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03 August, 2013

John Newton Shared Some of His Grief After his Wife Passed Away!

From: Letter from John Newton's to His Wife
John wrote this after his wife passed away.


Through the whole of my painful trial, I attended all my stated and occasional services, as usual; and a stranger would scarcely have discovered, either by my words or looks, that I was in trouble. Many of our intimate friends were apprehensive, that this long affliction, and especially the closing event, would have overwhelmed me; but it was far otherwise. It did not prevent me from preaching a single sermon—and I preached on the day of her death.

After she was gone, my willingness to be helped, and my desire that the Lord's goodness to me might be observed by others for their encouragement, made me indifferent to some laws of established custom—the breach of which is often more noticed than the violation of God's commands. I was afraid of sitting at home, and indulging myself by poring over my loss; and therefore I was seen in the street, and visited some of my serious friends the very next day

I likewise preached three times while she lay dead in the house. Some of my brethren kindly offered their assistance; but, as the Lord was pleased to give me strength, both of body and mind, I thought it my duty to stand up in my place as formerly. And after she was deposited in the vault, I preached her funeral sermon, with little more sensible emotion than if it had been for another person. I have reason to hope that many of my hearers were comforted and animated under their afflictions, by what they saw of the Lord's goodness to me in my time of need. And I acknowledge that it was well worth standing a while in the fire, for such an opportunity of experiencing and exhibiting the power and faithfulness of his promises.

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I was not supported by lively sensible consolations—but by being enabled to realize to my mind some great and leading truths of the Word of God. I saw, what indeed I knew before—but never until then so strongly and so clearly perceived, that, as a sinner, I had no right; and, as a believer, I could have no reason to complain. I considered her as a loan, which He who lent her to me had a right to resume whenever He pleased; and that as I had deserved to forfeit her every day from the first, it became me rather to be thankful that she was spared to me so long, than to resign her with reluctance when called for

Farther, that his sovereignty was connected with infinite wisdom and goodness; and that consequently, if it were possible for me to alter any part of his plan, I could only spoil it—that such a short-sighted creature as I, so blind to the possible consequences of my own wishes, was not onlyun worthy—but unable, to choose well for myself; and that it was therefore my great mercy and privilege that the Lord condescended to choose for me. May such considerations powerfully affect the hearts of my readers under their troubles, and then I shall not regret having submitted to the view of the public, a detail which may seem more proper for the subject of a private letter to a friend. They who can feel for me, will, I hope, excuse me. And it is chiefly for their sakes that I have written it.

When my wife died, the world seemed to die with her—I hope to revive no more! I see little now—but my ministry and my Christian profession, to make a continuance in life, for a single day, desirable; though I am willing to wait my appointed time. If the world cannot restore her to me, (not that I have the remotest wish that her return was possible,) it can do nothing for me. The Bank of England is too poor to compensate for such a loss as mine. But the Lord, the all-sufficient God, speaks, and it is done. Let those who know him, and trust him, be of good courage. 

He can give them strength according to their day; he can increase their strength as their trials are increased, to any assignable degree. And what he can do, he has promised he will do. The power and faithfulness on which the successive changes of day and night, and of the seasons of the year, depend, and which uphold the stars in their orbits, is equally engaged to support his people, and to lead them safely and unhurt (if their path is so appointed) through floods and flames. Though I believe she has never yet been (and probably never will be) out of my waking thoughts for five minutes at a time; though I sleep in the bed in which she suffered and languished so long; I have not had one uncomfortable day, nor one restless night, since she left me. I have lost a right hand, which I cannot but miss continually; but the Lord enables me to go on cheerfully without it.

May his blessing rest upon the reader! May glory, honor, and praise, be ascribed to his great and holy name, now and forever! Amen.

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains!" Habakkuk 3:17-19