Like coins from the same mint!
(Letters of John Newton)
My dear sir,
I could write a long note indeed, upon your very great mistake in considering me as a great man. If we could have a personal interview — I think you would be quickly undeceived! Ah! how different I am — from what perhaps I appear to be to others when in the pulpit.
Your mistake, however, has done me good. A whole quire of invective from an enemy could hardly have given me so keen a sense of shame. The Scriptures assure us that our hearts by nature, like coins from the same mint — are all alike. I hear my fellow-Christians complain of evils similar to what I feel. Otherwise I would have reason to conclude that there could not be one believer upon earth — so inconsistent, so evil, so vile beyond expression — as myself!
Ah, dear sir! what would you have thought of me — had you seen me when I lived among the slaves? The sight of me would have been offensive to your eyes, and my vile speech would have struck you with horror! I was miserable and despicable in every view — the common mark of scorn and insult! My whole wretched amusement and pleasure seemed to lie in blaspheming the name and person of Jesus, and in feeding my imagination with schemes of wickedness!
Some of my unhappy companions have perished in their sins — who have just cause to charge the ruin of their souls to my account! For Satan himself, had he been upon earth in a bodily shape — could hardly have been more industrious in tempting to infidelity and profligacy than I was!
There is seldom a day of my life, in which my thoughts are not led back to my former state of estrangement from Him, and that pre-eminence of wretchedness into which my sins plunged me!
Yet, it is of grace that my poor story is not much worse. The Lord is my keeper — therefore I am still preserved. "By the grace of God — I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10
I am, dear sir, your affectionate friend and servant,
John Newton, 1778