Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found
was blind, but now I see...
An incident happened that would eternally change slave ship owner John Newton's life. Newton says that one day his ship sailed into a violent storm. He thought he was going to die and his ship would sink. He started praying to God for mercy. He asked for forgiveness for his shameful, vile actions. He pledged to God that if he lived, he would change his ways. When he awoke the next day, Newton remembered what he had promised God. From that day until the day he retired as the captain of a slave ship, he never mistreated another slave on his vessel. When Newton composed the popular song Amazing Grace, it told the story of his redemption. In later years, Minister Newton was instrumental in getting slavery abolished in Europe forever. One of Newton's parishioner's was a young British lawyer named William Wilberforce. Wilberforce never saw slavery first hand but he heard about the horrors of it and he tried in vain to get a law passed to eradicate slavery in Europe. Two events inspired Wilberforce to stay committed to ending slavery after years of defeat. The first occasion happened when he was introduced to an ex-slave named Olaudah Equiano or as he was also known Gustavas Vassa. Equiano had purchased his freedom. He had been a sea merchant who had traveled the world. He had also written a book about his life as a slave entitled The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavas Vassa. He sold 50,000 copies of the manuscript in one month. Equiano took Wilberforce on board a slave ship to show him where the slaves were kept for the arduous voyage to Europe. Equiano's first hand knowledge of slavery and his book helped to influence British lawmakers to abolish slavery through the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The second experience that helped Wilberforce stay committed to ending slavery was that he sought the advice of his pastor John Newton. Newton told Wilberforce that he could serve God and man by removing slavery in Europe forever. In fact, Newton had recorded his eyewitness account of how he treated the slaves when they were on board his vessel.
Wilberforce eventually passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 that ended slavery in Britain and its colonies.
After watching the movie Amazing Grace, I become teary eyed whenever I hear the song by the same name. My emotions become stirred because I now know the history of the poignant song and the power of the words behind the unforgettable music. I was blind, but now I see.