Calvinist Influence on Worship in England

Calvin_HeaderTo what extent, if any, should Anglican and Reformed models of worship overlap? As to their differences – first, what are they; and secondly, are they material or formal? And if the differences are real – it seems fairly clear that on something as fundamental as the Regulative Principle of Worship, the two streams diverge – how should we handle influences and reactions?

As the 42nd PCA GA approaches, this question will grow slightly more important as different pockets within the denomination come into contact with each other. Some of these intersections will create snark:

And others will strive to mingle, as noted in this article from a largely appreciative perspective, “Thoughts Concerning the Influence of the Anglican Tradition on Contemporary Reformed Liturgical Practice.

My own opinion is both neophyte and (reactionary) cautious. Continue reading

Productivity from Presbyterians in the 18th Century

I’ve written before on the inestimable Dr. Samuel Miller – whether on prayer, his online works, or his views of the ministry – but I stumbled across just a few biographical remarks that I found very encouraging. They even inspire in areas of productivity and GTD!

The great secret of his [Miller] being able to do so much, and to do it so well, was that he did everything systematically. He had a time for every duty, and one duty was not suffered to encroach upon another. In his personal habits and dress he was remarkably neat, without anything, however, of undue precision. In his manners he was polished and graceful, and duly attentive to all those proprieties which confer dignity upon social intercourse. Of the “clerical manners” which he recommended in his invaluable work on that subject, he was himself an admirable example.

Dr. Miller’s intellectual and moral character partook of the same beautiful symmetry that characterized his external appearance… He used to say that he loved to have a nail in every building intended for the glory of God or the good of man… There are few men who have an assemblage of intellectual and moral qualities so well fitted as were his to form a dignified character, or to secure a course of honorable and enduring usefulness…

He gave to his work all the energies of his mind and body.

Confessional Presbyterian (2005) p. 9 – 10

Miller’s output – whether as a pastor or in any vocation – was impressive. In our easily distracted age, his resolve to do everything “systematically” and in its appropriate context sounds like it would be championed by the David Allens and Stephen Coveys of our age. Even in putting this post together, I’ve felt the temptation to have a video playing in the background, check email and Twitter alerts, all the while needing to focus on a wholly other project. (I finally paused the vid clip to finish this out!) So Miller’s exemplary self-control and disciplined focus still seem incredibly relevant to me, at least.

But the above quote highlights that, for Miller, these virtues weren’t limited to his work life, but instead characterized him as a person. If I can’t allow my attention to be divided by various tasks screaming for my attention, there is a corollary to our public/private, work/personal lives as well. I can’t remember off hand if David Allen ever specifically addresses the person who practices GTD at the office, but then allows his personal, relational, and financial life to fall into irreparable chaos, but I can only imagine that (far from a “mind like water!”) this is frowned upon.

Miller was known as an exceptional doctor of theology, and his didactic efforts go beyond mere content to method as well. Reading of his voluminous output, I’m inspired and encouraged to have the same laser focus he exhibited.

Select Works of Samuel Miller (1769 – 1850)

Recently, I came across Miller’s Thoughts on Public Prayer, and was greatly helped. I knew Miller to be a staunch Old School Presbyterian, and so I wondered what else of his I could find online for free. Turns out, pretty much everything he wrote is at Google Books. Help yourself!

UPDATE: The original post was by no means exhaustive, but thankfully the PCA Historical Center already had compiled the Samuel Miller Collection. While there aren’t many links at the Collection, there is a complete bibliography listed. I was reminded of this by The Confessional Presbyterian which points this resource out.

A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century (1803, 1805)

A Sermon on Lamentations 2:1, 13 (1812)

An Able and Faithful Ministry (1812)

Memoir of the Reverend John Rogers (1813)

Letters on Unitarianism (1821)

Letter on Christmas Observance (1825) Continue reading

Presbyterian Public Prayer

Few have the Old School street cred of Samuel Miller (1769 – 1850). And I recently discovered his Thoughts on Public Prayer, which can be
downloaded from Google Books here.

There are probably some important connections to think about between the relative paucity of congregational prayer in much of American Christianity, and how modern American Christian worship/entertainment is a descendant of New School ideas run wild. So the fact that you need to go to an Old School Presbyterian to think carefully about public prayer should probably be a no brainer, but I’ve been encouraged nonetheless.

Should the congregation face east for prayer (especially when that practice was so common in the ancient church)? What posture or liturgy best suits corporate prayer? Acknowledging that prayer is not mechanistic, but a Spiritually-derived communion of the soul with the Almighty, what steps or means – if any – may be taken to travel towards excellence in our prayer ministry? These questions, and so much more, is for free in Miller’s Thoughts on Public Prayer. Download it now!

Samuel Miller – An Able and Faithful Ministry

The following article by Samuel Miller was made available by Presbyterian Heritage Publications. As the website hosting this article expired, I’ve copied it here. The archived webpage may be accessed here.

This sermon was published under the title of The Duty of the Church to Take Measures for Providing an Able and Faithful Ministry, included in a larger publication, The Sermon, Delivered at the Inauguration of the Rev. Archibald Alexander, D.D. Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology, in the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church, in the United States of America: to Which are Added, the Professor’s Inauguration Address, and the Charge to the Professor and Students (New York: Whiting and Watson, 1812).

Copyright © 1987 by
Presbyterian Heritage Publications
Second Edition, 1994

The electronic version of this document has been provided as a convenience for our readers. No part of this publication may be transmitted or distributed in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical photocopying, or otherwise) without prior permission of the publisher. Inquiries may be directed to: Presbyterian Heritage Publications, P.O. Box 180922, Dallas, Texas 75218, U.S.A. Please write to the publisher for more details about our other publications.

An Able and Faithful Ministry

Samuel Miller

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
2 Timothy 2:2

The apostle Paul received both his knowledge of the gospel, and his commission to preach it, immediately from the great Head of the church. Yet, notwithstanding the extraordinary circumstances which attended his theological instruction, and his official investiture, that “all things might be done decently and in order” (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40), he submitted to “the laying on of the hands of the presbytery” (1 Tim. 4:14; cf. Acts 13:3), before he went forth on his great mission to the Gentiles. In like manner, Timothy, his “own son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2), to whom the exhortation before us is addressed, was set apart to the work of the holy ministry, by the presbytery,­ in which body, on that occasion, the apostle himself seems to have presided (cf. 2 Tim. 1:6).

Timothy was now at Ephesus; and being the most active and influential member of the presbytery which was constituted in that part of the church, his spiritual father directed to him, as such (and in him to the church in all succeeding times), the rules and instructions contained in the epistles which bear his name. Among these we find the passage which has just been read: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (cf. 2 Tim. 1:6) Continue reading