John Newton (b. London, England, 1725; d. London, 1807) was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumultuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape he himself became the captain of a slave ship. Several factors contributed to Newton's conversion: a near-drowning in 1748, the piety of his friend Mary Catlett, (whom he married in 1750), and his reading of Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ. In 1754 he gave up the slave trade and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist. After becoming a tide… Go to person page >
Precious Bible! what a treasure. J. Newton. [Holy Scriptures.] Published in his Twenty Six Letters, &c. By Omicron, 1774, in 6 stanzas of 6 lines, and headed, “The Word of God more precious than Gold." It was repeated in R. Conyers's Collection, 1774, No. 276, and again in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Book ii., No. 63. It is found in a few modern hymnbooks.