Wise Counsel (Part 2)
Newton continued his encouragement to Ryland, pointing him to trust in God and not Ryland’s emotions or perceptions of God’s blessings. Ryland would swing from despair that he was failing spiritually to concern that he wasn’t being tested enough. Newton deals with both these extremes.
“The great question is, How we are practically influenced by the word of God, as the ground of our hope, and as the governing rule of our tempers and conversation? The Apostle exhorts believers to rejoice in the Lord always. He well knew that they were exposed to trials and temptations, and to much trouble from an evil heart of unbelief; and he prevents the objections we might be ready to make, by adding, ‘And again I say, Rejoice’: as if he had said, ‘I speak upon mature consideration. I call upon you to rejoice, not at some times only, but at all times. Not only when upon the mount, but when in the valley. Not only when you conquer, but while you are fighting. Not only when the Lord shines upon you, but when he seems to hide his face.’
When he enables you to do all things, you are no better in yourselves than you were before. And when you feel you can do nothing, you are no worse. Your experiences will vary, but his love and promises are always unchangeable...
Have you considered what the enemy can do, if he is permitted to come in like a flood? In one hour he could raise such a storm as would put you to your wit’s end. He could bring such a dark cloud over your mind, as would blot out all remembrance of your past comforts, or at least prevent you from deriving the least support from them. He could not only fight against your peace, but shake the very foundations of your hope and bring you to question, not only your interest in the promises, but even to doubt of the most important and fundamental truths upon which your hopes have been built.
Be thankful, therefore, if the Lord restrains his malice. A young sailor is often impatient of a short calm, but the experienced mariner, who has been often tossed with tempests, and upon the point of perishing, will seldom wish for a storm. In a word, let us patiently wait upon the Lord, and be content to follow as he leads, and he will surely do us good.”