Newton’s most famous hymn “Amazing Grace” . . . was first unveiled in his church on New Year’s Day (1773), and it’s a reflection on the new year: a look back on his past deliverances, a look around on his present deliverances, and a look forward to his future deliverances in Christ.
The hymn opens with a reminder of God’s past grace:
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d 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 reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ’d!
Now note the transition to God’s present grace:
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
Finally, Newton concludes with confidence in God’s future grace:
The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures:
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
—Tony Reinke, “God Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far: Amazing Grace for a New Year” http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/grace-has-brought-me-safe-thus-far