Amazing Grace in John Newton: Slave Ship Captain, Hymn Writer, and Abolitionist

Overview

In "Amazing Grace," the best-loved of all hymns, John Newton's allusions to the drama of his life tell the story of a youth who was a virtual slave in Sierra Leone before ironically becoming a slave trader himself. Liverpool, his home port, was the center of the most colossal, lucrative, and inhumane slave trade the world has ever known. A gradual spiritual awakening transformed Newton into an ardent evangelist and anti-slavery activist. Influenced by Methodists George Whitefield and John Wesley, Newton became ...
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Overview

In "Amazing Grace," the best-loved of all hymns, John Newton's allusions to the drama of his life tell the story of a youth who was a virtual slave in Sierra Leone before ironically becoming a slave trader himself. Liverpool, his home port, was the center of the most colossal, lucrative, and inhumane slave trade the world has ever known. A gradual spiritual awakening transformed Newton into an ardent evangelist and anti-slavery activist. Influenced by Methodists George Whitefield and John Wesley, Newton became prominent among those favoring a Methodist-style revival in the Church of England. This movement stressed personal conversion, simple worship, emotional enthusiasm, and social justice. While pastoring a poor flock in Olney, he and poet William Cowper produced a hymnal containing such perennial favorites as "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" and "God Moves in a Mysterious Way." Later, while serving a church in London, Newton raised British consciousness on the immorality of the slave trade. The account he gave to Parliament on the atrocities he had witnessed helped William Wilberforce obtain legislation to abolish the slave trade in England.

Newton's life story convinced many who are "found" after being "lost" to sing Gospel hymns as they lobbied for civil rights legislation. His close involvement with both capitalism and evangelicalism, the main economic and religious forces of his era, provide a fascinating case study of the relationship of Christians to their social environment. In an afterword on Newtonian Christianity, Phipps explains Newton's critique of Karl Marx's thesis that religious ideals are always the effect of what produces the most profit. Phipps relies on accounts Newton gives in his ship journal, diary, letters, and sermons for this most readable scholarly narrative.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865547162
  • Publisher: Mercer University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Significant Dates for John Newton vii
Foreword ix
A Newton Album xiii
1. Through Many Dangers 1
European Adventures 1
African Sojourn 9
The Prodigal's Return 16
2. Was Blind 25
Slavery in European History 25
To Charleston as First Mate 29
Voyages as Captain 39
3. Now Am Found 65
The Evangelical Liverpudlian 65
The Olney Parson 86
4. How Sweet the Sound! 115
Hymnist Predecessors 115
The Ministry of Song 118
Cowper's Collaboration 146
5. Now I See 159
The St. Mary Woolnoth Rector 159
Encounters with Abolitionists 173
Working with Wilberforce 178
6. As Long as Life Endures 205
Conversion Considerations 205
The Londoner's Wider Impact 211
The Last Years 224
Afterword: Marxian Economics versus Newtonian Christianity 243
Bibliography 259
Index 269
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