Stupid creature!

(Letters of John Newton)

"What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

January 27, 1778
My dear friend,
At present it is January with me—both within and without. The outward sun shines and looks pleasant—but his beams are faint, and too feeble to dissolve the frost.

Is it just so in my heart. I have many bright and pleasant beams of truth in my mind's view—but they have but little power to warm my heart—and cold predominates in my frost-bound spirit!

I could tell a stranger something about Jesus, which would perhaps astonish him—such a glorious person is He! Such wonderful love! Such humiliation! Such a life! Such a death! I could tell of what He is in Himself, and what He is to His people! What a sun! What a shield! What a fortress! What a friend! My tongue can run on upon these themes sometimes; and could my heart keep pace with it—I would be the happiest fellow in the country! Stupid creature! to know these things so well—and yet be no more affected with them!

Indeed, I have reason to be upon ill terms with myself! It is strange that pride should ever find anything in my experience to feed upon—but this completes my character for folly, vileness, and inconsistency—that I am not only vile—but proud! And though I am convinced I am a very wretch, and nothing before the Lord—yet I am prone to go forth among my fellow-worms, as though I were wise and good!

You ask me what I am doing. I must admit, that too much of my time passes in busy idleness, too much in waking dreams. I aim at something—but hindrances from within and without—make it difficult for me to accomplish anything! I dare not say that I am absolutely idle, or that I willfully waste much of my time. I have seldom one hour free from interruption: letters come that must be answered, visitors who must be received, and business which must be attended to. I have a good many sheep and lambs to look after—sick and afflicted souls, dear to the Lord—and these must not be neglected. Among these various avocations, night comes before I am ready for noon!

O precious, irrecoverable time!
O that I had more wisdom in redeeming and improving you!

I beg you to pray for me. I am a poor creature—and full of needs. I seem to need . . .
  the wisdom of Solomon,
  the meekness of Moses, and
  the zeal of Paul—
to enable me to fulfill my ministry.