Today I was moved by some verses that John Newton wrote. He is probably most famous for writing the words to the hymn “Amazing Grace”. Newton lived an immoral and ungodly life in the 1700s on the crew of several ships, and at one point was the captain of a ship carrying slaves away from Africa. His life was so completely changed when he believed the Good News of Jesus Christ, that he became a pastor in England. As a pastor Newton had great influence in the life of William Wilberforce, the Member of Parliament known for driving slavery out of the British empire. Here is what Newton wrote to be inscribed on his gravestone:
“JOHN NEWTON, Clerk
Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour
restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach
the Gospel which he had long laboured to destroy.”
That struck me with the beauty of what God does – taking something totally evil and transforming it into great good! I cried many tears of joy over these words. Here are some verses to another hymn Newton wrote in 1779:
“See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst t’assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.
Savior, if of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy Name.
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.”
What can I say?
Solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s (heaven’s) children know !!