A Letter From John Newton

‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ are apparently pseudonyms for unnamed persons being referenced in this letter.

“First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear”. Mark 4:28

Dear Sir,

(c) The Cowper and Newton Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationBy way of distinction, I assigned to ‘A’ the characteristic of desire, to ‘B’ that of conflict. I can think of no single word more descriptive of the state of ‘C’ than contemplation. His eminence, in comparison of ‘A’, does not consist in the sensible warmth and fervency of his affections: in this respect many of the most exemplary believers have looked back with a kind of regret upon the time of their espousals, when, though their judgments were but imperfectly formed, and their views of Gospel truths were very indistinct, they felt a fervor of spirit, the remembrance of which is both humbling and refreshing; and yet they cannot recall the same sensations. Nor is he properly distinguished from ‘B’ by a consciousness of his acceptance in the Beloved, and an ability of calling God his Father; for this I have supposed ‘B’ has attained to.

Though, as there is a growth in every grace, ‘C’, having had his views of the Gospel, and of the Lord’s faithfulness and mercy, confirmed by a longer experience, his assurance is of course more stable and more simple, than when he first saw himself safe from all condemnation. Neither has ‘C’, properly speaking, any more strength or stock of grace inherent in himself than ‘B’, or even than ‘A’. He is in the same state of absolute dependence, as incapable of performing spiritual acts, or of resisting temptations by his own power, as he was at the first day of his setting out. Yet in a sense he is much stronger, because he has a more feeling and constant sense of his own weakness. The Lord has been long teaching him this lesson by a train of various dispensations; and through grace he can say, that he has not suffered so many things in vain. His heart has deceived him so often, that he is now in a good measure weaned from trusting to it; and therefore he does not meet with so many disappointments. And having found again and again the vanity of all other helps, he is now taught to go to the Lord at once for “grace to help in every time of need.” Thus he is strong, not in himself, but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

But C’s happiness and superiority to ‘B’ lies chiefly in this, that, by the Lord’s blessing on the use of means—such as prayer, Continue reading

They Still Speak

This morning on my commute into work, I enjoyed the Beams of Heaven album by Indelible Grace Music.  One song in particular rang out to me and I replayed it multiple times.  That song, written by John Newton, is what I would like to share today.  Please take a long time to read the words and meditate on them.  There is so much richness, depth, knowledge and doctrine in this song.  It was written during a very difficult time in John Newtons life and the words reflect that.

 

I Asked The Lord

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

7. “These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

Daily Roundup

God’s Aim In Election, and Our Personal Holiness – After revealing his free electing grace toward sinners like us, what does God intend to do with his children now? What is the aim of our election?  A 6 minute video by Richard Gaffin, Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology (emeritus) at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Five Verses on Adoption – The word “adoption” only occurs a few time in the New Testament.  Look at how it is used.

Your Ministry:  Did You Build That? – An episode of “Moore to the Point Audio” where Russel Moore talks about this question and how we should understand what God is doing in working all things together to shape us for his Kingdom’s sake.

3 Way Civil Union – It was only a matter of time.  Looks like America might be playing catch-up on the issue though.

Five Corrosives to Faith – We don’t typically loose our faith all at once, it is usually a slow slide.

The Highest Beauty – Do we see God’s holiness as beautiful?  We need too.

Christian Competence – The capacity “to do” is a donation from God and the energy we employ emanates from him.  Roger Salter writes a wonderful piece about our abilities being from God.

Quote:

Blessed be God for the news of a better world, where there will be no sin, change, nor defect for ever. And let us praise him, likewise, that He has appointed means of grace and seasons for refreshment here below, for a throne of grace, a precious Bible, and returning ordinances: these are valuable privileges; and so they appear to us when our hearts are in a lively frame. Then everything appears little and worthless, in comparison of communion with God. Oh, for a coal of fire from the heavenly altar to warm our frozen spirits! Oh, for a taste of love and glimpses of glory, that we might mount up as with eagle’s wings! Let us pray for each other. – John Newton

Daily Roundup

A Strange Thirst – Here is some food for thought on what we desire from God.

God’s Amazing Grace Part 3– Charles Quarles looks at the theology behind John Newton’s hymn.

Why The Sovereignty of God is Important – Even in the midst of tragedy, our outlook on God’s sovereignty should be our calm in the midst of the storm.

The Baptist Catechism with Notes by John Piper – Written in 1677, “The Baptist Catechism” was patterned after the Heidelberg and Westminster catechisms to teach Reformed doctrine from a Baptist perspective.  Download it from Desiring God.

All Hail the Power of Chance? – What kind of power does chance actually have?  Here is an interesting perspective.

In What Ways Can The Younger Compromise With The Older in The Local Church? – Brian Croft, as usual, offers up some good advice.

Quote:

Hence we learn how absolutely we are dependent on God in this great matter of the eternal salvation of our souls. We are dependent not only on his wisdom to contrive a way to accomplish it, and on his power to bring it to pass, but we are dependent on his mere will and pleasure in the affair. We depend on the sovereign will of God for every thing belonging to it, from the foundation to the top-stone. It was of the sovereign pleasure of God, that he contrived a way to save any of mankind, and gave us Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, to be our Redeemer. Why did he look on us; and send us a Saviour, and not the fallen angels? It was from the sovereign pleasure of God. It was of his sovereign pleasure what means to appoint. His giving us the Bible, and the ordinances of religion, is of his sovereign grace. His giving those means to us rather than to others, his giving the awakening influences of his Spirit, and his bestowing saving grace, are all of his sovereign pleasure. When he says, “Let there be light in the soul of such an one,” it is a word of infinite power and sovereign grace. – Jonathan Edwards

 

 

Daily Roundup

God’s Amazing Grace Part 2– Charles Quarles looks at the theology behind John Newton’s hymn.

Ligonier’s $5 Friday Sale – Ligonier has a lot of good deals today, one is Steve Larson’s book The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards.  I have read this book and it is very good.  Head on over and check out the deals.

The Man Behind the Curtain – A 22 minute sermon from Charles Roberts from Acts 13:13-33.  This is the Apostle Paul’s first sermon and no less than 16 times, Paul shows the sovereignty of God in history.

Fellowship and Conversation – An article on small group fellowship by Mike Riccardi.

How to Respond to a Complement After a Sermon – Brian Croft offers some more advice to Pastors.  If you are a Pastor, this is a site you should check out frequently as Pastor Croft offers some really good insight.

More Important Than Knowing God – Is there anything in this life more important than knowing God?  Yes there is!

Quote:  Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.  – C H Spurgeon

Daily Roundup

The Journey of Sheep – An interesting insight into how we people are more like sheep than we like to think.

God’s Amazing Grace – Charles Quarles looks at the theology behind John Newton’s hymn.

Preaching the Gospel to Yourself – Just like there is a shelf life on fruit once it is picked from the vine, so it is with us if we don’t stay on The Vine.

The Forgotten Trinity – Dr. James White in a 1 hour teaching series on the Trinity.

An Introduction to the Gospel – A Covenant Theology Primer – Great page from Monergism on Covenant Theology, just in case you don’t know what it is or just want to know more about it.  Also, some good links at the bottom of the page for further study.

1 Corinthians 6 and the Lordship Debate – Good article defining what the debate is and what is at stake.  Even though this debate has been around for 20+ years, it is still relevant.

Quote:

I held my heart back from positively accepting anything, since I was afraid of another fall, and in this condition of suspense I was being all the more killed. – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

On Controversy

Keith Mathison suggest that this letter written by John Newton is one that should read again and again so that we might temper our zeal with wisdom.

A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention. Newton replied as follows:

Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle; but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a great coat of mail; such armor, that you need not complain, as David did of Saul’s, that it will be more cumbersome than useful; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great magazine provided for the Christian soldier, the Word of God. I take it for granted that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method’s sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public, and yourself.

Consider Your Opponent

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. Continue reading