Grace for a Wretch like John Newton
It must have been cold in John Newton’s study as he prepared his sermon during the last week of December, 1773. From his second-floor retreat,
And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?”
In meditating on his text, the forty-eight-year-old
As a young man, John Newton was a sailor, like his father before him. He went to sea for the first time on his father’s ship when he was just 11 years old. By the time John was 17, his father was ready to retire from the sea-faring life and anxious to see his son in a good position, but John didn’t fit easily into the discipline his vocation required. He was sometimes days late in reporting for duty. He created bawdy and disrespectful songs and taught them to his shipmates. He drank too much and boasted. He deserted his ship and generally caused so much trouble that one captain traded him to another ship in mid-voyage, just to be rid of him.
In 1748 John stopped sailing for two years and went into the African slave-selling business with a man named Clow. Together they took longboats into the African interior and paid natives to capture men, women, and children.
Some associates of
It’s hard to pinpoint when
Nonetheless, gradually and certainly a change was noticed in the life of John Newton. First he quit blaspheming, gambling, and drinking and spent hours in Bible study and prayer. Later he instituted Sunday worship services on his ship. He resisted the common temptation to take advantage of the women slaves under his control and he forbade his crew from abusing them. On one trip to
After retiring from the sea for medical reasons,
Amazing grace! (How sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.
Copyright © 2006 Susan Verstraete.
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form.
Father I thank You and give You the glory that grace found me a wretched sinner.
Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Grace and Peace to you in Him with love