The Works of John Newton Volume 4

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 3. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 709 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 2 here. You can read the review of Volume 3 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

As we have seen from the first two volumes of the works of John Newton, he was an extensive letter writer. This fourth volume continues to show us just how extensive his letter writing ministry was. The first 275 pages of this volume comprises his letters to his wife.

The next 300 pages consist of some 133 additional letters to various men and women. The final 150 pages contain miscellaneous papers he published in a number of periodicals. Subjects of these periodicals include reading the Bible, female dress, covetousness, his thoughts on the African slave trade, and even a letter on political debate.

The very end of this book includes an index to all four volumes.

Review

The personal behind the scenes look at the life of John Newton, specifically in his correspondence with his wife, is pure gold. We don’t see a perfect marriage let alone a perfect husband. What we do see is a humble man striving to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  They are copious in collection and leave one to ponder just how much time was spent writing all of these letters (over 400 by my estimation) with a quill and ink in so many locations from on the sea to his desk in Olney.

Couple all of these letters with the call to the ministry and the weekly preparation of sermons and lessons and one stands in awe of the ministry the Lord allotted this man.  The inclusion of his writings for periodicals shows yet another area of influence this man had on the culture at large.

Reading all four volumes, or even a quick perusal of these four volumes will quickly show us a man who was more involved in ministry and Kingdom proclamation than a simple song.

Review

The draw of this fourth volume is the letters he wrote to his wife. What an example preserved here of a marriage in the late 18th century. I have thoroughly enjoyed this 4-volume set of the works of John Newton. I know you will as well. I recommend this to all Christians who love the hymn Amazing Grace…you will be astounded at what this man accomplished by that amazing grace of God.