For the last twelve years or so I’ve very much enjoyed reading John Newton’s works – letters, sermons, and hymns. Newton’s memoirs are also very much worth reading! Below is a part from his memoirs where Newton recounts his conversion. It’s important to note that his conversion wasn’t an instant experience; it didn’t happen overnight. When God brings people to faith in Christ it is sometimes a longer process. I mention this for two reasons. First, if you can’t remember the exact moment you became a Christian, don’t sweat it. It doesn’t mean you were never converted! Second, I mention this to remind readers to be patient with people who have only recently come to faith in Christ. They won’t understand everything about the faith in just a few weeks or months! Be patient with them. Here’s the quote from Newton’s memoirs:
“Thus far the Lord had wrought a marvelous thing; I was no longer an infidel; I heartily renounced my former profaneness, and had taken up some right notions; was seriously disposed, and sincerely touched with a sense of the undeserved mercy I had received, in being brought safely through so many dangers. I was sorry for my past misspent life, and purposed an immediate reformation. I was quite freed from the habit of swearing, which seemed to have been as deeply rooted in me as a second nature. Thus, to all appearance, I was a new man!
“But, though I cannot doubt that this change, so far as it prevailed, was wrought by the Spirit and power of God, yet still I was greatly deficient in many respects. I was in some degree affected with a sense of my enormous sins, but I was little aware of the innate evils of my heart. I had no apprehension of the spirituality and extent of the Law of God; or of the hidden life of a Christian, as it consists in communion with God by Jesus Christ; a continual dependence on him for hourly supplies of wisdom, strength, and comfort—was a mystery of which I had as yet no knowledge.
I acknowledged the Lord’s mercy in pardoning what was past, but depended chiefly upon my own resolution to do better for the time to come. I had no Christian friend or faithful minister to advise me that my strength was no more than my righteousness; and though I soon began to inquire for serious books, yet, not having spiritual discernment, I frequently made a wrong choice; and I was not brought in the way of evangelical preaching or conversation (except the few times when I heard—but understood not) for six years after this period. Those things the Lord was pleased to reveal to me gradually. I learned them, here a little and there a little, by my own painful experience, at a distance from the common means and ordinances, and in the midst of the same course of evil company and bad examples I had been conversant with for some time.
“From this period I could no more make a mock at sin, or jest with holy things; I no more questioned the truth of Scripture, and had a sense of the rebukes of conscience. Therefore I consider this as the beginning of my return to God, or rather of his return to me
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