Encouragement for Gospel Ministers from John Newton
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry. Who was before a blasphemer… but I obtained mercy. 1 Timothy 1:12-13
What a privilege it is to be a believer! They are comparatively few, and we by nature were no nearer than others: it was grace, free grace, that made the difference. What an honor to be a minister of the everlasting gospel! These upon comparison are perhaps fewer still. How wonderful that one of these few should be sought for among the wilds of Africa, reclaimed from the lowest state of impiety and misery, and brought to assure other sinners, from his own experience, that ‘there is, there is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared.’
We are called to an honorable service, but it is arduous. What wisdom does it require to keep the middle path in doctrines, avoiding the equally dangerous errors on the right hand and the left! What steadiness, to speak the truth boldly and faithfully in the midst of a gainsaying world! What humility, to stand against the tide of popularity! What meekness, to endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may be saved! ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ We are not in ourselves, but there is an all-sufficiency in Jesus. Our enemy watches us close; He challenges and desires to have us, that he may sift us as wheat; he knows he can easily shake us if we are left to ourselves; But we have a Shepherd, a Keeper, who never slumbers nor sleeps… When we are prone to wander, he calls us back; When we say, my feet slip, his mercy holds us up; When we are wounded, he heals; when we are ready to faint, he revives. The people of God are sure to meet with enemies, but especially the ministers: Satan bears them a double grudge: the world watches for their halting, and the Lord will suffer them to be afflicted, that they may be kept humble, that they may acquire a sympathy with the suffering of others, that they may be experimentally qualified to advise and help them, and to comfort them with the comforts with which they themselves have been comforted of God.
Cardiphonia: Letters to Rev. Mr. William Bull, 1:590 (taken from Jewels from John Newton, Banner of Truth, 2016)