Improving graces

John Newton, the captain of a slave ship, became a Christian and a prominent Evangelical preacher. Reflecting on his own spiritual state and transforming power of God’s grace in his life, he wrote the following:

I am not what I ought to be — ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be — I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be — soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.

Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”


The profound honesty of his declaration is too beautiful to mar with commentary, so I won’t add anything of my own. I’ll simply end with Newton’s own response to God’s grace, which was to worship and glorify Him with these magnificent lines:


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.



Related posts:

Forgive us our sins

Serious, not fanatical

Modelled behaviour


4 thoughts on “Improving graces

  1. You probably remember the scene at the end of the movie “Amazing Grace,” when John Newton (who has lost his sight at this point) says to William Wilberforce, “Once I was blind, but now I see.”

  2. Pingback: Music for the soul « Spiritual Meanderings

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