John’s mother wanted him to become a minister. But John grew to be a wicked man. Conscripted into the British Navy, he rebelled with insubordination. He deserted the Navy while on leave in order to visit a woman. The Navy arrested him and decided to trade him to help crew a slave ship. The slave trade was legal at the time. John had the foulest mouth of any sailor. He wrote obscene poems about the captain of the slave ship. He was so much trouble, the captain chained him up with the slaves. For a period, John was a slave in the African nation of Sierra Leon. But that experience changed nothing. When freed, he joined the crew of another slave ship. He continued in the slave trade and eventually became captain of a slave ship. But God had started working on his heart.
John left the sea in 1750 and began to study theology. He was ordained in 1764. He wrote poems. On January 1, 1773, one of his poems was used in a prayer meeting. It begins with these words: “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”*
If John Newton were alive today, he’d be denounced, cancelled and reviled. His house would be burned and he’d likely be shot. Even though God changed John, some people would never forget his past. Aren’t you thankful that God sees us as we are and not as we were? Thank God for his grace.
*”Amazing Grace,” Wikipedia, Last updated Sept 9, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.