“A plain honest ploughman” by John Newton

“A critical knowledge of the original languages, a skill in the customs and manners of the ancients, an acquaintance with the Greek and Roman classics, a perusal of councils, fathers, scholiasts, and commentators, a readiness in the subtilties of logical disputation; these, in their proper place and subserviency, may be of considerable use to clear, illustrate, or enforce the doctrines of Scripture.

But unless they are governed by a temper of humility and prayer; unless the man that possesses them accounts them altogether as nothing, without that assistance of the Spirit of God which is promised to guide believers into all truth; unless he seeks and prays for this guidance no less earnestly than those who understand nothing but their mother-tongue; I make no scruple to affirm, that all his apparatus of knowledge only tends to lead him so much the farther astray; and that a plain honest ploughman, who reads no book but his Bible, and has no teacher but the God to whom he prays in secret, stands abundantly fairer for the attainment of true skill in divinity.”

–John Newton, The Works of the Rev. John Newton, Vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1985), p. 329.

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