“I am a riddle to myself” by John Newton

“Alas! My dear friend, you know not what a poor, unprofitable, unfaithful creature I am.

So much forgiven, so little love. So many mercies, so few returns.

Such great privileges, and a life so sadly below them. Instead of rejoicing in God, I go mourning for the most part.

Not because I am shaken with doubts and fears; for I believe the Lord Jesus, who found me when I sought Him not, is both able and willing to save to the uttermost.

But because indwelling sin presses me close.

Because, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

Because I can attempt nothing but it is debased, polluted, and spoiled by my depraved nature.

Because my sins of omission are innumerable.

In a word, there is so much darkness in my understanding, perverseness in my will, disorders in my affections, folly and madness in my imagination. Alas! When shall it be otherwise?

I seem to have a desire of walking with God, and rejoicing in Him all the day long; but I cannot attain thereto. Surely it is far better to depart, and to be with Jesus Christ, than to live here up to the ears in sin and temptation.

And yet I seem very well contented with the possibility of continuing here a good while.

In short, I am a riddle to myself; a heap of inconsistency.

But it is said, ‘We have an Advocate with the Father.’ (1 John 2:1)

Here hope revives. Though wretched in myself, I am complete in Him.

He is made of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30)

On this rock I build. I trust it shall be well with me at last, and that I shall by and by praise, and love, and serve Him without these abatements.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 97-98.

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