Category Archives: Providence

“The old weather-beaten Christian” by John Newton

“I am almost continually a burden to myself, and find such a difference between what I seem to be in the pulpit and in public, and what I really feel myself to be before the Lord, that I am often amazed and confounded.

And was it not that the Lord has been pleased in some measure to establish me in the knowledge of my justifying righteousness, and the unalterable security of His covenant of grace, I should be ready to give all up.

I am kept at a great distance from the full possession of my privileges; but, through mercy, the evils I feel are confined within myself; the Lord keeps me from stumbling outwardly, and does not suffer Satan to distress me with those grievous temptations which he has always in readiness when permitted.

I trust my hope is founded upon a rock, and that He to whom I have been enabled to commit my soul, will keep it to the end. Yet surely I am a wonder to myself.

Exercises of mind are common to all who know any thing of themselves, and have some just views of their obligations to redeeming love.

But those who preach to others must expect a double portion of trials. We need them in order to keep us humble, upon which, as a means, our success and comfort especially depend.

We need them that we may know how to speak a word in season to weary souls.

Innumerable are the trials, fears, complaints, and temptations which the Lord’s people are beset with; some in one way, some in another: the minister must, as it were, have a taste of all, or it might happen a case might come before him to which he had nothing to say.

And we need them likewise to bring our hard hearts into a feeling disposition and sympathy with those who suffer, otherwise we should be too busy or too happy to attend unto their moans.

Surely much of that hasty and censorious spirit, too often observable in young converts, arises from their having, as yet, a very imperfect acquaintance with the deceitfulness of their own hearts.

But, the old weather-beaten Christian, who has learnt by sorrowful experience how weak he is in himself, and what powerful subtle enemies he has to grapple with, acquires a tenderness in dealing with bruises and broken bones, which greatly conduces to his acceptance and usefulness.

I desire, therefore, to be resigned and thankful, and to give myself up to the Lord to lead me in whatever way He sees best.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 129-130.

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“I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd” by John Newton

“Many splendid houses are dungeons with respect to spiritual light.

A believer could not bear the thoughts of living in any situation, unless he enjoyed the light of the Sun of Righteousness; and with this any situation is tolerable.

You know the value of this light; and you are favoured with it. Therefore I doubt not your house is a good one.

May you enjoy it more and more, and now you are withdrawn from the noise of the town, and (as I suppose) in some measure from the hurry of business, may your leisure be sanctified, and a sense of the Lord’s presence brighten every hour of your future life.

And may you dwell, as Jacob lodged for one night, at the gate of heaven, till the appointed moment when the gate shall open and let you in, to be forever with the Lord.

In the mean time, you are happy that the Lord has favoured you with many opportunities and advantages of promoting His glory, and the good of His people, and given you a heart to improve them.

I would tell you how it is with me if I could; at the best, it would be an inconsistent account.

I am what I would not, and would what I cannot.

I rejoice and mourn; I stand fast, and am thrown down in the same moment.

I am both rich and poor; I can do nothing, yet I can do all things. I live by miracle.

I am opposed beyond my strength, yet I am not overpowered. I gain when I lose, and I often am a loser by my gains.

In a word, I am a sinner, a vile one; but a sinner believing in the name of Jesus.

I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd.

I am a dull scholar, but I have a Master who can make the dullest learn.

He still bears with me, He still employs me, He still enables me, He still owns me.

Oh, for a coal of heavenly fire to warm my heart, that I might praise Him as I ought!

As a people, we have much cause of complaint in ourselves, and much cause of thankfulness to Him.

In the main, I hope we are alive, though not as we could wish; our numbers rather increase from year to year, and some flourish. In the ordinances, we are favoured in a measure with his presence.

But, oh, for a day of His power; that His work may run broader and deeper, and the fire of grace spread from heart to heart, till the whole town be in a flame!

To this I hope you will give a hearty Amen, and often remember us in your prayers.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 104-105.

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“A glorious endless state of happiness and holiness” by John Newton

“I often think of you, and I think of you as burdened, but I know there is a might arm near to support you, and to sanctify all your trials.

The Lord will do you good by them, both as a Christian, and as a minister. When the shepherd is much exercised it is usually well for the flock (2 Cor. 1:3-6).

And some of our afflictions perhaps befall us for the sake of our people, that we may be reminded and enabled to speak their feelings, by what we feel ourselves.

In this way the tongue of the learned is acquired and skill to speak a word in season to the weary (Isa. 50:4).

Settle it in your heart, my friend, that the Lord does all things well, all for the best.

Believe it now, and in due time you shall plainly see it, and praise Him equally for giving and taking away (Job 1:21).

Time is short and the nature of our employment while it lasts, is well suited to raise our thoughts above the little concerns of such a life as this, to fill us with great ideas, to inspire with great aims, to animate us with great prospects:

The love of Christ; the worth of souls, the honour of being instrumental in their recovery; a glorious endless state of happiness and holiness.

How light must our present sufferings appear, when weighed in the scales of the Sanctuary against these things.

‘Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.’ (Galatians 6:9)”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 192.

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“The Lamb upon the throne” by John Newton

“The Lord reigns; our Lord who so loved us, as to wash us from our sins in His own blood. (Revelation 1:5)

The Lamb once upon the cross is now the Lamb upon the throne. (Revelation 5:6, 13)

With infinite wisdom, love, and power on our side we may rejoice. The sea is rough and stormy, but the pilot is infallible.

See Psalm 46, 76, and 93.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 386.

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“Grace has long and strong arms” by John Newton

“Grace has long and strong arms.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 364.

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“We must be content to do what we can” by John Newton

“When it is impracticable to do all that we wish, we must be content to do what we can (Mark 14:8), and wait till the Lord by His providence clears the way for doing more.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 328.

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“Exceedingly great and precious promises” by John Bunyan

“O how excellent are the Scriptures to thy soul! O how much virtue dost thou see in such a promise, in such an invitation!

They are so large as to say, Christ will in no wise cast me out! (John 6:37) My crimson sins shall be white as snow!

I tell thee, friend, there are some promises that the Lord hath helped me to lay hold of Jesus Christ through and by, that I would not have out of the Bible for as much gold and silver as can lie between York and London piled up to the stars; because through them Christ is pleased by his Spirit to convey comfort to my soul.

I say, when the law curses, when the devil tempts, when hell-fire flames in my conscience, my sins with the guilt of them tearing of me, then is Christ revealed so sweetly to my poor soul through the promises that all is forced to fly and leave off to accuse my soul.

So also, when the world frowns, when the enemies rage and threaten to kill me, then also the precious, the exceeding great and precious promises do weigh down all, and comfort the soul against all.

This is the effect of believing the Scriptures savingly; for they that do so have by and through the Scriptures good comfort, and also ground of hope, believing those things to be its own which the Scriptures hold forth (Rom 15:4).”

–John Bunyan, Some Sighs from Hell, The Works of John Bunyan, Volume 3 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1991), 3: 721-722.

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“25 qualities of unbelief and faith” by John Bunyan

“Let me here give thee, Christian reader, a more particular description of the qualities of unbelief, by opposing faith unto it, in these twenty-five particulars:—

1. Faith believeth the Word of God; but unbelief questioneth the certainty of the same (Ps. 106:24).

2. Faith believeth the Word, because it is true; but unbelief doubteth thereof, because it is true (1 Tim 4:3; John 8:45).

3. Faith sees more in a promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder; but unbelief, notwithstanding God’s promise, saith, How can these things be? (Rom 4:19–21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11, 12).

4. Faith will make thee see love in the heart of Christ, when with his mouth he giveth reproofs; but unbelief will imagine wrath in his heart, when with his mouth and Word he saith he loves us (Matt 15:22, 28; Num 13; 2 Chron 14:3).

5. Faith will help the soul to wait, though God defers to give; but unbelief will take huff and throw up all, if God makes any tarrying (Psa 25:5; Isa 8:17; 2 Kings 6:33; Psa 106:13, 14).

6. Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; but unbelief causeth fears in the midst of comfort (2 Chron 20:20, 21; Matt 8:26; Luke 24:26; 27).

7. Faith will suck sweetness out of God’s rod; but unbelief can find no comfort in his greatest mercies (Psa 23:4; Num 21).

8. Faith maketh great burdens light; but unbelief maketh light ones intolerably heavy (2 Cor 4:1; 14–18; Mal 1:12, 13).

9. Faith helpeth us when we are down; but unbelief throws us down when we are up (Micah 7:8–10; Heb 4:11).

10. Faith bringeth us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him (Heb 10:22; 3:12, 13).

11. Where faith reigns, it declareth men to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declareth them to be his enemies (John 3:23; Heb 3:18; Rev 21:8).

12. Faith putteth a man under grace; but unbelief holdeth him under wrath (Rom 3:24–26; 14:6; Eph 2:8; John 3:36; 1 John 5:10; Heb 3:17; Mark 16:16).

13. Faith purifieth the heart; but unbelief keepeth it polluted and impure (Acts 15:9; Titus 1:15, 16).

14. By faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; but by unbelief, we are shut up under the law to perish (Rom 4:23, 24; 11:32; Gal 3:23).

15. Faith maketh our work acceptable to God through Christ; but whatsoever is of unbelief is sin. For without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:4; Rom 14:23; Heb 6:6).

16. Faith giveth us peace and comfort in our souls; but unbelief worketh trouble and tossings, like the restless waves of the sea (Rom 5:1; James 1:6).

17. Faith maketh us to see preciousness in Christ; but unbelief sees no form, beauty, or comeliness in him (1 Peter 2:7; Isa 53:2, 3).

18. By faith we have our life in Christ’s fullness; but by unbelief we starve and pine away (Gal 2:20).

19. Faith gives us the victory over the law, sin, death, the devil, and all evils; but unbelief layeth us obnoxious to them all (1 John 5:4, 5; Luke 12:46).

20. Faith will show us more excellency in things not seen, than in them that are; but unbelief sees more in things that are seen, than in things that will be hereafter;. (2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:24–27; 1 Cor 15:32).

21. Faith makes the ways of God pleasant and admirable; but unbelief makes them heavy and hard (Gal 5:6; 1 Cor 12:10, 11; John 6:60; Psa 2:3).

22. By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get thither (Heb 11:9; 3:19).

23. By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5).

24. By faith Gideon did more with three hundred men, and a few empty pitchers, than all the twelve tribes could do, because they believed not God (Judg 7:16–22; Num 14:11, 14).

25. By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:28–30).

Thus might many more be added, which, for brevity’s sake, I omit; beseeching every one that thinketh he hath a soul to save, or be damned, to take heed of unbelief; lest, seeing there is a promise left us of entering into his rest, any of us by unbelief should indeed come short of it.”

–John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, The Works of John Bunyan, Volume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1991), 1: 293-294.

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“Grace has much more abounded” by John Newton

“What is the tenderness of a mother, of ten thousand mothers, to that which our compassionate Saviour bears to every poor soul that has been enabled to flee to Him for salvation!

Let us be far from charging that to Him, of which we think we are utterly incapable ourselves. Take courage, madam: resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Do the same when he tempts you to question the Lord’s compassion and goodness. But there he imposes upon us with a show of humility, and persuades us that we do well to oppose our unworthiness as a sufficient exception to the many express promises of the Word.

It is said, the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin (1 John 1:7); that all manner of sin shall be forgiven for His sake (Matthew 12:31); that whoever cometh He will in no wise cast out (John 6:37); and that He is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Believe His word, and Satan shall be found a liar.

Indeed, in this manner we have all dealt with the Lord, and yet, whenever we are willing to return, He is willing to receive us with open arms, and without an upbraiding word (Luke 15:20–22).

Though our sins have been deep-dyed, like scarlet and crimson, enormous as mountains, and countless as the sands, the sum total is, but, ‘Sin has abounded; but where sin hath abounded, grace has much more abounded.’ (Romans 5:20)

After all, I know the Lord keeps the key of comfort in His own hands, yet He has commanded us to attempt comforting one another.

I should rejoice to be His instrument of administering comfort to you.

I shall hope to hear from you soon; and that you will then be able to inform me He has restored to you the joys of His salvation.

But if not yet, wait for Him, and you shall not wait in vain.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 1: 685-686.

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