[website under re-construction]

Australia Day 26 January

National Christian Heritage Sunday 1 February 2015

RJ Square 2015 anniversary ser
Commemorating the First Christian Service in Australia
Richard Johnson Square
photo: Ramon Williams
From John Newton's diary, 8 July 1777:  
John Newton portrait 1779 Jul 8 Cook
"reading the account of the late voyage of Capt Cook in the Southern Ocean"
Sydney Cove i
  1779 Jul 8 benighted  

"Lord, hast thou not a time for these poor benighted souls;

when thou wilt arise and shine upon them?"

9 years later, Newton became part of the answer to his prayer:  
  "The simplicity of Mr Johnson’s  views, his integrity and humility, give me a pleasing expectation, that the Lord himself has chosen and called him to this service – if so, we may cheerfully expect a happy event."

"To you, as the instrument, we owe the pleasing prospect of an opening for the propagation of the Gospel in the Southern Hemisphere.  Who can tell what important consequences may depend upon Mr Johnson's going to New Hollands!"
Newton to Wilberforce, 1 & 15 November 1786

The Most Reverend
the Primate and Patriarch of the Southern Hemisphere

(as Newton addressed his letter to Johnson)
Richard Johnson
on the
First Fleet
  Newton to Johnson:
"Go, bear the Saviour's name to lands unknown,
Tell to the southern world his wondrous grace;
And energy Divine thy words shall own
And draw their untaught hearts to seek his face."
Golden Grove
HMS Golden Grove
RJ sq RJ sq 1st

Johnson's Bible,
signed by
HM Queen Elizabeth II
and other royals
Richard Johnson Square
Johnson's first sermon was from Psalm 116:12
What shall I render unto the Lord
for all his benefits toward me?
watch a video about Johnson's Bible

from St Philip's York St
"It may seem but a small event at present. 
So a foundation stone, when laid, is small compared with the building to be erected upon it;
but it is the beginning and the earnest of the whole."
Newton to Wilberforce, 15 November 1786
  "This small beginning, may be like the dawn, which advances to a bright day, and lead on to the happy time,
when many nations, which now sit in darkness, and in the region of the shadow of death,
shall rejoice in the light of the Sun of Righteousness."
At Johnson's request, Newton did some minor editing for him, attending to "omitting repetitions, or drawing your thoughts into a closer compass, but I hope you will not find that I have added a single sentiment of my own".
The result, Johnson's "Address", was the first ever publication for Australians.
  Richard Johnson's
Address to The Inhabitants of The Colonies Established in New South Wales and Norfolk Island
ausflag Richard Johnson held the first Christian service in Australia on 3 February 1788.
In commemoration of the arrival of the Gospel in Australia,
National Christian Heritage Sunday is celebrated annually on the first Sunday in February.



  Sunday 31 January
Carried safe through the day, and enabled for the several services, but had no particular enlargement. The Lord grant that I may be humble and dependant.
Romans 5:11 [And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.]
Genesis 22:14 [And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.]

Saturday 30 January
Every day much alike. I and mine are favoured with health and peace from week to week. My friend's affliction is still heavy, though we hope some circumstances are favourable. We are sure however that he is in safe hands, and that the Lord who loves him will do all things well. I was engaged today in writing etc, when I had leisure.

Thursday 28 January
Met the children. Walked, visited and in the evening preached. At intervals of leisure writing etc. The hour of deliverance not yet come. May the Lord give us patience to wait for it as we ought.
Acts 13:17 [The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.]

Orchard Side sepia
Orchard Side
the former home of
William Cowper

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
Thursday 31 December 1772
  Preached in the evening from Job 16:22  a kind of funeral sermon for the Old Year which is now gone – beyond reach.

The comforts and the trials of another year are finished and can be repeated no more.

It has been to me a year of great mercies, and great sinfulness.

...How many scenes have I past through in the time. By what a way has the Lord led me. What wonders has he shown me!

...O Lord accept my praise for all that is past, enable me to trust thee for all that’s to come – and give a blessing to all who may read these records of thy goodness, and my own vileness.
Amen and Amen.

  Xmas 2014 card 800

Christmas Morning 1773


God spared not his own Son but sent him into the world
... in the form of a servant

  to know Ps 87  

To know these things aright,
will make the commemoration of the birth of Christ
joyful any day and every day.

  Image copyright (granted for this website only):
Harvard University Library; Princeton University Library; Cowper & Newton Museum; Colin Berriman; The John Newton Project

Marylynn Rouse, 31/12/2014