John Newton to Thomas Robinson

26. 13 November 1788*
My Dear Friend
Congratulate me on the good news I received yesterday, namely, that Mr Robinson, of Leicester, is expected either to set out from thence, or to arrive here, the 24th instant. May the Lord make his journey safe, his visit comfortable to himself, pleasant and profitable to me and to many!
I think you would like to visit our Eclectic Society. Somebody told me that you had said so much. Our next meeting will be on the identical 24th instant; when I shall be glad to ask leave to introduce you among us on the subsequent meeting—December 8.[1] But a fundamental statute of our Commonwealth will not allow my petition to be heard, much less granted (though we all much wish for your company), unless I can say, that I offer it by your express desire. If therefore you mean to favour us, you will please to favour me with a line before you come up.
Our long and intimate acquaintance warrant me, I presume, to hope that you will give the first preference to my pulpit. I therefore claim you for Sunday, the 30th, in the forenoon. I shall be glad likewise to hear you there on Wednesday, the 26th. But if both should not be convenient, or should be too much for me to ask, I would rather have you on Sunday.
I need not tell you, that we are under much suspense and anxiety for the wel­fare of our good king (George III). The reports of his death were so strong a few days since, that we were almost forced to believe it. But through mercy he is still living. Much prayer has been made for him; and as prayer has been thus far answered, we are encouraged to hope for his recovery. I care not who thinks the case almost desperate, if the Lord God vouchsafes to hearken to the prayers of his people, “for to Him belong the issues from death.”[2] But we are short-sighted creatures; and therefore it becomes us to temper our petitions and desires with that thought, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”[3]
Our love to Mrs Robinson and all friends. Tell her we shall not be wanting to pray, that a blessing may rest upon her, upon your family and people, and that you may be restored to her and to them, in peace, at His good time.—I am sincerely, your affectionate and obliged friend and brother,
6, Coleman St. Buildings
November 13, 1788
  John Newton
*    The Evangelical Register, 1838; page 188, No. 6  


[1] The question proposed for 8 December 1788, when Robinson joined with the Eclectics, was: “How shall we distinguish between a useful and speculative knowledge in religious matters?” It would appear to have been Newton’s question. His comments included: “The one humbling, the other puffeth up… the one leads to certainty, the other to scepticism… the one enlarges, the other contracts the mind… the one warms and comforts, the other is uninteresting…” Robinson contributed: “How far is a known truth to engage speculation?... All useful knowledge to be obtained by prayer… the end for which we should study.”
[2] Psalm 68:20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death.
[3] Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.



Marylynn Rouse, 14/07/2015