Rev. John Newton, the Pastor Who Wrote 'Amazing Grace'

One of the world's most beloved hymns was written by a onetime slave trader who repented, turned his life over to God and became an ordained minister and an ardent abolitionist.

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- Posted on May 14, 2018

Rev. John Newton

John Newton was at one time master of a slave ship, cargoing captives from Africa to the Carolina coast. One night his ship was overtaken by a gale. The terrified Newton vowed that if God would get him safely ashore, he would dedicate his life to religion.

Almost as soon as the vow was uttered, the power and control of his ship increased. Newton’s deliverance through a storm that chalked up many wrecks that night was a miracle. Ashore, he refused payment for his living cargo and set about to fulfill his vow.

A few years later he was ordained a clergyman. He became an intimate friend of the poet, William Cowper, and they wrote hymns together—Cowper 68, and Newton 280. Among Newton’s most popular are "Amazing Grace" and “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.”

The grave stone of John Newton at the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Olney, England

On his tombstone is written:

John Newton, clerk
Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord
And Savior, Jesus Christ,
Preserved, restored and pardoned,
And appointed to preach the faith
He had long labored to destroy.

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