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 >
'Tis a point I long to know. J. Newton. [In Doubt and Fear.] Appeared in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. i., No. 119, in 9 st of 4 lines. It is in common use in an abbreviated form, and opening with the first line as above. In some collections it begins, "Lord, my God, I long to know"; and in others, "Could my heart so hard remain" (stanza iii.). These altered forms of the text are in use principally in America.