John Newton’s (2) Amazing Grace : the Song, the Sermon

Read a short biography (40 pages) from the link in the article below (John Newton 3). Tomorrow I will post a contemporary biographical account of John Newton’s life, given in a sermon by John Piper, delivered at Bethlehem Church’s 2001 Pastors Conference. You can find a treasure trove of material on John Newton at (includes his complete works, sermons, hymns, poems, correspondence and journals, etc)

 Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

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Amazing Grace: The Scripture Texts


John Newton based his hymn Amazing Grace on this passage in 1 Chronicles 17.

He took his 3 sermon points for the New Year from this passage of Scripture:

1)look back     2)look around   3)look forward

1. Look back

The Lord reminded David what he had been, I took thee … from following the sheep (verse 7). David marvels that God has brought him from such a lowly position, Who am I, O Lord God? So Newton is astonished:

Amazing grace…that saved a wretch like me.

2. Look around

The Lord tells David, I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast walked, and cut off all thine enemies from before thee… (verse 8). David considers how the Lord hast brought me hitherto. So Newton reflects:

Through many dangers, toils and snares,I have already come.
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far…

3. Look forward

The Lord promises that He will build thee a house… I will raise up thy seed… I will establish his throne for ever (verses 10-12). David is overawed that God has spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come… thou… hast promised this goodness unto thy servant (verses 17, 26). So Newton rejoices:

The Lord has promised good to me,His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,As long as life endures.
… God who called me here below,Will be forever mine.

John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­i­ver, 1779)

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Amazing Grace: The Sermon Notes

John Newton’s own sermon notes for his hymn

newyearsmorningNew Year’s Morning

1 January 1773

1 Chronicles 17:16,17
And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine yes, O God, for thou hast also spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O LORD God.

The Lord bestows many blessings upon his people, but unless he likewise gives them a thankful heart, they lose much of the comfort they might have in them. And this is not only a blessing in itself but an earnest of more. When David was peacefully settled in the kingdom, he purposed to express his gratitude by building a place for the Ark. This honour the Lord had appointed for his son Solomon, but he graciously accepted David’s intention, for he not only notices the poor services of his people, but even their desires to serve him, when they spring from a principle of simple love, though opportunity should be wanting. He sent him a message by Nathan assuring him that his son should build the house and that he himself would build David’s house and establish his kingdom. This filled his heart with praise. My text is part of his acknowledgement. Omitting David’s personal concerns, I would accommodate them to our own use as a proper subject for our meditations on the entrance of a new year. They lead us to a consideration of past mercies and future hopes and intimate the frame of mind which becomes us when we contemplate what the Lord has done for us.

„They lead us to a consideration of past mercies and future hopes and intimate the frame of mind which becomes us when we contemplate what the Lord has done for us.”

CLICK here to READ the REST of John Newton’s SERMON NOTES…

  • The Man & The Story Behind Amazing Grace – a downloadable tract in PDF format.
  • Olney Hymns by John Newton– the complete lyrics of this hymnal (in a variety of formats including HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word, Palm eBook, plain text, etc). It includes the hymn, „Amazing Grace” (Book 1, Hymn 41), one of 348 hymns listed and presented in three books.
  • Amazing Grace Sheet Music – sheet music in PDF format (courtesy of The Bible Study Website). This is a 21kB file – to download, right-click on this link and select „Save Target As…” or „Save Link As…” depending on your Web browser.

John Newton (3) Day Is Now Breaking and Eclipse of the Moon

Click here to read a short biography on John Newton (40 pages)

Day is now breaking

Just as we saw at the beginning there are no perfect ministers, so there are no perfect lay people. This must not discourage us, but only make us patient as we wait for the day when all things will be new. Newton gives beautiful, concrete expression to this conviction as he watches the dawn outside his window.

The day is now breaking: how beautiful its appearance! how welcome the expectation of the approaching sun! It is this thought makes the dawn agreeable, that it is the presage of a brighter light; otherwise, if we expect no more day than it is this minute, we should rather complain of darkness, than rejoice in the early beauties of the morning. Thus the Life of grace is the dawn of immortality: beautiful beyond expression, if compared with the night and thick darkness which formerly covered us; yet faint, indistinct, and unsatisfying, in comparison of the glory which shall be revealed.”[67]

This sober realism about what we can expect from this fallen world is a crucial root of habitual tenderness in the life of John Newton.

Eclipse of the moon

He had an eye that saw everything as full of divine light for ministry to people. For example, in his diary for July 30, 1776 Newton describes his watching the eclipse of the moon.

Tonight I attended an eclipse of the moon. How great, O Lord, are thy works! With what punctuality do the heavenly bodies fulfill their courses. . . . I thought, my Lord, of Thine eclipse. The horrible darkness which overwhelmed Thy mind when Thou saidst, „Why hast thou forsaken me?” Ah, sin was the cause—my sins—yet I do not hate sin or loathe myself as I ought.”[60]

Oh how we preachers need eyes like this. Seeing God and his ways everywhere in nature and life and making our communications full of concreteness from daily life.

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