Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Hymn Amazing Grace is very familiar to most of us. And like some other hymns, this hymn is written based on the author’s personal experience of God.
John Newton was born in 1725 and he was an Anglican priest in England in 1773, but here is about his earlier life. As it is implied in the song, he had once earned his living as the captain of a slave ship. He was a slave trader. On those slave ships, the captured people were treated as sub-human cargo and often died from abuse, disease, and persecution on the voyage. In March 1748, while aboard a slaving ship called the Greyhound he was in the North Atlantic. A violent storm came upon the ship that was so rough it swept overboard his buddy who was standing where Newton had been moments before. After hours of the crew emptying water from the ship and expecting to be capsized, Newton and another mate tied themselves to the ship’s pump to keep from being washed overboard. He said, “If this will not do, then Lord have mercy upon us!” Eventually the storm died down and he went back to his cabin, shaken by the storm. But the article describes, that he was “even more horrified that in his moment of need, despite all of his persecution of faith, there was something in him that acknowledged and reached out to God”. So he wondered, where did that come from?

This began a conversion process that took about four years. He quit swearing on the next voyage, eventually became a captain of his own ship and gradually improved his behavior after that. He immersed himself in scripture and eventually became an ordained minister and wrote many poems and hymns including Amazing Grace.

You know, this reminds us of the apostle Paul in the Bible. He had persecuted Christians and then had a spiritual experience that changed his life. Paul started churches and became the most important voice in early Christianity. He wrote half of the New Testament.