Thursday, June 10, 2010

Newton on Keeping Jesus Center Amidst a Stack of Books Part 1

It is taking much restraint for me to not post this letter in its entirety.  It is a little lengthy so I will post this in two parts.  If you are a theological student, a nerd like me, or a minister of the gospel it would be wise to read the whole thing
The first part of this letter is very beneficial but the part that I want to blow up and make into a poster begins close to the middle.  Newton has previously exhorted us to rely fully on the Holy Spirit and to use the means that he has given us.  Then encourages us that we can expect the blessing of the Spirit if He is “diligently sought using proper means”.  But what does he mean by such diligence?
By diligence, I understand spiritual diligence. Such an active, improving, industrious habit, as is peculiar to a heart impressed with some real abiding sense of the love of God, the worth of souls, the shortness of time, and the importance of eternity. Without this turn of mind, though a man should spend sixteen hours every day in his study, he may be a mere trifler.
He then goes through great lengths to show that prayer and the Scriptures are the chief means for attaining wisdom.  I love this quote, speaking of Scripture and prayer, “The one is the fountain of living water, the other the bucket with which we are to draw.”  These are the means of first importance.  There are subservient means—such as the use of literature, languages, and logic.  To these he counsels:
If these things are held in a proper subservience, if they do not engross too much of our time, nor add fuel to the fire of that self-importance which is our great snare; they may contribute to increase and enlarge our ideas, and facilitate our expressing ourselves with propriety. But these attainments (like riches) are attended with their peculiar temptations; and unless they are under the regulation of a sound judgment, and a spiritual frame of mind, will prove (like Saul's armor to David) rather cumbersome than useful in preaching. The sermons of preachers thus qualified are often more ingenious than edifying, and rather show off the preacher, than commend the Gospel of Christ.
Continue to Part Two...

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