Wednesday 28 March 2007
We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.
John Newton 1725–1807, English clergyman and hymn writer, b. London. Until 1755, his life was spent chiefly at sea, where he eventually became the captain of a slave ship plying the waters between Liverpool and Sierra Leone. For the subsequent five years he was surveyor of tides at Liverpool, using his leisure time for the study of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and theology. Newton, who was much influenced by the religious reformer George Whitefield, was ordained in the Church of England and appointed curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, in 1764. When William Cowper made his home in the parish, friendship and literary sympathy between the two men resulted in their publishing jointly the Olney Hymns (1779 and later eds.). Among the best known of Newton's hymns are “Amazing Grace,” by far his most famous work, “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds”, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” From 1779 he was rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London where he became known as an abolitionist preacher. Newton's first-hand testimony before Parliament regarding the evils of slavery aided in the passage of legislation (1807) barring the British slave trade.