The 1813 Resolutions of Samuel Miller

When Samuel Miller took his place as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1813, he set down in writing a series of resolutions. Though not New Year resolutions per se, yet they set a good example of what pious resolutions can be.

December 3d, 1813. This day I arrived in Princeton, to enter on the discharge of my duties, as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government in  the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

I feel that, in coming hither, I am entering on a most weighty and important charge. At this solemn juncture I have adopted the following Resolutions, which I pray that I may have grace given me faithfully to keep.

I. Resolved, that I will endeavor hereafter, by God's help, to remember more deeply and solemnly than I have ever yet done, that I am not my own, but Christ's servant; and of course, bound to seek, not my own things, but the things which are Jesus Christ's.

II. Resolved, that I will endeavor, by the grace of God, to set such an example before the candidates for the ministry committed to my care, as shall convince them, that, though I esteem theological knowledge and all its auxiliary branches of science very highly, I esteem genuine and deep piety as a still more vital and important qualification.

III. Resolved, that I will endeavor, by the grace of God, so to conduct myself toward my colleague in the seminary [Archibald Alexander], as never to give to give the least reasonable ground of offence. It shall be my aim, by divine help, ever to treat him with the most scrupulous respect and delicacy, and never to wound his feelings, if I know how to avoid it.

IV. And whereas, during my residence in New York, a very painful part of my trouble arose from disagreement and collision with a colleague, I desire to set a double guard on myself in regard to this point. Resolved, therefore, that, by the grace of God, while I will carefully avoid giving offence to my colleague, I will, in no case, take offence at his treatment of me. I have come hither resolving, that whatever may be the sacrifice of my personal feelings - whatever may be the consequnce - I will not take offence, unless I am called upon to relinquish truth or duty. I not only will never, the Lord helping me, indulge a jealous, envious, or suspicious temper toward him; but I will, in no case, allow myself to be wounded by any slight, or appearance of disrespect. I will give up all my own claims, rather than let the cause of Christ suffer by animosity or contest. What am I, that I should prefer my own honor or exaltation to the cause of my blessed Master? 

V. Resolved, that, by the grace of God, I will not merge my office as a minister of the Gospel, in that of professor. I will still preach as often as my Master gives me opportunity and strength. I am persuaded that no minister of the Gospel, to whatever office he may be called, ought to give up preaching. He owes it to his ordination vows, to his office, to his Master, to the Church of God, to his own character, to the benefit of his own soul, to go on preaching to his last hour. Lord, give me grace to act on this principle!

VI. Resolved, that, as indulgence in jesting and levity is one of my besetting sins, I will endeavor, by the grace of God, to set a double guard on this point. The example of a professor before a body of theological students, in regard to such a matter, is all important.

VII. Where so many clergymen are collected in one village, clerical character is apt to become cheap; and it seems to me, that a peculiar guard ought to be set, by each one, to prevent this, by a careful, dignified, and sacredly holy example. Resolved, that I will endeavor, by the grace of God, to exercise special and prayerful attention to this matter.

From Samuel Miller, Jr., The Life of Samuel Miller, 2:9-10 (quoted in James Garretson, An Able and Faithful Ministry, 83-85