Saturday, January 16, 2010

Newton's Confession of Faith

I just began re-reading Letters of John Newton, and came across a brief confession of faith he drafted in a letter to Rev. Francis Okeley. In this confession Newton was attempting a hasty draft of those things "necessary to believe" (e.g. those doctrinal truths essential to Christian faith).

I believe that sin is the most hateful thing in the world; that I and all men are by nature in a state of wrath and depravity, utterly unable to sustain the penalty, or to fulfill the commands of God's holy law; and that we have no sufficiency of ourselves to think a good thought.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the chief among ten thousands; that he came into the world to save the chief of sinners, by making propitiation for sin by his death, by paying a perfect obedience to the law, in our behalf; and that he is now exalted on high, to give repentance and remission of sins to all that believe, and that he ever liveth to make intercession for us.

I believe the Holy Spirit (the gift of God, through Jesus Christ) is the sure and only guid into all truth, and the common priviledge of all believers; and under his influence, I believe the Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation, and to furnish us thoroughly for every good work.

I believe that love to God, and to man for God's sake, is the essence of religion[1], and the fulfilling of the law; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; that those who, by a patient course in well doing, seek glory, honour, and immortality, shall see eternal life; and I believe this reward is not of debt but of grace, even to the praise and glory of that grace, whereby he has made us accepted in the Beloved. Amen[2].

[1] Per custom of the time period, in this context Newton used the word 'religion' to mean 'Christianity'.

[2] Newton understood his language and formulation was probably lacking in accuracy. Just after writing the above, he noted to Okeley: "I pretend not accuracy in this hasty draught; they are only outlines, which if you please retouch and fill up at your leisure, I hope you will favour me with sight of it."


  1. Wonderful what we can find with a little research, isn't it Josh? :)

  2. Kaitiaki, very true. Too bad most of these amazing little gems lay buried.