John Newton well knew what it was to be humbled before a Thrice Holy God. We often times long for the testimony of holiness and divine power to mark our lives, but we withdraw from the rose of God’s grace, simply because the thorns of purgation and tribulation surround it. Newton, a man with a mighty testimony, staunch abolitionist, famous hymnodist, and mighty Gospel preacher was often plagued with ten thousand ghosts of his former sins. Though he had indeed found the Amazing Grace of God to cover all his many sins, he found that that amazing grace is brought to us by means of inward trials of God’s purging, threshing, and sanctifying.
If we would grow in grace, we must also see that God will afflict every last vestige of pride and selfishness within; if we desire the mercy of the cross, we will also taste the unrelenting agenda of the cross: conformity to Christ. Thus, the old man must die, so that Christ life alone remains.
Enjoy this gem by Newton. And may it be a servant of grace unto your soul, though it means wrestling with the God-man until daybreak.
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.
’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”