Category Archives: Temptation

“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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“My poor prayers” by John Newton

“I sometimes think that the prayers of believers afford a stronger proof of a depraved nature, than even the profaneness of those who know not the Lord.

How strange is it, that when I have the fullest convictions that prayer is not only my duty—not only necessary as the appointed means of receiving those supplies, without which I can do nothing, but likewise the greatest honour and privilege to which I can be admitted in the present life,—I should still find myself so unwilling to engage in it.

However, I think it is not prayer itself that I am weary of, but such prayers as mine. How can it be accounted prayer, when the heart is so little affected,—when it is polluted with such a mixture of vile and vain imaginations,—when I hardly know what I say myself—but I feel my mind collected one minute, the next, my thoughts are gone to the ends of the earth.

If what I express with my lips were written down, and the thoughts which at the same time are passing through my heart were likewise written between the lines, the whole taken together would be such an absurd and incoherent jumble—such a medley of inconsistence, that it might pass for the ravings of a lunatic. When Satan points out to me the wildness of this jargon, and asks, ‘Is this a prayer fit to be presented to the holy heart-searching God?’

I am at a loss what to answer, till it is given me to recollect that I am not under the law, but under grace,—that my hope is to be placed, not in my own prayers, but in the righteousness and intercession of Jesus. The poorer and viler I am in myself, so much the more is the power and riches of His grace magnified in my behalf.

Therefore I must, and, the Lord being my helper, I will pray on, and admire his condescension and love, that He can and does take notice of such a creature,—for the event shows, that those prayers which are even displeasing to myself, partial as I am in my own case, are acceptable to Him, how else should they be answered?

And that I am still permitted to come to a throne of grace,—still supported in my walk and in my work, and that mine enemies have not yet prevailed against me, and triumphed over me, affords a full proof that the Lord has heard and has accepted my poor prayers.

Yea, it is possible, that those very prayers of ours of which we are most ashamed, are the most pleasing to the Lord, and for that reason, because we are ashamed of them. When we are favoured with what we call enlargement, we come away tolerably satisfied with ourselves,and think we have done well.”

–John Newton, Twenty-Five Letters Hitherto Unpublished of the Rev. John Newton, Ed. Robert Jones (Edinburgh: J. Johnstone, Hunter Square, 1847), 110-112. As quoted in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 205.

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“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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“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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“The greatest evil” by C.S. Lewis

“I like bats much better than bureaucrats. I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint.

It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result.

But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business con­cern.”

–C.S. Lewis, “Preface to the 1961 Edition,” in The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1942/1996), xxxvii.

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