Thursday, July 21, 2011

Newton to Wilberforce

Here is an excerpt from a letter written on July 21, 1794, by John Newton to William Wilberforce: 2 men of exceptionally godly character, who endured all manner of troubles for the sake of the Lord's name.

My very dear Sir;

Because I believe you are the Lord’s servant and are in the post which he has assigned you; and though it appears to me more arduous, and requiring more self-denial than my own, I know that He who called you to it, can afford you strength according to your day, and I trust He will, for He is faithful to his promise.

Some of his people may be emphatically said, Not to live to themselves. May it not be said of you? Would you not be glad to have more command of your time, and more choice of your company, than your situation will admit? You meet with many things which weary and disgust you, which you would avoid in a more private life. But then they are inseparably connected with your path of duty. And though you cannot do all the good you wish for, some good is done, and some evil is probably prevented, by your influence and that of a few gentlemen in the House of Commons, like-minded with yourself. It costs you something, many hours, which you could employ more to your known personal satisfaction, and exposes you to many impertinencies from which you would gladly be exempted; but if upon the whole you are thereby instrumental in promoting the cause of God and the public good, you will have no reason to regret, that you had not so much leisure for more retired exercises than some of us are favoured with. Nor is it possible at present to calculate all the advantages that may result from your having a seat in the house, at such a time as this. The example, and even the presence of a consistent character may have a powerful, though unobserved, effect upon others. You are not only a Representative for Yorkshire. You have the far greater honour of being a Representative for the Lord, in a place where many know him not, and an opportunity of showing them what are the genuine fruits of that religion which you are known to profess.

It is true, that you live in the midst of difficulties and snares, and you need a double guard of watchfulness and prayer. But since you know both your need of help and where to look for it, I may say to you, as Darius to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually is able to preserve and deliver you. Daniel likewise was a public man, and in critical circumstances. But he trusted in the Lord, was faithful in his departments, and therefore though he had enemies, they could not prevail against him.

Indeed the great point for our comfort in life, is to have a well grounded persuasion that we are where, all things considered, we ought to be. Then it is no great matter whether we are in public or in private life, in a city or a village, in a palace or a cottage. The promise, My grace is sufficient for thee, is necessary to support us in the smoothest scenes, and is equally able to support us in the most difficult. Happy the man who has a deep impression of our Lord’s words, Without Me you can do nothing, who feels with the Apostle, That he has no sufficiency of himself even to think a good thought – provided he has likewise a heartfelt dependence upon the saviour, through whom we can both do and bear all things that are in evident to the post allotted us. He is always near. He knows our wants, our dangers, our feelings, and our fears. By looking to him we are enlightened and made strong out of weakness. With his wisdom for our guide, his power for our protection, his fullness for our supply, and proposing his glory as our chief end, and placing our happiness in his favour, in communion with him, and communications from Him, we shall be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.

May the Lord bless you my dear Sir. May he be your sun and shield –and fill you with all joy and peace in believing.

I am, Your very affectionate and much obliged

John Newton
Paul’s Cray Kent

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