Pressed into service in the Royal Navy, John Newton was dismissed for insubordination and turned to a career trafficking in slaves. Notorious for cursing and blasphemy, Newton served on a slave ship during the cruelest days of trans-Atlantic slavery, finally working his way up to captain.
A dramatic conversion on the high seas set him on the path to grace. He always felt a sense of undeservedness for his new life. He became a rousing evangelical preacher and eventually a leader in the abolitionist movement. Newton appeared before Parliament, giving irrefutable eyewitness testimony to the horror and immorality of the slave trade. We also know him as the author of the lyrics of perhaps the best-loved hymn of all time, â€œAmazing Grace.â€
Newton described any good in himself as an outworking of Godâ€™s grace. In doing so, he stands with these great heroesâ€”a murderer and adulterer (King David), a coward (the apostle Peter), and a persecutor of Christians (the apostle Paul).
This same grace is available to all who call upon God, for â€œin Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His graceâ€ (Eph. 1:7).