John Newton to Thomas Robinson

17. 30 June 1781*
Dear Sir
Your letter found me at Olney on Wednesday,[1] and came with me hither yesterday. I should have waited till I could answer more at large, but that when you desire my opinion I ought not to delay. I am quite in sentiment with those of your friends on the point of the title, who think you may with great simplicity and uprightness, engage to give your curate £40 per annum, though the gentle­man should not choose to receive the money. You are bound to pay the money when required, and he certainly is at liberty to wave it. Suppose he actually receives the pay at stated times, and gives his receipt, and then returns it to you again? In this way I can see no shadow of deception. And perhaps he will not be unwilling to do this, not merely in point of form, but because your giving him a title, would probably subject you to a demand from his executors, except you had some discharge to show. And this world, and all things in it, is so changeable, and such unexpected turns sometimes occur, that I think you should be secure, for it would be disagreeable to be called upon hereafter for arrears, which the per­son himself had no thought of making you liable to.

The Lord was merciful to us in our excursion; we met with nothing that could be well called a cross. Mrs Newton had not one bad day while abroad. I think she has not been so well for an equal space of time, these four or five years past. We had much pleasure in visiting old friends, and I hope some tokens of the Lord's presence amongst us. My not visiting Northampton and Leicester was rather a baulk, but I clearly saw I could not do it without leaving the path of duty.
Mr Scott is well and in good spirits—he is in the main thankfully received; but there are some unquiet minds. Mr Page has left a few behind him, who follow him every Sunday to Ravenstone, and are angry with those who stay at home. But I expect the best will settle again by-and-by. I doubt not but that the Lord will support and own Mr Scott. But it has been of late both a fanning and a sifting time at Olney.
I have heard in general of trials at Leicester, but know not the particulars. I am glad to hear from you that they are subsiding. I trust the Lord will give you wisdom and patience. I think it has been lately discovered, that a little oil will smooth the sea to a considerable extent, even in stormy weather. Thus, gentle­ness and meekness in a minister, will, by degrees, soften or overcome very boisterous opponents. You will ask, and the Lord will give you, the prudence which is pro­fitable to direct, and the event shall be to His glory and your own comfort. Some who have opposed will I hope see and own their fault, and others be ashamed and put to silence. Difficulties, if encountered in faith and in a right spirit, will con­firm our characters and increase our usefulness. If Mr Self can but be snubbed and prevented from putting in his oar, all will be well.
We are very glad to hear Mrs Miles is recovering: we send our love to her and Mr Miles; I hope the Lord will give them a resignation to His will in all things. Indeed he does all things well, and faith can say so and abide by it, in defiance of the cavils of sense. Love to Mrs Robinson, Mr Moore, Wheatley, the Mr Ludlams, and all in their houses. We long to see you in London: I wish we had all of us together magnetism enough to draw you to us, provided it be the Lord's will.
I am most affectionately, yours,
Charles Square, June 30, 1781      John Newton
P. S. Mr Foster[2] set out this morning on his way to Yorkshire.  
*    The Evangelical Register, 1839; page , No. 23  


[1] Newton travelled to Olney and the neighbourhood in June 1781, visiting Cowper and Bull amongst others. His visit had been chiefly prompted by the illness and imminent death of Dorothea Foster-Barham, wife and mother of his close friends the Moravian family who lived in Bedford.
[2] Henry Foster, qv (No. 3, Mar 1777)



Marylynn Rouse, 01/07/2015