“His grace can soften the hardest heart” by John Newton

“O praise the Lord with me, for He has done great things for us, and I trust He will do yet more in His own set time, and in His own way, which must be the best.

What shall I say of Old Seventy-Eight? I thank the Lord, my health is remarkably good. I eat, drink, and sleep well. But my sight, hearing, and recollection greatly fail me. I can seldom remember what I saw, heard, or said, but two hours before.

Yet when in the pulpit, I am not often much at a loss. I still preach as long, as loud, as often, as formerly, and my auditory are still willing to hear me. The church was never more thronged, nor the hearers more attentive.

Indeed I am a wonder to many and to myself. I am a stranger to sickness and pain; but there is a cloud over my spirit, a nervous affliction so that though I am mercifully supported, and have some daylight in the path of duty I take but little comfort in anything.

I walk in comparative darkness but I am encouraged, and in some measure enabled, to stay myself in the Lord, and to trust in Him, as my God (Isaiah 50:10).

Perhaps this depression may be owing in part to old age. I often compare myself to Barzillai (2 Samuel 19:31-38), who, when he was but a little older than I, had lost all relish for what is called pleasure.

But, precious Bible, what a treasure!

Blessed be the Lord, I can see that my acceptance, and perseverance, do not depend upon my frames or feelings, but upon the power, compassion, care and faithfulness of Him, who in the midst of all the changes to which we are exposed in this wilderness state, is unchangeably the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

O what a horrid wretch was I when on board the Harwich, on the coast of Africa, and too long afterwards. Surely no one who did not finally perish was ever more apparently given up to a reprobate mind!

I am a singular and striking proof, that the atoning blood of Jesus can cleanse from the most enormous sins, that His grace can soften the hardest heart, subdue the most obstinate habits of evil, and that He is indeed able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Lord I believe, O help me against my unbelief (Mark 9:24). I have been, yea to this day, I am a chief sinner, and yet I am permitted to preach the truth I once laboured to destroy.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 396-397.

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