“The gospel gives me relief.
When I think of the obedience unto death of Jesus Christ in my nature, as a public person, and in behalf of sinners, then I see the law, which I could not obey, completely fulfilled by Him, and the penalty which I had incurred sustained by Him.
I see Him in proportion to the degree of faith in Him, bearing my sins in His own body upon the tree.
I see God well pleased in Him, and for His sake freely justifying the ungodly. This sight saves me from guilt and fear, removes the obstacles which stood in my way, emboldens my access to the throne of grace, for the influences of His Holy Spirit to subdue my sins, and to make me conformable to my Saviour.
But my hope is built, not upon what I feel in myself, but upon what He felt for me; not upon what I can ever do for Him, but upon what has been done by Him upon my account.
It appears to me becoming the wisdom of God to take such a method of showing His mercy to sinners, as should convince the world, the universe, angels, and men, that His inflexible displeasure against sin, and His regard to the demands of His truth and holiness, must at the same time be equally displayed.
This was effected by bruising His own Son, filling Him with agonies, and delivering Him up to death and the curse of the law, when He appeared as a surety for sinners.
It appears to me, therefore, that, though the blessings of justification and sanctification are coincident, and cannot be separated in the same subject, a believing sinner, yet they are in themselves as distinct and different as any two things can well be.
The one, like life itself, is instantaneous and perfect at once, and takes place the moment the soul is born of God; the other, like the effects of life, growth, and strength, is imperfect and gradual.
The child born today, though weak, and very different from what it will be when its faculties open, and its stature increases, is as truly, and as much, alive as it will ever be. And, if an heir to an estate or a kingdom, has the same right now as it will have when it becomes of age, because this right is derived not from its abilities or stature, but from its birth and parents.
The weakest believer is born of God, and an heir of glory.”
–John Newton, “Letter XIV,” The Works of John Newton, Volume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 247-249.