My Chains Are Gone
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As a teenager, his father made arrangements for him to work on a lucrative sugar plantation in Jamaica. John knew better, and he joined a merchant ship sailing to the Mediterranean.
Shortly after defying his father's wishes, John Newton was captured and forced into The Royal Navy of the British Empire. Due to his father's clout, he was made a Midshipman, but John didn't want to work in the Navy, so he attempted to desert. He was caught, stripped, tied to the grating and lashed. Newton's rank was reduced to common seaman.
Disgraced and humiliated, he jumped at the chance to transfer to The Pegasus, a slave ship bound for West Africa. Again, unhappy with his situation, John became a disiplinary problem. The captain of the Pegasus left him in Africa with a slave dealer who made Newton a slave to an African Duchess. He was beaten and abused along with her other slaves. One day, he was rescued by a Sea Captain, sent by his father.
On his way home, a storm hit the ship, which started taking large amounts of water. The situation looked dire, and Newton cried out to God. The storm subsided. He began rigorously reading The Bible on the trip home. John resolved to quit drinking, gambling and profanity. However, old habits are hard to break. He jumped back into the slave trade.
Newton continued as a slave trader and captain for several years despite the horrors that he experienced himself.
After his retirement John Newton would self-educate and become an influential Anglican Priest. Many years later a member of Parliament and friend William Wilberforce would approach Newton. The man had recently converted to Christianity and was having an attack of conscience. He confided in John that he was planning on leaving politics. A much wiser Newton advised his friend to stay in Parliament and "serve God where he was". Together the two were responsible for the Slave Trade Act of 1807, the first piece of British legislation abolishing the slave trade. John Newton also wrote a hymn you might be familiar with..."Amazing Grace".
John Newton was called by many a hypocrite. How could a vicious, drunk, rabble rousing slave trader be chosen by God to write an ageless hymn and help to spark the abolition of slavery?
Answer: Read the words to the song.
At the end of his life, Newton wrote his own eptiaph:
"John Newton. Clerk. Once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa was by the rich mercy of our LORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST preserved, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the faith he had long laboured to destroy."
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Last Updated: on 1/2/2012 10:05:57 AM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (6:05 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum