“A minister needs to be a jack of all trades” by John Newton

“Give my love to Mr. ****. He has desired a good work; may the Lord give him the desires of his heart.

May he give him the wisdom of Daniel, the meekness of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the zeal of Paul, and that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt when they not only had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear, but saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes.

May he be taught of God, (none teacheth like Him,) and come forth an able minister of the New Testament, well instructed rightly to divide and faithfully to distribute the word of truth.

In the school of Christ, (especially if the Lord designs him to be a teacher of others,) he will be put to learn some lessons not very pleasant to flesh and blood: he must learn to run, to fight, to wrestle, and many other exercises, some of which will try his strength, and others his patience.

You know the common expression of a jack of all trades. I am sure a minister had need be such an one: a soldier, a watchman, a shepherd, a husbandman, a builder, a planter, a physician, and a nurse.

But let him not be discouraged. He has a wonderful and a gracious Master, who can not only give instructions, but power, and engages that His grace shall be sufficient, at all times and in all circumstances, for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.

I am sincerely yours’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter XVIII (August 13, 1773)” in The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6. Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6:102–103.

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“He interposed Himself” by Jonathan Edwards

“Consider the example of your glorious Lord and Master. There was a number of the souls of men committed by the Father into His hands, that He might take care for their salvation.

And after what manner did He execute His office?

How did He lay out Himself for the salvation of those souls?

What great things did He do?

And what great things did He suffer?

How hard was the labor He went through?

And how greatly did He deny Himself?

How did this great Shepherd of the sheep behave Himself when He saw the wolf coming to destroy the sheep?

He did not flee to save His own life, and so leave the sheep to become a prey; but from pity and love to the sheep, interposed Himself between them and their enemy, stood between them and harm, and encountered the wolf, and in the conflict gave His own life to save theirs (John 10:11–15).

We read of Christ’s travailing for souls, ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed…. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied’ (Isaiah 53:10–11).

And how did He travail for this seed of His?

Look into the garden of Gethsemane, and there behold Him lying on the earth, with His body covered over with clotted blood, falling down in lumps to the ground, with His soul exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and offering up strong crying and tears together with His blood.

And look to the cross, where He endured yet far more extreme agonies, and drank up the bitter cup of God’s wrath, and shed the remainder of His blood, lingeringly drained out through His tortured hands and feet, and extravasated out of His broken heart into His bowels, and there turned into blood and water, through the vehement fermentation occasioned by the weight of grief and extremity of agony of soul, under which He cried out with that loud and lamentable and repeated cry.

Thus He travailed in birth with His seed; thus He labored and suffered for the salvation of those souls that the Father had committed to Him.

This is the example of the great Shepherd.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Great Concern Of A Watchman For Souls,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 72. This sermon on Hebrews 13:17 (“They watch for your souls, as they that must give account.”) was preached on June 8, 1743, at the ordination of Jonathan Judd.

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“I live by miracle” by John Newton

“I would tell you how it is with me if I could; at the best, it would be an inconsistent account. I am what I would not, and would what I cannot.

I rejoice and mourn; I stand fast, and am thrown down in the same moment.

I am both rich and poor; I can do nothing, yet I can do all things. I live by miracle.

I am opposed beyond my strength, yet I am not overpowered. I gain when I lose, and I often am a loser by my gains.

In a word, I am a sinner, a vile one; but a sinner believing in the name of Jesus.

I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd; I am a dull scholar, but I have a Master who can make the dullest learn.

He still bears with me, He still employs me, He still enables me, He still owns me. Oh, for a coal of heavenly fire to warm my heart, that I might praise Him as I ought!

As a people, we have much cause of complaint in ourselves, and much cause of thankfulness to Him. In the main, I hope we are alive, though not as we could wish; our numbers rather increase from year to year, and some flourish.

In the ordinances, we are favoured in a measure with His presence. But, oh, for a day of His power; that His work may run broader and deeper, and the fire of grace spread from heart to heart, till the whole town be in a flame!

To this I hope you will give a hearty Amen, and often remember us in your prayers.

I am, sincerely your’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter XIX – August 29, 1774” in The Works of John Newton, Volume 6, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6: 104-105.

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“How not to read the Bible” by Charles Spurgeon

“Do not read the Bible as a book for other people.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “How to Read the Bible,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 58; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1912), 58:425.

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“Reading great literature” by C.S. Lewis

“Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realise the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realise it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison.

My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through the eyes of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. I regret that the brutes cannot write books. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or a bee; more gladly still would I perceive the olfactory world charged with all the information and emotion it carries for a dog…

In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

–C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961/1992), 140-141.

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“Read whatever you want to read” by Alan Jacobs

“It’s what you’re reading that matters, and how you’re reading it, not the speed with which you’re getting through it. Reading is supposed to be about the encounter with others minds, not an opportunity to return to the endlessly appealing subject of Me.

American have enough encouragements to narcissism; let’s try to do without this one…

Read whatever you want to read. And read at your own pace, without pausing even for a second to think about what your rate of words per minute is. You probably read too fast anyway.”

–Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 67, 68-69.

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“I am not an elephant” by D.A. Carson

“For the last eight years I have spent more time studying the Gospel of John than any other part of the Scripture. This has proved to be a lesson in humility.

John is simple enough for a child to read and complex enough to tax the mental powers of the greatest minds. As one commentator has put it, this book is like a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant may swim.

I am not an elephant; but I have become aware of the many places where I am beyond my depth.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 9.

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