Book Review: Life of John Newton

Originally published on The Biblical Bookshelf.

This Life of John Newton was originally published in 1831 by the American Sunday School Union. An introductory note states the book’s purpose: “The following memoir…can pretend to no other merit, but that of accuracy. It is taken from Newton’s narrative of himself, and his memoirs by Mr. Cecil; and so far from attempting any originality, the language of the narrative is adopted wherever it was practicable.”

This brief treatment of Newton’s life is 144 small pages—so small the book could probably fit in a suit pocket and not be noticed. It does cover the high points of Newton’s life—his troubled youth, his period of rebellion against God, his conversion, his subsequent voyages as captain of a slave ship, and his later pastoral and writing ministry. The book was published in Philadelphia, three decades before the Civil War, yet it recognizes slavery as a moral wrong—as Great Britain had come to recognize, and as Newton himself moved toward recognizing later in life.

This reprint is a direct photographic reproduction of the original pages; as such, serifs and horizontal lines on fonts can be rather faint at points. This is not, however, enough to offer any serious distractions or impediments to reading.

It’s not for adults who want an in-depth treatment of Newton’s life. But it is a good book to give to (or read aloud to) children as a first introduction to Newton’s life. It receives a four-star rating on the Biblical Bookshelf.

Disclosure of Material Connection (FTC 16 CFR, Part 255): Review copy provided by publisher. A positive review was not required; opinions expressed are those of the site editor.


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  1. You might also enjoy the book: Amazing Grace, I think it is by Robert Morgan. It is also about Newtons life and the writing of his song. I loved the book, you might really enjoy it too.

    • Thank you! If I come across it, I’ll check it out.

  2. Daniel – I just wanted to say I have really enjoyed all your reviews. I am a regular reader of your SG blog and happened upon this one while exploring the links on your SG blog page. I went back and read everything you have reviewed to date. Anyway, thanks so much for these.

    • Sam, thank you! I’m glad it was useful for you!