< (Letters of John Newton)
"Where sin abounded--grace did much
more abound!" Romans 5:20
March 18, 1767.
You have one hard lesson to learn, that is--the evil of your own heart. You know something of it--but it is needful that you should know more; for the more we know of ourselves--the more we shall prize and love Jesus and His salvation. The more you know Him--the better you will trust Him. The more you trust Him--the better you will love Him. The more you love Him--the better you will serve Him. This is God's way. You are not called to buy--but to beg; not to be strong in yourself--but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. He is teaching you these things, and I trust he will teach you to the end.
Do not be surprised to find yourself poor, helpless, and vile. All whom God favors and teaches--will find themselves so. The more grace increases--the more we shall see to abase us in our own eyes!
I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience, will humble you--but not discourage you. For if our Physician is almighty--our disease cannot be desperate. Our sins are many--but His mercies are more. Our sins are great--but His righteousness is greater. When our sins prevail, remember that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost! Think of the names and relations which Jesus bears to us. Does He not call Himself--a Savior, a Shepherd, a Friend, and a Husband? Has He not made known unto us His love, His atoning sacrifice, His righteousness, His promises, His power, and His grace--and all for our encouragement? It is better to be admiring the compassion and fullness of grace which is in our Savior--than to dwell and pore too much upon our own poverty and vileness.
Remember that He has loved you with an everlasting love--and therefore in loving-kindness has drawn you to Himself. He will surely accomplish that which He has begun. Nothing which can be named or thought of--shall ever be able to separate you from Him! This persuasion will give you strength for the battle! This is the shield which will quench the fiery darts of Satan! This is the helmet which the enemy cannot pierce! Be strong, therefore--not in yourself--but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Remember, the growth of a believer is not like a mushroom--but like an oak, which increases slowly indeed--but surely. Many suns, showers, and frosts, pass upon it before it comes to perfection. And in winter, when it seems to be dead--it is gathering strength at the root. Be humble, watchful, and diligent in the means, and endeavor to look through all, and fix your eye upon Jesus--and all shall be well. I commend you to the care of the good Shepherd.
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