(John Newton’s Letters)
My dear friends,
Poor dear Rebecca! Thankfully your child was not killed, nor a bone broken. We are always glad to hear from you, but now we must beg to hear soon to confirm our hopes, that by this time she is perfectly recovered. She had often been cautioned against sliding down by the rail–but I believe her late tumble will render future warnings needless. [Note: Rebecca had fallen off the rail at the top of stairs, and was taken up apparently dead–but revived in a few minutes.]
Is it not so with us? What are all the Lord’s precepts or prohibitions–but admonitions to do ourselves no harm. We are but children of a larger growth, and think we can please ourselves in our own way–until repeated experience makes us wiser, and the consequences of our choices teach us how unfit we are to choose for ourselves. The Lord pities His redeemed children–He says, “Oh, that you had hearkened unto Me!”
I preached a funeral sermon yesterday evening for my dear friend Benamore, from his own dying words, “He has done oil things well!” How can it be otherwise? If He does all things–then they must necessarily be well done; for His wisdom, power, and goodness are infinite. We are assured that not a sparrow, much less a child and a servant who loves Him, can fall to the ground without Him!
We are travelers through this wilderness world, and know something of the difficulties and dangers which surround us. At all times, let us stir up each other to admire our great Shepherd.
What love to redeem His sheep with His own precious blood!
What infinite wisdom–what an infallible guide!
What a sure guard is His almighty power!
What a never failing supply from His unbounded fullness!
What a comfortable resource we have in that unspeakable compassion and tenderness, which are but feebly represented by the tenderness of the nearest earthly relations–father, husband, brother, friend–all united!
He who once bled to death for us upon the cross–now reigns as a King and Priest upon His heavenly throne! He hears our prayers–He watches over us–He is preparing a place for us near Himself, and is waiting to receive us. We shall soon be at home, at our long home–for then all our warfare and wanderings will be ended, and we shall go out no more. Let us then cheerfully take up our cross, and run with faith and patience, the race that is set before us–looking unto Jesus!
May the Lord bless you all and double all your comforts, and sweeten all your trials, with a sense of His special redeeming love.
Your affectionate and obliged friend,
John Newton, 5th October, 1796