“It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”
John Newton, former slave trader
Amazing Grace was written by an Englishman who in the early part of his life was an outspoken atheist, libertine, and slave trader. John Newton was born in London in 1725, the son of a Puritan mother and a stern ship commander father who took him to sea when he was 11 (“I am persuaded that he loved me but he seemed not willing that I should know it,” he later wrote).
By 1745, Newton was enlisted in the slave trade, running captured slaves from Africa to, ironically, Charleston, S.C. After he rode out a storm at sea in 1748, he found his faith. He was ordained an Anglican priest in 1764 and became an important voice in the English abolitionist movement. At that time he wrote the autobiographical Amazing Grace, along with 280 other hymns.
Today Amazing Grace is beloved by Presidents and citizens alike and remains a go-to hymn at American funerals, because of its striking melodies and ever-popular narrative of personal redemption.
The previous years I had worked at Sportsman’s Valley Guest Ranch, where the owners, Hortense and Preston Beaver, who were Christian Scientists, were . . . talkative, customer oriented, and always full of a bright, positive, Mary Baker Eddy lightness that was contagious. Judy Collins – (Sanity and Grace p.25)
God’s grace—His love for all of us
From the July 28, 1997 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
THOUSANDS, perhaps millions, of people know and love that beautiful song “Amazing Grace.” It comforts us and gives us hope that maybe we, too, will feel the amazing grace of God coming to rescue us in time of need.
The Science of Christ brings to us the understanding that God is divine Principle, ever-present Love that fills all space. Love is everywhere because divine Principle is incorporeal—meaning not confined to physical people or places or things. Nor is God favoring some people more than others because He particularly likes them or chances to hear their prayers. God’s goodness and love are too great to be happenstance. God’s love is infinite. It embraces His entire creation—including you and me as His beloved offspring.
The Bible, in the words of the Psalmist, says: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7-10).
It’s impossible to be beyond or outside of all-embracing divine Principle, Love—our Father-Mother. And God does know what we need because we are actually His spiritual man. God, being divine Principle, supplies His gracious love and bounty to His man because man (meaning all of us) is His own idea. And Principle always supports its idea. Mary Baker Eddy writes in her Miscellaneous Writings something I find so reassuring: “In the desolation of human understanding, divine Love hears and answers the human call for help; and the voice of Truth utters the divine verities of being which deliver mortals out of the depths of ignorance and vice” (p. 81).