Swimming down the stream of vanity and folly

(Letters of John Newton)

My dear wife,
What is all below—but vanity and vexation! There is no solid comfort, no abiding peace—but what we derive from God. Once we knew nothing of this. But the Lord directed our path in life, in subservience to the designs of His saving grace. How few of those with whom you were acquainted in your early years, have any right knowledge of God—or of themselves. We ourselves set out upon this dreadful plan; and, if God's mercy had not stopped us—we would have gone on, until we had perished with a lie in our own right hands! Admire the Lord's goodness in choosing you (as one of a thousand) to the knowledge of His truth—when you might have been still swimming down the stream of vanity and folly, with the thoughtless multitude!

The great lesson we have to learn, is to love and trust the Lord Jesus. We are slow scholars, but He can teach us effectually. Without Him, the very best of this life is insipid. His presence can make the worst things supportable. He can . . .
  forgive sin,
  impart grace,
  subdue corruption,
  silence unbelief,
  make us strong in our weakness, and
  do more than we can either ask or think!
And what He does—He does freely, without money and without price!

A humble spirit, sincere faith, heart-felt repentance, and every other grace and virtue—are all His gifts, which He bestows freely on the unworthy.

We have nothing, deserve nothing, can do nothing; but He is mighty to both save and to preserve all who come to Him in sincere faith and love.

May we grow daily in the knowledge of His grace, and views of His excellency. He will surely, though gradually, make Himself known to the heart that sincerely seeks Him. Everything else is vain, uncertain and changeable.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus—the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2