This is an excerpt from a hymn penned by John Newton, an English preacher and former slave trader.
Also the author of Amazing Grace, John Newton’s writings reveal the kind of man that Paul speaks of in the first chapter of Ephesians. Redeemed by the blood. Forgiven of his trespasses. Lavished by grace in all wisdom and insight.
As a former slave trader, I would imagine John Newton to be uniquely qualified to know the preciousness of Christ. Jesus said, “he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47b). John Newton was forgiven much.
Matthew Henry tells us, “When we stand before God, to minister to him, or stand up for God, we must expect to meet all the resistance Satan’s subtlety and malice can give. Satan is checked by one that has conquered him, and many times silenced him. Those who belong to Christ, will find him ready to appear for them, when Satan appears most strongly against them. A converted soul is a brand plucked out of the fire by a miracle of free grace, therefore shall not be left a prey to Satan.”
Today these words remind me that my guilt has been taken away. My sins have been pardoned. I have been clothed in a robe of righteousness and He, Jesus, has become my salvation. I am, like John Newton, and every other blood washed saint, “a brand plucked out of the fire.”
“1 With Satan, my accuser, near,
My spirit trembled when I saw
The Lord in majesty appear,
And heard the language of his law.
2 In vain I wish’d and strove to hide
The tatter’d, filthy rags I wore;
While my fierce foe insulting cry’d,
‘See what you trusted in before!’
3 Struck dumb, and left without a plea,
I heard my gracious Saviour say,
‘Know, Satan, I this sinner free,
I died to take his sins away.
4 This is a brand which I, in love,
To save from wrath and sin design,
In vain thy accusations prove;
I answer all, and claim him mine.’
5 At his rebuke the tempter fled;
Then he remov’d my filthy dress;
‘Poor sinner, take this robe,’ he said,
‘It is thy Saviour’s righteousness.
6 And see, a crown of life prepar’d!
That I might thus my head adorn;
I thought no shame of suff’ring hard,
But wore for thee a crown of thorn.’
7 O how I heard these gracious words!
They broke and heal’d my heart at once;
Constrain’d me to become the Lord’s,
And all my idol-gods renounce.
8 Now, Satan, thou hast lost thy aim,
Against this brand thy threats are vain;
Jesus has pluck’d it from the flame,
And who shall put it in again?
John Newton, “The Works of the Rev John Newton”
HT: Hail and Fire