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Book Title: Letters of John Newton|
The author of the book: John Newton
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.56 MB
ISBN 13: 9780851511207
Edition: Banner of Truth
Date of issue: November 1st 1988
Read full description of the books:Having read a great deal of Spiritual literature over the years, it is fair to say that most of it makes the same points in much the same way. It is worth noting that this applies across all denominations, the greatest writers of each reaching similar conclusions by different paths. Little of this huge genre is without any merit, but, in the majority of cases, reading one devotional work can sometimes feel like reading them all. So few of them have been reread. This book is an exception, being read cover to cover several times and giving fresh insights every time.
This is because John Newton really understands sin. Unlike the many saintly men who wrote more high-minded works, Newton means it literally when he says he is a sinner. For many years, before his dramatic conversion, he led a singularly irreligious life. He was, infamously, the master of a slave ship. It is hard to imagine anything worse, with the possible exceptions of a commandant of a concentration camp or an NKVD commissar.
Although he later became a leading abolitionist, Newton never lost his own sense of sin, or of God's mercy in forgiving him. This finds its greatest expression in his hymn 'Amazing Grace,' arguably the best short form expression of Christian experience ever written.
He expands on this at greater length in his personal correspondence. He was a prolific letter writer and soon established a reputation as a Spiritual counsellor, especially to young men aspiring to the pastorate. Although a firm Calvinist, Newton, like most of the best Christian writers, sets little value on minor sectarian or doctrinal differences. His appointment as a clergyman of the Established Church in no way lessened his connections with Nonconformist friends, who were among his correspondents here.
This tolerance makes him more accessible to modern Christians, even if his language might sometimes sound a bit archaic to some. The fact that he was a convert is also helpful to the increasing proportion of Christians today who were not always Christians.
His constant theme, again in common with all the best Christian writers, is the need for total dependence on God and total submission, in faith, to His Will. Where Newton differs from many other writers is in his frankness about such faith not coming all at once. Although his actual conversion was abrupt, there was much that preceded it and much that had to follow. Newton describes this in his 'Authentic Narrative,' which is also recommended very highly, and the fruits of that very long period of preparation, trial and error, and reflection are here in the letters. Newton is a master of human nature – later generations might describe him as a psychologist – and, as such, he understands how growth, including Spiritual growth, is usually a very long, slow process, involving many failures and mistakes. We do not become perfect in a moment.
Read information about the author
John Newton (1725-1807) was born in London and at age eleven went to sea with his father, a shipmaster on the Mediterranean. Disregarding his mother's prayer that he enter the ministry, he engaged in the lucrative but brutal African slave trade for a number of years. After his conversion he served in the Church of England as pastor of Olney parish and later of the combined church of St. Mary's in London. In addition to the words of "Amazing Grace," Newton was a prolific songwriter whose other well-known hymns include "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" and "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds."
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