Subscribe now

Counsel to Gospel Ministers

By John Brown
February 2018 | Review by David Campbell
  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
  • ISBN: 1601785305
  • Price: £7.46
Buy this book »

John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) was one of the great ministers of the Scottish church during a dark period in her history. As a pastor, divinity professor and writer he did much for the spiritual good of his native land. And not only for Scotland — through his writings, his influence extended far beyond Scottish borders and continues to do so to this day.

From 1751 until his death, Brown was minister of a congregation in Haddington belonging to one of the branches of the Secession Church. For the final 20 years of his life, he was also responsible for preparing young men for ministry. For nine weeks each year, these men would gather in Haddington, where Brown would teach them biblical languages, theology, church history and homiletics.

Brown’s deep concern for an able and godly ministry is reflected in this book. It is a compilation of three short, separate works. The first is Letters on gospel preaching (six in number); the second, Letters on the exemplary behaviour of ministers (of which there are ten); and the third, Address to students of divinity, originally appeared as the preface to his Compendious view of natural and revealed religion.

His counsels — as the titles indicate — have to do with a minister’s preaching and lifestyle. Much is said in few words, so the book is best read slowly. All is helpful, though.

For me, what are especially apt are Brown’s counsels on the godliness that should characterise a gospel minister, and the solemn consequences of its absence. Space allows for only one quotation: ‘By unholiness and vice, ministers … are exceedingly hurtful to the church, exposing her ordinances to neglect and contempt.

‘Their bad example spreads far and wide among the people. Their wickedness introduces manifold errors and corruptions into the church. Nothing is more difficult to cure than the heart of an ungodly minister, and their corruptions expose them to the most fearful judgments of the Most High’ (pp. 58-59). This was a word for the eighteenth-century, but no less apposite to the twenty-first.

David Campbell

Preston

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Particular Redemption: The End and Design of the Death of Christ
John Hurrion

This is a reprint of an eighteenth-century work. John Hurrion, a Nonconformist pastor, was one of eight ministers who participated in a series of weekly lectures in London, from November 1730 until April 1731. This book contains the text of…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
All you need to know about the Bible – Book 5
Brian H Edwards

This informative book is a joy to read and of great importance in restoring the confidence of the ordinary Christian in the Word of God. It is one of a set of six short books with the same title, All…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Trinity and the covenant of redemption
J. V. Fesko

Dr Fesko is a professor at Westminster Seminary in California. This Mentor book is the first of a proposed series of three, aimed at retrieving the classic Reformed doctrine of covenants. This project should meet enthusiastic approval, following current debates…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Cornerstones of Salvation
Lee Gatiss

The title of this book quotes a phrase used in the text just three pages from the end. In a chapter examining John Wesley’s campaigns against Calvinism, Dr Gatiss warns that adulation for Wesley, merely on the grounds God used…