Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Live As to Be Missed

A selection from a letter by John Newton to John Ryland, Jr. The elder Newton, an Anglican, had a lengthy correspondence with the younger Ryland, a Baptist. Ryland’s letters to Newton have not survived but Newton’s letters to Ryland have. In this letter, Newton comments on Andrew Fuller, who had experienced a light stroke. It was an opportunity for Newton to speak of ministering faithfully so as to be missed when removed from the sphere of service to the Lord. The letter was written February 18, 1793.

I sympathize with Mr. Fuller, and shall be glad to hear that he is better. Should he be removed or laid aside it will doubtless be a loss to your denomination, and I suppose beyond that boundary. I hope that he and you and I shall all so live, as to be missed a little when we are gone. But the Lord standeth not in need of sinful man. And he sometimes takes away his most faithful and honoured ministers in the midst of their usefulness, perhaps [for this reason] among other reasons, that he may show us he can do without them. The residue of the Spirit is with him. And believers may confidently adopt Mr. Pope’s maxim, ‘Whatever is, is right.’ Blessed is the servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing, with his loins girded up, and his lamp burning. Give my love to Mr. Fuller and pray for me that I likewise may be faithful to the end.

Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letter to John Ryland, Jr., edited by Grant Gordon, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, letter #59, pp. 279-80.

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