Robert Milligan – Concern Over Influence

Robert Milligan(1814-1875) was influential member of the church. He served as co-editor of the Millennial Harbinger with Alexander Campbell and W.K. Pendleton. He penned several great books which are still widely used including, Scheme of Redemption and his commentary – The Epistle to the Hebrews. He was a preacher, and also served as an elder.

He was also a great scholar. He served as a professor at Washington college (Pennsylvania), State University of Indiana, Bethany college (West Virginia), and as President of Kentucky University. He, through the years, taught a variety of subjects including: mathematics, chemistry, natural history, and English literature.

His Concern For Others

Milligan, while a young professor, until the end of his life, was afflicted with severe pain. He suffered from inflammatory rheumatism. Also, he suffered with neuralgia of the brain, which afflicted the optic nerve, and rendered his eyes very sensitive to light. So much were his eyes affected that he often looked down, and not in a person’s eyes, due to the light. As he aged, he frequently relied on others to read to him, in order to spare his eyes from the work.

Brother J.W. McGarvey wrote: “He consulted many eminent physicians in regard to his maladies, and he was repeatedly urged to drink daily a portion of strong whiskey or brandy, with the assurance that it would add at least ten years to his life. But he steadfastly refused to do so, and said that he would rather die ten years earlier than to live by the daily use of intoxicating liquor. And this was not so much because he feared the affects on himself, as because he dreaded the influence it would have on others, and especially the young men, to know that from any cause he kept up such a habit” (Addendum to Milligans’s “The Epistle to the Hebrews,” p. 514). Can you imagine what some students would have thought or been encouraged to do, if they saw Professor Milligan carrying a bottle to his house? He wanted no part of it.

May we each develop that kind of concern over our influence, and for one another. (Note: I am not suggesting that it is necessarily wrong for alcohol to be used for medical reasons, or that Milligan definitely made the the best decission.  But, we should always consider how our actions in all areas might influence others.) Consider the following passages: Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:19, 21; 1 Corinthians 6:12; 8:13; 2 Corinthians 8:21;  Philippians 2:5.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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