James Russell Miller was born on March 20th, 1840 near Frankfort Springs, Pennsylvania into a devout Christian home. As a boy, James and his sisters would listen to his father read from Matthew Henry’s commentary, and expound scripture.
In 1857, James committed his life to Christ while attending Beaver Academy where he dedicated much time to prayer and meditation.
During the American Civil War, Miller served at Gettysburg as a field agent for the Christian Commission. This “field of blood” as he called it, served as a harsh training ground, and helped shape his character for his future calling in ministry. Miller’s messages to the front line troops and those in hospital “were imbued with words of cheer, consolation, and the love of Jesus.”
In 1867, Miller graduated from Allegheny Theological Seminary. In 1870, Dr. Miller married Louise King and raised three children.
Throughout his life, Miller was renowned for his tireless service as a pastor, preacher, and publisher. When someone once commented that he was doing the work of three men, Miller responded: “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, or sitting down at home. I give up every hour to activity of some sort. I am very busy at the office all day and 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.”
One morning, Miller received a message at his office that the young daughter of a woman not a member of his church had died in an accident. Dr. Miller took the next train and remained with the mother until she was calm and comforted. It is said that Dr. Miller’s spirit was so thoroughly understood and appreciated that pastors of all denominations welcomed his presence among their parishioners.
J. R. Miller became a popular Christian author and wrote 70 books and booklets between 1880 and 1912.
Under his direction as the Editorial Superintendent of The Presbyterian Board of Publication (1880–1911), Miller helped increase the published number of periodicals (such as “The Westminster Teacher”, “The Sabbath School Visitor”, and “The Presbyterian Monthly Record”) from 9.2 million to more than 66 million copies.
Due largely to his devotional writings including this book, published in 1887 as “Come Ye Apart,” Miller was widely acclaimed as the most read devotional writer in the world, selling over two million copies of his books.
After a lifetime of dedicated Christian service, Dr. James Russell Miller died peacefully on 2nd July 1912.