Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Black History Month: John Henry Newton, Part II

I gave a presentation at my church where I portrayed John Henry Newton, the slave ship captain turned Anglican priest who wrote Amazing Grace. Here is Part 2.

There on the ship back to England I called out to God during a violent storm as the ship filled with water. When the storm calmed I began to read the Bible. By the time the journey had ended the Holy Spirit began working saving faith in me. I gave up drinking, gambling, and profanity.

I still had things to learn, though. I continued to work the slave ships. It was during my next position on these ships that I professed my Christian faith and asked God to control my destiny. I was 25 at the time.

Of course, at such a young age I still thought I knew everything. I continued in the slave trading business until I had a stroke, and even after that I continued to invest in that industry, even though I could no longer sail.

At the age of 30 I became a tax collector at the port of Liverpool. I studied the biblical languages of Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. I was well-known as a lay-preacher, and sought ordination in the Church of England at the age of 32. They rejected me at first. So did the Methodists, Independents and Presbyterians. Finally, at the age of 39, a friend recommended me to a bishop, and the Church of England ordained me after a short vicarage.

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