Saturday, December 19, 2015

From a Letter by John Newton - November 23, 1774 to a Mr. B

My Dear Sir,
.....At my first setting out, indeed, I thought to be better, and to feel
myself better from year to year; I expected by degrees to attain everything
which I then comprised in my idea of a saint.  I thought my grain of grace,
by much diligence and careful improvement, would, in time, amount to a
pound, that pound in a further space of time to a talent, and then I hoped to
increase from one talent to many; so that supposing the Lord should spare
me a competent number of years, I pleased myself with the thought of
dying rich.  But, alas! these my golden expectations have been like South Sea
dreams; I have lived hitherto a poor sinner, and I believe I shall die one. 
Have I then gained nothing by waiting upon the Lord?  Yes; I have gained that,
which I once would rather have been without—such accumulated proof of the
deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of my heart, as I hope, by the Lord's
blessing, has in some measure taught me to know what I mean when I say,
Behold, I am vile!  And in connection with this, I have gained such experience
of the wisdom, power, and compassion of my Redeemer, the need, the worth
of his blood, righteousness, attention, and intercession, the glory that he displays
in pardoning iniquity and sin, and passing by the transgression of the remnant of
his heritage, that my soul cannot but cry out, Who is a God like unto thee!  Thus,
if I have any meaner thoughts of myself, Ezek. 16:63, and any higher thoughts of
him than I had twenty years ago, I have reason to be thankful; every grain of this
experience is worth mountains of gold.  And if, by his mercy, I shall yet sink more
in my own esteem, and he will be pleased to rise still more glorious to my eyes,
and more precious to my heart, I expect it will be much in the same way.  I was
ashamed when I began to seek him; I am more ashamed now; and I expect to be
most of all ashamed when he shall appear to destroy my last enemy.  But O!
I may rejoice in him, to think that he will not be ashamed of me.

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