Today marks the bi-centennial of the death of John Newton, a man in whose life God’s Amazing Grace was powerfully manifest. If you’ve never read about his glorious conversion or the powerful ministry God performed through him, set aside some time to read and delight in his story.
Here are a few books to consider:
For those looking for a good, quick-moving, modern biography check out John Newton: from Disgrace to Amazing Graceby Jonathan Aitken. If a novel is more up your alley, try The Infidelby Joe Musser. Maybe you’re interested in something a bit older and more contemplative. The biography entitled The Life of John Newton, written in 1868 by Josiah Bull, has just been republished by Banner of Truth Trust. And if you want the story straight fromt the man himself, you can read his autobiography, now published under the title: Out of the Depths.
Newton’s story is a powerful and moving picture of God’s great providence, His restless pursuit of a sinner, and His overwhelming (dare we say Amazing) grace that worked to turn a man’s life and his culture upside-down (probably better said, “right-side-up”). Newton’s life not only stands out as evidence that God can save anyone, but it also reveals what it truly looks like to understand you are a sinner saved by grace. His faithfulness as a minister of the gospel, even in the face of overwhelming opposition, has become for me a wonderful model of the perseverance to which we are all called. He used the knowledge of who he was and what God had done for him in order to impel him to finish his race strong and to stand firm in the fight for the abolition of the English slave trade.
And when Newton’s amazing journey was over, how did this great man of God see himself?
Here is what he wrote for his own epitaph:
once an infidel and libertine,
a servant of slaves in Africa,
was, by the rich mercy
of our Lord and Saviour
preserved, restored, pardoned,
and appointed to preach the faith
he had long labored to destroy.”
He was a man who truly understood God’s sovereign and undeserved favor in his life, and his life is worth celebrating today.