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YOUNG PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS: Help and Hope for Today's Teenagers
J.R. Miller

"The most important of all lessons are those which teach us how to live. There come points and experiences in every young person's life when a word may give help, save from mistake, and make the way plain and clear. It is in the hope of throwing light on some of the questions which are sure to arise in young people's lives, that these chapters have been written. It is not claimed that all the 'problems' are here considered; but perhaps those eager to make life beautiful and rich will find a little help in some of these pages." -from the Author's Preface

Miller writes with a genuine love for the young as he addresses such pertinent topics as:








and 20 more brief but powerful chapters

"If any 19th century American Christian writer warrants reprinting, it is J.R. Miller! His writing style is delightfully smooth, his insights are spiritual diamonds on every page, and his pastoral applications are delivered with the skill of a well-seasoned physician of souls." - Pastor Bill Shishko, Franklin Square, NY


COME YE APART: A Daily Devotional Journey Through the Four Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ


GIRLS: Fault and Ideals

THE HOME BEAUTIFUL: Timeless Words of Wisdom for Today's Family

JESUS AND I ARE FRIENDS: The Life and Ministry of J.R. Miller


THE TRANSFIGURED LIFE: Selected Shorter Writings of J.R. Miller

YOUNG MEN: Faults and Ideals

YOUNG PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS: Help and Hope for Today’s Teens


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Additional Information
Biographical Sketch

Biographical Sketch

It is a distinct privilege for Solid Ground Books to be able to bring back before the people of God a choice servant of Christ who has been too long forgotten. J.R. Miller wrote over 60 books, many of which were translated into numerous languages, and which sold multiplied millions of copies. Sir William Robertson Nicoll said of him, "Dr. Miller may be justly called the most popular religious writer of his time...There never, we should suppose, was a man who worked harder." In the following pages we will set forth a brief history of his life, drawing primarily from The Life of Dr. J.R. Miller written by his dear friend John T. Faris, and published the year he died (1912).

James Russell Miller was born on March 20, 1840 in the family home near Frankfort Springs, Pennsylvania. He was the first born son of James Alexander Miller and Eleanor Creswell Miller. He was blessed to enter a home that was a house of prayer. From the moment it was founded the family altar was established, and it was never allowed to be broken down. As the children came into the home they soon learned that whatever else might be omitted from the household routine, family worship was never forgotten, and never slighted. Business pressure, the presence of guests, or other trying circumstances were never offered as an excuse for the omission of morning and evening Bible reading and prayer.

In this godly home the Sabbath was sacredly set apart. Seldom, if ever, was the family pew empty, though the church was several miles distant, and the roads were frequently well-nigh impassable. There were no evening services in the churches in those days, but the home became a little sanctuary. The devout father was the minister in his home. 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 Westminster Shorter Catechism; as the children grew old enough they were required to learn this as rapidly as possible. Eventually all 107 questions and answers were laid in the hearts of each child, and the father would then begin by proposing the first question to James, who would then answer it, and in turn ask the next child the second question. This would continue until all the questions and answers had been given. Thus the solid doctrinal foundation was laid that lasted the rest of his life.

James was an eager student in school and made great progress. On one occasion he requested of his teacher that algebra be added to the curriculum. The teacher frankly confessed that he knew nothing of the subject, and proposed that both should study it together. Years later that teacher, then an old man, recounted the success of that winter. With the unassuming spirit for which he was always noted, the pupil aided the teacher in understanding the new branch of learning.

Very early in life James began to manifest a deep interest in vital personal religion, and this was intensified during his first winter at Beaver Academy, which he entered in 1857. His fellow students spoke of him as a young man of prayer. He was a regular and devout worshiper in the church, where his voice joined heartily in leading its services 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.

During his academy course he taught one term of school at Industry, Pennsylvania, and another at Calcutta, Ohio, so he did not enter Westminster College at New Wilmington, PA, until 1861. He was so far advanced, however, that he was graduated in June, 1862. In the autumn of that year he entered the theological seminary of the United Presbyterian Church at Allegheny, PA.

Mr. Miller was in college when Fort Sumter fell and the country was plunged into the throes of civil war. He enlisted as a member of a company recruited in and about Calcutta, Ohio. The Lord opened a door of service for him, however, in the newly formed Christian Commission, whose work was outlined as follows:

The relief and care of the wounded, during and immediately after battle, and meeting the needs of men in such places as parole and convalescent camp, and other emergencies. Also, the supply of religious service in aid of chaplains, or in their place, for hospitals and regiments without chaplains, the supply of reading matter to men in hospitals and throughout the army, the distribution of bodily comforts, and the promotion of communication with home.

This work was carried on by voluntary and paid delegates, 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. 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 remain for the summer campaign. A good situation was waiting for him at home, but he determined 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 Commission at Gettysburg after the notable battle fought in July of that same year. Of this service he wrote:

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 the temporal needs was blended with Christian counsel and consolation, and as ever before, so here, the Holy Spirit attended such ministry with the divine blessing.

What was to last for six weeks eventually lasted for two and one half years of service. These years of ministering to the wounded and dying drew forth remarkable gifts in this young man, and fitted him for the world wide ministry of comfort to which he was destined.

Mr. Miller resumed his interrupted studies at Allegheny Theological Seminary in the fall of 1865. His experiences during the war had so broadened his mind and enlarged his heart that he was able to make the most of his opportunities. Fellow students who had valued Mr. Miller because of his unusual attainments marveled at the way in which his character had been enriched by the service of the Christian Commission. They rejoiced in the opportunity for daily fellowship with one who was living so near to heaven that every word and act seemed to lift them close to God. His brotherliness of spirit, his earnestness of purpose, his humility and gentleness, and his never-flagging zeal won the admiration and love of all who knew him.

He completed his course in the spring of 1867, and during the summer he accepted the call from First United Presbyterian Church of New Wilmington, PA, the seat of the 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 pastorate. Being a college center, the field gave inspiration for the most careful sermon preparation, and men who sat under his preaching in their student days - ministers, doctors, lawyers, and others - told 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.

It was evident to all who watched his work that he was winning a strong hold upon the hearts of the children, because they always had a warm place in his heart's love. This laid the foundation for his great burden to produce the very best material possible for the Sunday Schools in the years that followed. It also prepared the way for the three gifts the Lord gave to him after marrying Miss Louise E. King on June 22, 1870. From the day of their 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 them of what she was to him, and said that he could wish them no greater happiness than a home such as she was making 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, who received him in their home, who read the publications 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 efforts she was most successful.

From 1867 until 1912, the year of his death, Mr. Miller was a faithful pastor in several churches. Wherever he went the churches experienced unprecedented growth, especially in conversions. We are told that for his forty years of pastoral labor there was an average of nearly 140 members added every year. These churches grew because of the remarkable, almost superhuman, labors of their pastor. Miller combined the rare gift of being a gifted preacher and a diligent pastor.

As a preacher he was known as one who was faithful to the Scriptures and to the souls of those under his care. He labored to bring the word of God to the consciences of his people, and especially sought to bring comfort and encouragement to the weary. We could not do better than to reproduce a letter that the aged servant of God wrote to a young minister in response to his question about how to make his ministry a success. The letter concluded with these words:

Cultivate love for Christ and then live for your work. It goes without saying that the supreme motive in every minister's life should be the love of Christ. 'The love of Christ constraineth me,' was the keynote of St. Paul's marvelous 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 experiences, 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 the disciples' feet, which showed His heart in being willing to do anything to serve His friends. If you want 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 imperiled, you must love them and have a sincere desire to do them good. It seems to me 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.

This letter was especially valuable because its writer had lived out every statement in it. He loved his people. He forgot himself. 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.

In addition to his work as a pastor, in 1880 he added the work of assistant to the Editorial Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Publication. Although small in its beginnings, this was to become the second great calling of his life. It opened the door for his wonderful skills as a writer and caused his name to become a household word in millions of homes in America and abroad. Eventually he became the Editorial Superintendent of the PBP where he faithfully served until the year of his death in 1912. It was here that he poured his lifeblood in seeking to bring the Sunday School material to its very highest level possible. The PBP, under his leadership, became the most renowned denominational publishing house in the world. His oversight of this work is all the more remarkable when it is realized that it was carried on while he was also serving as a pastor of a growing church. It was often said that he did the work of three ordinary men. One man was inclined to make the number ten rather than three. His secret was that he never wasted a moment of time, but used each minute for Christ.

One of the gifts that he used to great effect was that of writing personal letters and notes. Dozens of notes and letters went out from his desk every day. Some went across the world, and others across the street. On one occasion, during the evangelistic meetings of R.A. Torrey and Charles Alexander a man stated that the Lord used a note from Dr. Miller to lead him to Christ. On hearing this Mr. Alexander said, "Yes, 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 and joys of others.

His passion for writing letters continued to the last. One day in May, 1912, while unable to leave his chair because of weakness, he dictated letters to a minister who was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his pastorate, to a young man who was that day moving into a new home, to a sick friend, and to a man who had just been highly honored. His last letter - written just a few weeks before his death - was a message of appreciation to an associate. He was so feeble that he fell asleep several times before the letter was completed, but he would not give up until the task was finished.

The secret of his life was summarized in five words that he loved to repeat again and again, "Jesus and I are friends." This was the deepest passion of his life, to know and love Jesus Christ. All he did and all he wrote came from his vital relationship with his Friend. He once wrote in one of his books, "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...The greatest moment in anyone's life is when he first realizes that Christ is his Friend." Thankfully, he was a model of the things he urged others to do. He learned numerous lessons from his Friend. Tens of thousands were made richer because of his desire to pass on what his Friend had taught him.

During his lifetime he wrote 60 books and pamphlets. One of the most amazing things about these volumes is the way they spoke to both the learned and the unlearned, the rich and the poor alike. There seemed to be no hindrance that kept his books from entering into the hearts of children, young people, middle aged and those in old age. Letters came to him daily for years telling of the good that his books had done. Some are quite remarkable. Consider just a few. One came from a stranger in London, England, who wrote:

A friend, an architect in Bombay, India, informs 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 letter came from the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who wrote,

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 skillful hand. Your very faithful servant, W.E. Gladstone

As moving as it must have been to receive such letters, it meant much more to him to receive the following letter from an anxious mother:

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.'

A man from Philadelphia visited the palace of the Czar in Russia and he 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.

Dr. Miller went to be with his Friend on July 2, 1912. He was 72 years old when he died, and he left behind a legacy that is matched by very few. In closing this brief biographical sketch we will allow some who knew him best to speak of what he meant to them.

Rev. Frank De Witt Talmage wrote,

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 Dr. Miller, of this city...In the ecclesiastical life he is the marvel of the age. He has done the work of ten men. While others were attending banquets or sitting by their firesides, his tireless feet have been tramping the streets of the city calling upon the sick and like Paul carrying the gospel into many homes...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.

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 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.

Dr. W. Brenton Greene, Professor at Princeton 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 turning to Dr. Miller for such an 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.

Dr. Miller loved children and young people, and loved him dearly. It is hoped that this brief biographical sketch will prepare you to read the book that you now hold in your hands. It is not a book for cowards. It is a book that will address today's teen with advice that will help them avoid many of the pitfalls of life. It is a hard day to be a teen. Temptations lie upon every hand, and danger is around every bend. Any book that can help the young press on toward heaven is worth its weight in gold. This is such a book!