Millions of people around the world are quite familiar with the song Amazing Grace. Some know that John Newton wrote the song. However, few are aware that John Newton was for years a professional slave trader. At the time, slavery and slave trading was not offensive. There were many, including members of the clergy, who supported the slave trading industry.
An obvious question arises from these facts: How did such a man come to write a song that has had world wide distribution, acclaim and impact? That is what this book is about. It is the story of how the grace of God seized a man in this deplorable profession and turned him into an agent to help bring the end to both slavery and slave trading. This is a story worth examining.
John Newton did not have an easy life. At many points in his life, he should have died. Others who went through the same experiences did not survive. Was it “fate” or Divine intervention? I believe you will find the answer to that question as you continue to read.
In other ways, John Newton had an ordinary life. He was a selfish and profane man who for many years did just as he pleased. But there were extraordinary events in his life that were only recognized as such long after the events took place. Likewise, many who read this book will seriously believe that theirs is an ordinary life. However, there are remarkable events that take place in your life. The question is, will you allow yourself to be seized by the same grace that captured John Newton?
Recognizing these events begins with a simple belief: There is a Creator God who has something special planned for your life. That Divine plan will not be revealed or put into place unless you agree to be a part of it. In other words, your participation is necessary if you want to see it.
As you read this book, you will also meet a young man who had great dreams. He had no idea how long it would take for those dreams to come true. At first, he thought the dreams were his dreams. He eventually discovered they were really for the benefit of others–including you, centuries later.
My hope is that wherever you are in your life and whatever your job, you will be encouraged to seek out the God who makes this amazing grace available to all of us.
In developing this book, the information regarding the life of John Newton has been gathered from two books. The first, JOHN NEWTON, Letters of a Slave Trader Freed by God’s Grace, is published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois. This book is actually an autobiography. In a series of fourteen letters written to the Reverend T. Haweis, John Newton expressed in his own words the impact of God’s love and mercy in his own life. The second book, THROUGH MANY DANGERS, The Story of John Newton, was written by Brian H. Edwards and published by Eurobooks, Hertfordshire, England. This book thoroughly documents from a wide range of sources the life and times of John Newton.
I want to acknowledge the help in gathering the details of John Newton’s life from these books and express my gratitude for the personal encouragement I received from reading them. With that goes my strong recommendation for others to obtain the books for their own reading.
Don Parker Decker
San Gabriel, California