The Works of John Newton Volume 2

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 2. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 766 pp. 4-Volume set – $150.00 Purchase the entire set from The Banner of Truth Trust for much less.

Introduction

You can read the review of Volume 1 here. You can read the review of Volume 3 here. You can read the review of volume 4 here.

From the dust jacket:

When John Newton, ex-sea captain and, as yet, unsuccessful candidate for the Church of England ministry, finished his first book (an autobiography) in 1762 there was no ready publisher. Any thought that he was destined to become one of the best known authors of his age would have been as fantastic as the last 37 years of his life. But in both cases the improbable came about. Becoming curate of Olney, a small village in the south of England, in 1764, Newton there laid his reputation as an evangelical writer, pre-eminently by his published letters and by the Olney Hymns (including ‘How Great the Name of Jesus Sounds, ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘Amazing grace’). Before the end of his subsequent pastorate at St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807), his writings were prized around the world from America to Australia.

Newton has a firm place in the classics of Christian literature. While his style is strong and clear, it is the spiritual attractiveness and importance of his main themes which secure the permanent value of his writings. Most of his books came, unpremeditated, out of a need to help his congregation or individual hearers, and it is in practical helpfulness towards Christian living that he excels. If he is loved rather than admired, it is for this reason. Conformity to Christ is the one subject upon which his themes finally focus (‘It will not be a burden to me at the hour of death that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others’). Not surprisingly, Alexander Whyte could write, ‘For myself, I keep John Newton on my selectest shelf of spiritual books: by far the best kind of books in the whole world of books.’

The text of this new four-volume edition of The Works of John Newton has been entirely reformatted, producing a clear and easily navigable set of documents for today’s reader.

Summary

Volume 2 continues where volume 1 left off with more letters followed by an appendix for all the letters.

Next, in this volume is six sermons Newton intended for the pulpit. These include a look at the deceitfulness of the heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10) and all things being given to us with Christ (Romans 8:32). The third section is comprised of twenty sermons delivered at his church in Olney. Part of the allure here is also the addition of the hymns sung at Olney that conclude this particular volume.

Also included is a two-part “review of ecclesiastical history” that is more than 200 of the over 750 pages of the book.

Review

This particular volume introduces the reader to the Pastor Newton who preached in the pulpit. With over 26 sermons, you will be able to see what made John Newton tick. His proclamation of the gospel as a pastor is, in my estimation, one of the most lacking areas of information the church has today on this giant of the faith. He is known primarily as a hymn-writer with a wonderful gospel testimony.

While his letters are of inestimable value, I have found his sermons to be of even greater value. This may be due to my being a pastor, but it helps to explain a lot of the theology behind the hymns and such. Also, it shows that a pastor who loves his congregation (and Newton certainly did if the letters are any indication) is able to speak with great boldness in the pulpit. This is to be emulated today though it is too much work for too many pastors…unfortunately.

Recommendation

As the larger portrait of John Newton unfolds in these 4 volumes of works, I am finding each particular volume is excellent in its own right. Yet, when you bring them all together, you have one excellent picture of a godly man who loved His Lord more than anything else. I highly recommend this 4-volume set to all Christians.

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