CONVERSATIONS of John Newton with John Campbell
[Newton was born in 1725 — and died on December 21, 1807]
April 3. I called upon Mr. Newton, on my arrival from Scotland. When told who I was, he said, "I am glad you are come, but I cannot see you, for my sight is so gone. I observe your face, but I cannot distinguish your features." At dinner a person remarked, that the East India Company had overset the college at Calcutta.
"What a pity," said I.
"No," said Mr. Newton "No pity — it must do good. If you had a plan in view, and could hinder opposition, would you not prevent it?"
"Well, God can hinder all opposition to his plans — he has permitted that to take place, but he will carry on his own plan. I am learning to see God in all things — I believe not a person knocks at my door but is sent by God."
The conversation turned upon the lack of teeth. Mr. Newton was silent for some time — at length he said, "Give over that conversation, it is too trifling for Christians. Let us talk about the Lord."
April 7. Speaking respecting Colossians 1:28, 29, he said, "To attack human depravity with philosophy, or fine sentiments, or by extolling morality — I compare to fighting Goliath with a paper sword. Christ was the subject of Paul's preaching, and no man did more good. One who preaches Christ, should know him. Colleges can never make up the lack of the knowledge of Christ. Without Christ, ministers may amuse their audience, perhaps may send them away admiring the sermon — but Paul would have thought little of this. Paul warned every man of Hell — and of existing eternally in misery, if they persisted in sin. He warned Christian men of their danger of being taken in the snare of the devil — thousands of unseen enemies surround us. To present every man perfect. "This," said he, "is not sinless perfection — the more grace a man has, the quicker sensibility he has about sin — nor is it the perfection of an angel, but of a child, who has all the parts of a man, but is not a man. A perfect Christian is one who has all the parts of a Christian, the head, the heart, the hands, etc. if we may so speak — he has faith, love, humility, etc.
"Some people confine their religion to devotional exercises, and lay great stress upon it — but these are not mature Christians; this is only a part of Christianity. Some are offended at the minister who detects them in any part of their character which is defective; but a Christian is thankful when his defects are revealed to him."
April 10. After tea, Mr. Newton proposed some questions for discussion. The principal ones were:
What is the difference between a tender and a scrupulous conscience? How far is a scrupulous conscience obligatory?
Those present agreed, that a tender conscience must always be a well-informed one — and a scrupulous conscience not. Some were of opinion, that it is right always to obey conscience — that where it is wrong, the sin lies in not properly using the means of information.
April 14. Mr. Newton remarked, that "the communion of saints could not be easily made intelligible to the world; but a Christian in London could rejoice in the conversion of a man in the East Indies, whose face he never saw, nor ever expected to see on earth. He can also feel for a congregation when they have a faithful pastor removed from them by death, though not personally acquainted with anyone person in that congregation."
"A philosopher," said he, "would smile at the ignorance of a Christian ploughman, who would consider the sun no larger than his cartwheel. But the ploughman, in his turn, would be as much surprised at the philosopher's ignorance, if he attempted to persuade him that the Savior was only a mere man, like Paul. There is a greater disproportion between Jesus and Paul, than between the sun and the cart-wheel. The philosopher would not be capable of persuading the ploughman, that it was a few tall men who placed the sun in the heavens; he would find it equally hard to persuade him that he who made atonement for sin, was only a man."
"The knowledge of arts, sciences, business, etc. are good things; but if men, going to eternity, spend all their time in pursuing these, they are mere fools! They neglect the best knowledge."
April 17. Before family worship in the morning, Mr. Newton made a few pertinent remarks on Hebrews 2:14. "Abel," said he, "was a good man, a convinced sinner — made God's will his rule — so he offered sacrifice. This was not a natural suggestion; it was contrary to carnal reason to think that destroying any of God's works could please him. The philosophers, in all the countries where it has been practiced, have conformed to the custom of the country, but they have smiled at the practice. Cain was one of these wise reasoners; he considered it more rational to offer some of the fruits of the ground as a thank-offering."
"Warburton tells us that there was no revelation of a future state of rewards and punishments previous to the captivity — but could it not be plainly inferred from this passage. If no reward after death, it must have been considered a. very dangerous thing indeed to please God, seeing, it exposed a man to instant annihilation; for Cain slew Abel on that account. Cain very much, resembled the Pharisee, and Abel the Publican, in the New Testament. The whole of Hebrews 11 contains a history of the exploits of faith."
After prayer, turning to me, he said, "When you leave London, it is probable you will never see me again. I am an old man now; but I leave the day of my death to God's choosing. He did not consult me when he should bring me into the world, and he will not do it about my going out of it. It will not do to live on past experience. I must live by the day, by the hour, by the minute — on God. Recollecting I had a good meal last week, will not feed me today. I must have new food, or I shall starve."
Conversing upon 2 Corinthians 5:2: "House from Heaven." "If it does not refer to some temporary case for holding the soul," he said, "I do not know the meaning of it. I cannot conceive of seeing without eyes, or hearing without ears. But I will tell you of a poor carpenter at Sheerness, whom I frequently went to hear, in my young days, in a small room. He used to take a good many verses for his text. When he came to a difficult one, he would say, 'We shall pass over this' — for he was a humble man. I wish many of us ministers would imitate this carpenter.'
"O!" said he, "I give many good advices to others — -which I do not take myself. Crosses are good things! God does most good to man by them — they humble him, they bring him to know his dependence on God."
"Men are most disposed to notice the power of God. Think of the power of God which supports this ponderous world — and that sun!" pointing to it.
April 22. Mr. Newton advised us to "beware of clever enemies to the truth, for they are generally subtle. Paul, who knew the wickedness of the human heart, and how ready men are to be carried away by winds of false doctrine, rejoiced when he beheld the steadfastness of the believers at Colosse."
May 1. Mr. Newton before prayer, read the hymn, "Upon the Sea" in Olney collection. He remarked, "that there are monsters in the heart of man as well as in the sea, even when they do not appear. In calm weather seamen will say: If it were always this way, old wives would go to sea, but by and by the wind rises, and the water rages, and all are at their wit's end. So it is often with God's people."
After breakfast I retired with him to his study. During the conversation he stated the following circumstance: "A minister told me of a dumb man, who was admitted a member of his church, and who made in writing a good confession. When they asked him, what he thought of Christ? he referred them to 1 Peter 2:7. He always referred them to the scriptures in answer to their questions.
"Mr. Polhill, a minister who lost his sight, told me he had never seen so clearly with his mind, as since he lost the use of his eyes. An old lady, who had lost her sight at the age of twelve, told me, that in ten years she lost almost all recollection of what sight was, and when I saw her, she declared she had not a wish for sight.
"King Herod and Saul were contemporaries. Saul was at least as wicked a man as Herod. But behold the sovereignty of God — Herod was eaten by worms and died, while Saul was converted!
"The angels know when a true work of grace is begun in a man's heart, for they rejoice on the real repentance of a sinner. Depend upon it, they never were mistaken, as we have often been."
He then said many things respecting his own former character, and with great feeling and humility. "O!" said he, "I was a base despicable creature! Sir, I was not a grossly abandoned creature merely, but I fought against Jesus — I sometimes compared him with Mahomet, and gave the preference to the latter — no vice was too wretched or wicked for me!
"Since French principles came among us, suicides have greatly increased — we hardly read a paper now without an instance or two of this."
May 7. At breakfast, Mr. Newton said to a gentleman, who had lately lost a daughter by death, "Sir, if you were going to the East Indies, I suppose you would like to send a remittance before you. This little girl is just like a remittance sent to Heaven before you go yourself. I suppose a merchant on the exchange is never heard expressing himself thus, 'O my dear ship, I am sorry she has got into port so soon! I am sorry she has escaped the storms that are coming.' Neither should we sorrow for children dying."
A person present told us of two of the seamen who were under sentence of death for the mutiny at Bantry-bay, having been brought to the knowledge of Jesus while under that sentence. The sentence being remitted, they were sent to the hulks at Woolwich. This gentleman providentially met with a letter from one of them, named C_____, to his father, in which he complained most pathetically of the dreadful company with which he was surrounded. The letter, altogether, was a most Christian one, and very well expressed. The father made sport of it, and exhibited it to the people who frequented a tavern, to excite laughter. By this means it came to the knowledge of this gentleman, who obtained it from the father. It is now in possession of those in power, and likely to procure their removal from the hulks. The writer was afraid of relapsing into his former profligacy, if he continued among the horrid company in the hulks. Upon hearing this relation, Mr. Newton remarked, "They would be in a more dangerous situation were they placed among a set of smooth reasoners in the higher circles of life — at present they are kept on watch; in the other case they would be off their guard, and more likely to receive damage."
May 14. Mr. Newton told us at breakfast, that "Mr. Collins," whom he called "archbishop of the free-thinkers, met one day with a plain countryman going to Church. He inquired where he was going?
"To church, Sir."
"What are you going to do there?"
"To worship God."
"Is your God a great or a little God?"
"He is both, Sir."
"How can he be both?"
"He is so great, Sir, that the Heaven of heavens cannot contain him, and so little that he can dwell in my heart."
Collins declared that the simple answer by the countryman had more effect upon his mind than all the volumes which the learned doctors had written against him."
"Dr. Taylor of Norwich," said Mr. Newton "told me, one day, that he had critically examined every original word in the Old Testament seventeen times; and yet he did not see those glorious things in the scriptures which a plain enlightened Christian sees in them. The Doctor had not the plain man's eyes. Criticisms in words, or rather ability to make them, is not so valuable as some may imagine. A man may be able to call a broom by twenty names, in Latin, Spanish, Dutch, Greek, etc. but my maid, who knows the way to use it, but knows it only by one name, is not far behind him."
The conversation turned upon the aspect of war. Some dreaded this would produce it — others that. Mr. Newton observed, "We need not dispute about these causes — the Lord reigns! The philosophers long disputed whether the earth moved around the sun — or the sun went round the earth. But while they were disputing, the sun, moon, and earth were moving in their courses."
Telling us how much his memory was decayed, "There," said he, "last Wednesday, after dinner, I asked Mrs. C_____ what I had been about that forenoon, for I could not recollect. "Why," said she — "You have been preaching at St. Mary's."
"It is astonishing," added Mr. Newton "when I am in the pulpit, I can recollect any passage of scripture I want to introduce into my sermon from Genesis to Revelation."
During another part of the conversation, he said, "I have a sun, and I know he is shining when I do not see him, and I wait until he shins again. O how seldom do we think how much we are indebted to Christ living in us! How seldom do we think of the natural life that is in us — of its being the cause of the motion of our fingers, feet, etc. But when a paralysis comes, we fall down — this sometimes draws our attention to it. If Christ were to suspend his living in our souls, we should as quickly fall foully as in the other case."
May 21. During breakfast, Mr. Newton remarked, "That if it was constant day — we never would see the stars, we never would have seen the glory of the heavens. Just so, if God was not to bring us into times of affliction — many precious and wonderful truths of God would remain in obscurity, as to us. Physicians do not prescribe sweet cakes for medicine; no, it is generally something that is bitter. In the same way, when God means to give us health of soul, he generally afflicts us. Had he not afflicted me, I might have fallen into something which might have been injurious to my character as a minister, consequently dishonoring to Jesus."
A friend told me of a good old man, who said, with sorrow, to Mr. Newton, that he could not recollect sermons now, as he used to do when younger. Mr. Newton took no notice at the time of what the old man had said; but a little after, he asked him if he recollected what he had for dinner that day last month. He answered, No, he did not. "Do you think that dinner helped to support you in life?" He replied, Yes, he did. "Well," said Mr. Newton "it is in that way you enjoy the word now."
May 28. Before prayer, Mr. Newton made some observations from 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." He began by saying, "This verse is a bone for Calvinists to pick."
He told us what he called his doctrine of preventatives. It was this, "God sends little trials in order to prevent greater ones. That you may understand distinctly what I mean, I will tell you a story. I knew a family who were going out to India, and had secured their passage on board a ship. They were happy that they were to go in so good a ship, so good a cabin, with so agreeable a captain, and so pleasant a company. They received a letter from Portsmouth, informing them they must join the ship at a certain day which was specified. They left London in time to spend two or three days with friends on the way down. These friends prevailed on them to stay two or three days beyond the time fixed, assuring them that a ship going upon a voyage of two or three years, would never keep to the very day fixed for sailing, perhaps not to the week.
On their arrival at Portsmouth, they found, to their great mortification, that the ship was sailed and just getting out of sight. They returned to London greatly dejected; but they were but a few days in London before they heard of the total loss of the ship in which they were to sail, (the Halsewell,) on the coast of Cornwall, and most of those on board perished. Here they had to admire the providence that detained them. The losing their passage was a little trial; but it prevented a much greater one."
As this was to be my last visit previous to my return to Scotland, when I rose to go away, he asked me to remain a little longer, adding, "you will probably see me no more." When I took my leave of him, he desired me to carry my pockets full of love from him to friends in Scotland.
Having returned to London on the 28th of October, 1803, I called at Mr. Newton's next morning. I found him attempting to read a little. When I told him who I was, he said, "Wait a little until I recollect myself." After being silent for about a minute, he held out his hand, saying, "I am glad to see you. I am very feeble. I never experienced before what it was to be seventy-nine."
While at dinner, conversing of the awful effects of sin in the world, he said, "That little of the effects of sin were to be seen here — in comparison of what shall be seen in the eternal world.
"Satan," said he, "frequently does great damage to the minds of God's people, in dulling their powers to perceive the truth, and their saving interest in the Lord. It resembles this: Suppose that while I was asleep, some person painted my spectacles green; in the morning, when I awoke, I would see everything green."
On the alarming state of the country, as threatened by foreign invasion, he remarked, "All is in good hands — all things are foreseen and managed by the Lord." Then he said, "O what a sorry creature I am — I believe, in my judgment, that no man in the world has more cause to be thankful than I; yet I am not thankful."
November 1. He had many excellent remarks on providence. One was, "Rahab of Jericho had her house on the wall. I do not know when she moved to it, but had she not had her house there, it is probable that she and her family would have been destroyed with the others."
When the servant was employed putting on his shoes, he looked up, saying, "I did not have this trouble in Africa — for I had no shoes! Sir," [looking to me] "when I rose in the morning and shook myself like a dog, I was dressed. For forty years past, I have thought, every waking hour, on my former misery." At worship, he read and expounded the 93d Psalm. He observed, that "the word was made flesh, took a human body, died, rose, and ascended in that body — and, at present, the Lord reigns over all in that body!"
November 5. Speaking of people who had met with losses, he said, "When we lived at Olney, we had a low fence in front of the house, within which we used to bring up birds. While they were very young, the fence prevented them from straying; but when they grew a little older, they used to fly over. To prevent this, Mrs. Newton clipped their wings, and that effectually prevented them from straying. God's sending losses to many of his friends, is like clipping their wings to prevent their straying."
November 29. Speaking in reference to Psalm 103:5, "Who satisfies your mouth with good things," etc. Mr. Newton said, "Bring a man to see the best covered table in the world, looking at it might gratify his eyes, but would never satisfy his mouth. We must taste, before we can see that God is good."
January 2. He told me that after he was settled at Olney, and had preached six sermons — he thought he had told them his whole stock, and was considerably depressed. "But," said he, "I was walking one afternoon by the side of the river. I asked myself, How long has this river run? Many hundred years before I was born, and will certainly run many years after I am gone. Who supplies the fountain from whence this river comes? God. Is not the fund for my sermons equally inexhaustible? — the word of God. Yes, surely. I have never been afraid of running out since that time." I asked if he had consumed all the variety in the bible now that he was an old man and an old minister. He smiled, and said, "O no, Sir! O no, Sir!"
April 20. Mr. Newton in the course of conversation, observed, that, "No man looking at the grub-worm in the garden would ever suspect that it would become a butterfly. In the same way, neither does it appear what believers shall be!"
October 9. Conversing of some remarkable conversions, and the wickedness on board some war-ships, he said, "Had I a medicine that could cure all diseases, I would not deal much with people who had only a cut finger to cure. I would go among inveterate and mortal diseases, that the power of my medicine might be more manifest. God often acts so."
Speaking of the glory of Jesus, he said, "O how little I love him — but I am sure I desire to love him."
A friend told me that some of the first missionaries who went out to Otaheite, called upon Mr. Newton one morning. Among other inquiries they asked, what books he would recommend to take with them. In answer to which, he said he would tell them a story. "There was a man and his wife who had no book but the bible. In this they read daily, and received much comfort. One day their minister from the pulpit, recommended some commentary. They attended to his recommendation, for they purchased the commentary, and sat down to read it. After reading in it for some time, the man asked his wife, how she felt now, under the commentary. I will tell you how I feel. When I read the bible itself, I felt as if I had drank a glass of wine; but this commentary tastes like a glass of wine in a pail of water. The wife acknowledged her feelings were the same; and by mutual consent they returned to the bible."
November 20. Calling on Mr. Newton, I asked him if he had any good news? "Yes, I have — the Lord reigns!"
"We have reason to praise the Lord, that in every sense that was not news to us," said a person present.
"It is news to us," replied Mr. Newton "as the song in Heaven is ever a new song. Why," added he, "the person who has the finest ear for music, and can relish it most, might be delighted to hear a new and excellent tune, frequently repeated; but he could not bear to hear it all the year round."
Conversing about trials, he said, "A blacksmith, when about to make a tool, puts his iron into the fire. In the same way, the Lord, when he means to make his people more holy, puts them into the furnace."
While we were conversing, a lady called, and inquired of Mr. Newton how he felt today? "I feel," said he, "like a man of eighty. I have long been a wonder unto many, and a wonder to myself. Had God left me to myself, and had I had the abilities of Hume and Voltaire — I would have been worse than either of them!"
"My time is not yet come," he observed, "When a man's heart is much set upon anything, he will pray very earnestly to obtain it; but even though the Lord may have promised that very thing, he will not get it until the Lord's time has come. The giving and the timing of things, are both from the Lord; and both are equally necessary. A man in spiritual distress cannot deliver himself from it, nor can all the world, though they should endeavor to assist him, until the Lord's time comes. Like a vessel that has run aground, all the men and horses you could find would not be able to draw it off; but so soon as the tide returns (and none can make the tide return a moment sooner than the regular fixed time) it moves off with the greatest ease. Even one man can move the ship now, which so many horses could not move before. So when God returns to a soul — it is an easy matter to steer clear of troubles, etc.
"A father who loves his child who is very ill, will employ and pay a physician to do very painful things to him — that the illness may thereby be removed."
A gentleman present, having related the circumstances that happened during a tremendous storm at sea he had been exposed to about three weeks before, the imminent danger he had been in of perishing, etc. — Mr. Newton turned to him, and said, "Sir, you were as safe there as here! The danger was only apparent, not real. I prove it by your having escaped it — only you did not know that you were to escape; if you had, you would not have been so much afraid. I have been almost in every quarter of the world, but I have received more damage at my own door than in any of them. We are immortal until our time comes!"
During another part of the conversation, Mr. Newton remarked, that, "The world loves the name, but not the nature of a Christian." As Christ was to the Jews and Greeks long ago, so he is to many yet — a stumbling-block and foolishness.
May 26. I asked Mr. Newton how he did. "Never in better health — but my spirits very low."
"Do you purpose trying a few weeks in the country this summer? The country air might recruit your spirits."
"No Sir, I never intend now to move beyond the stones of London, I am eighty. I have but little time left. I would not leave my people now for a thousand pounds."
"How does past life appear when looked back to from the top of eighty?"
"Like a dream!"
"We have had much forgiven us, do you not think so, Sir?"
"Yes, some as to outward conduct, owe fifty pence; others five hundred. In this sense, those who are forgiven much, should love much; but though much has been forgiven me — I love little."
"Are you much fatigued after preaching?"
"I am no more fatigued on a Sabbath evening than on a Saturday."
"Sir, I was telling Miss C_____ that I am soon going to Scotland by sea; she says I may be captured by the French."
"And though you are, they cannot take you to the wrong place — only where God would have you."
"Mr. R_____ is an amiable character. Let us admire God in such characters; they are what God makes them, and no more."
August 27. Called, and inquired how he did. "I am eighty-one since you went to Scotland." Speaking of Christians being more than conquerors, he said, "If a person was attacked on the highway by a robber, and he took a pistol from his pocket, and shot the robber dead — that person was a conqueror. Likewise, a general might obtain a victory, and die in the field, as General Wolfe did — yet he was a conqueror. A Christian when he overcomes death — overcomes his last enemy."
Speaking of the surprise of some at Mr. _____ leaving his people, among whom he had been useful, he said, "When I left Olney for London, some people were surprised; but I had reasons in my own mind, that I could not proclaim upon the Royal Exchange. Perhaps that may be Mr. _____'s case."
September 10. I found Mr. Newton very feeble. He said, "If you come to be eighty-one, though in good health, you will find your feelings not very pleasant. O it is good to have God with us. God did not say to Noah and his family — Go into the ark, but come into the ark. He was there before them."
I happened to say, that the promise in the 8th of the Romans, namely, "All things shall work together for good to those who love God," would be made good to every individual believer, and also to the church as a body, or great society. "Yes, to be sure," said he, "a bushel of peas is composed of so many individual peas; if you boil every individual pea, you boil the bushel."
I asked if he had written any more of his Ecclesiastical History than the single volume he had published? "No," said he, "I wrote that volume before I was a minister."
"Why did you not carry on the work?"
"Because I had not read enough of church history — but I was the remote cause of Milner writing his church history, which is a good one — he got the hint from me. There are many church histories, that contain a history of the vices of the men who called themselves Christians."
Did you ever meet, after you returned to Africa in better circumstances, that black woman mentioned in your Narrative, who treated you so harshly while you were in the fever?
"O yes; I will tell you about that affair. When I went there as captain of a ship, I sent my long boat ashore for her. They soon brought her on board. I desired the men to fire guns over her head, in honor of her. She seemed to feel it like heaping coals of fire upon her head. I made her some presents, and sent her ashore. She seemed to feel most comfortable when she had her back to my ship.
"I just recollect a circumstance," said he, "that happened to me when I first stepped ashore on the beach at that time. Two black females were passing — the first who noticed me observed to her companion, that there was Newton, and what do you think? He has got shoes! Ay, said the other, and stockings too! They had never before seen me with either."
A friend told me that he was present at Mr. Newton's when some ministers were disputing whether faith or repentance were first. Mr. Newton was silent until the debate was ended; then he said, "I have a question to ask. Are not the heart and lungs of a man both equally necessary to the life of the man?" Yes, surely. "Well, tell me which of these began to move first? This resembles the point you have been discussing."
September 24. Mr. Newton was in better spirits today than the last time I saw him. Conversing of the providence of God — which was a favorite topic of his, he said, "There is not a drop of rain which falls, which is not directed by God. There is not a particle of dust carried along by the wind, which is not carried the very place which God has appointed."
"I sometimes say that men live in a clock. The annual revolution of the heavenly bodies I call an hour; the four seasons are the quarters; days are the minutes; and hours, the seconds. I used to call Christmas twelve o'clock. But how many allow this great clock to go on, without observation."
"Human life, I sometimes compare to a candle, which can burn no farther than the socket. But it is in danger, frequently, of being put out before it gets to the socket."
May 20. Conversing of a minister in the church of Rome, who had written an excellent letter to the Bible Society, rejoicing in its institution, one observed, "Is it not wonderful to find such a man in such a church."
"No," said Mr. Newton "God brought an infidel from Africa, [meaning himself] to preach his Son in England. Indeed Paul was converted to God while breathing out slaughter against the people of Christ. But I am worse than Paul. He acted uprightly while opposing Christ. I did it contrary to conviction. I was religiously educated, and I knew well that I was doing wrong."
When conversing on another subject, Mr. Newton remarked that, "God's commands are like the works of his right hand, and his permissions like those of his left — but both fulfill his will."
"It is astonishing that Mr. _____ is not more popular!"
"He is as God made him — he has been honored by God to the conversion and building up of several."
Afterwards he remarked, "We perceive God's plans best, by taking an enlarged, general view of providence."
December 18. When I went in to Mr. Newton I inquired after his health. He said, "I am just as God would have me." He was much affected when he spoke of the death of his curate, Mr. Gunn, who had died only a few days before. He was so low at this time that I could hardly get him to speak. He said that his spirits were no better, but that he lay at the mercy of God."
A friend told me, that Mr. Newton when sending a supply of cash to Mr. Gunn, wrote on the outside of the parcel, "Ammunition, for my Gun."
January 14. I found Mr. Newton looking worse — his feet and legs so swelled that he could not walk across the room without help. I asked, "How do you do, Sir?"
"I am just as the Lord pleases."
"This is changeable weather."
"It is according to the Lord's will."
"There are great sufferings just now on the continent."
"All the fruit of sin."
February 10. Mr. Newton was now confided to his bed-room, not having been downstairs for three weeks. When I spoke, he said, "I know your voice still." He said also, "I have comfort from the Word — there is much comfort in it, could we take it." When taking leave of him, he held up his hand, and prayed, "The Lord be with you all the day long, and grant you the best desires of your heart."
May 28. Calling in the evening, I found Mr. Newton very weak. I sat by his side about ten minutes, repeating in his ear passages of scripture; but he spoke not a word, nor took any notice of me. I asked if he recollected who I was. He said, "I shall recollect you so long as I remember two words, Grass Market" (The street in Edinburgh to which he used to direct his letters to me.) After prayer with him, he thanked me, and shaking my hand, he wished every blessing might attend me.
July 20. When I left Mr. Newton on May 28, before going to Scotland, I never expected to see him any more in this world; but was happy to find him tonight more lively than he was when I parted from him. He said, "he hoped his friends in Scotland did not forget him." Having repeated Philippians 2:13. "For it is God who works in you to will and to do of his good pleasure;" he added, "Not at the same time — first to will, then to do."
Before we went to prayer, when the first verse of a hymn was read, he said, "You must read louder, for I cannot hear." At the end of the prayer, he said, with a loud voice, "Amen!" which showed he had heard and joined in the prayer.
December 14. Visited Mr. Newton this evening for the last time. He was very weak and low, more so than usual — it was thought to be owing to a cold. He took little notice of any present. I asked him how he slept? "Pretty well."
"There is no sleeping in Heaven, Mr. Newton."
"We shall not need it there." A little after he added, "We need it here." After going to prayer with him, he stretched out his hand, and shook mine, as if he thanked me; but he said nothing.
A person present mentioned, that the last time he had called on Mr. Newton he remarked to him how useful he had been by his writings — that Mr. Newton replied, "I need none of these sweetmeats."
Mr. Newton retired from all things here below, to his heavenly rest, on the following Monday evening, December 21, 1807. His memory will be revered for many ages by all the lovers of simple truth.