But God... {Musings on the life of John Newton}

An Essay By Sarah Liz // 1/4/2017

“Although my memory is fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior.” ~John Newton

John Newton was a giant of the faith; but he was far from perfect.

The man had a past—a broken, wearied, and horribly sin-scarred past. He had captured, bought, sold, and been responsible for the inhumane murder of countless eternal souls from the heart of Africa. He had scoffed their suffering, pillaged their towns, and branded their children with irons like cattle. Those that survived the brutal journey to England he bought and sold like chattel; binding them for life to the gold coffers of England.

He committed the ultimate crime against humanity: treating a human soul as if he no longer belonged to God, but to man.

Newton was a sinner—a great sinner. Newton was the kind of person that we would avoid on the street; one that we would tense when we would read his name in the headlines. He was corrupt, depraved, and degenerate; justly deserving the terrifying fate of eternal separation from Christ, and eternal destruction of his soul.

But God.

But God seized the lifeless and decaying soul of Newton. But God revived him and restored him, opening his eyes, once sealed by sin. But God destroyed the evil bulwark hardening his heart. But God gave him; the undeserving, broken, and criminal Newton; the free gift of eternal life.

Newton’s failing memory served him well; he knew the dark and terrible depths of his sin, and the beautifully glorious heights of Christ’s salvation. He knew he deserved not life, but death. He was known to speak of the souls of a million slaves; lives that he had taken. Lives that he had snuffed out—many that had never heard the Good News of Jesus, or had the opportunity to be saved. These souls followed him, they haunted him, reminding him of his guilt before God.

His guilt was stained dark; so dark—but cleansed eternally white in a crimson tide.

Truly, the words Newton famously penned spoke well of the greatness of his sin, but the still higher greatness of Christ’s salvation:

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

Comments

Thank you for sharing this!

Thank you for sharing this! How sweet to get a glimpse into his life, and better understand the beautiful words God gave to him.

Damaris Ann | Thu, 01/05/2017

My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬

I love the story of John

I love the story of John Newton, and I love your retelling of it here. Beautiful, powerful description.

Hannah D. | Mon, 01/09/2017

"Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." - G. K. Chesterton

Thank you Damaris and Hannah!

<3

Sarah Liz | Mon, 01/09/2017

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." ~ Anonymous

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