It was through his prolific correspondence that Newton fulfilled his distinctive work as 'the letter-writer par excellence of the Evangelical Revival'. His grasp of Scripture and deep personal experience of the 'amazing grace' of God, his many friends (among them, Whitefield, Cowper and Wilberforce), his many and varied trials, his country pastorate, his strong, clear, idiomatic style - all these factors combined to prepare the author of 'How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds', for the exercise of his special gift.
John Newton (1725-1807), converted slave-trader, preacher, and hymn-writer, was one of the most colorful figures in the Evangelical Awakening of the eighteenth century. 'Once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa', he once wrote for his epitaph, 'by the rich mercy of Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.'
"In few writers are Christian doctrine, experience and practice more happily balanced than in the author of these Letters, and few write with more simplicity, piety and force." - C. H. Spurgeon
"What thousands have derived repeated profit and pleasure from the perusal of these utterances of the heart! Nor ever will they cease to be found means of grace whilst God has a church on earth." - William Jay
"It was Newton's goodness rather than his greatness that rendered him so especially attractive; the abundance of the grace of God that was in him. In this respect he was pre-eminent, justifying the eulogy of William Jay who speaks of him as one of the most perfect instances of the spirit and temper of Christianity he ever knew. Some men excel in one virtue more than another. But Newton's character was beautiful in its entireness. It rested on a solid foundation; the initial Christian grace of humility, and of this grace he was a most striking example. He never for a moment forgot that by the grace of God he was what he was." - Josiah Bull