Saturday, December 11, 2010

John Newton's Comments on Liberty

At the onset of the American Revolution, as we call it, John Newton (pastor and hymn writer) writing from the other side of the pond in Great Britain speaks of the religious political talk of his fellow citizens. It almost seems as if it could be written in our own day. I wonder if we ought to consider some of his insights. This is taken from a letter he wrote to John Ryland, published in Wise Counsel - John Newton's Letters to John Ryland Jr..  

"I cannot think that Jeremiah's case or conduct afford a parallel instance. He preached against sin, and foretold judgment, but I do not find that he made a parade about liberty, or concerned himself with the administration. He does not seem to have troubled his head, who was scribe or recorder, or who was over the host, for he knew that whoever had the management, the public affairs would miscarry because the Lord fought against them. When I hear the cry about liberty I think of the old cry, 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians'.1 Civil liberty is a valuable blessing, but if people sin it away, it is the Lord [who] deprives them of it. … But we are surfeiting2 upon privileges, I wish the Lord may not too soon call us to a sparer diet. However a believer has a liberty with which Jesus has made him free which depends upon no outward circumstances. It grieves me to hear those who are slaves to sin and Satan, make such a stir about that phantom which they worship under the name of liberty, and especially to see not a few of the Lord's people so much conformed to the world in this respect. Let us pray and watch, let us bear testimony against sin, and abound in the fruits of the gospel. The Lord help us to do thus, and then we may humbly hope He will preserve our liberty; if He does not I am sure we cannot preserve it to ourselves.”

May we also pray and watch, that Christ's church would be protected from the evil one in our day, live lives set apart in the truth, to bear witness to the truth, and may we bear the fruits of the Gospel through Jesus Christ.

Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

1Acts 19:28, 34