John Newton to Thomas Robinson

15. 27 March 1781*
Dear Sir
You now have Cardiphonia; and, consequently, as I can write little new, I am not bound to write at all; yet, because I love you, I will send a line of thanks for your two last. I believe you will not hereafter complain of my devoting too much time to letter-writing; for it is but seldom I can get two hours, or even one hour, to myself. I had more leisure at Olney in one week than I have now in six. This series of engagements I hope is providential, and not of my own seeking. I know not that I either make visits or receive visitants, but in what appears to me a way of duty; but I am indeed very much abroad, and when at home, seldom alone, so that writing, and even reading, is much abridged. I am continually upon the expense, preaching and prating, and so little time for seeking supplies in the methods usually included in the term study, that I may seem in danger of bankruptcy. I compare my change of life to the case of Israel. I ploughed and sowed while it was practicable. But in this situation, if the Lord did not feed and supply me as with manna, immediately from Himself, I must starve. He is so gracious, that though my present course is so very different from what I was long accustomed to (for in Olney I had six or eight hours in a day quite to myself), yet I seem not under any disadvantage as to public service. As London, from end to end, is my parish—for I have some friends or connections in all the opposite cor­ners—so London is my study and closet likewise. I am often searching for a text, or trying to ruminate upon one, when I am squeezing through the crowds in the streets. How finely Mr Self has slipped in for a subject! But he shall retire. I only chiefly mean to bear witness for your encouragement, to the Lord's faithfulness and goodness, in suiting His help to our situation.
I should have supposed, if you had not told me, that you have trials at Leicester likewise. But the Lord, like His emblem the sun, is equally near in all places; and He is equally mindful of those whom He has taught to look to Him. Your child (like a green-house plant) is safely housed out of the reach of storms. Your leg (I hope) is better. The hurt you received led you to acknowledge the Lord's goodness, that it was no worse, and that it was so soon healed. It reminded you of your need of His help, and furnished you with a proof of His mercy in answer­ing prayer. The inconvenience, I trust, is quite removed. The benefit, I hope, will remain, when not even the scar can be perceived. I sent you a few Fast ser­mons,[1] which I hope you received. You may please to distribute them as love tokens, amongst my friends and yours, at your discretion. A few single sermons are hardly worth the trouble of a sale.
I sent one (or rather two) to the Bishop of London, and received a short hand­some letter expressing thanks and approbation. May the Bishop of Souls make them useful; then I shall be glad they were printed.
More answers to Thelypthora![2] If one or two persons are not able to dispatch it, perhaps it may fall like Caesar by three-and-twenty wounds. I wish it was dead and buried. Sometimes in my zeal I almost long to give one thrust at it myself. Many projects fail for want of money, and some for want of time. I could wish Mr Riland[3] cured of his Thelypthora-mania. I hope the disorder will not be infectious to the ministers who meet at Birmingham. But were I one of the society, I should be inclined either for that, or for some other reasons, to keep at home, till the violence of the symptoms were abated. It appears to me a prevalent error. The good Lord keep us from error, and teach us by the examples before our eyes, how little we are able to keep ourselves.
A cold has brought a rheumatism into my arm that was dislocated. The pain is seldom off, and seldom violent, not worth mentioning, especially when I can add (sin excepted) Cætera lætus.[4] When Mrs Newton is ill I feel something worse than the rheumatism; but she is pretty well, and I have nothing at present to com­plain of but an evil heart. We join in love to all our good friends. I wish to peep at you this summer; but whether I shall, or when, is in the Lord's hands, and He has not cleared the way yet. If I come, I trust it shall be at the night-time, and come I must, if He pleases to send me. Pray for us.—

I am most affectionately yours,
Hoxton, March 27, 1781        John Newton
*    The Evangelical Register, 1838; page 275, No. 10  


[1] The appointed Fast Day was 21 February 1781
[2] Madan’s ideas were refuted in publications such as Remarks on polygamy ... in answer to the rev. Mr. M[a]d[a]n's Thelypthora, Thomas Wills, 1781
[3] John Riland (1736-1822), then perpetual curate of St Mary’s, Birmingham, later rector of Sutton Coldfield, had entered the public debate about prostitution.
[the above John Riland not to be confused with John Ryland snr (1723-1792) or John Ryland jnr (1753-1825)]
[4] Cætera lætus: in other respects I was happy [Horace's Epistles, 1.10.50]



Marylynn Rouse, 29/06/2015