John Newton (3) Day Is Now Breaking and Eclipse of the Moon

Click here to read a short biography on John Newton (40 pages)

Day is now breaking

Just as we saw at the beginning there are no perfect ministers, so there are no perfect lay people. This must not discourage us, but only make us patient as we wait for the day when all things will be new. Newton gives beautiful, concrete expression to this conviction as he watches the dawn outside his window.

The day is now breaking: how beautiful its appearance! how welcome the expectation of the approaching sun! It is this thought makes the dawn agreeable, that it is the presage of a brighter light; otherwise, if we expect no more day than it is this minute, we should rather complain of darkness, than rejoice in the early beauties of the morning. Thus the Life of grace is the dawn of immortality: beautiful beyond expression, if compared with the night and thick darkness which formerly covered us; yet faint, indistinct, and unsatisfying, in comparison of the glory which shall be revealed.”[67]

This sober realism about what we can expect from this fallen world is a crucial root of habitual tenderness in the life of John Newton.

Eclipse of the moon

He had an eye that saw everything as full of divine light for ministry to people. For example, in his diary for July 30, 1776 Newton describes his watching the eclipse of the moon.

Tonight I attended an eclipse of the moon. How great, O Lord, are thy works! With what punctuality do the heavenly bodies fulfill their courses. . . . I thought, my Lord, of Thine eclipse. The horrible darkness which overwhelmed Thy mind when Thou saidst, „Why hast thou forsaken me?” Ah, sin was the cause—my sins—yet I do not hate sin or loathe myself as I ought.”[60]

Oh how we preachers need eyes like this. Seeing God and his ways everywhere in nature and life and making our communications full of concreteness from daily life.

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