The Penning Pastor: Pleasure and Duty

From “We Were Once as You Are”

Our pleasure and our duty,
   Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
   Are joined to part no more:
It is our highest pleasure,
   No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
   And serve him with our all.

—John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: Pleasing Grief and Mournful Joy

From “Looking at the Cross

With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
My spirit now is filled;
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by him I killed.

—John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: We Praise because We See

From “The Name of Jesus”

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see thee as thou art,
I’ll praise thee as I ought.

—John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: The Offense of Small Prayers

From “Ask What I Shall Give Thee”

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and pow’r are such,
None can ever ask too much.

—John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: The Lord Will Provide

“The Lord Will Provide”

Though troubles assail
And dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail
And foes all unite;
Yet one thing secures us,
Whatever betide,
The scripture assures us,
The Lord will provide.

The birds without barn
Or storehouse are fed,
From them let us learn
To trust for our bread:
His saints, what is fitting,
Shall ne’er be denied,
So long as ’tis written,
The Lord will provide.

We may, like the ships,
By tempest be tossed
On perilous deeps,
But cannot be lost.
Though Satan enrages
The wind and the tide,
The promise engages,
The Lord will provide.

His call we obey
Like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way,
But faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers
We have a good Guide,
And trust in all dangers,
The Lord will provide.

When Satan appears
To stop up our path,
And fill us with fears,
We triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us,
Though oft he has tried,
This heart–cheering promise,
The Lord will provide.

He tells us we’re weak,
Our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek
We ne’er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions
Our spirits have plied,
This answers all questions,
The Lord will provide.

No strength of our own,
Or goodness we claim,
Yet since we have known
The Savior’s great name;
In this our strong tower
For safety we hide,
The Lord is our power,
The Lord will provide.

When life sinks apace
And death is in view,
This word of his grace
Shall comfort us through:
No fearing or doubting
With Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting,
The Lord will provide.

—John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: 1 Corinthians 1:25

The natural weakness of man is conspicuous in his most important undertakings: having no fund of sufficiency in himself, he is forced to collect all from without ; and if the greatness of his preparations are not answerable to the extent of his designs, he has little hopes of success. Farther: when he has planned and provided to the utmost of his power, he is still subject to innumerable contingences, which he can neither foresee nor prevent ; and has often the mortification to see his fairest prospects blasted, and the whole apparatus of his labour and care only contribute to make his disappointment more conspicuous and painful.

The reverse of this is the character of the wonder-working God. To his power every thing is easy; he knows how to employ every creature and contingence as a means to accomplish his designs; not a seeming difficulty can intervene but by his permission, and he only permits it to illustrate his own wisdom and agency in making it subservient to his will. Thus, having all hearts and events in his hands, he fulfills his own counsels with the utmost ease and certainty; and, to show that the work is his own, he often proceeds by such methods as vain men account weak and insignificant, producing the most extensive and glorious consequences from small and inconsiderable beginnings. Thus the Lord of hosts hath purposed to stain the pride of human glory. —John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: The Clearest Mirror for Seeing Our Flaws

Here, as in a glass, we see the evil of sin, and the misery of man. The greatness of the disorder may be rationally inferred from the greatness of the means necessary to remove it. Would we learn the depth of the fall of man, let us consider the depth of the humiliation of Jesus to restore him. Behold the Beloved of God, perfectly spotless and holy, yet made an example of the severest vengeance; prostrate and agonizing in the garden; enduring the vilest insults from wicked men; torn with whips, and nails, and thorns; suspended, naked, wounded, and bleeding upon the cross, and there heavily complaining, that God had for a season forsaken him. Sin was the cause of all his anguish. He stood in the place of sinners, and therefore was not spared. Not any, or all, the evils which the world has known, afford such proof of the dreadful effects and detestable nature of sin, as the knowledge of Christ crucified. Sin had rendered the case of mankind so utterly desperate, that nothing less than the blood and death of Jesus could retrieve it. If any other expedient could have sufficed, his prayer, that the bitter cup might pass from him, would have been answered. But what his enemies intended as the keenest reproach, his redeemed people will for ever repeat as the expression of his highest praise, “He saved others, himself he cannot save.” Justice would admit no inferior atonement, love would not give up the cause of fallen, ruined man. Being therefore determined to save others, he could not, consistently with this gracious design and undertaking, deliver himself. —John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: If His Yoke Isn’t a Joy, It’s not His Yoke

Concerning Matthew 11:30:

This verse alone, if seriously attended to, might convince multitudes, that though they bear the name of Christians, and are found among the Lord’s worshipping people, they are as yet entire strangers to the religion of the Gospel. Can it be supposed, that our Lord would give a false character of his yoke? If not, how can can any dream they are his followers, while they account a life of communion with God, and entire devotedness to his service, to be dull and burdensome? Those, however, who have made the happy trial, find it to be such a burden as wings to a bird. Far from complaining of it, they are convinced that there is no real pleasure attainable in any other way. —John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: Strong Sovereignty for Weak Evangelists

The Divine Sovereignty is the best thought we can retreat to for composing and strengthening our minds under the difficulties, discouragements, and disappointments which attend the publication of the Gospel. —John Newton, Works

The Penning Pastor: How to Search the Scriptures

[T]he Scriptures, when properly searched into and compared do clearly and in every part testify of Christ, that he is the end of the Law, the sum of the Prophets, the completion of the promises, the scope of the types and ceremonies, and the great object of the whole Old-Testament dispensation. —John Newton, Works