John Newton to Elizabeth Cuningham


12 December 1782

My dear Sister

My dear says that as she wrote last, it is my turn now. It always gives me pleasure to write, but when you expect to hear speedily I am puzzled, nor can I well tell you how almost impracticable it is for me to answer at short notice. However, having a little leisure tonight I will try – to send you at least a token of good will.

In deed there is not much cause for a long letter, when I have said we are glad to hear you and the child are pretty well, told you that it is well with us, and acknowledged the Lord’s goodness both to you, and to us – what I could add farther would be little more than repeating the substance of the former letters. So much of your as relates to money matters is your sister’s concern, I never meddle with what it called business, if I can possibly avoid it – I have lost not only the relish for such concerns, but all my little doing and wit for management.

This is to accompany your aunt’s will if we have it. [1] I wish you well and comfortably through your affairs in Scotland, and am sorry you meet with any embarrassments. I had almost said, It is a pity your affairs had not been otherwise settled by my brother’s wish – but I retract – he meant well – and the Lord promises that all shall work for good, and therefore all is just right. He has given you more than many thousands of gold and silver, and moreover engages to supply all your wants by the way. Let us make the best of things as we find them, put our trust in him, and then we need fear nothing. He knows where and how we are, and invites us to cast every care upon him.

I believe the prospect of meeting in the spring, is equally pleasing to us all. We need not fear that because it is so, therefore we must be disappointed. To be sure many of our prospects are often thus balked. But the Lord delights in our prosperity, and does not willing afflict or grieve his children. If he crosses our wishes there is a need-be for it – and if it be not necessary he will not do it. A thousand comforts and blessings which he preserves and renews to us, and multiplies upon us daily, are so many proofs of his goodness, and encouragements for us cheerfully to trust him for the future. We are relatives and friends , and I trust related not only by blood and alliance, but by the still nearer and more indissoluble bond of faith in Jesus; it is therefore right that we should love each other, and he will not be angry with us for it. He has been pleased to visit you with some sharp trials; I hope he intends you alleviation and comfort by preparing the way for you to come to us. Your trials likewise have been ours, for we have felt for you and mourned with you; but we hope to be made amends by your company. It is true there is something amiss in all our affections and regards to creatures – that is sin mixes with everything we do – but I hope we are sensible of it, and in some degree humbled for it. But though we are sinners the Lord is gracious. We need not, we ought not to think of him as if he were a hard Master, severely watchful over us, and ready, if I may so speak, to take advantages against us. Quite the contrary, his heart is made of tenderness, his bowels melt with love. He knows our frame, he remembers we are but dust, and pities us more than the tenderest parents can pity their children.

I have a good hope that he will bring us together in peace, and that we shall praise him together and say, He has done all things well, brought light our of darkness, made the hard easy, and the bitter sweet.

We unite in our best love to you and Bettsy, with affectionate remembrance to Miss Cowie.

I am, most sincerely yours

John Newton

Hoxton 12 December 1782

[1] Aunt Soan’s will was proved on 8 August 1782, with Mary Newton as executrix, on behalf also of Elizabeth Cuningham.

Lambeth Palace Library, MS 3096, ff 78-79

Marylynn Rouse, 20/08/2019