These are the words of John Newton in a letter to his 13-year-old adopted daughter, who was away at school.
My dear Betsy,
Idleness is a very great evil, the door by which a thousand temptations and mischiefs may enter!
Though you yourself have not been a sufferer, I wish for you to cultivate a sympathetic and benevolent spirit–a disposition to have compassion on the distresses of others, even though you cannot relieve them. Compassion, next to the grace of God, is the brightest ornament of human nature. When it is genuine, it is one of the best effects and proofs of saving grace. It was the mind of Jesus the Savior–and those who love Him, will in a degree resemble Him! A hard-hearted, unfeeling, selfish Christian is a total contradiction.
When you think about what multitudes of mankind are suffering by war, famine, sickness, storms, earthquakes, and other calamities, let it lead your thoughts to the evil of sin, which brought all these other evils into the world.
But what is sin?
Sin is presuming to do our own will in opposition to the will of God, who is our Creator, Lawgiver, and Benefactor. By sin we attempt independence from our Creator, affront the authority of our righteous Lawgiver, and are guilty of base and horrid ingratitude against our greatest and kindest Benefactor!
If you could form a ‘little creature’ and make it live — and if it hated you and opposed you, slighted your kindness, and took pleasure in displeasing you — would you not soon be weary of it? Instead of feeding and taking care of it, would you not be provoked to tread it under your feet? But, oh, the patience of God, though He could destroy rebellious men much more easily than you could kill a loathsome spider. Yet He waits to be gracious, and has so loved them as to send His own Son to die, that they may live!
Sin has not only filled the world with woe, but it was the cause of all the woe that Jesus endured. He groaned and wept, and sweat blood, and died upon the cross only because we had sinned!
May I live to see you duly affected with the evil of sin, and the love of Jesus! There is nothing more that I desire for you!
I am, my dear child,
Your most affectionate father
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The Top Ten Got Questions? in 2021
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