One one occasion John Newton was asked by a fellow minister what to do when he senses power in preaching but, “cannot get either comfort or sorrow out of it, or but very rarely”. If you are a minister no doubt you have had this experience (probably on Monday morning). Even if you do not regularly preach you may have still experienced seasons of great spiritual fervor followed by extremely dry periods. To this experience Newton gives wise counsel:
I call upon you to rejoice, not at some times only, but at all times; not only when upon the mount, but when in the valley; not only when you conquer, but while you are fighting; not only when the Lord shines upon you, but when he seems to hide his face. When he enables you to do all things, you are no better in yourselves than you were before; and when you feel you can do nothing, you are no worse. Your experiences will vary: but his love and promises are always unchangeable.
Then Newton goes on to show the idiocy of what we often experience:
I have felt an impatience in my spirit, utterly unsuitable to my state as a sinner and a beggar, and to my profession of yielding myself and all my concerns to the Lord's disposal. He has mercifully convinced me that I labor under a multiplication of disorders, summed up in the word—sin. He has graciously revealed himself to me as the infallible physician; and has enabled me, as such, to commit myself to him, and to expect my cure from his hand alone. Yet how often, instead of thankfully accepting his prescriptions, have I foolishly and presumptuously ventured to prescribe to him, and to point out how I would have him deal with me! How often have I thought something was necessary which he saw best to deny, and that I could have done better without those dispensations which his wisdom appointed to work for my good! He is God, and not man, or else he would have been weary of me, and left me to my own management long ago. How inconsistent! to acknowledge that I am blind, to entreat him to lead me, and yet to want to choose my own way, in the same breath!