he 
returned he had to make use of an invalid's chair 
from the car to the waiting cab. Yet he insisted 
on going from the railway station to his office. 

During September and October he was unable 
to walk without assistance, but was at work every 
day and almost all day, using a cab morning and 
evening. La November he felt strong enough to 



222 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

use the street cars and to continue his visits in 
the homes of the people. Again his physician 
warned him that unusual exertion might cause 
death at any time, as the blood vessels were hard- 
ening, and the enlargement and dilatation of the 
heart were becoming more and more evident. 
While he tried to cooperate with the physician in 
relieving the conditions, he felt that he could not 
take the time to stop work and care for himself. 

At length increasing feebleness led him to ask 
for the severing of the ties with the church which 
he had seen grow from nothing. Yet even then 
he could not forego the privilege of going to the 
sick room of some sufferer or kneeling with those 
from whom God had called a loved one. Some- 
times it was necessary to use a cab for these visits, 
but he continued them as long as he could — and 
this was far longer than almost anyone else 
would have thought possible. 

His seventy-second birthday found him still able 
to reach his desk and do effective work. Again 
there came to him scores of letters from all parts 
of the world which made him more eager even 
than before to work for others with his last ounce 
of strength. 

Perhaps the most striking of the greetings on 
this anniversary was an editorial utterance in 
The Christian Endeavour World: 

'* You are still a young man, Dr. Miller, though 
you have advanced one day into your seventy- third 



THE LAST YEARS 223 

year. You know the secrets of perpetual youth: 
love to God, love to man, and hard work. You are 
a Presbyterian, and no one has better served that 
great denomination than its editorial superintend- 
ent for more than three decades. But you are 
also a universal Christian leader. Millions of all 
denominations, in all lands, have read your sixty 
books, and have entered with you into the holy 
places. But in the Great Day, when your books 
and your faithful and brilliant editorial service 
are gratefully remembered, there will be for you 
a crown outshining these: the crown of the ear- 
nest pastor and the loving, sympathetic friend. 
And many thousands will press to join you in your 
coronation. ' ' 

A little more than a month later Dr. Miller 
closed his desk for the last time. '' His legs have 
been worn out in the service of St. Paul Church, ' * 
his physician — one of the elders of the church — 
explained to inquiring friends. 

But while his legs had given out, his brain was 
active. His days were spent in conferences with 
editorial associates, examining the editorial mail, 
dictating replies to important letters, receiving 
visits from those who came to him for counsel and 
help, and arranging and revising chapters for 
** The Book of Comfort " and the eighth and last 
volume of ' ' Devotional Hours with the Bible. ' ' 

Always he was cheerful and happy. There was 
no vain longing for the activities that he felt he 
would never again be able to take up, for always 
he was living in the spirit of words written to 
his anxious friends at the church: 



224 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

** I understand that when I am physically un- 
able to do the work I would be doing if I were able, 
it is not my work at all. It would have been mine 
if I were strong and well. But now my duty is 
just to rest and be still, and let others do the 
work which I cannot do. The Good Shepherd's 
call to me now is not to follow in the dusty way, 
but to * lie down in green pastures/ Neither is 
the time of lying down lost time. Duty is not all 
activity. Sometimes it is to wait and sing. Noth- 
ing is going wrong in my life because I am not in 
what would be my place if I were well. My min- 
istry is not broken or even interrupted by this 
experience. My work for my Master has not been 
stopped — its form only has been changed." 

A chapter in ** The Book of Comfort " which 
came in inspired fervour from his hands on one 
of the days when he was so feeble he could hardly 
hold the pen is entitled '' When We Are Laid 
Aside." The closing sentences enforce the lesson 
as given earlier to his people : 

** We may be laid aside from our active work; 
but God never lays us aside from Himself. So we 
need never lay aside our joyous witnessing for 
Him, His love and His keeping power. If that wit- 
ness has counted for much when we were active, 
it can count for more in our inactivity. If we 
have wasted the days of our activities by failure 
to witness for Him, we may yet, in Christ's 
strength, start to-day, in our new helpfulness, 
upon a showing forth of God's presence in our 
life that shall gladden Him and change His 
world." 



THE LAST YEAKS 225 

During tlie first weeks when Dr. Miller was wit- 
nessing for his Master by his ability to keep serene 
in inactivity, the General Assembly of the Presby- 
terian Church, in session at Louisville, Kentucky, 
did him unusual honour. Immediately after the 
adoption by the Assembly of the Kesolutions of 
the Eeport of the Board of Publication and Sab- 
bath School Work, Eev. J. A. Worden, D.D., took 
the platform and said ; 

'' The Eev. J. E. Miller, D.D., Editorial Super- 
intendent of the Board, is critically ill. Side by 
side he and I have laboured for thirty-two years. 
Now it is feared that Dr. Miller, whom so many 
thousands love for his own sake, is sick unto death. 
The hand that has written messages of Christ's 
truth and love to millions in this and other lands 
seems forever to have dropped the pen. The feet 
that went about Philadelphia's streets on errands 
of mercy, as those of few others have ever done, 
now appear to be finally paralysed by unwearied 
going. The voice that for fifty years preached 
and taught Christ publicly and from house to 
house, is almost still, and the heart that only 
throbbed for love of God and man is slowly ceas- 
ing to beat. 

* * May I have the privilege of moving that this 
General Assembly do now join in prayer for our 
beloved Dr. Miller — minister, writer, editor, coun- 
sellor, friend, — and that by a rising vote we send 
to Dr. Miller a message of prayer, sympathy and 
love? " 

The resolution was adopted by a rising vote, 
and the Assembly was led in prayer. Later Eev. 



226 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

W. H. Roberts, D.D., the Stated Clerk, sent this 
message to Dr. Miller : 

** It is my privilege to communicate to you the 
action of the General Assembly, expressing its 
sympathy with you in your serious illness. The 
fact of your illness was presented to the Assembly 
by the Rev. James A. Worden, D.D., Commis- 
sioner from the Presbytery of Philadelphia, and 
immediately after the adoption of the Report of 
the Assembly's Standing Committee on Publica- 
tion and Sabbath School Work. After Dr. Wor- 
den 's appropriate and touching address, the As- 
sembly was led in prayer, and in a most felicitous 
manner, by the Rev. M. A. Brownson, D.D., pastor 
of the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. 
It is proper to add that the Assembly, generally 
and individually, realised the great value of your 
services to the Church through many years, and 
cherished the hope that you would, in due time, 
be restored to that field of labour which you have 
made so fruitful for the glory of Christ and the 
welfare of souls. ' ' 

To this letter Dr. Miller sent the characteristic 
response : 

** I am deeply grateful for the Assembly's mes- 
sage. The kind words sent from all over the 
world tell me that the end of my work is at hand. 
I am ready." 

Increasing feebleness kept the invalid in bed 
during the last weeks of June. He suffered little. 
For a time he knew those who stood by his bedside, 
but during the last few days his mind wandered 



THE LAST YEAES 227 

and the light of recognition was seldom in his 
eyes. But the light that is not of earth was be- 
coming more and more noticeable to those who 
had the privilege of looking on his smiling, happy 
face. 

He had already passed beyond the reach of 
such words as these that came from Dr. F. B. 
Meyer ; 

^* I hear that my beloved friend is very near 
his Home-Going. If he is able to hear of any 
human friend whom he has loved, please mention 
my name to him; tell him that I have loved him 
and that his love has been sweet. Ask him to look 
out for me when I come. ' * 

The end of life on earth came without warning 
on the afternoon of July 2, 1912. Mrs. Miller and 
the only daughter, Mary Wanamaker Miller 
(Mrs. W. B. Mount), were present, but it was 
impossible to summon the sons — William King 
Miller and Eussell King Miller. One moment Dr. 
Miller seemed to be resting quietly; the next he 
was at rest. 

He had gone to be with his Friend. For him 
the new life had begun — the life of which he de- 
lighted to speak as '^ a clause in the sentence of 
existence, begun after the comma which we call 
death." 

^' Oh, how happy Jesus must be now! " was the 
glad comment made by one of the little grand- 
children who had delighted to romp with him whom 
God had called to Himself. 



228 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

The funeral services, held in St. Paul Church, 
were most simple. They were arranged accord- 
ing to Dr. Miller ^s wishes made known months 
before to members of the family and to Dr. Lee. 
There was no address, but only prayer, the read- 
ing of Scripture, the repeating of the Twenty- 
third Psalm by the vast congregation, the singing 
by a soloist of '' He will lead His flock like a 
Shepherd " from HandePs ** Messiah," and the 
singing by the congregation of Dr. Miller's fa- 
vourite hymn: 

*^ Love that wilt not let me go, 
I rest my weary soul in Thee; 
I give Thee back the life I owe, 
That in Thine ocean depths its flow 
May richer, fuller be. 

*^ Light that followest all my way, 

I yield my flickering torch to Thee; 
My heart restores its borrowed ray, 
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day 
May brighter, fairer be. 

" Joy that seekest me through pain, 

I cannot close my heart to Thee; 
I trace the rainbow through the rain, 
And feel the promise is not vain 
That morn shall tearless be. 

** Cross that liftest up my head, 

I dare not ask to fly from Thee; 
I lay in dust life's glory dead. 
And from the ground there blossoms red 
Life that shall endless be." 



TRIBUTES OF AFFECTION 



Not one of us ever dreams of all the possibilities of his 
life. The plainest of us carries concealed splendours within 
him. If we knew what noble qualities are lying undeveloped 
within us, what powers are waiting to be called out, what few 
things we may achieve in the years before us, it ought to 
inspire us to our best life and effort. Perhaps no one ever 
does reach in this world all that he might attain. — From " The 
Awakening of Life's Glory," in "A Heart Garden.'' 

Most people employ but a fragment of the capacity of their 
life and then allow great measure of capacity to lie unde- 
veloped, and in the end to atrophy. A volume could be filled 
with a description of a human hand, its wonderful structure, 
and the things it can be trained to do. Yet how many hands 
ever reach the limit of their possible achievements? Think of 
the powers folded up in a human brain and of the little of 
these powers most of us ever bring out in life. Now and 
then a man starts in ignorance and poverty and reaches a 
greatness in ability and in achievement which amazes the 
world. Doubtless thousands and thousands who never attain 
anything beyond mediocrity have just as great natural ca- 
pacity, but the splendid powers of their life are allowed to run 
to waste. They are lacking in energy and do only a little of 
what they might do. — From ^^ In That Which Is Least," in 
"The Book of Comfort," 



CHAPTER XIV 

TRIBUTES OF AFFECTION 

While it was Dr. Miller's request that no flowers 
be laid on the casket and that no words of eulogy 
be spoken at the funeral service, he could do noth- 
ing to prevent the writing of tributes to his mem- 
ory by editors and correspondents everywhere. 

As soon as the telegraph spread the news that 
he had gone to live with his Friend letters began 
to come in an avalanche. Within a week or two 
memorial services were held in churches in dif- 
ferent parts of the country — not only churches 
where he was known personally, but churches 
where no one could tell of him except as they had 
learned to value him because of his letters, his 
work as editor, and his books. 

Among the hundreds of letters which told of 
gratitude to God for his life and related instances 
of his helpfulness three may well find place here, 
as they represent well the spirit of all the corre- 
spondents. 

A Philadelphia pastor who had known him for 
many years said: 

* ' I was a lad when Dr. Miller came to Bethany 
and have been honoured with his friendship ever 

231 



232 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

since. I know of no man in the ministry of our 
Cliurcli who lias been so varied and abundant in 
Ms work, and whom God so richly and manifestly 
blessed in every department of liis work. His 
editorial and literary work has had a world-wide 
fame, and deservedly so. The effect of whatever 
he wrote, whether in the form of tract, magazine, 
or book, was edifying and comforting. His writ- 
ing resulted in character-building on the one hand, 
and the building up of broken hearts on the other. 
Eternity alone can reveal the extent of the cheer, 
the encouragement, the inspiration and the com- 
fort which he produced by personal word or by his 
pen. 

** Our own home in very recent days has been 
blessed with his words of comfort in the time of 
sore bereavement and deep sorrow. He was truly 
a ' son of consolation.' 

** But Dr. Miller not only had a great heart, 
he had also a great mind. Generations yet to 
come will acknowledge this as his editorial and 
literary work are more leisurely reviewed. It is 
acknowledged everywhere now, but his reputation 
in this regard will be much wider later on." 

Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton, through whom 
Dr. Miller's books found their way to the homes 
of Great Britain and her colonies, wrote to Mrs. 
Miller: 

*' As friend and as author Dr. Miller meant 
very much to us and we deplore his loss more 
than we can possibly say. We look back on the 
long years of our relationship with the feeling of 
bitter pain that they are closed, and great thank- 
fulness for all the kindness, the consideration, the 



TRIBUTES OF AFFECTION 233 

affection that have made them forever memora- 
ble in our firm's history. We have lost a dear 
friend, as well as a very valued and most es- 
teemed author. And we are very sorrowful. . . . 
There are so many to whom liis name is forever 
blessed. Of him, more than of most, it is true that 
his works do follow him. He still speaks, and will 
ever speak, while there are worried, troubled 
hearts to listen." 

Rev. Herrick Johnson, D.D., LL.D., who was a 
pastor in Philadelphia during Dr. Miller's early 
years at Bethany, paid this tribute : 

*^ He was one of the noble company that I knew 
here in Philadelphia in very blessed association 
when I was here as pastor of the First Church. 
We all loved him. His place in our ministerial 
circle was unique. His gentleness made him great. 
His winsomeness had no weakness in it. Yet 
somehow everybody felt drawn to him. He 
seemed so closely in touch with the best in heart 
and life. Gentle as a child, yet firm as a rock, 
genial in spirit, lovable, helpful, always true, al- 
ways tender, the memory of him is a benediction. ' ' 

The editor of The Continent called him ** A 
Twentieth Century Saint," and said: 

*^ No man identified with the Presbyterian 
Church in America has ever been more profoundly 
or more widely loved than Dr. James Russell 
Miller, the Editorial Superintendent of the denom- 
inational Board of Publication — just now ' gone 
on before.' And well did he deserve love. In him 
the gentleness of manhood and the manhood of 



234 THE LIFE OF DR. J. B. MILLER 

gentleness combined to make the simple life of 
an unmistakable modern saint — a saint of the 
Christ sort, attaining holiness not in ascetic with- 
drawal from the world nor in pretentious piety- 
exhibited for admiration of the world, but in day- 
by-day service humbly rendered for the weal of 
just as much of the world as he could bring within 
his patient and laborious reach. 

** It was in the beautiful church home of the 
latter congregation that Dr. Miller's friends paid 
to him marvellous memorial tribute of love. The 
services were of the simplest sort because Dr. Mil- 
ler had so commanded that they must be. Just 
before his death he had even forbidden that flow- 
ers should be heaped upon his coffin. But the 
richer and lovelier flowers of a tender reverence 
from hosts of friends acknowledging his helpful- 
ness bloomed around his bier, and the whole at- 
mosphere of the church, which owed its very exist- 
ence to his fidelity, was electric with spoken and 
unspoken tributes to the glorious success of a life 
that sought no other wealth than the wealth of 
a great opportunity to serve. ' ' 

In The Preshyterian Banner — ^published in the 
city where Dr. Miller secured his seminary train- 
ing — was this strong message : 

** Dr. Miller was an acceptable preacher and 
winsome pastor, as was shown in the way time 
and again a handful of people gathered up by 
himself grew to a great congregation. But his 
chief gift and work was as a writer. As editor 
of our Sunday-school periodicals he was pouring 
into their pages a steady stream of articles and 
conmients, and these from time to time were gath- 



TRIBUTES OF AFFECTION 235 

ered up into books. He was an astonishingly pro- 
lific writer, and produced no fewer than sixty 
volumes. These were nearly all expository and 
devotional in substance and style and have fed a 
whole generation on their appetising and whole- 
some bread. He had a genius for seeing the homi- 
letical uses of things, and every common thing or 
daily event or experience became a text in his 
hand for a practical application and interesting 
bit of preaching. His writings . . . are wonder- 
fully tender and beautiful. If there are few thun- 
der clouds and lightning flashes, raging torrents 
and cataracts in his pages, they are full of summer 
peace and beauty, everywhere flushed with little 
rivulets that keep the grass green and besprinkle 
it with flowers. His books are restful and sooth- 
ing, full of quiet but fresh inspiration and cheery 
optimism, and they have comforted and encour- 
aged countless thousands of readers. The whole 
Church will mourn and miss him, and his loss will 
be felt far beyond our bounds." 

This editorial word in The United Presbyterian 
revealed the affection inspired by Dr. Miller in 
the denomination from which he sought release in 
1868: 

'* Dr. Miller was one of those men whom no de- 
nomination can monopolise. His ambition to do 
good was as wide as the longings of the human 
heart. He belonged emphatically to the Church of 
Christ. All denominations found in his literature 
help and comfort and blessing; all firesides felt the 
glow of his own warm heart. He was no contro- 
versialist, but one who desired to bring the peace 
of God to sorrowing souls. Quiet, unobtrusive, 



236 THE LIFE OF DR. J. R. MILLER 

unassuming in his life, out of Ms own experience 
and hope he gave his message to humanity. He 
spoke to the soul of all men, and they are few, 
if any, who have read his writings, but have been 
made better by them. His influence is not en- 
tombed with his body, but lingers, as the youth 
of the springtime or the summer sunshine, to con- 
tinue year after year in the homes and hearts of 
the generations that follow. When his kindly fea- 
tures are forgotten, when the friends who knew 
and loved him have passed from earth and slum- 
ber with him in the dust, the words that he has 
written will be his memorial to their sons and 
daughters. We cannot estimate the influence of 
such a life. It is mightier than warrior's or 
statesman's. It is like the life of Jesus Christ in 
that its purpose is to make men better, purer, 
richer in riches that perish not, and wise in the 
wisdom that never faileth." 

The Stmday School Times — whose editorial col- 
umns Dr. Miller enriched by scores of articles 
which later became chapters in his books — said : 

^^ To serve the commonest needs of the many 
calls for a very uncommon man — he does it best 
in whom Christ shines forth most clearly. And 
Christ was the secret of the utterly unusual ser- 
vice to everyday men and women which Dr. J. R. 
Miller rendered through the long and fruitful life- 
time which has now ceased in the flesh, to be glori- 
fied in richer measure beyond. Dr. Miller's mis- 
sion in writing seemed to be to give out the simple 
tilings of God for which a hundred thousand hearts 
were hungering. His spirit was always childlike ; 
therefore he could help many. And his writings 



TEIBUTES OF AFFECTION 237 

had tlie rare quality of universal service because 
his personal life was ceaselessly serving in the 
same way. His individual ministries of love to 
men and women about him were indefatigable. 
His life was one of the most remarkable, in its 
high-pressure efficiency and output, of our genera- 
tion. As author, editor, pastor and friend, he 
seemed to accomplish all the time about twice as 
much as most men, and never be hurried or 
strained as he did it. His life was a challenge 
and a benediction, a rebuke and comfort, to those 
who knew him well. The Saviour who was his 
life showed himself forth marvellously through 
Dr. Miller, as He will through anyone who is as 
eager as Dr. Miller was to let Christ live in him 
and serve through him." 

The editor of The Christian Endeavour World 
thus told his readers of the passing from earth 
of one whom he had been proud to number among 
his contributors : 

** The death of few Americans will be more 
mourned than that of Rev. J. R. Miller. 

'' In spite of his enormous literary and edi- 
torial work Dr. Miller was always an enthusiastic 
and abundantly successful preacher and pastor, 
and has told the writer more than once that he 
would rather give up all his other work than this. 

*' Dr. Miller's books . . . combine a rare sym- 
pathy with humanity, a deep appreciation of all 
that is best in literature, and a sturdy common 
sense that renders every line he ever wrote 
stanch and strong. 

^^ Even more than any of these aspects of his 
life, those who knew Dr. Miller will cherish the 



238 THE LIFE OF DB. J. R. MILLER 

memory of his personal character; it was so sweet, 
so strong, so true to the best ideals. A man of 
tireless industry, he always had time to do the 
little kindly acts that make up so much of the 
happiness of this world; and many thousands — 
probably many more thousands than he himself 
ever guessed — ^will rise up at the last day and call 
him blessed." 

One of the Philadelphia daily papers — the Pub- 
lic Ledger — gave place in its editorial columns to 
a communication from the pastor of a Methodist 
Episcopal Church : 

** A few years since, while occupying the same 
seat with Dr. Miller on our way to New York City, 
I came to get a glimpse of his inner life that deep- 
ened all my former impressions of the man. 
While conversing on local matters pertaining to 
our respective denominations, I asked him to tell 
me in a single word what was the requirement that 
he, a man then seventy years of age, felt was 
needed especially to-day to be emphasised by the 
Christian ministry — Roman Catholic as well as 
Protestant. 

** After a moment of thought, as his eyes 
glanced over the rippling waters of the Delaware 
River which we were passing, he earnestly re- 
plied, * Sincerity.' 

* * That word marked the keynote of his own life 
in public and private. He was a sincere wor- 
shipper of his Lord and Master and consequently 
a sincere friend to all whom he met. His capacity 
for turning off work and for accomplishing things 
worth while surpassed that of any man of his 
years of my acquaintance." 



TRIBUTES OF AFFECTION 239 

The readers of The Congregationalist were told 
of Dr. Miller's home-going in this paragraph: 

** Dr. Miller was a teacher, a worker and a 
saint. His prodigious and untiring labours in 
various fields of industry bore abundant and last- 
ing fruit. He had the rare gift of keeping many 
irons in the fire at once and keeping them warm. 
"We have been in his office in the Witherspoon 
Building when he was constantly interrupted not 
only by his own office workers but by members of 
the large parish which he was serving. And, not- 
withstanding this constant outgo of sympathy and 
counsel and this exercise of control. Dr. Miller 
was as serene and quiet as befits one's conception 
of the author of books that have carried strength 
and comfort to many a needy heart. He not only 
did his editorial work well, but carried along with 
it the responsibility for several strong Philadel- 
phia churches which he served in succession, de- 
voting his evenings to parish visiting and his Sun- 
days to preaching. No man could have thus suc- 
cessfully combined several important functions 
without loving every side of his work and without 
keeping in constant communication with the 
Source of spiritual power. We are among the 
multitude who loved and revered Dr. Miller and 
who will miss him now that his work is ended. ' ' 

Sir W. Robertson Nicoll paid his tribute in the 
columns of The British Weekly/: 

* ^ Dr. Miller of Philadelphia, who may be justly 
called the most popular religious writer of his 
time, has passed away. There never, we should 
suppose, was a man who worked harder. He was 



240 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

Editorial Superintendent of tlie Presbyterian 
Board of Publication, and his duties in this con- 
nection might well have absorbed his whole time 
and strength, for he had to supervise all the Sun- 
day-school literature and all the books put forth 
by the Board, and these were many. In addition, 
he was himself a voluminous author. In the 
United States and in this country these books have 
literally sold by the million, and they have been 
translated into many languages. But Dr. Miller 
was not content with these achievements. He con- 
tinued to be a Christian pastor, and he had built 
up in succession three prosperous congregations. 
. . . We need not characterise his writings ; they 
are tender, winning and consoling, and have 
moved many to more faithful labour and more 
patient endurance." 

Rev. John T. McFarland, D.D., editor of the 
Sunday-school periodicals of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, was in hearty accord with these ex- 
pressions. He said : 

*^ During the last eight years of his life it was 
my privilege to know Dr. Miller as a brother editor 
of Sunday-school literature, and during several 
of these years, on account of the close cooperation 
of our offices on special work, I was intimately as- 
sociated with him. I always found him thoroughly 
fraternal in his spirit, always anxious to work in 
harmony with others, generously considerate of 
their wishes, and rejoicing always to find that in 
the essentials of faith and in the aims of Chris- 
tian effort, the various denominations are so 
nearly in accord. The Sunday-school literature 
of his church, of which he had charge for so many 



TRIBUTES OF AFFECTION 241 

years, was brought by him to a very high standard 
of excellence ; and it was an evidence of the men- 
tal vitality and freshness which he maintained to 
the last that he was in keen sympathy with the 
advance movements in the field of religious edu- 
cation. He was absolutely loyal to the funda- 
mentals of evangelical faith, but was open-minded 
to the latest knowledge of the Bible. He was a 
great teacher, a tireless worker, a Christian min- 
ister utterly consecrated to the service of his 
divine Master, devoting to that service his un- 
divided time and strength. ' ' 

Rev. C. R. Blackall, D.D., for many years editor 
of the Sunday-school publications of the Baptist 
Church — a man ten years Dr. Miller's senior, and 
in active service at the time — wrote his impres- 
sions for The Superintendent : 



a 



There passed into rest on the second day of 
July last one of the most helpful and loving men 
I have ever known. Estimates of character and 
worth and work, to be fair, must be based very 
largely upon the hidden purposes of life, which 
unconsciously reveal themselves like bands upon 
a coat sleeve to any careful observer, and really 
show deep-seated principles of action. 

** Dr. Miller was not a theologian, and therefore 
was not controversial in thought or action; nor 
was he aggressive in dealing with practical ques- 
tions of the day as related to Sunday-school meth- 
ods and work. I had the pleasure and the honour 
of a close and unbroken friendship with him 
through a long series of years. We often dis- 
cussed questions of deepest and mutual interest. 
I invariably found him both frank and responsive. 



242 THE LIFE OF DE. J. E. MILLEE 

I sometimes thought him too timid ; I know better 
now, and that he shrank from anything that could 
hurt, even with the tenderness of a noble and pure 
woman. 

** As editor and writer he will always be best 
known, the world over, for his true and unvarying 
helpfulness. He evidently believed that a true 
life is worth more to the world than a knotty dis- 
putation; that Sunday-school teachers gain better 
spiritual results by best use of the great truths 
that lie upon the surface, and the honest applica- 
tion of these to the daily life; and this thought 
he faithfully and undeviatingly followed in his 
voluminous editorial articles and books. 

** I loved him much. I shall surely meet him 
again, after the limitations of the flesh are forever 
overcome. ' ' 

Dr. Eobert E. Speer, one of the Secretaries of 
the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, 
wrote this heartfelt tribute : 

'* He was an irrefutable evidence of the truth 
of Christianity. No other religion and no other 
power could have produced such a type. Free 
from all religiosity with nothing in his dress or 
manner or vocabulary to indicate the preacher or 
religious teacher, he was yet one of the most inde- 
fatigable of personal Christian workers and one 
of the most devoted and wide-eyed comforters and 
prophets of our day. He did the work of three 
ordinary men with no haste and apparently with 
unlimited time to give to individuals. He was the 
best known and most widely read writer of devo- 
tional books in the world, but all of human life 
was of interest to him and he lived in practical 



TRIBUTES OF AFFECTION 243 

affairs. For truth, genuineness, simplicity, ac- 
complishing power, kind but discerning knowledge 
of men, considerateness, thoughtfulness in detail, 
range, definiteness and love it would be hard to 
find his equal. Measured against his world-wide 
and penetrating ministry the great and noisy po- 
litical careers of the day seem paltry. He was a 
man of the abiding world who therefore was able 
to mould the world that does not abide. Thou- 
sands of lives look back to him with love and with 
personal evidence of his wonderful sympathy and 
friendship and wisdom. ^^ 

Professor W. Brenton Greene, D.D., of Prince- 
ton Theological Seminary, after twenty-five years 
of intimate association with him, said reverently: 

** If I dared let any man embody my idea of 
our Lord, I should find myself unconsciously turn- 
ing to Dr. Miller for such embodiment. We can 
try to follow him only afar off, but it is one of 
God^s best gifts to us that we have been given 
such an example of Christlikeness. 



yy 



In 1909 — in the chapter on the death of Moses, 
as printed in the second volume of ^^ Devotional 
Hours with the Bible " — Dr. Miller said: 



it 



Let us seek to make our lives immortal, not 
in shafts and monuments, not in riches and earthly 
honours, but by making the world better, by put- 
ting touches of beauty into other lives, by teaching 
and blessing little children, by encouraging the 
weary and disheartened, and by comforting human 
sorrow. Then we shall need no grave, with its 



244 THE LIFE OF DE. J. R. MILLER 

marble memorial, to keep our name alive. We 
shall live in the things we have done. ' ' 

So Dr. Miller lives on the earth to-day, and will 
live while the earth stands. For though his name 
may in time be forgotten, the work that God en- 
abled him to do will never perish. 



BOOKS BY DR. MILLER 

(In Order of Publication) 

Week Day Religion, 1880. 
Home Making, 1882. 
In His Steps, 1885. 
The Wedded Life, 1886. 
Silent Times, 1886. 
Come Ye Apart, 1887. 
The Marriage Altar, 1888. 
Practical Religion, 1888. 
Bits of Pasture, 1890. 
Making the Most of Life, 1891. 
The Everyday of Life, 1892. 
Girls : Faults and Ideals, 1892. 
Young Men : Faults and Ideals, 1893. 
Glimpses Through Life 's Windows, 1893, 
The Building of Character, 1894. 
Secrets of Happy Home Life, 1894. 
Life 's Byways and Waysides, 1895. 
For a Busy Day, 1895. 
Year Book, 1895. 
Family Prayers, 1895. 
The Hidden Life, 1895. 
The Blessing of Cheerfulness, 1896. 
Things to Live For, 1896. 
Story of a Busy Life, 1896. 
A Gentle Heart, 1896. 
Personal Friendships of Jesus, 1897. 
By the Still Waters, 1897. 
The Secret of Gladness, 1898. 

245 



246 BOOKS BY DR. MILLER 

The Joy of Service, 1898. 
The Master's Blesseds, 1898. 
Young People's Problems, 1898. 
Unto the Hill, 1899. 
Strength and Beauty, 1899. 
The Golden Gate of Prayer, 1900. 
Loving My Neighbour, 1900. 
The Ministry of Comfort, 1901. 
Summer Gathering, 1901. 
How? When? Where?, 1901. 
The Upper Currents, 1902. 
To-day and To-morrow, 1902. 
In Perfect Peace, 1902. 
The Lesson of Love, 1903. 
The Face of the Master, 1903. 
Our New Eden, 1904. 
Finding the Way, 1904. 
The Inner Life, 1904. 
Manual for Communicant Classes, 1905. 
The Beauty of Kindness, 1905. 
When the Song Begins, 1905. 
The Best Things, 1907. 
Glimpses of the Heavenly Life, 1907. 
Morning Thoughts for Every Day in the Year, 1907. 
Evening Thoughts, 1908. 
The Gate Beautiful, 1909. 
The Master's Friendships, 1909. 
The Beauty of Every Day, 1910. 
The Beauty of Self-control, 1911. 
Learning to Love, 1911. 
The Book of Comfort, 1912. 
The Joy of the Lord, 1912. 

Devotional Hours with the Bible, eight volumes, 
1909-1913. 



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