John Newton to Thomas Robinson

6. 17 December 1778*
My Dear Friend
A particular incident so breaks in upon me, that I can send but a line or two;[1] not to tell you I shall be from home, but that I shall be at home and waiting with much desire to see you. If it suits, I shall be glad to have you here to spend Sunday with us, and the diligence would bring you within a few yards of our door, on Saturday. If you come on Monday, you must be landed at Newport.
My heart rejoices in the happy event of St. Mary's. I congratulate Leicester, you, and myself. I account it a great honour to have been a little pivot, employed in the moving this important wheel of Providence. You thought proper to employ me, or it would have turned without me; for I believe your case and character would have engaged Lord D_'s attention, from whatever quarter it had been mentioned to him, or if you had applied to him in your own name. I do not account either my intimacy or interest with him to be very great, but upon this occasion I certainly made the most of them, and wrote with a sort of peremptoriness, which would hardly have become me upon any other.[2] [3]
The great Lord of all lords has done it. I trust for your comfort, and for the good of many souls; and I doubt not but He will answer your prayers, and fill you with wisdom, grace and zeal in His service. When you are near Him, think of poor me.
My and Mrs Newton's love to dear Mr Foster,[iv] and the family he is with. The Lord bless you, and bring you safely and speedily to your affectionate friend and servant,
December 17, 1778 John Newton
*    The Evangelical Register, 183; page 220, No. 7

[1] Two “particular incidents” took place during this week: “May I never forget yesterday. In the evening my dear _[Mary] was suddenly seized with a most violent cholic, which not only gave me pain for the present, but alarmed me for the event. It seemed as if without relief it might have been fatal.” 16 December 1778.
The rest of his entry under “16” applies to Thursday 17th. Either he wrote the wrong date on the Thursday (more likely as his midweek entries were often Tuesday and Thursday), or he left off writing on Wednesday 16th and continued on Thursday without entering a new date. On Saturday 19th he wrote: “Visiting a poor woman at Clifton who sent for me, I fell almost from the top of the stairs to the bottom, yet received no harm, except a little pain which soon went off.”
It was probably the first incident Newton was referring to in his letter written on the 17th – it’s not clear on which day the second incident took place, as his entry on the 19th reviews the week’s mercies – Robinson called at Olney in person on the 19th on his way to London.
[2] Newton’s diary, 16 December 1778: “A letter from Mr Robinson informs me, that thou hast given him the Living in Leicester, which seemed so desirable for the perpetuating the Gospel in a place where thou hast already opened many hearts to receive it. I thank and praise thee for it, and for the honour done to me, in making me in some small measure  instrumental, by inclining Lord D_[Dartmouth] to attend to the application I made at my friend’s request, page 222 [see 28 May 1778].”
[3] Newton to William Wilberforce, 5 May 1786, on recommending Edwin Griffin as Robinson’s curate: “I had the honour and pleasure through the favour of Lord Dartmouth to be instrumental in procuring St Mary Leicester for Mr Robinson, which has proved a great blessing to the town.”
[4] Henry Foster, qv (No. 3, March 1777)


Marylynn Rouse, 16/06/2015