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A Letter from John Newton

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.

Newton, John. The Works of John Newton, Volume 2 of 4: Cardiphonia – Letter I (March 18, 1767) of Seven Letters To Sally Johnson. pp.6-7

Pange, Lingua, Gloriosi Proelium Certaminis
Venantius Fortunatus 580A.D.

"Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle, with completed victory rife,
And above the Cross’s trophy, tell the triumph of the strife;
How the world’s Redeemer conquer’d, by surrendering of His life.

"God, his Maker, sorely grieving that the first-born Adam fell,
When he ate the noxious apple, whose reward was death and hell,
Noted then this wood, the ruin of the ancient wood to quell.

"For the work of our Salvation needs would have his order so,
And the multiform deceiver’s art by art would overthrow;
And from there would bring the medicine whence the venom of the foe.

"Wherefore, when the sacred fulness of the appointed time was come,
This world’s Maker left His Father, left His bright and heavenly home,
And proceeded, God Incarnate, of the Virgin’s holy womb.

"Weeps the Infant in the manger that in Bethlehem ‘s stable stands;
And His limbs the Virgin Mother does compose in swaddling bands,
Meetly thus in linen folding of her God the feet and hands.

"Thirty years among us dwelling, His appointed time fulfilled,
Born for this, He meets His Passion, for that this He freely willed:
On the Cross the Lamb is lifted, where His life-blood shall be spilled.

"He endured the shame and spitting, vinegar, and nails, and reed;
As His blessed side is opened, water from there and blood proceed:
Earth, and sky, and stars, and ocean, by that flood are cleansed indeed.

"Faithful Cross! above all other, one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom, none in fruit your peels may be;
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron, sweetest weight is hung on you!

"Bend your boughs, oh Tree of Glory! your relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor, that your birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty on your bosom gently tend.

"You alone wast counted worthy this world’s ransom to uphold;
For a shipwreck’d race preparing harbor, like the Ark of old:
With the sacred blood anointed from the wounded Lamb that roll’d.

"Laud and honor to the Father, laud and honor to the Son,
Laud and honor to the Spirit, ever Three and ever One
:
Consubstantial, co-eternal, while unending ages run.

The offenses and falls of others must not impede you in your love, for even great grace can coexist with great corruption—how much more this is true when grace is feeble. You do not know how much strife another has concerning these faults, how much he grieves over them in secret, and with how many tears and prayers he seeks forgiveness.

Wilhelmus À Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Chapter 82 – Love for one’s neighbor

If you wish to increase in love:

(1) Take your life, honor, possessions, and all that you have, and surrender them to the Lord. Let Him care for them and do not concern yourself about them, so that you can readily part with them if love toward God requires this.

(2) Display the image of God which is in you—however small or great it may be—and show the world that you have a different nature, being in covenant with God.

(3) Believe in God‘s love toward you and rejoice in this.

(4) Pray for the increase of love.

(5) Have continual fellowship with those who love God, and be their companion.

(6) Abstain from willful sins and be zealous to do the will of God. If you fall, do not continue in this sin, but with sorrow humble yourself, as having sinned against love, and arise again—holding fast to the unchangeable love of God and the immutability of the covenant. While thus acquainting yourself with the Lord, you will go on from strength to strength and become more abundant in love.

―And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God‖ (2 Thess 3:5).

a’Brakel

A’Brakel writes:

However, since all that glitters is not gold, everything that has the appearance of holiness and is called holiness is not holiness … There are three requisites for holiness:

(1) it proceeds from a good root: faith;

(2) it functions according to a good rule: the will of God as revealed in the law; and

(3) it has a good objective: the honor of God.

First, all that is worthy of being called holiness must proceed from a holy principle. Faith is the primary element of conversion as far as order is concerned. This faith unites a person with Christ who is our life. It does not only make us a partaker of His benefits, but first and foremost, of the Person Himself. … [Faith] actuality, unites the soul with Christ, and thus life and strength flow out of Him into the soul …

Secondly, to holiness belongs a good rule with which the disposition of the heart and one‘s deeds must agree. This is nothing but the will of God alone, as presented in the law of the ten commandments.

Thirdly, to holiness belongs a holy objective. [i.e. the glorification of God]

Silly worm

The counsels of a boundless being are not to be scanned by the brain of a silly worm, that hath breathed but a few minutes in the world. Since eternity cannot be comprehended in time, it is not to be judged by a creature of time.

Source: Stephen Charnock, “Existence and Attributes of God”

  1. God has regenerated them by his Holy Spirit
  2. God has decreed from eternity that in time he would adopt them from the human race to be His children and heirs of eternal life.
  3. God has betrothed them to his son … In the Song of Solomon the Lord Jesus therefore frequently calls them his bride: "My sister, my bride" … As the father of the bridegroom also becomes the father of the bride by reason of marriage, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ likewise becomes the father of believers.
  4. They have children by reason of being united to the son of God.

Wilhelmus à Brakel (1700 A.D.) p.419

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