Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Depend Upon His Promises
A selection from a letter by John Newton to Sarah Pearce, on hearing of the death of her husband. Sarah was married to Samuel Pearce, pastor of Cannon Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, England, from 1790 to 1799. He was only 33 years old when he died but he was a tremendous preacher and more importantly, a godly man. Very near his death, Sarah repeated to him the final verse of Newton’s hymn, “Begone, Unbelief.” Grant Gordon says, “Upon hearing of his death, Newton sent his widow a letter of condolence. He identified with her loss as he shared how God had helped him through the painful loss of his spouse. Then he expressed strong words of encouragement filled with scriptural allusions.” Pearce died October 10, 1799. The letter was written in November of that year.
You are a widow, yet not strictly so, for your maker, your redeemer, the Lord of hosts is still your husband… he is unchangeably the same, and because he lives, you shall live also. My friend Ryland informs me that you have five children, but your living husband knows their number and the names of them all. I doubt not but you and your husband, who has lately exchanged earth for heaven and a bed of languishing for a seat near the throne, offered up many prayers for them both jointly and separately. And you know the Lord our God is a hearer of prayer. Has he not said, ‘Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let your widows trust in me’ [Jer. 49:11].
Depend upon his promises, madam, they will bear you up. He has not bid his people seek his face in vain. All hearts and means are in his hands and he could as easily provide for fifty children, if you had so many, as for five, as for one.
Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letter to John Ryland, Jr., edited by Grant Gordon, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, p. 367.