There has been much discussion over recent years on the subject of the call to the ministry. One recent survey of Christian young men in the UK found that nearly a third of those questioned were confused as to what constitutes a call to the ministry.
With this in mind, the publication of this booklet is very welcome. It contains ‘miscellaneous thoughts’ recorded by John Newton as he considered whether the Lord was calling him to the pastoral ministry.
These thoughts were recorded in the six weeks leading up to his 33rd birthday and were not written with a view to publication. We therefore have a glimpse into Newton’s heart as he wrestled with this subject.
Newton understood what was involved in the work of ministry — he refers to the dignity, difficulty, importance and busyness of the work, and recognised there would be many trials and that much self-denial would be necessary. With these things in mind he carefully examined his motives in considering the ministry.
Newton writes about the necessity of a true call before entering the ministry, and identifies four marks of a call from God: (1) a desire for the glory of God and the salvation of souls; (2) a serious sense of the greatness of the work; (3) a measure of suitable gifts; and (4) direction from God as to what form of denomination the man should be in.
He has some very interesting thoughts on whether or not it is necessary always for a man ‘to have the proof and evidence of his call, made out to the full conviction of his own mind’.
The reader does not have to agree with every detail in order to appreciate the great value of having these thoughts in print. Though a small booklet, it is full of good and helpful things.
The publisher’s introduction is quite right in saying, ‘Read this largely unknown gem for your great encouragement — not least if you should be wondering if John Newton’s God of grace is calling you too to pastoral ministry today’.