Category Archives: Sin

“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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“You can make him do nothing at all for long periods” by C.S. Lewis

“This dim uneasiness needs careful handling. If it gets too strong it may wake him up and spoil the whole game. On the other hand, if you suppress it entirely—which, by the by, the Enemy will probably not allow you to do—we lose an element in the situation which can be turned to good account.

If such a feeling is allowed to live, but not allowed to become irresistible and flower into real repentance, it has one invaluable tendency. It increases the patient’s reluctance to think about the Enemy. All humans at nearly all times have some such reluctance; but when thinking of Him involves facing and intensifying a whole vague cloud of half-conscious guilt, this reluctance is increased tenfold.

They hate every idea that suggests Him, just as men in financial embarrassment hate the very sight of a pass-book. In this state your patient will not omit, but he will increasingly dislike, his religious duties. He will think about them as little as he feels he decently can beforehand, and forget them as soon as possible when they are over.

A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.

As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention.

You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him.

You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.’

The Christians describe the Enemy as one ‘without whom Nothing is strong.’ And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.

It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,

Your affectionate uncle,

SCREWTAPE”

–C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillian, 1950), 62-65.

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“Every sin strikes at the honor of God” by Thomas Brooks

“Every sin strikes at the honor of God, the being of God, the glory of God, the heart of Christ, the joy of the Spirit, and the peace of a man’s conscience.

Therefore a soul truly penitent strikes at all sin, hates all sin, conflicts with all sin, and will labour to draw strength from a crucified Christ to crucify all sin.”

–Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices,” The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 33.

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“I know” by John Newton

“I know Jesus died for sinners. I know I am a sinner.

I know He invites them that are ready to perish. I am such a one.

I know, upon His own invitation, I have committed myself to Him.

And I know, by the effects, that He has been with me hitherto, otherwise I should have been an apostate long ago.

And therefore I know that He died for me. For had He been pleased to kill me (as he justly might have done), He would not have shewn me such things as these…

I know that I am a child, because He teaches me to say, ‘Abba, Father.’

I know that I am His, because He has enabled me to choose Him for mine. For such a choice and desire could never have taken place in my heart, if He had not placed it there Himself.

By nature I was too blind to know Him, too proud to trust Him, too obstinate to serve Him, too base-minded to love Him.

The enmity I was filled with against His government, His righteousness, and His grace, was too strong to be subdued by any power but His own.

The love I bear Him is but a faint and feeble spark, but it is an emanation from Himself. He kindled it, and He keeps it alive.

And because it is His work, I trust many waters shall not quench it.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Volume 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 643-644. As quoted in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 235.

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“The firmament of Scripture” by John Newton

“When we pray for increase of faith and grace, and that we may have stronger proofs of our own sincerity, and of the Lord’s faithfulness and care, we do, but in other words, pray for affliction.

He is best known and noticed in the time of trouble, as a present and all-sufficient help. How grand and magnificent is the arch over our heads in a starry night! But if it were always day, the stars could not be seen.

The firmament of Scripture, if I may so speak, is spangled with exceeding great and precious promises, as the sky is with stars, but the value and beauty of many of them are only perceptible to us in the night of affliction…

Oh! For grace to be always ready, always watching, with our loins girded up, and our lamps burning. Then we may cheerfully leave the when, the how, and the where to Him, of whose kind care and attention we have had so many proofs hitherto.

He will be our Guide and our Guard even unto death, and beyond it.

John Newton
25th September 1797″

–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), 135-136. As quoted in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 189.

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“Everything is needful that He sends” by John Newton

“All shall work together for good: everything is needful that He sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 2: 147.

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“In Jesus alone is my everything” by John Newton

“If I am saved, (I trust I shall) it will be freely and absolutely, in a way of sovereignty; with a notwithstanding to a thousand things which should seem, humanly speaking, to make salvation next door to impossible.

But when I am beaten from every thing else, it still remains true that Christ has died, that He now lives and reigns, that He is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25), and that He has said, ‘Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6:37).

In NO WISE and to the UTTERMOST are great words, they have an extensive signification, and take in all varieties of cases, characters, and circumstances. Upon such unlimited sovereign promises, I cast my anchor, and they hold me, otherwise I should be the sport of winds and waves.

Dr. Watts’ motto shall be mine, it is big enough for him, me, you, and for thousands that approve it, ‘In uno Jesu omnia‘ [In Jesus alone is my everything].

In Him I have an offering, an altar, a temple, a priest, a sun, a shield, a saviour, a shepherd, a hiding place, a resting place, food, medicine, riches, honour, wisdom, righteousness, holiness, in short, everything.

The paper would not contain an inventory of the blessings, and treasures, the unsearchable, inexhaustible blessings and treasures which are hidden in Him, and communicated by Him to poor sinners who believe in His name.

But though I am, I trust, an heir, I am as yet a minor, and in my actual experience, am too often more like a servant than a son (Galatians 4:31).

But there is a time appointed of the Father. I hope one day to be of age, and to come to the full enjoyment of my boundless inheritance.”

–John Newton, One Hundred and Twenty-Nine Letters from the Rev. John Newton to Josiah Bull, Ed. William Bull (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1847), 191-192. This letter was written on February 21, 1784. As quoted in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 228.

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