To Seminary Students and Pastors (Newton)

John Newton’s letters are pieces of literature that I often go back to in my life and ministry. Although there are other historical and Christian letters that have been a blessing to me, for some reason Newton’s letters always strike a chord in my heart and mind. This afternoon as I was reading a certain letter by Newton for the third or fourth time. The letter is one by Newton to a seminary student. Here’s the paragraph that has been well marked up in my book. It’s for pastors and seminary students, but I all Christians can learn from it for sure:

The chief means for attaining wisdom and suitable gifts for the ministry are the holy Scriptures and prayer. The one is the fountain of living water, the other the bucket with which we are to draw. And I believe you will find, by observation, that the man who is most frequent and fervent in prayer, and most devoted to the word of God, will shine and flourish above his fellows.

Next to these, and derived from them, is meditation. By this, I do not mean a stated exercise upon some one particular subject, but a disposition of mind to observe carefully what passes within us and around us, what we see, hear, and feel, and to apply all for the illustration and confirmation of the written word to us.

In the use of these means, and a humble dependence upon the Lord in all the changing dispensations we pass through, our spiritual experience will enlarge: and this experience is the proper fund of our ministerial capacity, so far as it may be considered inherent in us: Prov. 16:23; Matt. 13:52; 1 Jn. 1:3.

Proverbs 16:23 – A wise person’s heart makes his speech wise 
and it adds persuasiveness to his words. (NET)

Matthew 13:52 – Then he said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.”  (NET)

1 John 1:3 – What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). (NET)

The above quote is found in volume 1, page 141 of John Newton’s Works.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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