Amazing Grace 奇异恩典


奇异恩典,何等甘甜,

我罪已得赦免!

前我失丧,今被寻回,

瞎眼今得看见。

如此恩典,使我敬畏,

使我心得安慰;

初信之時,我蒙恩惠,

真是何等宝贵!

救主应许,爱我真切,

使我今得盼望;

主是盾牌,是我产业,

是我生命保障。

历尽艰险,劳苦奔走,

我今来到主前;

全靠主恩,扶持保佑,

恩典带進永久。

住在天家,千万年世,

如日无限光亮;

时时颂赞,永不止息,

仍像凯歌初唱。


关于圣诗“奇异恩典”的故事

这可能是有史以来最受人欢迎的圣诗了:

奇异恩典,何等甘甜,

我罪已得赦免!

前我失丧,今被寻回,

瞎眼今得看见。

尽管今天有些人可能会觉得,把这首歌的作者约翰·牛顿称为“恶棍”,是夸大其词了,或者是故意要引人注意而已。


一个倒卖奴隶的商贩

牛顿是由一位基督教母亲培育长大的,他在幼年时母亲就教过他圣经,但是当他7岁时他母亲死于肺结核后,他就被既是商人又是海军上尉的父亲抚养。11岁时,牛顿开始了他六年与他的父亲远航的生活。

牛顿之所以在一家商业公司失去了他的第一份工作,其原因是“行为不规,没有耐心”,但是他多年持续这样的生活模式。在1744年他被英国皇家海军强征入伍之前,他在海上度过了他的青少年时光。牛顿企图逃离纪律严格的皇家海军,但是被抓了回来,于是被绑在铁杆上接受鞭打。他最终说服了他的上级将官,取消了他的海军资格,而到一艘奴隶船上当水手。他坚持自由思想的原则,保持傲慢和不服从的态度,无视道德观念地生活着。在他的自传里写道:“我高举双手,用我的行为所写下的成就来诱惑和吸引别人。“

之后,他与一个名叫克洛的奴隶贩子一起合作,克洛在西非以外的一个岛上拥有一片柠檬树种植园。但是他被克洛和克洛的非洲情妇残酷地对待;不久,牛顿就变得衣衫褴褛,沦落为乞丐,向人乞求食物来缓解他的饥饿。

1747年,这个呆滞的水手被转移到了一艘在利物浦港口里名为“灰狗”的船上,为船长服务。但是在其归回利物浦的旅途中,这艘船遇到一场巨大的风暴。牛顿一直在读托馬斯·A·肯培所写的一本名为“效法基督”的书,并因一句“生活不确定性的延续”,而陷入沉思。他还回顾了圣经《箴言》中的一段话:“我呼唤你们不肯听从。我伸手,无人理会。......你们遭灾难,我就发笑惊恐临到你们,我必嗤笑。”(箴言1:24~26,译者注)尽管后来他承认他在风暴中悔改了,“我不认为自己当时是一个圣经上所说的信徒。”

牛顿随后成为船上的一个重要帮手,然后还担任了多艘奴隶船的船长,希望作为一名基督徒来抑制奴隶贸易中最恶劣的行为。他写道,从此他就“努力把船员和黑奴的生活和灵魂都提升到上帝所指定的要求。”


美妙的赞美诗

1755年离开海洋从事办公室工作后,牛顿在利物浦的家中认真地读了圣经。受韦斯利和乔治·怀特菲的影响,他采纳了温和的加尔文主义的观点,并对奴隶贸易及其角色越来越厌恶。他就辞去与贩卖奴隶有关的职务,而被按立为英国圣公会的牧者,并于1764年在白金汉郡的奥尔尼教区教堂牧会。

牛顿到达奥尔尼教区教堂三年后,诗人威廉·考尔也搬到奥尔尼。考珀是一位技艺高超的诗人,而且成了这个教会的一员义工。

1769年,牛顿开始了周四晚上的祷告会。几乎每一周的祷告会中,他都会写出一首赞美诗来用一首熟悉的曲调来唱。牛顿邀请考珀也来写赞美诗,直到1773年病重,他都欣然接受了这个邀请。牛顿后来将他自己的280首赞美诗和考珀的68首歌曲合并成了流行的奥尔尼赞美诗。在众所周知的赞美诗中有“奇异恩典”,“美哉锡安”,“主名至宝”,“愿更亲密与主同行”,以及“宝血活泉”。

1787年,牛顿写了一篇“对贩卖非洲黑奴的忏悔”,以帮助威廉·威尔伯福斯的竞选活动来结束这种贩卖奴隶的做法。在那篇文章里,他写道, “因为贩卖奴隶,我的心一直在颤抖”。他一生中对这一段贩卖非洲奴隶经历的回忆从未离开过他,而在他年老时代身体日渐衰弱时,人们劝他退休。他回答说:“什么?我不能停下来。我这个曾在在非洲黑奴身上亵渎了上帝的人,在还能说话的时候岂能停止传福音吗?”

来源:http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/pastorsandpreachers/john-newton.html


讨论问题:

  1. 你对这篇文章有什么感兴趣的地方?
  2. 你是否听到过这首“奇异恩典”的圣诗?是在那里听到的?你有没有听到过约翰·牛顿?
  3. 你觉得这歌词是什么意思?你觉得约翰·牛顿在歌词里表达了什么?
  4. 是什么事情、什么情况让约翰·牛顿改变了他对贩卖黑奴的观点?
  5. 你认为是什么原因让约翰·牛顿改变了他对自己和对生活的态度?


  • Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

  • That saved a wretch like me!

  • I once was lost, but now am found;

  • Was blind, but now I see.

  • ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

  • And grace my fears relieved;

  • How precious did that grace appear

  • The hour I first believed.

  • Through many dangers, toils and snares,

  • I have already come;

  • ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

  • And grace will lead me home.

  • The Lord has promised good to me,

  • His Word my hope secures;

  • He will my Shield and Portion be,

  • As long as life endures.

  • Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

  • And mortal life shall cease,

  • I shall possess, within the veil,

  • A life of joy and peace.

  • When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

  • Bright shining as the sun,

  • We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

  • Than when we’d first begun.

  • Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

  • That saved a wretch like me!

  • I once was lost, but now am found;

  • Was blind, but now I see.


Was blind, but now I see.

The Story Behind the Hymn Amazing Grace

It is probably the most famous hymn in history:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind but now I see.


Though some people today may wonder if the word "wretch" is hyperbole or a bit of dramatic license, John Newton, the song's author, clearly did not.

Slave Trader

Newton was nurtured by a Christian mother who taught him the Bible at an early age, but he was raised by his merchant navy captain father after she died of tuberculosis when Newton was 7. At age 11, Newton went on his first of six sea-voyages with his father.

Newton lost his first job, in a merchant's office, because of "unsettled behavior and impatience of restraint"—a pattern that would persist for years. He spent his later teen years at sea before he was press-ganged aboard the H.M.S. Harwich in 1744. Newton rebelled against the discipline of the Royal Navy and deserted. He was captured, put in irons, and flogged. He eventually convinced his superiors to discharge him to a slaver ship. Espousing freethinking principles, he remained arrogant and insubordinate, and he lived with moral abandon: "I sinned with a high hand," he later wrote, "and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others."

He took up employment with a slave-trader named Clow, who owned a plantation of lemon trees on an island off of west Africa. But he was treated cruelly by Clow and the slaver's African mistress; soon Newton's clothes turned to rags, and Newton was forced to beg for food to ease his hunger.

The sluggish sailor was transferred to the service of the captain of the Greyhound, a Liverpool ship, in 1747, and on its homeward journey, the ship was overtaken by an enormous storm. Newton had been reading Thomas A Kempis's The Imitation of Christ, and was struck by a line about the "uncertain continuance of life." He also recalled the passage in Proverbs, "Because I have called and ye have refused, … I also will laugh at your calamity." He converted during the storm, though he admitted later, "I cannot consider myself to have been a believer, in the full sense of the word."

Newton then served as a mate and then as captain of a number of slave ships, hoping as a Christian to restrain the worst excesses of the slave trade, "promoting the life of God in the soul" of both his crew and his African cargo.

Amazing hymnal

After leaving the sea for an office job in 1755, Newton held Bible studies in his Liverpool home. Influenced by both the Wesleys and George Whitefield, he adopted mild Calvinist views and became increasingly disgusted with the slave trade and his role in it. He quit, was ordained into the Anglican ministry, and in 1764 took a parish in Olney in Buckinghamshire.

Three years after Newton arrived, poet William Cowper moved to Olney.  Cowper, a skilled poet became a lay helper in the small congregation.

In 1769, Newton began a Thursday evening prayer service. For almost every week's service, he wrote a hymn to be sung to a familiar tune. Newton challenged Cowper also to write hymns for these meetings, which he did until falling seriously ill in 1773.  Newton later combined 280 of his own hymns with 68 of Cowper's in what was to become the popular Olney Hymns. Among the well-known hymns in it are "Amazing Grace", "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken", "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds", "O for a Closer Walk with God", and "There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood".

In 1787 Newton wrote Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade to help William Wilberforce's campaign to end the practice — "a business at which my heart now shudders," he wrote.  Recollection of that chapter in his life never left him, and in his old age, when it was suggested that the increasingly feeble Newton retire, he replied, "I cannot stop.  What? Shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?"

from:  http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/pastorsandpreachers/john-newton.html

Discussion questions:


  1. What do you find  interesting about this story?

  2. Have you heard of this song "Amazing Grace"?  Where did you hear it? Have you heard of John Newton?

  3. What do you think the words in the song mean? Or what do you think John Newton was trying to say in this song?

  4. What event or thought changed his attitude about Slave trade?

  5. What do you think brought on his change in attitude in himself and how he looked at life?

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