Category Archives: John Newton

“The storm is guided by the hands which were nailed to the cross” by John Newton

“Public affairs look darker still. Expectation is on tiptoe waiting for hourly news from all parts of the world but foreboding that the news, whenever it comes or from whatever quarter, will be distressing.

I am afraid what we next hear from America will not be pleasing. That unhappy country is still likely to be a scene of desolation and our people there likely to sink under the weight of pretended successes.

In the West Indies, Tobago is gone, and perhaps by this time some other of our islands. And the cry of oppression in the East Indies seems at length to have awakened judgment there.

Yet the spirit of the nation seems like that of the thoughtless mariner, asleep on the top of the mast, regardless of the danger every moment increasing.

Yet still I hope there is mercy. The gospel spreads, grace reigns, the number of praying souls is on the increase, and their prayers I trust will be heard.

We are sure that the Lord reigns; that the storm is guided by the hands which were nailed to the cross, and that as He loves His own, He will take care of them.

But they who have not an ark to hide themselves in will probably weep and wail before the indignation be over-past.

Blessed be God for a land of peace where sin and every sorrow will be excluded.”

–John Newton, as quoted in Josiah Bull, Memorials of the Rev. William Bull, of Newport Pagnel: 1738-1814, (London: James Nisbet and Company, 1864), 88-89. This letter was written in April 1781.

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“From the manger to the cross” by John Newton

“Oh, for a sight of the King; and, oh, to hear Him speak; for His voice is music, and His person is beauty!

When He says, Remember me, and the heart hears, what a train of incidents is at once revived!—from the manger to the cross, what He said, what He did, how He lived, how He loved, how He died; all is marvelous, affecting, humbling, transporting!

I think I know what I would be, and what I would do too if I could. How near would I get, how low would I fall, how would I weep and sing in a breath; and with what solemn earnestness would I recommend Him to my fellow-sinners.

But, alas, when I would do good, evil is present with me. Pray for me, and help me likewise to praise the Lord; for His mercies are new every morning, and every moment.

I am your affectionate,

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6: 341–342. This letter was written on December 3, 1780.

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“The cross of Jesus Christ” by John Newton

“Dear Sir,

I have procured Cennick’s sermons;—they are in my judgment sound and sweet. O that you and I had a double portion of that spirit and unction which is in them!

Come, let us not despair: the fountain is as full and as free as ever—precious fountain, ever flowing with blood and water, milk and wine.

This is the stream that heals the wounded, refreshes the weary, satisfies the hungry, strengthens the weak, and confirms the strong: it opens the eyes of the blind, softens the heart of stone, teaches the dumb to sing, and enables the lame and paralytic to walk, to leap, to run, to fly, to mount up with eagle’s wings: a taste of this stream raises earth to heaven, and brings down heaven upon earth.

Nor is it a fountain only; it is a universal blessing, and assumes a variety of shapes to suit itself to our wants.

It is a sun, a shield, a garment, a shade, a banner, a refuge: it is bread, the true bread, the very staff of life: it is life itself, immortal, eternal life!

The cross of Jesus Christ, my Lord,
Is food and medicine, shield and sword.

Take that for your motto; wear it in your heart; keep it in your eye; have it often in your mouth, till you can find something better.

The cross of Christ is the tree of life and the tree of knowledge combined. Blessed be God!

There is neither prohibition nor flaming sword to keep us back; but it stands like a tree by the highway side, which affords its shade to every passenger without distinction.

Watch and pray. We live in a sifting time: error gains ground every day. May the name and love of our Saviour Jesus keep us and all his people! Either write or come very soon.

Yours,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter IV – January 10, 1760” in The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 67–68.

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“Reading and studying the Bible” by John Newton

“I know not a better rule of reading the Scripture, than to read it through from beginning to end; and, when we have finished it once, to begin it again.

We shall meet with many passages which we can make little improvement of, but not so many in the second reading as in the first, and fewer in the third than in the second: provided we pray to Him who has the keys to open our understandings, and to anoint our eyes with His spiritual ointment.

The course of reading today will prepare some lights for what we shall read tomorrow, and throw a farther light upon what we read yesterday. Experience only can prove the advantage of this method, if steadily persevered in.

To make a few efforts and then give up, is like making a few steps and then standing still, which would do little towards completing a long journey.

But, though a person walked slowly, and but a little way in a day, if he walked every day, and with his face always in the same direction, year after year, he might in time encompass the globe.

By thus travelling patiently and steadily through the Scripture, and repeating our progress, we should increase in knowledge to the end of life.

The Old and New Testament, the doctrines, precepts, and promises, the history, the examples, admonitions, and warnings would mutually illustrate and strengthen each other, and nothing that is written for our instruction would be overlooked.

Happy should I be, could I fully follow the advice I am now offering to you. I wish you may profit by my experience.

Alas, how much time have I lost and wasted, which, had I been wise, I should have devoted to reading and studying the Bible!

But my evil heart obstructs the dictates of my judgment, I often feel a reluctance to read this Book of books, and a disposition to hew out broken cisterns which afford me no water, while the fountain of living waters are close within my reach.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 6; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 418–419.

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“The blessed privilege of prayer” by John Newton

“How little does the world know of that intercourse which is carried on between heaven and earth; what petitions are daily presented, and what answers are received at a throne of grace!

O the blessed privilege of prayer! O the wonderful love, care, attention, and power of our great Shepherd! His eye is always upon us.

When our spirits are almost overwhelmed within us, He knoweth our path. His ear is always open to us: let who will overlook and disappoint us, He will not.

When means and hope fail, when every thing looks dark upon us, when we seem shut up on every side, when we are brought to the lowest ebb, still our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

To Him all things are possible; and before the exertion of His power, when He is pleased to arise and work, all hindrances give way and vanish, like a mist before the sun.

And He can so manifest Himself to the soul, and cause His goodness to pass before it, that the hour of affliction shall be the golden hour of the greatest consolation.

He is the fountain of life, strength, grace and comfort, and of His fulness His children receive according to their occasions: but this is all hidden from the world.

They have no guide in prosperity, but hurry on as they are instigated by their blinded passions, and are perpetually multiplying mischiefs and miseries to themselves.

And in adversity they have no resource, but must feel all the evil of affliction, without inward support, and without deriving any advantage from it.

We have therefore cause for continual praise. The Lord has given us to know His name as a resting-place and a hiding-place, a sun and a shield.

Circumstances and creatures may change; but He will be an unchangeable friend. The way is rough, but He trod it before us, and is now with us in every step we take; and every step brings us nearer to our heavenly home.

Our inheritance is surely reserved for us, and we shall be kept for it by His power through faith.

Our present strength is small, and without a fresh supply would be quickly exhausted; but He has engaged to renew it from day to day. And He will soon appear to wipe all tears from our eyes; and then we shall appear with Him in glory.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Volume 2 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 2: 182-183.

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“A minister needs to be a jack of all trades” by John Newton

“Give my love to Mr. ****. He has desired a good work; may the Lord give him the desires of his heart.

May he give him the wisdom of Daniel, the meekness of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the zeal of Paul, and that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt when they not only had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear, but saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes.

May he be taught of God, (none teacheth like Him,) and come forth an able minister of the New Testament, well instructed rightly to divide and faithfully to distribute the word of truth.

In the school of Christ, (especially if the Lord designs him to be a teacher of others,) he will be put to learn some lessons not very pleasant to flesh and blood: he must learn to run, to fight, to wrestle, and many other exercises, some of which will try his strength, and others his patience.

You know the common expression of a jack of all trades. I am sure a minister had need be such an one: a soldier, a watchman, a shepherd, a husbandman, a builder, a planter, a physician, and a nurse.

But let him not be discouraged. He has a wonderful and a gracious Master, who can not only give instructions, but power, and engages that His grace shall be sufficient, at all times and in all circumstances, for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.

I am sincerely yours’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter XVIII (August 13, 1773)” in The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6. Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6:102–103.

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“I live by miracle” by John Newton

“I would tell you how it is with me if I could; at the best, it would be an inconsistent account. I am what I would not, and would what I cannot.

I rejoice and mourn; I stand fast, and am thrown down in the same moment.

I am both rich and poor; I can do nothing, yet I can do all things. I live by miracle.

I am opposed beyond my strength, yet I am not overpowered. I gain when I lose, and I often am a loser by my gains.

In a word, I am a sinner, a vile one; but a sinner believing in the name of Jesus.

I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd; I am a dull scholar, but I have a Master who can make the dullest learn.

He still bears with me, He still employs me, He still enables me, He still owns me. Oh, for a coal of heavenly fire to warm my heart, that I might praise Him as I ought!

As a people, we have much cause of complaint in ourselves, and much cause of thankfulness to Him. In the main, I hope we are alive, though not as we could wish; our numbers rather increase from year to year, and some flourish.

In the ordinances, we are favoured in a measure with His presence. But, oh, for a day of His power; that His work may run broader and deeper, and the fire of grace spread from heart to heart, till the whole town be in a flame!

To this I hope you will give a hearty Amen, and often remember us in your prayers.

I am, sincerely your’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter XIX – August 29, 1774” in The Works of John Newton, Volume 6, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6: 104-105.

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