John Newton (1725-1807), at one time a naval deserter, slave trader, and in his own words, “an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in West Africa,” was gloriously converted at sea during an intense storm aboard the English merchant ship, Greyhound. He eventually became an Anglican pastor and was used greatly by God through his preaching and his writing of Gospel hymns. He and William Cowper (pronounced, “Cooper”) collaborated on producing a collection of hymns, published as Olney Hymns because at the time they were living in Olney, England. Most famous for being the author of Amazing Grace, in fact, he was a prolific writer of hymns with The Trinity Hymnal containing thirteen of his compositions. Our offertory hymn this past Lord’s Day was Newton’s 1774 hymn, Day of Judgment! Day of Wonders! which speaks starkly of God’s terrible wrath and warmly of His amazing grace.
Day of judgment! Day of wonders! Hark! The trumpet’s awful sound, louder than a thousand thunders, shakes the vast creation round! How the summons wilt the sinner’s heart confound!
See the Judge, our nature wearing, Clothed in majesty divine! You who long for His appearing then shall say, “This God is mine!” Gracious Savior, own me in that day for Thine!
At His call the dead awaken, rise to life from earth and sea; all the powers of nature shaken by His look prepares to flee. Careless sinner, what will then become of thee?
Horrors, past imagination, will surprise your trembling heart, when you hear your condemnation, “Hence, accursed wretch, depart! Thou, with Satan and his angels, have thy part.”
Satan, who now tries to please you, lest you timely warning take, when that word is past, will seize you, plunge you in the burning lake: Think, poor sinner, thy eternal all’s at stake.
But to those who have confessed, loved and served the Lord below, He will say, “Come near, ye blessed, see the kingdom I bestow: You forever shall My love and glory know.”
Under sorrows and reproaches, may this though your courage raise! Swiftly God’s great day approaches, sighs shall then be changed to praise. We shall triumph when the world is in a blaze.