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Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Slave Trader Finds Amazing Grace

American Minute from William J. Federer

"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see."

These were the words of John Newton, a former slave ship captain, who died DECEMBER 21, 1807.

At age 11, his mother died and he went to sea with his father. He fell in love with Mary Catlett while on shore leave, but overstaying his visit, he missed his ship's departure and was pressed by a gang onto the HMS Harwich. His reckless behavior caused him to be traded to a slave ship.

While on a West African plantation buying slaves, his employer enslaved him. He was rescued, but continued his immoral life, deriding Christians with blasphemy that shocked even sailors.

During a storm that nearly sank them, he first prayed. He read Thomas a Kempis' 'Imitation of Christ,' left the slave-trade and became a minister, preaching the rest of his life against slavery.

Having encouraged William Wilberforce to end slavery in England, his tombstone read, "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 labored to destroy."

William J. Federer is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and president of Amerisearch, Inc, which is dedicated to researching our American heritage. The American Minute radio feature looks back at events in American history on the dates they occurred, is broadcast daily across the country and read by thousand on the internet.


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