It is grievous to hear of declensions, especially in those whom we love, [and] there are many reasons why we ought to be affected, but we must not be cast down. If your friend ever truly knew the Lord, wait and pray and you will see him restored, and when backsliders are well healed, the remembrance of past falls, is sanctified, to make them more humble and circumspect, more sensible of the evil of their hearts, more dependent upon the Lord, and more hearty in ascribing the whole of their salvation to him alone….But should you live to be an old man, you may count upon meeting many disappointments of this kind. Experience will teach you not to expect that ever blossom will prove fruit. We must learn to acquiesce in the Lord’s sovereignty. He knows them that are his and none of the changes they are liable to shall separate them from his love. But there will be too many who make a hopeful appearance for a time and yet come to nothing. When we hear that others fall it should make us thankful and watchful for ourselves. Thankful, for it is grace alone [that] makes us differ. Watchful, for our hearts are equally deceitful and Satan is continually plotting and practicing against us likewise. The Lord permits some to fall woefully, for a warning to the rest, that we learn not to be high-minded but fear, and cry continually to him, who alone is able to hold us up, and preserve us in safety.
– John Newton, Wise Counsel, pp. 47-48.