Many a wise man, saturated in the Scriptures of God, has come to see that all creation is a school, and each and every kind of experience a classroom therein. Certainly this is the message of John Newton in his letter to Mrs. Dawson, formerly Miss Flower, but now married and nursing a newborn child.
Reading it, I took special pleasure in the way Newton’s experience as a parent becomes a window through which he beholds winsome glimpses of the heart of Father God. I am much in need of such glimpses, for truly, the essence of my spiritual warfare–and the key to any victory I may be able to achieve–lies in knowing more and more truly the character “the one with whom we have to do.”
In this excerpt, Newton makes Him manifest. I am grateful for it.
I join with you in praising the Lord for his goodness. I understand the little stranger is to be called Jane, a name to which I am partial for the sake of some who bear it. If she is spared to you, I trust your best endeavors to teach her the good ways of the Lord will not be wanting, and you will find that while a child, and even an infant, she will be a teacher to you.
You will be often reminded of that text, “Like as a father (or a mother) pitieth a child, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” And when you are forced to overrule the inclinations of the child whom you love and wish to gratify; when she cries because she cannot have what you know would be hurtful to her; and when a regard for her health constrains you to give her some salutary pains . . . then you will be led to notice the true cause of many of your own disappointments and trials.
Should you see her sometimes misconstrue your tenderness and think you unkind–even though you have given her a thousand daily proofs of your love and care–because you cannot comply with her wishes at every point, you will see in her too much of my own picture, and something of your own.
On the other hand, the pleasure you will find in her affection and obedience; the readiness with which you will forgive her faults when she is sensible of them; and how much more you are disposed to caress her than to frown upon her . . . these feelings will lead your thoughts to our heavenly Father, who delights in our prosperity, and who does not willingly afflict us or permit us to be in heaviness without a need-be for it.
Thus, while we are in the Lord’s school, and desiring to be taught by him, we may always be learning, even though we should not be favored with the public preaching of the gospel. Yes, an attention to the Bible will enable us to derive profitable instruction from children, servants, friends, enemies, comforts, and crosses . . . from all we see, hear or meet with in the daily course of life.