Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Newton: The Danger of Following Preachers Instead of Christ

What I have observed of many, who run about unseasonably after new preachers, has reminded me of Pro. 27:8, "As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is the man that wanders from his place." Such unsettled hearers seldom thrive: they usually grow wise in their own conceits, have their heads filled with notions, acquire a dry, critical, and censorious spirit; and are more intent upon disputing who is the best preacher, than upon obtaining benefit to themselves from what they hear. If you could find a man, indeed, who had a power in himself of dispensing a blessing to your soul, you might follow him from place to place; but as the blessing is in the Lord's hands, you will be more likely to receive it by waiting where his providence has placed you, and where he has met with you before.

When this gets posted, Lord willing, I will be attending the final day of Together for the Gospel.  The men that have spoken are some of the most gifted ministers of the gospel in our day.  It would be quite easy to begin following men as well as following preachers instead of Christ.  Newton’s wise counsel here bears following. 

In our day and age you can spend hours listening to many really good sermons.  But it may be wise for you to heed this counsel from Newton as well:

In the first place, be cautious that you do not degenerate into the spirit of a mere hearer, so as to place the chief stress of your profession upon running hither and there after preachers. There are many who are always upon the wing; and, without a due regard to what is incumbent upon them in the shop, in the family, or in private devotion—they seem to think they were sent into the world only to hear sermons, and to hear as many in a day as they possibly can. Such people may be fitly compared to Pharaoh's lean cows; they devour a great deal; but, for lack of a proper digestion, they do not flourish: their souls are lean: they have little solid comfort; and their profession abounds more in leaves than in fruit.

There are others gems in this letter, you might want to read the entire letter: On Hearing Sermons


  1. I like Newton (assuming this is Sir Isaac Newton) for many reasons, not the which is that he didn't waver in his disbelief of the trinity doctrine - What I mean by that is, he believed strongly enough, and was convinced by it that he refused even on his death bed to deny his belief by recanting his stance. You have to respect that.

  2. This is most certainly not Isaac Newton. This is from the pen of John Newton.

    Not to be needlessly argumentative...but I disagree in respecting Newton (Isaac) for his refusal to abandon heresy. Perhaps this is an overstatement, but I would never say that I have respect for Satan for his strong refusal to bow a knee to the sovereign Lord.

  3. Ah. Well, I don't know John Newton :)

    Isaac Newton was an Anglican and seems to have loved God and Christ deeply. A lot of people might waffle on their beliefs on their death bed, being double minded. For him it was a matter of conscience and as Paul tells us, a clear conscience before God is of vital importance (showing his Hebrew roots - the conscience being the means of knowing sin).

    2 Samuel 24:10, Acts 23:1-3, Acts 24:16, Romans 2:15, Romans 9:1, Romans 13:5, Romans 14, 1 Cor 8

    That's what I meant by respecting him. His conscience would not allow him to acknowledge something he believed was wrong. He would have been convicted by his conscience to do otherwise.

    Studying conscience and the role of God's spirit and conviction of sin is an interesting one. :)

  4. John Newton is the author of Amazing Grace...of course he did a ton of other amazing things, like being instrumental in the abolition of the slave trade in England, but most known for Amazing Grace.

  5. Ahhh...

    Thanks. I guess I could have looked that up LOL



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