Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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Comments on an Accident

by John Newton

September 4, 1777.

My Dear Sir,

---Poor little boy! it is mercy indeed that he recovered from such a formidable hurt. The Lord wounded, and the Lord healed. I ascribe, with you, what the world calls accident, to Him, and believe, that without His permission, for wise and good ends, a child can no more pull a bowl of boiling water on itself, than it could pull the moon out of its orbit. And why does He permit such things? One reason or two is sufficient for us: it is to remind us of the uncertainty of life and all creature-comforts, to make us afraid of cleaving too closely to pretty toys, which arc so precarious, that often while we look at them they vanish; and to lead us to a more entire dependence upon Himself; that we might never judge ourselves or our concerns safe from outward appearances only, but that the Lord is our keeper, and were not His eye upon us, a thousand dangers and painful changes, which we can neither foresee nor prevent, are lurking about us at every step, ready to break in upon us every hour. Men are but children of a larger growth. How many are labouring and planning in the pursuit of things, the event of which, if they obtain them, will be but like pulling scalding water upon their own heads! They must have the bowl by all means, but they are not aware what is in it till they feel it.

I am, &c.

Index to the Letters of John Newton


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