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Misc Th

Miscellaneous Thoughts

& enquiries on an important subject

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Ministry on my mind
Alec Motyer "These thoughts should be required reading for all Christians in the light of our common calling to holy living and holy testimony, but specially for those who are given the unspeakable privilege of 'full-time service’, whether they are in their early days, or, like me, wishing I had read these miscellaneous thoughts sixty years ago."

Alec Motyer, formerly Principal Trinity Theological College, Bristol
Jim Packer"It is hard to believe that any Christians, wondering if God was calling them to ordained service, ever meditated on relevant Scriptures so perceptively, and recorded their discernments so luminously, as did John Newton. His journaling of his journey towards vocational certainty is a very precious part of the legacy of this great man of God."
James I Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver

former JNP Chairman,

John Langlois OBE,

interviews trustee

Tony Baker


Ministry on my mind

Jonathan Aitken

speaking on

Ministry on my mind


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Tonight I attended an Eclipse of the Moon

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I thought my Lord of thine Eclipse - the horrible darkness which overwhelmed thy mind,
when Thou saidst - Why hast Thou forsaken me?


On the eclipse of the moon
July 30 1776
251 v1
see the full hymn in Newton's handwriting
John Newton to John Thornton, Director of the Bank of England

I observed the Eclipse of the Moon on Tuesday night, till it was wholly covered by the shade, and endeavoured to draw some meditations from it, which gave rise to a hymn that was the subject of my discourse last night at the Great House - our Saviour’s passion, the motions of the heavenly bodies being a pledge of His faithfulness to His promises (Jeremiah 33:20,21,25) and the dark seasons to which believers in the present life are liable, were the principal points. I take the liberty to send you a copy of the hymn on the other side, for no other reasons than that the subject is not common, and that you have been pleased often favourably to accept what I have sent of this sort.
4 August 1776
The moon in silver glory shone,
And not a cloud in sight;
When suddenly a shade begun
To intercept her light.

How fast across her orb it spread,
How fast her light withdrew!
A circle, ting'd with languid red,
Was all appear'd in view.

While many with unmeaning eye
Gaze on thy works in vain;
Assist me, LORD, that I may try
Instruction to obtain.

Fain would my thankful heart and lips
Unite in praise to thee;
And meditate on thy eclipse,
In sad Gethsemane.
Thy people's guilt, a heavy load!
(When standing in their room)
Depriv'd thee of the light of GOD,
And fill'd thy soul with gloom.

How punctually eclipses move,
Obedient to thy will!
Thus shall thy faithfulness and love,
Thy promises fulfill.

Dark, like the moon without the sun,
I mourn thine absence, LORD!
For light or comfort have I none,
But what thy beams afford.

But lo! the hour draws near apace,
When changes shall be o'er;
Then shall I see thee face to face,
And be eclips'd no more.
"Yes there is a better world, where our sun shall no more go down, neither the moon withdraw its shining – or rather, both moon and sun shall be needless, for the Lord Himself shall be the Everlasting Unclouded Light of His people. Oh how different is the land we are going to, from this wilderness through which we are now passing."

I remain
Dearest Sir
Your most obedt and obliged

JN signature
  Olney Hymns, Book 2, Hymn 85  
Jeremiah 33:20,21,25:
Thus saith the Lord: If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth…
21 March 1776 1776 Mar 21 brink001

The anniversary of my great deliverance in 1748 calls for my grateful acknowledgement.

In the midst of the necessary calls of this day, I would keep thy mercy in mind. I remember when I stood trembling to appearance upon the brink of eternity, and thought it impossible I could live a quarter of an hour. Since that memorable day thou hast added twenty-eight years to my life – and I am still living, and feel little abatement of health and strength. How wonderful has been thy goodness to me in this long space. And alas how amazing has been the contrast on my side – unfaithful, ungrateful, vile creature that I am. But still I am thine. Thou bearest with me, and multipliest forgiveness and mercies to me. O Lord warm, animate and purify my heart. Draw nigh to my soul. Unite my divided heart. So far as a poor creature can (who without thy secret influence can do nothing). I open to thee, and invite thee to take a full possession. Abase the power of self, and reign alone in my soul. My time is shortening apace. O that the remainder may be spent for thee. Be my Shepherd, my Saviour, my All – and may all that I have and am be devoted to thee, and employed for thee.
my Shepherd my Saviour my All


30 July 1776
Tonight I attended an eclipse of the moon.  How great are thy works; with what punctuality do the heavenly bodies fulfil their courses, and observe their seasons to a moment. All things obey thee, but fallen angels, and fallen man. My thoughts would have taken a serious turn, but I was not alone. I thought, my Lord, of Thine eclipse – the horrible darkness which overwhelmed Thy mind when Thou saidst, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?  Ah sin was the cause – my sins. Yet I do not hate sin, nor loathe myself as I ought. The Great House rather thin tonight. I spoke farther on the case of Ignorance. Mr Samples with us after his great illness. Peggy is still ill.

Friday 1 January 1773

New Year's Day

The vicarage in Olney
where John Newton wrote Amazing Grace in his attic study,
for his sermon on 1 Chronicles 17:16,17
for New Year's Day, Friday 1 January 1773

Amazing Grace 240th anniversary (2013) from
The John Newton Project on Vimeo.


Amazing grace!  (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.          

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace those fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!             

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779, Book 1, Hymn 41

"As the workings of the heart of man, and of the Spirit of GOD, are in general the same, in all who are the subjects of grace, I hope most of these hymns, being the fruit and expression of my own experience, will coincide with the views of real Christians of all denominations."
"The views I have received of the doctrines of grace are essential to my peace, I could not live comfortably a day or an hour without them."

The words for John Newton's hymn Amazing Grace
come from 1 Chronicles 17:16,17

1 Chron 17 web I preached this forenoon from 1 Chronicles 17:16,17.
Hope I was enabled to speak with some liberty,
but found my own heart sadly unaffected.

some of Newton's matching Scripture and hymn verses:
v7 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep...' Amazing grace…
that saved a wretch like me.
v8 'and I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you' Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come
v9 'And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more...' Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
v10 'And I will subdue all your enemies.' He will my shield and portion be
v16 'Who am I, O Lord God...?' That saved a wretch like me!
v16 '...that you have brought me thus far?' 'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
v17 'You have also spoken ... for a great while to come' As long as life endures
v23 And now, O Lord, let the word that you have spoken concerning your servant ... be established forever, and do as you have spoken His word my hope secures
v26 ...you have promised this good thing to your servant The Lord has promised good to me
 (the word occurs eight times!)

"... for ever"

Will be forever mine.

In his New Year’s Day sermon, Newton commends David’s desire “to express his gratitude” to the Lord for His “many blessings”.
But Newton notes of the Lord’s people, that “unless he likewise gives them a thankful heart, they lose much of the comfort they might have in them”.
David’s responses are helpful to us “as a proper subject for our meditations on the entrance of a new year”, for they "lead us to a consideration of past mercies and future hopes and intimate the frame of mind which becomes us when we contemplate what the Lord has done for us”.
consideration500          contemplate500
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Marylynn Rouse, 23/03/2015