Whence Comes My Deliverance?
John Newton, the 18th-century reformed slave trader and famed author of Amazing Grace, frequently noted God's providence in delivering him from death. At the age of 12, for example, he took a dangerous fall from a horse. "I was thrown, I believe, within a few inches of a hedge-row newly cut down; I got no hurt; but could not avoid taking notice of a gracious providence in my deliverance; for had I fallen upon the stakes, I had inevitably been killed."
Many years later, while plying the African coast for slaves, Newton prepared to leave his ship to find supplies up one of the rivers. "I had taken leave of the captain, received his orders, was ready in the boat, and just going to put off, as we term it; that is, to let go our ropes, and sail from the ship. In that instant, the captain came up from the cabin, and called me on board again. I went, expecting further orders; but he said he had "taken it in his head" (as he phrased it), that I should remain that day in the ship, and accordingly ordered another man to go in my room [stead]. I was surprised at this, as the boat had never been sent away without me before; and asked him the reason. He could give me no reason, but as above, that so he would have it.
"Accordingly, the boat went without me, but returned no more. She sunk that night in the river, and the person who had supplied my place was drowned. I was much struck when we received the news of the event the next morning. The captain himself, though quite a stranger to religion, so far as to deny a particular providence, could not help being affected; but he declared, that he had no other reason for countermanding me at that time, but that it came suddenly into his mind to detain me. I ...