From this time, John Newton’s life began to change as he came to realise that God’s grace could save even a ‘wretch’ like him! Others soon noticed the difference when he stopped swearing and his behaviour altered. But he still had much to learn.
Despite his new-found faith, Newton continued working as a slave trader for the next six years, blinded to the evils of slavery by his culture and by self interest. Later in life he explained, “I should have been overwhelmed with distress and terror, if I had known, or even suspected, that I was acting wrongly.”
Forced for health reasons to leave the sea, Newton became a Tides' Surveyor in Liverpool in 1755. He began to grow in his Christian faith and learn from others. In Liverpool, he listened to preachers such as John Wesley who condemned the slave trade and his attitude began to change radically.
After nine years, he fulfilled his dream to became a clergyman, serving first as a curate in Olney parish church and later in London. Often outspoken, Newton declared that “If he (someone) loves Jesus……I will love him – whatever name he may be called by and whatever mistakes I may think he holds……his differing from me will not always prove him to be wrong!” It was radical thinking in a time when denominational labels divided people! From his study, overlooking the church in Olney (pictured), Newton prepared his sermons and began to write hymns.