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John Newton, William Law, Justification, and Sanctification

by Reformed Reader

Near the end of 1768 John Newton exchanged a series of letters with a pastor friend who had been reading William Law’s writings. Law, who died in 1761, was a priest in the Church of England who later became a private teacher. Law’s popular work focused on things like devotion, holiness, sanctification, and perfection. Newton’s friend believed that righteousness and sanctification were synonymous. In other words, in his reading of Law’s call to devotion, Newton’s friend thought his sanctification was his righteousness. He believed that if he wasn’t devout enough, sincere enough, or zealous enough, God would not accept him. In fact, he even was afraid that he would end up forsaking the Lord; he lacked peace, comfort, and assurance.

 

 

 

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