“No tear escapes His notice” by John Newton

“O! Madam, we want nothing but faith in stronger exercise to make us cheerful and comfortable under all the actual and possible changes of this poor life. Have we not a Saviour, a Shepherd full of compassion and tenderness?

If we wish for love in a friend, He has shewn love unspeakable; —He left His glory, assumed our nature, and submitted to shame, poverty, and death, even the death of the cross, that He might save us from sin and misery, and open the kingdom of heaven to us, who were once His enemies.

For He saw and pitied us, when we knew not how to pity ourselves.

If we need a powerful friend, Jesus is almighty: our help is in Him who made heaven and earth, who raises the dead, and hushes the tempest and raging waves into a calm with a word.

If we need a present friend, a help at hand in the hour of trouble, Jesus is always near, about our path by day, and our bed by night; nearer than the light by which we see, or the air we breathe; nearer than we are to ourselves; so that not a thought, a sigh, or a tear, escapes His notice.

Since then His love and His wisdom are infinite, and He has already done so much for us, shall we not trust Him to the end?

His mercies are countless as the sands, and hereafter we shall see cause to count our trials among our chief mercies.

He sees there is a need-be for them, or we should not have them, and He has promised to make all work together for our final good.

For want of time I am writing by candle-light, which my eyes do not much like; but they submit to it, because I am writing to you; yet they hint that I must now desist.

May the Lord bless you all, with all desirable blessings, temporal and spiritual.

So prays now and often,

Your most affectionate and obliged,

John Newton
6th December, 1800”

–John Newton, “Letter LXXIII” in The Aged Pilgrim’s Thoughts Over Sin and the Grave, Illustrated in a Series of Letters to Walter Taylor, Never Before Published, by the Rev. John Newton (London: Baker and Fletcher, 2nd Ed., 1825), 169-170.

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“You have Him” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Owen’s great burden and emphasis in helping us to understand what it means to be a Christian is to say:

Through the work of the Spirit, the heavenly Father gives you to Jesus and gives Jesus to you. You have Him.

Everything you can ever lack is found in Him; all you will ever need is given to you in Him. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.’

For the Father has ‘blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.’

It is as true for the newest, weakest Christian as for the most mature believer: from the first moment of faith, we are fully, finally, irreversibly justified in Christ.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust, 2014), 64-65.

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“To be a Christian” by Sinclair Ferguson

“To be a Christian is, first and foremost, to belong to the triune God and to be named for Him. This is the heart and core of the privileges of the gospel.

Once we were aliens from the family of God, strangers to Christ, without desire or power to please Him. But now, through the Son whom the Father sent into the world to save us, and the Spirit who brings all the resources of Christ to us, we have come to know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

To become a Christian believer is to be brought into a reality far grander than anything we could ever have imagined. It means communion with the triune God.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust, 2014), 28.

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“The greatest privilege any of us can have” by Sinclair Ferguson

“There is nothing in all the world more important to you than these truths:

(1) God is Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a great mystery— because we are not God and we cannot fully understand the sheer, wonderful, glorious mystery of His being. But we can begin to grasp it, and learn to love and adore Him.

(2) If you are a Christian, it is because of the loving thought and action of each person of the Trinity.

The Father, along with the Son and the Spirit, planned it before the foundation of the world; the Son came to pay the price for your redemption and, supported by the Holy Spirit, became obedient to His Father in your place, both in His life and death, to bring you justification before God; and now, by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit sent by both the Father and the Son, you have been brought to faith.

(3) The greatest privilege any of us can have is this: we can know God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can enjoy fellowship— what Owen calls ‘communion’— with God.

This knowledge is as rich, wide, deep, long, and high as are the three persons of God. Knowing Him and having fellowship with Him is an entire world of endless knowledge, trust, love, joy, fellowship, pleasure, and satisfaction.

This is what John Owen wanted Christians to know.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust, 2014), xvii.

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“Who would not love Him” by John Owen

“Who would not love Him? ‘I have been with the Lord Jesus,’ may the poor soul say:

‘I have left my sins, my burden, with Him; and He hath given me His righteousness, wherewith I am going with boldness to God. I was dead, and I am alive; for He died for me.

I was cursed, and I am blessed; for He was made a curse for me.

I was troubled, but I have peace; for the chastisement of my peace was upon Him.

I knew not what to do, nor whither to cause my sorrow to go; by Him have I received joy unspeakable and glorious.

If I do not love Him, delight in Him, obey Him, live to Him, die for Him, I am worse than the devils in hell.'”

–John Owen, Communion With God, The Works of John Owen, Vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1965), 195.

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“The mystery of grace” by Herman Bavinck

“Although knowledge is attainable in theology, this is not true of comprehension. There is substantial difference between ‘being acquainted with,’ ‘knowing,’ and ‘comprehending.’

True, these words are often used interchangeably. But there are demonstrable differences among them. ‘Being acquainted with’ pertains to a thing’s existence, the that; ‘knowing’ concerns a thing’s quality, the what; comprehending relates to its inner possibility, the how of a thing.

There are few things we comprehend; actually we comprehend only the things that are totally in our power, the things we can make or break. I comprehend a machine when I see how it is put together and how it works, and when there is nothing left in it I still think strange.

Comprehension excludes amazement and admiration. I comprehend or think I comprehend the things that are self-evident and perfectly natural. Often comprehension ceases to the degree a person digs deeper into a subject.

That which seemed self-evident proves to be absolutely extraordinary and amazing. The farther a science penetrates its object, the more it approaches mystery.

Even if on its journey it encountered no other object it would still always be faced with the mystery of being. Where comprehension ceases, however, there remains room for knowledge and wonder.

And so things stand in theology. Disclosed to us in revelation is ‘the mystery of our religion’: the mystery of God’s grace [1 Tim. 3:16].

We see it; it comes out to meet us as a reality in history and in our own life. But we do not fathom it.

In that sense Christian theology always has to do with mysteries that it knows and marvels at but does not comprehend and fathom.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), Vol. 1: 619.

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“Let us trust our Physician” by John Newton

“If the Lord is pleased to sanctify the infirmities to which our present mortal frame is subject, we shall have cause to praise Him at least, no less for the bitter than the sweet.

I am convinced in my judgment, that a cross or a pinch somewhere or other, is so necessary to us, that we cannot go on well for a considerable time without one.

We live on an enchanted ground, are surrounded with snares, and if not quickened by trials, are very prone to sink into formality or carelessness. It is a shame it should be so, but so it is, that a long course of prosperity always makes us drowsy.

Trials therefore are medicines, which our gracious and wise Physician prescribes, because we need them; and He proportions the frequency and the weight of them to what the case requires.

Many of His people are sharply exercised by poverty, which is a continual trial every day, and all the year round. Others have trials in their families.

They who have comfortable firesides, and a competence for this world, often suffer by sickness, either in their own persons, or in the persons of those they love.

But any, or all of these crosses, are mercies, if the Lord works by them to prevent us from cleaving to the world, from backsliding in heart or life, and to keep us nearer to Himself.

Let us trust our Physician, and He will surely do us good. And let us thank Him for all His prescriptions, for without them our soul-sickness would quickly grow upon us.”

–John Newton, The Aged Pilgrim’s Thoughts Over Sin and the Grave, Illustrated in a Series of Letters to Walter Taylor, Never Before Published, by the Rev. John Newton (London: Baker and Fletcher, 1825), 33-34.

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