Saturday, April 8, 2017

Believers meet with rubs and disappointments, which convince them, that if they obtain any thing, it is the Lord must do it for them

To the Reverend Mr. R.-------Letter 7

July 6, 1776
Dear Sir,
.....To me you seem to be in a tolerable fair way:  but I know, in affairs of this
kind, Mr. Self does not like suspense, but would willingly come to the point at once: 
but Mr. Faith (when he gets liberty to hold up his head) will own, that in order to make
our temporal mercies wear well, and to give us a clearer sense of the hand that bestows
them, a waiting and a praying time are very seasonable.  Worldly people expect their
schemes to run upon all fours, as we say, and the objects of their wishes to drop into
their mouths without difficulty; and if they succeed, they of course burn incense to their
own drag, and say, This was my doing:  but believers meet with rubs and disappointments,
which convince them, that if they obtain any thing, it is the Lord must do it for them.  For
this reason I observe that he usually brings a death upon our prospects, even when it is
his purpose to give us success in the issue.  Thus we become more assured that we did
not act in our own spirits, and have a more satisfactory view that his providence has been
concerned in filling up the rivers and removing the mountains that were in our way.  Then,
when he has given us our desire, how pleasant it is to look at it, and say, This I got not
by my own sword, and my own bow, but I wrestled for it in prayer, I waited for it in
faith, I put it into the Lord's hand, and from his hand I received it.
     You have met with the story of one of our kings (if I mistake not) who wanted to
send a nobleman abroad as his ambassador, and he desired to be excused on account
of some affairs which required his presence at home:  the king answered, "Do you take
care of my business, and I will take care of yours."  I would have you think the Lord says
thus to you.....Watch in all things; endure afflictions; do the work of an evangelist; make
full proof of your ministry:  and when other thoughts rise in your mind (for you have no
door to shut them quite out), run with them to the throne of grace, and commit them
to the Lord.  Satan will perhaps try to force them upon you unseasonably and
inordinately; but if he sees they drive you to prayer, he will probably desist, rather
than be the occasion of doing you so much good.  Believe, likewise, that as the Lord
has the appointment of the person, so he fixes the time.  His time is like the time of the
tide;  all the art and power of man can neither hasten or retard it a moment:  it must be
waited for:  nothing can be done without it, and when it comes, nothing can resist it.  It is
unbelief that talks of delays; faith knows that properly there can be no such thing.  The
only reason why the Lord seems to delay what he afterwards grants, is, that the best hour
is not yet come.  I know you have been enabled to commit and resign your all to his
disposal.  You did well.  May he help you to stand to the surrender.  Sometimes he
will put us to the trial, whether we mean what we say.  He takes his course in a way
we did not expect; and then, alas! how often does the trial put us to shame!  Presently
there is an outcry raised in the soul against his management:  this is wrong, that
unnecessary, the other has spoiled the whole plan:  in short, all these things are
against us.  And then we go into the pulpit, and gravely tell the people how wise
and how good he is, and preach submission to his will, not only as a duty, but a
privilege!  Alas! how deceitful is the heart!  Yet, since it is, and will be so, it is necessary
we should know it by experience.  We have reason, however, to say, He is good and
wise; for he bears with our perverseness, and in the event shows us, that if he had listened
to our murmurings, and taken the methods we would have prescribed to him, we should
have been ruined indeed, and that he has been all the while doing us good in spite of ourselves.
     If I judge right, you will find your way providentially opened more and more; and yet
it is possible, that when you begin to think yourself sure, something may happen to put
you in a panic again.  But a believer, like a sailor, is not to be surprised if the wind changes,
but to learn the art of suiting himself to all winds for the time:  and though many a poor sailor
is shipwrecked, the poor believer shall gain his port.  Oh, it is good sailing with an infallible
pilot at the helm, who has the wind and weather at his command!
                                                                                                  John Newton  

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