Category Archives: John Newton

“There is one political maxim which comforts me: ‘The Lord reigns'” by John Newton

“O what a Shepherd! Let us love, and sing, and wonder.

I hope the good people at Bristol, and everywhere else, are praying for our sinful, distracted land, in this dark day. The Lord is angry, the sword is drawn, and I am afraid nothing but the spirit of wrestling prayer can prevail for the returning it into the scabbard.

Could things have proceeded to these extremities, except the Lord had withdrawn His salutary blessing from both sides? It is a time of prayer.

We see the beginning of trouble, but who can foresee the possible consequences? The fire is kindled; but how far it may spread, those who are above may perhaps know better than we.

I meddle not with the disputes of party, nor concern myself with any political maxims, but such as are laid down in Scripture. There I read that righteousness exalteth a nation, and that sin is the reproach, and, if persisted in, the ruin of any people.

Some people are startled at the enormous sum of our national debt: they who understand spiritual arithmetic may be well startled if they sit down and compute the debt of national sin.

Imprimis, Infidelity: Item, Contempt of the Gospel: Item, The profligacy of manners: Item, Perjury: Item, The cry of blood, the blood of thousands, perhaps millions, from the East Indies.

It would take sheets, yea quires (i.e. 25 sheets of paper), to draw out the particulars under each of these heads, and then much would remain untold. What can we answer, when the Lord saith, ‘Shall not I visit for these things? Shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?’

Since we received the news of the first hostilities in America, we have had an additional prayer-meeting. Could I hear that professors in general, instead of wasting their breath in censuring men and measures, were plying the Throne of Grace, I should still hope for a respite.

Poor New England! Once the glory of the earth, now likely to be visited with fire and sword. They have left their first love, and the Lord is sorely contending with them.

Yet surely their sins as a people are not to be compared with ours. I am just so much affected with these things as to know, that I am not affected enough.

Oh! My spirit is sadly cold and insensible, or I should lay them to heart in a different manner: yet I endeavour to give the alarm as far as I can.

There is one political maxim which comforts me: ‘The Lord reigns.’ His hand guides the storm; and He knows them that are His, how to protect, support, and deliver them.

He will take care of His own cause; yea, He will extend His kingdom, even by these formidable methods.

Men have one thing in view; He has another, and His counsel shall stand.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 2; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 2: 85-87. This quote is from a letter concerning America written by Newton in August 1775.

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“He is the sun of their souls” by John Newton

“The Lord, by His Spirit, manifests and confirms His love to His people. For this purpose He meets them at His throne of grace, and in His ordinances.

There He makes Himself known unto them, as He does not unto the world. There He causes His goodness to pass before them, and opens, applies, and seals to them, His exceeding great and precious promises, and He gives them the Spirit of adoption, whereby, unworthy as they are, they are enabled to cry ‘Abba, Father.’

He causes them to understand that great love wherewith He has loved them, in redeeming them by price and by power, washing them from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, recovering them from the dominion of Satan, and preparing for them an everlasting kingdom, where they shall see His face, and rejoice in His glory.

The knowledge of this, His love to them, produces a return of love from them to Him. They adore Him, and admire Him. They make an unreserved surrender of their hearts to Him. They view Him and delight in Him, as their God, their Saviour, and their portion.

They account His favour better than life. He is the sun of their souls: if He is pleased to shine upon them, all is well, and they are not greatly careful about other things.

But if He hides His face, the smiles of the whole creation can afford them no solid comfort.

They esteem one day or hour spent in the delightful contemplation of His glorious excellencies, and in the expression of their desires towards Him, better than a thousand. And when their love is most fervent, they are ashamed that it is so faint, and chide and bemoan themselves that they can love Him no more.

This often makes them long to depart, willing to leave their dearest earthly comforts, that they may see Him as He is, without a veil or cloud.

For they know that then, and not till then, they shall love Him as they ought.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 1; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 309–310.

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“He will keep me to the end” by John Newton

“I am still supported, and in some measure owned, in the pleasing service of preaching the glorious Gospel to my fellow-sinners. And I am still happy in an affectionate, united people.

Many have been removed to a better world, but others have been added to us so that I believe our numbers have been increased, rather than diminished from year to year. But most of our old experienced believers have finished their course, and entered into their rest.

Some such we had, who were highly exemplary and useful ornaments to their profession, and very helpful to the young of the flock. We miss them. But the Lord, who has the fulness of the Spirit, is, I hope, bringing others forward to supply their places.

We have to sing of abounding grace, and at the same time to mourn over the aboundings of sin, for too many in this neighbourhood have resisted convictions so long, that I am afraid the Lord has given them up to hardness of heart.

They are either obstinately determined to hear no more, or sit quietly under the preaching, and seem to be sermon-proof. Yet I hope and pray for a day of power in favour of some who have hitherto heard in vain.

Blessed be God, we are not without some seasons of refreshment, when a sense of His gracious presence makes the ordinances sweet and precious. Many miracles He has wrought among us in the twelve years I have been here.

The blind see, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, and the dead are raised to spiritual life. Pray for us, that His arm may be revealed in the midst of us.

As to myself, I have had much experience of the deceitfulness of my heart, much warfare on account of the remaining principle of in-dwelling sin. Without this experience I should not have known so much of the wisdom, power, grace, and compassion of Jesus.

I have good reason to commend Him to others, as a faithful Shepherd, an infallible Physician, an unchangeable Friend. I have found Him such.

Had He not been with me, and were He not mighty to forgive and deliver, I had long ago been trodden down like mire in the streets. He has wonderfully preserved me in my outward walk, so that they who have watched for my halting have been disappointed.

But He alone knows the innumerable backslidings, and the great perverseness of my heart. It is of His grace and mercy that I am what I am: having obtained help of Him, I continue to this day.

And He enables me to believe that He will keep me to the end, and that then I shall be with Him forever.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton (Vol. 6; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6: 54-55.

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“The whole Scripture” by John Newton

“I agree with you, that some accounted evangelical teachers have too much confined themselves to a few leading and favourite topics. I think this a fault, and I believe when it is constantly so the auditories are deprived of much edification and pleasure, which they might receive from a more judicious and comprehensive plan.

The whole Scripture, as it consists of histories, prophecies, doctrines, precepts, promises, exhortations, admonitions, encouragements, and reproofs, is the proper subject of the Gospel ministry.

And every part should in its place and course be attended to, yet so as that, in every compartment we exhibit, Jesus should be the capital figure, in whom the prophecies are fulfilled and the promises established, to whom, in a way of type and emblem, the most important parts of Scripture history have an express reference, and from whom alone we can receive that life, strength, and encouragement, which are necessary to make obedience either pleasing or practicable.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 275.

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“You shall not wait in vain” by John Newton

“Though our sins have been deep-dyed, like scarlet and crimson, enormous as mountains, and countless as the sands, the sum total is, but, Sin has abounded. But where sin hath abounded, grace has much more abounded.

After all, I know the Lord keeps the key of comfort in His own hands, yet He has commanded us to attempt comforting one another. I should rejoice to be His instrument of administering comfort to you.

I shall hope to hear from you soon, and that you will then be able to inform me He has restored to you the joys of His salvation. But if not yet, wait for Him, and you shall not wait in vain.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 288.

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“A Christian’s growth” by John Newton

“A Christian is not of hasty growth, like a mushroom, but rather like the oak, the progress of which is hardly perceptible, but in time becomes a great deep-rooted tree.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 285.

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“Will He receive me?” by John Newton

“I am a sinner, therefore I need a Saviour, one who is able and willing to save to the uttermost. Such a one is Jesus. He is all that I want: wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

But will He receive me? Can I answer a previous question? Am I willing to receive Him? If so, and if His word may be taken, if He meant what He said, and promised no more than He can perform, I may be sure of a welcome.

He knew, long before, the doubts, fears, and suspicions which would arise in my mind when I should come to know what I am, what I have done, and what I have deserved. And therefore He declared, before He left the earth, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’

I have no money or price in my hand, no worthiness to recommend me. And I need none, for He saveth freely for His own name’s sake. I have only to be thankful for what He has already shewn me, and to wait upon Him for more.

It is my part to commit myself to Him as the Physician of sin-sick souls, not to prescribe to Him how He shall treat me. To begin, to carry on, and to perfect the cure, is His part.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 284-285.

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