~ ~  WHO AM I?   ~ ~

I was born in 1725, and I died 1807. The only godly influence in my
life, as far back as I can remember, was my mother, whom I had for
only seven years. When she left my life through death, I was virtually
an orphan. My father remarried, sent me to a strict military school,
where the severity of discipline almost broke my back. I couldn't
stand it any longer, and I left in rebellion at the age of ten. One
year later, deciding that I would never enter formal education again,
I became a seaman apprentice, hoping somehow to step into my father's
trade and learn at least the ability to skillfully navigate a ship.
By and by, through a process of time, I slowly gave myself over to
the devil. And I determined that I would sin to my fill without
restraint, now that the righteous lamp of my life had gone out. I did
that until my days in the military service, where again discipline
worked hard against me, but I further rebelled. My spirit would not
break, and I became increasingly more and more a rebel. Because of
a number of things that I disagreed with in the military, I finally
deserted, only to be captured like a common criminal and beaten
publicly several times. After enduring the punishment, I again fled.
I entertained thoughts of suicide on my way to Africa, deciding that
would be the place I could get farthest from anyone that knew me.
And again I made a pact with the devil to live for him. Somehow, through a process of events, I got in touch with a Portuguese
slave trader, and I lived in his home. His wife, who was brimming
with hostility, took a lot out on me. She beat me, and I ate like a
dog on the floor of the home. If I refused to do that, she would
whip me with a lash. I fled penniless, owning only the clothes on
my back, to the shoreline of Africa where I built a fire, hoping to
attract a ship that was passing by. The skipper thought that I had
gold or slaves or Ivory to sell and was surprised because I was a
skilled navigator. And it was there that I virtually lived for a
long period of time. It was a slave ship. I went through all sorts
of narrow escapes with death only a hairbreadth away on a number of
occasions. One time I opened some crates of rum and got everybody on
the crew drunk. The skipper, incensed with my actions, beat me, threw
me down below, and I lived on stale bread and sour vegetables for an
unendurable amount of time. He brought me above to beat me again, and I fell overboard. Because I couldn't swim, he harpooned me to get me back on the ship. And I lived with the scar in my side, big enough
for me to put my fist into, until the day of my death. On board, I was
inflamed with fever. I was enraged with the humiliation. A storm broke
out, and I wound up again in the hold of the ship, down among the
pumps. To keep the ship afloat, I worked along as a servant of the
slaves. There, bruised and confused, bleeding, diseased, I was the
epitome of the degenerate man. I remembered the words of my mother.
I cried out to God, the only way I knew, calling upon His grace
and His mercy to deliver me, and upon His son to save me. The only
glimmer of light I would find was in a crack in the ship in the floor
above me, and I looked up to it and screamed for help. God heard me.
Thirty-one years passed, I married a childhood sweetheart. I entered
the ministry. In every place that I served, rooms had to be added to
the building to handle the crowds that came to hear the gospel that
was presented and the story of God's grace in my life. My tombstone
above my head reads: "Born 1725, died 1807. A 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, pardoned,
and appointed to preach the faith he once long labored to destroy."
I decided before my death to put my life's story in verse. And that
verse has become a hymn. My name? John Newton. The hymn?                "  Amazing Grace "


AMAZING GRACE (John Newton 1725-1807)

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.