Friday, June 19, 2009

“I freely all forgive!”

John Newton is buried in Olney, England. On his original gravestone was this inscription:
Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Sav­iour
restored, pardoned, and ap­point­ed to preach
the Gos­pel which he had long laboured to destroy.
He min­is­tered,
Near sixteen years in Ol­ney, in Bucks,
And twenty-eight years in this Church.

At age 11, with but two years school­ing and on­ly a rud­i­men­tary know­ledge of La­tin, he went to sea with his fa­ther. Life at sea was filled with won­der­ful es­capes, viv­id dreams, and a sail­or’s reck­less­ness. He grew into a god­less and aban­doned man. He was once flogged as a de­sert­er from the na­vy, and for 15 months lived, half starved and ill treat­ed, as a slave in Af­ri­ca.

A chance read­ing of Thom­as à Kemp­is sowed the seed of his con­ver­sion. It was ac­cel­er­at­ed by a night spent steer­ing a wa­ter­logged ship in the face of ap­par­ent death. He was then 23 years old. Over the next six years, dur­ing which he com­mand­ed a slave ship, his faith ma­tured. He spent the next nine years most­ly in Li­ver­pool, stu­dy­ing He­brew and Greek and ming­ling with White­field, Wes­ley, and the Non­con­form­ists. He was even­tu­al­ly or­dained, and be­came cur­ate at Ol­ney, Buck­ing­ham­shire, in 1764. [CyberHymnal: John Newton]

Pastor Mark at Grace Dependent provides the full text of the poem from which comes the hymn "Amazing Grace":

In evil long I took delight,
unawed by shame or fear;
Till a new object met my sight,
and stopped my wild career:

I saw One hanging on a tree
in agonies and blood;
Who fixed His languid eyes on me
as near His cross I stood.

Sure, never till my latest breath
can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death,
though not a word He spoke.

My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
and plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins His blood had shed,
and helped to nail Him there.

Alas, I knew not what I did,
but all my tears were vain;
Where could my trembling soul be hid,
for I, the Lord, had slain!

A second look He gave that said,
“I freely all forgive!”
“This blood is for thy ransom paid,
I died that thou mayest live!”

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 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 called me here below
shall be forever mine

Amazing Grace « Grace Dependent, John Newton, Amazing Grace

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:30 AM

    Thank you for mentioning my blog in your post. May the grace of our God be a constant theme in our daily lives!


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