Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 21
When Joshua, by God's command...
Manuscript Hymn No. 280 [MS Mistakenly 290]
When Joshua, by GOD’s command,
Invaded Canaan’s guilty land,
Gibeon, unlike the nations round,
Submission made, and mercy found.
Their stubborn neighbours who, enraged,
United war against them waged,
By Joshua soon were overthrown,
For Gibeon’s cause was now his own.
He from whose arm they ruin feared,
Their leader and ally appeared;
An emblem of the Saviour’s grace,
To those who humbly seek his face.
The men of Gibeon wore disguise,
And gained their peace by framing lies;
For Joshua had no power to spare,
If he had known from whence they were.
But JESUS invitations sends,
Treating with rebels as his friends;
And holds the promise forth in view,
To all who for his mercy sue.
Too long his goodness I disdained,
Yet went at last and peace obtained;
But soon the noise of war I heard,
And former friends in arms appeared.
Weak in myself, for help I cried,
LORD, I am pressed on every side;
The cause is thine, they fight with me,
But every blow is aimed at thee.
With speed to my relief he came,
And put my enemies to shame;
Thus saved by grace I live to sing
The love and triumphs of my King.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 22 July 1777
My gracious Lord, pity and help me. I languish and droop. Frame disordered, time wasted – what can I say? How can I recover? It is a time of trial with us in the family, yet prayer is slack. I thank thee that my Dear continues better. This makes other incidental trials lighter. A good hour, I hope at the Great House. I have known the difference between horrid darkness and marvellous light. Oh make me thankful.
Wednesday 23 July 1777
Gave the forenoon to Mr Mayor and Charles – as I purpose to do now and then. As thou hast sent them here, I would willingly be useful to them. Help me simply to aim at it. Ah, I can catch this wretched self in the very act of seeking applause. How inconsistent and how vile am I. Our topic today was the person and character – that glorious truth which is the life and soul of every other – that thou art the Christ, God, Man, God over all, blessed for ever.
Thursday 24 July 1777
Met the children – some liberty in talking with them. I pray thee my Lord to bless me to the young ones – for the most part thou givest me much to say to them, O let it not be spoken in vain. Preached in the evening. There I had liberty again. But Oh how sadly stupid and dissipated in my spirit, the most of the day. Surely I long for a revival. I would seek it in prayer, but that would be the very beginning of it, if I could indeed pray. O Lord do thou come to me, for I cannot move to thee of myself. Psalm 124:8 [Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.]
Saturday 26 July 1777
My gracious Lord, mercifully except I pray thee, my weekly confession and acknowledgement. Thy goodness and my own vileness, are subjects not to be exhausted. Thou has crowned another week with thy mercies and blessings to me and mine. Alas how unsuitably has it been filled up on my part! Awake O heavenly wind. Shine forth thou Sun of righteousness and bless my soul. I know what I would be. I faint, pant and pine for thy presence, and yet I seek thee so by halves that I cannot wonder I find thee not. I am like a traveller with a thorn in his foot, my progress is slow and every step painful. O gird me with strength, fill me with peace, and order my goings in thy ways.
Sunday 27 July 1777
The evening meeting was thronged. I seemed to have liberty and to speak with earnestness. There was an apparent attention among the hearers. O for thy power to touch and awaken many hearts.
Revelation 19:11 [And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war]
Hymn 290 [280 intended]
[On this date Newton preached from the above texts at his church, St Peter & St Paul, Olney, during the morning and afternoon services, and from this hymn at the informal evening service]
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 29/08/2013