The story of John Newton is an adventure of passion and danger almost unequalled, even by eighteenth-century standards.
He was press-ganged onto a man-of-war, flogged for deserting his ship, starved by a cruel slave trader in Africa, where even the slaves pitied him, and narrowly escaped drowning in an Atlantic storm. He faced death from enemy fire, wild animals, desperate slaves, mutinous crews, tropical diseases and violent storms, and all because of his apparently hopeless passion for Mary – a girl he believed to be beyond his reach. He went on to be a slave-ship captain himself, and then a customs officer in the heyday of smuggling.
Brought up to sing hymns and read the Bible, he rejected it all for a life of freethinking and fast living. An amazing encounter with God changed a callous and debauched sailor into a Christian pastor whose love for his wife and whose warm, caring counsel influenced the lives of thousands. He eventually became the minister of the most influential count hundreds of people drawn from all classes of society, including a Lord Mayor, prominent politicians and business men, a famous poet and a leading playwright. His hymns and letters are highly valued almost two hundred years after his death.
In this new and greatly expanded edition, the life of John Newton is seen among the colorful backcloth of eighteenth-century life and religion. It is the story of one man’s encounter with God ‘through many dangers’.
Brian Edwards was pastor of Hook Evangelical Church, Surrey, England, for thirty years. He now has a ministry of writing, lecturing and itinerant preaching.