The storm was terrific: when the ship went plunging down into the trough of the sea few on board expected her to come up again. The hold was rapidly filling with water. As Newton hurried to his place at the pumps he said to the captain, "If this will not do, the Lord have mercy upon us!" His own words startled him. "Mercy!" he said to himself in astonishment, "Mercy! mercy! What mercy can there be for me? This was the first desire I had breathed for mercy for many years!" About six in the evening the hold was free from water, and then came a gleam of hope. "I thought I saw the hand of God displayed in our favour. I began to pray. I could not utter the prayer of faith. I could not draw near to a reconciled God and call him Father. My prayer for mercy was like the cry of the ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear."
"In the gospel," says Newton, "I saw at least a peradventure of hope but on every other side I was surrounded with black, unfathomable despair."