by John Newton
Our judgments may be quickly satisfied that His favour is better than life, while yet it is in the power of a mere trifle to turn us aside. The Lord permits us to feel our weakness that we may be sensible of it; for though we are ready in words to confess that we are weak, we do not properly know it, till that secret, though un-allowed, dependence we have upon some strength in ourselves, is brought to the trial and fails us. To be humble, and like a little child, afraid of taking a step alone, and so conscious of snares and dangers around us as to cry to Him continually to hold us up that we may be safe, is the sure, the infallible, the only secret of walking closely with Him.
But how shall we attain this humble frame of spirit? It must be, as I said, from a real and sensible conviction of our weakness and vileness, which we cannot learn (at least I have not been able to learn it) merely from books or preachers. The providence of God concurs with His Holy Spirit, in His merciful design of making us acquainted with ourselves. It is, indeed, a great mercy to be preserved from such declensions as might fall under the notice of our fellow-creatures; but when they can observe nothing of consequence to object to us, things may be far from right with us in the sight of Him who judges not only actions, but the thoughts and first motions of the heart. And indeed could we for a season so cleave to God as to find little or nothing in ourselves to be ashamed of, we are such poor creatures, that we should presently grow vain and self-sufficient, and expose ourselves to the greatest danger of falling.
by John Newton