John Newton's Letters

Soldiers of Christ

July 13, 1776.
My dear Sir,
The Lord, who mercifully called you out of a state of thoughtless dissipation, and has hitherto been with you—will, I trust, sweeten all your trials, and cause his light to shine upon your paths.

The Lord is all-sufficient. A lively sense of his love, a deep impression of eternity, a heart filled with zeal for his cause, and a thirst for the good of souls—will, I hope, enable you to make a cheerful sacrifice of whatever has no necessary connection with your peace and his service. And you may rest assured, that whenever He, who loves you better than you do yourself, sees it best for you upon the whole to change your condition—he will bring it about. He will point out the person, prepare the means, and secure the success, by his providence, and the power he has over every heart. And you shall see that all previous difficulties were either gracious preventions, which he threw in the way—to prevent your taking a wrong step; or temporary bars, which, by his removing them afterwards, should give you opportunity of more clearly perceiving his care and interposition in your favor. In the mean time, remember your high calling. You are a minister and ambassador of Christ—you are entrusted with the most honorable and important employment that can engage and animate the heart of man! 1Ti. 4:15.

Filled and fired with a constraining sense of the love of Jesus and the worth of souls, impressed with an ardor to carry war into Satan's kingdom, to storm his strong-holds, and rescue his captives; you will have little leisure to think of anything else.

How does the love of glory stimulate the soldier, make him forget and forego a thousand personal tenderness, and prompt him to cross oceans, to traverse deserts, to scale mountains, and plunge into the greatest hardships and the thickest dangers! They do it for a corruptible crown—a puff of breath, an empty fame; their highest prospect is the applause and favor of their prince.

We likewise are soldiers—we have a Prince and Captain who deserves our all. Those who know him, and have hearts to conceive of his excellence, and to feel their obligations to him, cannot, indeed, seek their own glory; but his glory is dearer to them than a thousand lives. They owe him their souls, for he redeemed them with blood, his own blood; and by his grace he subdued and pardoned them when they were rebels, and in arms against him! Therefore they are not their own; they would not desire to be their own. When his standard is raised, when his enemies are in motion, when his people are to be rescued, they go forth, clothed with his panoply; they fight under his eye, they are sure of his support, and he shows them the conqueror's crown. Oh, when they think of that "Well done, good servant" with which he has promised to welcome them home when the campaign is over, hard things seem easy, and bitter things seem sweet. They count nothing, not even their own lives, dear, so that they may finish their course with joy. May the Lord make us thus minded; give us a hearty concern for his business; and he has engaged to take care of ours; and nothing that can conduce to our real comfort and usefulness shall be withheld.