Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 84

When Jesus claims the sinner's heart...

Manuscript Hymn No. 277

277 v1

Chapter 12:43-45

Satan returning

When Jesus claims the sinner’s heart,
Where Satan ruled before;
The evil spirit must depart,
And dares return no more.

But when he goes without constraint,
And wanders from his home,
Although withdrawn, ’tis but a feint,
He means again to come.

Some outward change perhaps is seen
If Satan quit the place;
But though the house seem swept and clean,
’Tis destitute of grace.

Except the Saviour dwell and reign
Within the sinner’s mind;
Satan, when he returns again,
Will easy entrance find.

With rage and malice sevenfold,
He then resumes his sway;
No more by checks to be controlled,
No more to go away.

The sinner’s former state was bad,
But worse the latter far;
He lives possessed, and blind, and mad,
And dies in dark despair.

Lord save me from this dreadful end!
And from this heart of mine;
O drive and keep away the fiend
Who fears no voice but thine.

John Newton bw better 150 x 55
  from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:

Sunday 15 June 1777
By the papers I find Dr Dodd [1] is included in the Dead Warrant, and appointed for execution the 27th Instant. Lord help me to lay this case to heart, to pity and pray for him, and to be instructed myself. Why has not this, or something as bad been my case. Surely there is that in me, yea I have found and felt that in me, which had I been left to myself and the power of Satan, would have prevailed, and hurried me into any shameful wickedness. I have nothing to boast, but O that I could praise.

Sunday 22 June 1777
Read in the paper, Dr Dodd's address to his fellow prisoners in Newgate; was sorry to see, he discovers so little knowledge of the way of salvation. O that thy light may yet at the last hour shine into his heart, and that he may feel himself a sinner, and find thee a powerful Saviour in the time of need.

Tuesday 24 June 1777
… at the Great House …. Recommended Dr Dodd to thy mercy in our prayers. This is surely our duty, to feel compassion for him, and to long for his salvation – and then to leave him in thy Sovereign hand, who hast a right to do what thou wilt with thine own.

Wednesday 25 June 1777
Breakfasted with Mr Bull, and had some interesting conversation with him, particularly on Luke 16 [the unjust steward and covertousness] – I find few if any with whom I converse with equal advantage, whose manner of thinking is so deep and solid. Dined at Mr Henell's – and spent the afternoon agreeably, I hope in character, and with some prospect of usefulness. Yet always much to be ashamed of, especially that I am so much unlike in myself, to what I seem to others when thou givest me a little liberty.

Friday 27 June 1777
The appointed day for Dr Dodd’s execution. I walked to the Mill, that I might see Mrs Perry, and have leisure by the way to think of and pray for him. I was not so properly affected with his case, and with thy distinguishing mercy to myself, as I was convinced in my judgement that I ought to be so. His state is now fixed. If he had faith in thy blood and promise he is now with thee. If he trusted in anything else he was surely deceived. Lord thou art Sovereign and dost all things well, and right. But I must, I will say, Why me? [2] O to Grace how great a debtor. [3] For I was vile beyond measure, yet I obtained mercy. And since I received thy Gospel, I have been often in a careless dangerous frame; the enemy has been near, and I asleep – he has robbed me of my water and weapon, my comfort and my strength, and yet thou hast not given me up to my own heart, and to his suggestions and power. Otherwise, I might have done as bad or worse, and have come to a like shameful end.

Sunday 29 June 1777
Morning text, suggested as I sometimes have one, by a paper I found in the Bible [Isaiah 42:7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house]. But I could only speak to the first clause. Lord thou hast given me light and opened my eyes. But O for thine eye salve that I may see more clearly, for I am often sadly involved in mists of unbelief and ignorance. In the afternoon I had a view to the Fair tomorrow, usually a scene of riot and evil [Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy]. O Lord grant that some may take warning, and not harden their necks.
Mr Barham writes that Mr La Trobe, who has constantly attended Dr Dodd, makes no doubt but he died a believer in thy name. I know thy mercy is thy delight, and higher than the heavens. I trust it was so, and praise thee on his behalf. Thou canst show thy goodness and thy severity in the same moment.

Isaiah 42:7
Proverbs 29:1
Hymn No. 277

[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]

[1] William Dodd (1729-1777), a well-known and rather extravagant Anglican minister, chaplain to the King, was convicted of forgery (on a cheque for £4,200) and  publicly hanged at Tyburn.

[2] In his series on Romans 8, Newton wrote: "...and the repeated enquiry and wonder is, Why me, Lord, Why me?"
Why was I made to hear thy voice
And enter while there's room?
When thousands make a wretched choice
And rather starve than come?

Twas the same love that made the feast
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sin

verses 4,5 of How sweet and awful is the place, Isaac Watts

[3] O to grace how great a debtor [a favourite quote by Newton] comes from Robert Robinson's hymn Come thou fount of everty blessing.

Image copyright:

Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University

Marylynn Rouse, 10/09/2013