365 days with Newton


Afraid of the daylight

‘There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.’ John 3:1–2

Nicodemus came by night. Some ascribe this to prudence and modesty; he would not interrupt Jesus in the day but waited for his leisure. For my own part I made no doubt he came by night because he was afraid to come by daylight. He was under the sinful fear of man lest he should be persecuted or laughed at. He was not willing to run the risk of being thought a follower of Christ, at least till he was sure that he was right. We have many such spirits that would hear if they durst, would be glad of the opportunity of a strange place or a dark night, but so afraid of being called mad or a Methodist [an evangelical]. I doubt not but you are acquainted with some who are afraid of coming to us for that reason, and perhaps some of you are thinking how you shall face your acquaintance when you go back. However, it’s well you are come at all. Our Lord did not reprove Nicodemus on this account, though it was quite wrong, but he is very gracious and gentle to young beginners. I shall only advise to pray to him for strength, and the oftener you come and the more diligently you hear, the bolder you will grow.

FOR MEDITATION: [re the conversion of William Wilberforce] To the Rev. John Newton: Sir, I wish to have some serious conversation with you.… PS Remember that I must be secret, and that the gallery of the House [of Commons] is now so universally attended, that the face of a Member of Parliament is pretty well known.
William Wilberforce to John Newton, 2 December 1785

I saw Mrs [Aunt Hannah] Wilberforce today, and left her in tears of joy. She says you may depend on her strictly observing your requisitions. The reason I mentioned at first that Saturday was not convenient was only from the possibility of your being known and noticed by somebody—which reason now seems not so mighty as it was then.
John Newton to William Wilberforce, 22 December 1785

SERMON SERIES: JOHN 3:1–2, NO. 1 [7/7]

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