Category Archives: John Newton

“Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works” by John Newton

“There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only shewing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.

I readily believe that the leading points of Arminianism spring from, and are nourished by, the pride of the human heart; but I should be glad if the reverse was always true; and that to embrace what are called the Calvinistic doctrines was an infallible token of a humble mind.

I think I have known some Arminians—that is, persons who, for want of clearer light, have been afraid of receiving the doctrines of free grace—who yet have given evidence that their hearts were in a degree humbled before the Lord.

And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility that they are willing in words to debase the creature, and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of.

Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.

Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines, as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.

Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments.

Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress this wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.

I hope your performance will savour of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.”

–John Newton, “Letter XIX: On Controversy,” The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 1: 272-273.

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“He deserves our all, for He parted with all for us” by John Newton

“Our relief lies in the wisdom and sovereignty of God. He reveals His salvation to whom He pleases, for the most part to babes; from the bulk of the wise and the prudent it is hidden.

Thus it hath pleased Him, and therefore it must be right. Yea, He will one day condescend to justify the propriety and equity of His proceedings to His creatures; then every mouth will be stopped, and none will be able to reply against their Judge.

Light is come into the world, but men prefer darkness. They hate the light, resist it, and rebel against it. It is true, all do so; and therefore, if all were to perish under the condemnation, their ruin would be their own act.

It is of grace that any are saved; and in the distribution of that grace, He does what He will with His own: a right which most are ready enough to claim in their own concerns, though they are so unwilling to allow it to the Lord of all. Many perplexing and acrimonious disputes have been started upon this subject.

But the redeemed of the Lord are called not to dispute, but to admire and rejoice, to love, adore, and obey. To know that He loved us, and gave Himself for us, is the constraining argument and motive to love Him, and surrender ourselves to Him; to consider ourselves as no longer our own, but to devote ourselves, with every faculty, power, and talent, to His service and glory.

He deserves our all; for He parted with all for us. He made himself poor, he endured shame, torture, death, and the curse, for us, that we, through Him, might inherit everlasting life.

Ah! the hardness of my heart, that I am no more affected, astonished, overpowered, with this thought!”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 1: 485-486.

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“I am a riddle to myself; a heap of inconsistence” by John Newton

“In short, I am a riddle to myself; a heap of inconsistence.

But it is said, ‘We have an Advocate with the Father.’ (1 John 2:1)

Here hope revives; though wretched in myself, I am complete in him.

He is made of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30) On this rock I build.

I trust it shall be well with me at last, and that I shall by and by praise, and love, and serve him without these abatements.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 98.

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“Prone as I am to wander, He keeps me from wandering quite away” by John Newton

“One trial abides with me: a body of sin and death, an inward principle of evil, which renders all I do defective and defiled.

But even here I find cause for thankfulness, for with such a heart as I have, my sad story would soon be much worse if the Lord were not my keeper.

By this I may know that He favours me, since weak and variable as I am in myself, and powerful and numerous as my enemies are, they have not yet prevailed against me.

And I am admitted to a throne of grace, I have an Advocate with the Father. And such is the power, care, and compassion of my great Shepherd that, prone as I am to wander, He keeps me from wandering quite away.

When I am wounded, He heals me.

When I faint, He revives me again.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 170.

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“Though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever” by John Newton

“As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing.

This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab, concerning Absalom, are very applicable: ‘Deal gently with him for my sake.’ (2 Samuel 18:5)

The Lord loves him and bears with him. Therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly.

The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.

In a little while you will meet in heaven. He will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now.

Anticipate that period in your thoughts. And though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 1: 268-269.

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“We may be satisfied that our constitution of church order is the very best in the world, and yet be lamentably cold in the feelings of our hearts towards Him” by John Newton

“I hope your soul prospers. That is, I hope you are less and less in your own eyes and that your heart is more and more impressed with a sense of the glory and grace of our Lord.

Oh, with what emotions of shame and grief, or wonder, love, and joy should we look first at ourselves and then at Him. We may be very orthodox, skilled in defence of the five points, satisfied that our constitution of church order is the very best in the world, and yet be lamentably cold and formal in the feelings of our hearts towards Him.

Indeed the Congregationalists and Baptists, who are both equally satisfied that they possess the perfect model of the tabernacle to a single loop or pin, need a double portion of grace to prevent their over admiring the supposed excellency of their forms.

There are a few of them however who know that the best forms are but forms still and remember that the Lord abhorred His most express and positive institutions, when the worshippers rested in them. They are sensisible that the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power, that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth ANY THING but a new creature (Galatians 6:15).

And are therefore hungering, thirsting, and pressing after the substance, life, and unction of the truth, that it may influence their whole spirit and conduct, fill them with humility, love, benevolence and peace, and subdue every angry and selfish temper.

I hope you are of the number of these.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 128.

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“I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour” by John Newton

“Near the end, William Jay visited his friend Newton, who was then barely able to speak.

But Newton said: ‘My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.'”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 401.

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