I hope you all had a godly Lord's day. A reader asked if I could write about the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace", ( thank you for suggesting it!) which is another one of my favorite songs, and I'm very happy to do so.
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.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!
Thro' many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
'Tis grace hath bro't me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secure;
He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.
When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun.
John Newton, who was born in the summer of 1725 in London, England, is the author of this well-known hymn. As a young boy, John's mother taught him to pray and she filled his mind with the Scriptures. John's father, an often-absent sea captain, captured John's imagination, though. He dreamed of sailing ships and the wide, wild seas, of adventures and mysterious destinations.
Just before John Newton's 7th birthday, his mother died due to an illness. His distant relatives took him in and he was mocked for his belief in God, discouraged from praying, and ridiculed for his childish faith. At the age of 11, unhappy and lonely, John ran off and became an apprentice on his father's ship.
Sadly, his father rejected him too, just like his relatives had. For many years, John sailed the Mediterranean on sailing ships. He was frequently fired for insubordination, but just as frequently hired, for many ship masters were eager to hire young seamen and not to particular about their character.
He found new adventures after he deserted and ran away to Africa to seek his fortune in the African slave trade. He signed on with an unscrupulous slave dealer, and was harshly dealt with by the man's vindictive wife. John escaped into the West African forests and eventually made his way to the Atlantic Coast. He was finally spotted, after lighting a signal fire, by a passing ship's captain, who sent a small boat to pick him up.
The captain had hoped the lone man had gold or ivory to offer, and was disappointed to receive a penniless runaway. John was put to work as a mate, which was an unwise decision as the captain later found out. During a particularly long watch, John became bored and broke into the ship's supply of rum and shared it with the crew. He downed a goodly amount of liquor, and fell overboard after becoming totally disoriented. One of the ship's officers, either out of pity or spite, saved John from drowning by spearing him in the thigh with a harpoon and reeling him back aboard like a flailing fish!
Painfully wounded and severely disciplined, Newton was relegated below decks. It was a miserable journey from Africa to England in the stinking, stifling hold, and John had endless days and nights to ponder his empty life and unfulfilled dreams. Somehow, a copy of Thomas a Kempis' book Imitation of Christ fell into his hands. As he read the book, John awakened his conscience to the things of God, and he began to recall some of the early lessons his mother taught him.
As the slave ship neared Scotland, severe winds and rains battered her and she began to take on water. Desperate measures were take to keep the ship from sinking and for four days, every able-bodies man bailed water from the founder ship. Exhausted, frightened, and facing certain death, John Newton had a life-transforming experience with God. The assurance of God's love flooded his soul and mind. He would later describe it as a miracle, an amazing manifestation of God's grace.
Although that voyage was not his last, John Newton's heart was drawn in other directions. Two years after his miraculous conversion, he married Mary Catlett, a devout Christian. Soon after that, John left the sea and became a minister. Even though he loved to preach and tended to his flock of believers with zealous care, his great joy was writing hymns to be sung at the weekly prayer meetings. He composed over 280 hymns, but the one for which he is most remembered came from his shipboard conversion and carries the message of his personal experience, "Amazing Grace."
After reading about John Newton and writing this post, I am reminded of this verse. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:" Isaiah 59:1 It just goes to show you that the Lord desires to save everyone, even the lowest, poorest, worst sinner. As the song says "amazing grace! how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..." The salvation Christ offers is free to all. Just "...believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." ~Acts 16:31
Hope you all enjoyed this post, and have a good and godly week. Remember to walk with the King, and be a blessing!
Sincerely yours and eternally His, in the unbreakable and glorious bonds of Calvary,