“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.