Archive for November, 2007

John Newton

“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”

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David Brainerd (1718-1747) was a missionary to the American Indians in New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Born in Connecticut in 1718, he died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine.

I continued, as I remember, in this state of mind, from Friday morning until the Sabbath evening following, … when I was walking again in the same solitary place where I was brought to see myself lost and helpless … and here, in a mournful melancholy state, was attempting to pray; but found no heart to engage in that, or any other duty; my former concern, and exercise, and religious affections were now gone. I thought the Spirit of God had quite left me; but still was not distressed: Yet disconsolate, as if there was nothing in heaven or earth could make me happy. And having been thus endeavouring to pray (though being, as I thought, very stupid and senseless) for near half an hour, … as I was walking in a dark thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul: I do not mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing; nor do I intend any imagination of a body of light, some where away in the third heavens, or any thing of that nature; but it was a new inward apprehension or view that I had of God, such as I never had before, nor anything which had the least resemblance of it. I stood still, and wondered and admired! I knew that I never had seen before any thing comparable to it for excellency and beauty: It was widely different from all the conceptions that ever I had had of God, or things divine. I had no particular apprehension of any one person in the Trinity, … but it appeared to be divine glory that I then beheld: And my soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable, to see such a God, such a glorious divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied, that he should be God over all for ever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in him; at least to that degree, that I had no thought … about my own salvation, and scarce reflected there was such a creature as myself.

Thus God, I trust, brought me to a hearty disposition to exalt him, and set him on the throne, and principally and ultimately to aim at his honour and glory, as King of the Universe.

I continued in this state of inward joy and peace, yet astonishment, until near dark, without any sensible abatement; and then began to think and examine what I had seen; and felt sweetly composed in my mind all the evening following: I felt myself in a new world, and every thing about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do.

At this time, the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite wisdom, suitableness and excellency, that I wondered I should ever think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had not dropped my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely, blessed, and excellent way before. If I could have been saved by my own duties, or any other way that I had formerly contrived, my whole soul would now have refused. I wondered that all the world did not see and comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the righteousness of Christ.

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Matthew 6:6 (KJV)

The word translated closet refers to the inner room of a house, normally without any windows opening outside, the most private location possible. In old Engliah usage a closet was a room in which one could privately read or sit.

“The power of religion and godliness lives, thrives, or dies, as closet prayer lives, thrives or dies.”

“Believer, closet prayer will be found to be but a lifeless, comfortless thing, if you do not enjoy communion with God in it.”


“I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”


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Key verse


(Romans 8:13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.




The choicest believers,

who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin,

ought yet to make it their business all their days

to mortify the indwelling power of sin.




“… every lust tends unto [deeds]; though it do but conceive and prove abortive, it aims to bring forth a perfect sin.”



a principle (the life of the Spirit) contrary to it (the flesh) and destructive of it is planted in our hearts




the mortification of indwelling sin remaining in our mortal bodies,

that it may not have life and power to bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh

is the constant duty of believers.



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J.I. Packer (whose three children are adopted) writes in Knowing God:


“Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”

Chapter 19 – Sons of God

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Prayer and discipleship

How we pray reflects the character of our discipleship.

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My Master God,

I am desired to preach today,

but go weak and needy to my task;

Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth,

that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;

Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,

with heart uplifted for grace and unction.

Present to my view things pertinent to my subject,

with fullness of matter and clarity of thought,

proper expressions, fluency, fervency,

a feeling sense of the things I preach,

and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.

Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,

and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.

Help me to offer a testimony for thyself,

and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.

Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,

and to set before them comforting considerations.

Attend with power the truth preached,

and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.

May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,

and help me to use the strongest arguments

drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,

that men might be made holy.

I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,

that I might be a pure channel of thy grace,

and be able to do something for thee;

Give me then refreshment among thy people,

and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,

or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a Redeemer,

or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,

from lack of warmth and fervency.

And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

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