Amazing Grace

John Newton

“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 hath brought me safe thus far, 
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me, 
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

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.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, 
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below, 
Will be forever mine.”

John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779

This is the original hymn written by John Newton in 1779. It is by far my favorite hymn, and I have sung it for many years in times of trials, happiness, and celebration. The hymn has recently become so much sweeter to me, as my eldest son and I have been studying about the time of John Newton in our history book. I just wanted to share a few things that we learned that have really encouraged my soul:

In our history book (pictured left), we learned that John Newton was born in 1725. He had been raised by his mother, who had shared many teachings about God with him. Unfortunately, as an adult, he chose a life full of evil. He was known to be one of the roughest, most obscene sailors and slave traders of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Most of his peers considered him devoid of human compassion. 

Look at his ship (pictured below.) It is sickening to imagine that each one of those thin blobs was a human being, chained and unable to move while crossing the ocean. This is the kind of man Newton was. One day, this ship, the Greyhoud, met a storm as dangerous and cruel as Newton himself. It whipped the ship mercilessly, thrashing it about without a hope of survival. Exhausted, he tied himself to the helm as a last ditch effort to keep the ship afloat. Facing his impending death, the teachings of his mother came to his mind. The words of Proverbs 1:24-31 brought such despair to him, because he knew there was a reason that he was known as “The Great Blasphemer.” Newton broke that day. 

Miraculously, he survived the storm, and couldn’t stop thinking about Jesus. Newton began reading the word of God, and Luke 11:13 gave him hope that God would not give up on him. He left the slave trade and became a minister. He wrote the well-loved hymn above during his many years of service to the Lord. He spoke out bravely against the English slave trade, and inspired a man named William Wilberforce to end the English slave trade.

God had changed “The Great Blasphemer” into His humble servant who never forgot the place from which he was saved. This story encourages me to remember that God can use anyone with any type of past. His redeeming love is the most powerful healing agent in the world.

Also, I am encouraged by Newton’s mother. She raised her son on the Words of the Lord, teaching him Bible verses and God’s truth. Though he strayed from the path for a while, he later remembered what she taught him. It was by her faith and dedication to love the Lord and pass on that faith and love that Newton was later saved. God used a mother to inspire a son, who later inspired another man, William Wilberforce, who spent 40 years of his life to end the transatlantic slave trade in Brittain. Wilberforce succeeded, which sparked a chain reaction all over the world. 

Remember, moms, what we do may seem insignificant to the world, but we are planting seeds of faith and love into our children. No matter our past, God can use us to inspire and nurture a future generation to love the Lord and serve Him with our whole hearts. Never doubt the profound impact of your words and actions in your child(ren)’s lives. That goes for all women. We can pass on our faith to our disciples. It is never too late to share our faith and make an impact in the lives of those around us. No matter your past or present, you have something worthwhile to pass on if you have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus for your salvation. Keep up the good work of studying the bible, learning about the Lord, and sharing what we learn with those around us!