I perceive that your heavenly Father has again put you into the furnace!

(Letters of John Newton)

My Dear Madam,
I perceive that your heavenly Father has again put you into the furnace, and I trust that He will divinely impress upon your heart, that there is a needs be for it — and that the outcome of your present trial shall surely end in good to your soul.

His Word tells us that trials are absolutely necessary, and why they are so — as He would not afflict those whom He loves, but for their real profit. So He chooses those afflictions for us, and appoints them for us at such seasons, and attended with such circumstances — as He sees will be (all things considered) most for our spiritual advantage. The afflictions and trials of His people are always sent, either to cure — or to prevent something still worse.

Satan is compared to a fowler, and we sometimes are as little upon our guard as a thoughtless bird — the danger is close to us, but we are not aware of it. But, as a sudden noise affrights the bird, and makes it take wing and escape the snare — so the Lord often disappoints the devices of the enemy, by sending a seasonable trial to His dear children, which arouses them, and makes them flee to Him for safety.

I have often thought that if David had fallen and broke his leg when he was going up to the housetop — he would have missed the sight of Bathsheba, and that long train of evils which made him cry out of broken bones in a still more painful sense.

Just so, we do not know how things might have been with us — if such or such a painful dispensation had not happened. A course of continual prosperity might have lulled us to sleep. We must admit this, when we find ourselves still apt to be drowsy — even though the Lord is pleased to put thorns into our pillow.

Notwithstanding the feeling proofs we have of the vanity of the present state, our spirits are still too apt to cleave to the dust. What then might have been the case — had our path been always smooth?

He is a good master to serve — I have found Him to be so for thirty years.

Cheer up, dear Madam, the Lord does all things well! Do not be afraid of storms — for you have an infallible Pilot who will guide you with His eye, uphold you with His arm, and is every minute bringing you nearer to the harbor of eternal rest and peace!

We have just began harvest in these parts. The grain has passed through a variety of weather. Frosts and winds, rains and heat, each of which, singly, would have destroyed it — have each in their places (through the blessing of the Lord's overruling providence) concurred to bring it to its present maturity. The farmers here, as well as elsewhere, have had different fears and complaints at different times; they have thought sometimes the weather too cold or too hot, too wet or too dry, by turns. But their fears were groundless and vain — the crop is ripe, the stalks are loaded, and bend under the weight of the grain.

Is not this an emblem of the spiritual life? What changes of weather have we passed through, since the seeds of grace were first sown in our hearts! How often have we been ready to murmur at the appointments of the Heavenly Gardener! How hardly could we be persuaded that the afflictions, temptations, and trials which we have been exercised with — have, in their places, been no less subservient to our growth, than the more pleasing sunshine we have been sometimes favored with?

Yet, I trust, we are still growing and getting forward. Neither frost or floods have been able to destroy us; and Oh, Madam, (may our hearts rejoice at the thought!) the harvest is approaching! When He sees that we are fully ripe — when all that He has designed to do for us, in us, and by us, is completed — then He will separate us from these clods of earth, and remove us into His dwelling place, where we shall be done with fears and trials forever!

We shall not then live this poor dying life — neither shall we have to complain of an evil heart of unbelief. We shall not complain of a cold and careless heart — because we shall be at the fountain-head of all our best wishes and desires! We shall be enjoying, through eternal ages, that ineffable bliss which is prepared for all who love God, and who have been called by divine grace, out of the service of sin, Satan, and the world — to love and serve Him who is the Rock of eternal ages. Yes, my dear Madam, we shall, with unspeakable delight — see Jesus as He is, and be completely like Him! Let us, then, not be weary in well doing; for, in due season, we shall reap, if we fail not.

I am, my dear Madam,
Your obliged and affectionate Servant,
John Newton

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We have published George Mylne's insightful short article, "Man is Born to Trouble!"