Elswick Church

A Letter from John Newton to His Wife


written while she was in London and he in Olney, Bedfordshire

I pray God to bless to you the ordinances and fellowship which you are favoured with in London, that you may go into Kent filled with the spirit of truth and love.

When you are there, I hope you will make good use of the Bible, and throne of grace, to preserve you from being infected by the spirit of the world.

Ah! what a poor vain thing is the world!  We have both found it so at times, (though we once loved it) and shall find it so again.  But may the Lord keep us alive to a sense of its vanity, before more evil days return to extort the confession from our feelings!

Sickness and pain, and a near prospect of death, force upon the mind a conviction of the littleness and vanity of a worldly life.

But there is a more pleasing way of learning this lesson, if we pay due attention to the Word of God, and pray for the light of his countenance.  If he is pleased to make his face to shine upon us, all that the world can offer to bribe us, will appear insignificant and trivial as the sports of children.

He who has given us this desire, will, I trust, answer it, and unite our souls to himself forever.  What a happy state we are in!  We have peace with God, by Jesus Christ; liberty of access to the throne of grace; a saving interest in all God’s promises; a sure Guide along the way; and a sure inheritance at our journey’s end!

These things were once hidden from us!  We were so blinded by the god of this world that we could look no farther than the present life!  But, even then, the Lord looked upon us with an eye of mercy.  He led us on, gradually, by a way which we knew not, to bring us into the paths of eternal peace.

How wonderful has our history been, not mine only but also yours!

How often has he made himself known as your Deliverer and Physician, in raising you up from the gates of the grave!

May we always remember his goodness in your last affliction!  How did he sweeten the bitter cup; strengthen you with strength in your soul; enable you to pray for yourself; engage the hearts of many in prayer for you, and then speedily answer our prayers!

Let us then excite each other to praise him!

I hope this little interval of absence will be useful, to make me more I hope this little interval of absence will be useful, to make me more sensible of his goodness in still sparing you to me.  I make but a poor shift without you now from day to day; but I am comforted by the hope of seeing you again shortly.  Had you died by your late fever, I would not have had this relief!

May we then live to him, and may every day be a preparation for the parting hour!

Dark as this hour seems in the prospect, if we are established in the faith and hope of our Lord, we shall find it supportable; and the separation will be short.

We shall soon meet again, happy meeting!.  To part no more!  To be forever with the Lord; to join in an eternal song to him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood!

Then all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, and we shall weep no more forever.


12 September 1766


The Works of John Newton, Volume 4, pages 191-192.

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