Friday, April 6, 2012

The Slave Trader and the Cross

John Newton: Misfit. Deserter. Slave trader. "Servant of slaves" himself. This 
man wrote the hymn, below, in the 1770s:

I saw One hanging on a tree

by John Newton

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career.

I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agony and blood;
He fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Shall I forget that look!
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.

My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins His blood had spilt
And helped to nail Him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did,
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.

A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for your ransom paid;
I die that you may live."

Thus while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too!

John Newton became one of the forces behind William Wilberforce, a British Member of Parliament who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in England.

How much we have to be thankful for in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ! He died for the sins of John Newton. He died for my sins. On good Friday the words of this hymn bring to life what He endured - for me.


  1. O, can it be, upon a tree
    The Saviour died for me?
    My soul is thrilled, my heart is filled,
    To think He died for me!

    I "hear" that refrain in both Dad's and Mum's voices, raised full of hope, humble awe and joy! Thank you for the reminder and the truth of the hymn. Love you!

  2. Another verse with the Easter message: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10

  3. Thanks for sharing this. What a precious reminder of HIS love for us! Happy and blessed Easter, Karyn! hugs!

  4. Happy Easter, Karyn.


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...