The Story of John Newton

The Story of John Newton

Lily Topolski Music on Aug 4th 2022

Slave trader, abandoner of the faith... not typically the words that come to mind when you think of a famous hymnwriter. Nevertheless, God used this unlikely candidate (in our feeble minds) to pen probably the most well known hymn ever written.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see. These words flowed from the pen of John Newton, who knew very well of God's amazing grace. He had once mostly abandoned the faith of his nonconformist parents after joining the navy at age 18. He was later relieved of his duty for attempting to desert the Royal Navy and so was sent off on a ship from the transatlantic slave trade. He quite enjoyed living the life of a slave trader. An easy life, he described it, enjoying his time navigating the sea and having all he needed. What could be better? Slowly however, this lifestyle of guiding ships full of men to become slaves took its toll on Newton. Guiding the ships through strong storms caused him to turn back toward the faith of his youth. Gradually, God worked in Newton's heart through this time in his life to guide him back to the Christian life.

Later, due to poor health, Newton had to find a new occupation. This occupation was quite the opposite of his old lifestyle. He became a clergyman of the church of England. This afforded him new opportunities and new friendships. One of these opportunities was to write hymns. Amazing Grace and Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken, along with at least around 280 other hymns, were written by Newton. He became an abolitionist around 1785 and continued to fight for the freedom to slaves until his passing at age 82 in 1807. God graciously allowed him to see slavery abolished just nine months before he died.

The life of John Newton is a testimony of God's amazing grace, which he extends to all! From the slave trader to the thief on the cross, from doubting Thomas to you and me, God grants us all forgiveness by the saving power in the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood will cleanse the worst sinner from every stain and make him white as snow! That truly is amazing grace!

Information adapted from:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Newton

Photo taken from:

https://hymnary.org/person/Newton_John