Tag Archives: John Newton

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.

The Works of John Newton Volume 3

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 3. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 679 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 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

This volume consists of Newton’s history of Christianity which was published in two books. Also included in this volume is the Olney Hymns. The first book of ecclesiastical history looks at the birth of Christ to His ascension. The second book looks at the time of the church from Christ’s Ascension to the end of the life of the apostle John.

The final book, which comprises the hymns sung by Newton’s congregation in Olney.

Review

The history is fascinating as it looks only at a 100-year history of the early church. His source material is primarily Scripture though he draws from historians of his day as well as those of the Patristics (just after the end of the Apostolic Age). Newton’s perspective is fascinating as he offers a similar testimony to that of Paul insofar as a his radical salvation. Just as Paul went from a persecutor of the church to its greatest apologist, so, too, Newton went from a legalistic hell raiser to a man known for teaching and living the amazing grace God offers through Jesus Christ to wretched sinners.

The hymns of Olney go to show how far we have fallen in terms of the content of our worship hymns. Fortunately, this is being rectified by the likes of Stuart Townend and Matt Redman and the Getty’s as well as others. Regardless, Newton’s hymns are a gold mine for the church to sift through today. Lord willing, we may begin to find more of these being sung on Sunday mornings.

Recommendation

This volume may be viewed by many as the weakest of the four volumes given its particular content. That is until you realize that a solid grasp on the history of the church and solid foundation of singing hymns helps to not only inform a pastor and congregation, but also helps to reinforce a proper understanding of the Christian faith. Do not allow the historical aspect of this third volume deter you from reading it. It remains an excellent addition to your library and will prove to be a wonderful resource that leads you to worship the sovereign God of history (and the present and the future). I recommend this to all Christians although those who are interested in history will probably enjoy it more than those who are not as interested.

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.

The Works of John Newton Volume 1

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 1. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 636 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 2 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

This first volume is comprised of some 165 letters written by John Newton. These letters are grouped according to subject matter. The first 14 letters are more biographical in nature while the next 41 all deal with various subjects that are religious in nature.  While the final 110 letters are simply correspondence with a number of different people that offers a look at the thinking of John Newton in various circumstances.

Many of the letters have a short introduction in order to help the reader understand the greater context of the letter.

Review

We have lost the art of writing a letter. That is what I learned from reading through this volume of Newton’s Works. Many biographies abound concerning John Newton which are drawn from many of these letters, I am sure. To read his own writings, however, elevates the biographical information to whole new level.

Through these letters, we see the heart of a pastor to be sure. More importantly, we catch a glimpse of just how amazing the grace was that saved a wretch like John. To read these letters is to be taken to a depth of pastoral concern and care that is sadly missing in today’s age of text messages and blogs. There is depth to theology and an obvious care for the love of those who are pilgrims in this life.

These letters would serve as a phenomenal daily read which would most certainly aid today’s Christian to navigate the stormy sea that never seems to abate.

Recommendation

While I cannot find the individual volumes on sale at this time, nor can I find these works available on Kindle, I can say that this first volume is so rich with pastoral care and biblical theology that every Christian would do well to read it. I highly recommend this particular volume to all and look forward to reviewing the next three.