Friday, November 23, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace

This hymn has been a favorite of many Christians for decades, particularly of those of us who have experienced God’s amazing grace. The story behind the song is nearly as inspiring as the song itself.

The song Amazing Grace was written by a man by the name of John Newton. John was born in the year 1725, and by age 11 he went to sea. Eventually he worked his way up to the point where he captained his own ship which was involved in the slave trade. Hardly a promising start for a man who would write one of the most beloved songs in the history of Christianity.
In 1748 while Newton’s ship was at sea they found themselves in a terrific storm. Things looked very grim and John despaired of his ship or anyone aboard surviving. For the remainder of his life, this event is the time that John Newton pointed back to as the time of his being born again.

You may be surprised to learn than Newton did not immediately quit the slave trade. What he did do immediately, was to make sure the slaves were treated humanely; a trait quite uncommon for the time. Such is the way of God, for that even as salvation may be an immediate thing, sanctification certainly is not. Soon God worked on Newton’s heart in regards to his involvement in the slave trade so that by the year 1755 he had completely given up seafaring, and learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; eventually becoming a minister.

One of John’s early influences in the religious realm was George Whitefield, a leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church (I was quite surprised to learn that there ever had been a Calvinist branch to the Methodist faith). The song Amazing Grace was probably composed by Newton between 1760 and 1770.

Newton’s tombstone, which I also find inspiring, reads:
JohnNewton, clerk, once and infidel and a libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.

Now that we know a little more about the author, in the next few days I would like to look at the text of the song, and some of the biblical truths that are to be found therein.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
St. Lee said...

Leslie, do you really think that people who read blogs click on links in the comment section? If you want free advertising, you could always start your own blog and provide something of value. And to be honest, I would have left your comment up despite the link if I believed that you had actually read the post and were not being dishonest with your "copy and paste" praise of it.

Al DeFilippo said...

Thank you for the post. For more on George Whitefield, I would like to invite you to the website for the book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy based on the life of Francis Asbury, the young protégé of John Wesley and George Whitefield, opens with the book, Black Country. The opening novel in this three-book series details the amazing movement of Wesley and Whitefield in England and Ireland as well as its life-changing effect on a Great Britain sadly in need of transformation. Black Country also details the Wesleyan movement's effect on the future leader of Christianity in the American colonies, Francis Asbury. The website for the book series is Please enjoy the numerous articles on the website. Again, thank you, for the post.

St. Lee said...

Thanks Al, I will check out the web site and book.