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‘The Works of John Newton’ – A Review by Megan Colby

Author
Category Book Reviews
Date May 19, 2015

A few summers ago, I had the privilege of working on a proofreading/editing project for the Banner of Truth, a project which has very recently resulted in the four glossy volumes of The Works of John Newton.1 There was, however, nothing ‘glossy’ about the two 5-inch binders stuffed with paper and the slew of Word documents with scattered, only partly-legible letters and characters that I was given that summer. In fact, I was greeted with this: MEMOIRS ,i • . , , ‘OF t• TH.•E’REV: JOHN NRW .. T,ON . My job over the next couple of months was to sort through all the mistakes that are made when an old text is scanned into a modern computer. Since the completion of that part of the project, many others have laboured over Newton’s works to re-typeset, annotate, re-index, and design the stunning new set of volumes that is now available from the Banner of Truth.

It is important to note that this new four-volume set is not an abbreviated version of the six-volume set that was published some time ago. Rather, it contains all of the texts that previously comprised Newton’s Works, plus more. See the Publisher’s Note in Vol.1.2

I would like to highlight a few collections of sermons, letters, and other texts that particularly stood out to me and that demonstrate the variety of content in Newton’s Works. First, the biographical and autobiographical information on Newton’s life, from his adventures on the high seas to his ministries in Olney and London, opens Vol. 1.

Secondly, the Olney Hymns by Newton and his friend Cowper (Vol. 2) are excellent tools for teaching children God’s purposes and promises as revealed through Bible stories. For example, Hymn 39 of Book I (p. 617) recounts the story of Elisha and the floating axe, and concludes with this stanza:

Not one concern of ours is small,
If we belong to him;
To teach us this, the Lord of all
Once made the iron swim.

The wonderful series of sermons on the texts of Handel’s famous Messiah (Vol. 3) points to the importance of Scripture above all earthly embellishments, and Newton’s love letters to his wife (Vol. 4) are beautiful in their illustration of his affection for her and, most of all, for Christ. Finally, ‘A Monument to the Memory of Eliza Cuningham’ (Vol. 3) is a very moving account of Newton’s 14-year-old niece, whose testimony on her deathbed is a challenge to all of us, though especially to young people, to be ready to meet the Lord.

John Newton is easily one of the best known and loved of our Christian heroes. Yet, I would wager that many of us know little more than the slave-trade-to-‘Amazing Grace’ part of his life and writing. Let me highly recommend that you consider purchasing a set of his collected Works and get to know him better. In doing so, you will be faithfully directed to the One who ordered all the events of Newton’s life and who remains the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Notes

    • The Works of John Newton
         

      The Works of John Newton

      4 Volume Set

      by John Newton


      price $135.00

      Description

      A few summers ago, I had the privilege of working on a proofreading/editing project for the Banner of Truth, a project which has very recently resulted in the four glossy volumes of The Works of John Newton.1 There was, however, nothing ‘glossy’ about the two 5-inch binders stuffed with paper and the slew of Word […]

  1. This new edition of The Works of John Newton differs in some significant ways from the one previously reprinted by the Trust in 1985 and 2007. The most obvious difference is the format. This edition has been completely re-typeset and the new, more economical format has allowed all of the content of the original six volume set (originally published by Hamilton, Adams and Co., London, 1824) to be compressed into four new, slightly larger volumes, which makes the new set more affordable to purchase as well as more attractive to read than the old. The text has been faithfully reproduced in its entirety. A small number of words, which have radically altered their meaning over the years since Newton wrote, have been changed to avoid misunderstanding. However, such changes have been kept to a minimum and made only where necessary.

    The reader familiar with Newton’s Works will notice a number of other new features.

    Newton’s Authentic Narrative, in which he tells the story of many remarkable events in his life, in fourteen letters to his friend Rev. T. Haweis of Northamptonshire, has been added. Although it covers much of the material found in Richard Cecil’s introductory life of Newton, it was felt that a compilation of Newton’s Works ought to include this important autobiographical document.

    Also featuring throughout these volumes are new footnotes added by the publisher and marked ‘P’, which mainly supply English translations of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin words and phrases.

    It is hoped that the reader will find helpful the further addition of biographical information regarding many of Newton’s correspondents. Much of this information has been drawn from Josiah Bull’s edition of The Letters of John Newton (1869; repr. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2007),3 but the publisher would like to thank Marylynn Rouse of the John Newton Project for her assistance in identifying the recipients of a number of Newton’s letters in this collection.

    Finally, an ebook version of this new edition of Newton’s Works will be available from the Trust’s website, banneroftruth.org. It is the prayer of the publisher that Newton’s Works, whether in print or electronic format, will continue to be a source of practical spiritual help to the Lord’s people.

    • Letters of John Newton
         

      Letters of John Newton

      With Biographical Sketches and Notes from Josiah Bull

      by John Newton


      price $26.10

      Description

      A few summers ago, I had the privilege of working on a proofreading/editing project for the Banner of Truth, a project which has very recently resulted in the four glossy volumes of The Works of John Newton.1 There was, however, nothing ‘glossy’ about the two 5-inch binders stuffed with paper and the slew of Word […]

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