The story of how John Newton came to Christianity is inspiring and instructive. After his conversion had begun, he continued to participate in the slave trade in the 1750’s. By itself, that fact could be a source of criticism of Newton by some. But those critics would likely not include any Christian who has struggled to determine what their faith is calling them to do and then to actually follow through when they finally do realize.
A movie was made in 2006 of Newton’s story.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d 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 reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
John Newton, Olney Hymns (London: W. Oliver, 1779)