prev Quote of JUNE 20 next

Newton Addressed Religious Fears - 1776

John Newton, who wrote advice to others after a long life of hard experience.


John Newton was a slaver when he became a Christian. Some years after leaving the slave trade, he became a staunch anti-slavery man, a priest in the Church of England, and the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” He also counseled people by letter. On this day, 20 June, 1776, he wrote such a letter to a correspondent whom it seems was isolated from fellow Christians, unable to attend church or receive the sacraments, and beginning to feel doubts as to her salvation.


“Though there is a height, a breadth, a length, and a depth, in this mystery of redeeming love, exceeding the comprehension of all finite minds; yet the great and leading principles which are necessary for the support and comfort of our souls may be summed up in a very few words. Such a summary we are favoured with in Titus ii. 11-14, where the whole of salvation, all that is needful to be known, experienced, practiced, and hoped for, is comprised within the compass of four verses. …. The propositions are few. I am a sinner, therefore, I need a Saviour, one who is able and willing to save to the uttermost; such a one is Jesus; He is all that I want—wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But will He receive me? Can I answer a previous question? Am I willing to receive Him? If so, and if His word may be taken, if He meant what He said, and promised no more than He can perform, I may be sure of a welcome: He knew, long before, the doubts, fears, and suspicions, which would arise in my mind when I should come to know what I am, what I have done, and what I have deserved; and, therefore, He declared, before He left the earth, ‘Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.’ I have no money or price in my hand, no worthiness to recommend me and I need none…It is my part to commit myself to Him as the physician of sin-sick souls, not to prescribe to Him how He shall treat me. To begin, carry on, and perfect the cure, is His part.

“The doubts and fears you speak of are, in a greater or lesser degree, the common experience of all the Lord’s people, at least for a time: whilst any unbelief remains in the heart, and Satan is permitted to tempt, we shall feel these things. In themselves they are groundless and evil; yet the Lord permits and overrules them for good. They tend to make us know more of the plague of our own hearts, and feel more sensibly the need of a Saviour, and make His rest (when we attain it) doubly sweet and sure. And they likewise qualify us for pitying and comforting others. Fear not; only believe, wait, and pray. Expect not all at once. A Christian is not of hasty growth, like a mushroom, but rather like the oak, the progress of which is hardly perceptible, but, in time, becomes a great deep-rooted tree….”


Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings.

Subscribe to daily emails

Containing today’s events, devotional, quote and stories