Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 89
What think you of Christ? is the test...
Manuscript Hymn No. 220
What think ye of Christ?
What think you of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him.
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not;
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy or wrath are your lot.
Some take him a creature to be,
A man, or an angel at most:
Sure, these have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched and lost:
So guilty, so helpless am I,
I durst not confide in his blood,
Nor on his protection rely,
Unless I were sure he is God.
Some call him a Saviour, in word,
But mix their own works with his plan;
And hope he his help will afford,
When they have done all that they can:
If doings prove rather too light,
(A little, they own, they may fail),
They purpose to make up full weight,
By casting his name in the scale.
Some style him the pearl of great price,
And say he's the fountain of joys;
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its toys:
Like Judas, the Saviour they kiss,
And while they salute him, betray;
Ah! what will profession like this
Avail in his terrible day?
If asked, what of Jesus I think?
Though still my best thoughts are but poor,
I say, he's my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store;
My Shepherd, my Husband, my Friend,
My Saviour from sin and from thrall;
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord, and my All.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 16 October 1775
How highly dost thou honour me in friendships and connections. Samuel Thornton who has just left me, is I trust thy servant, and visited me for thy sake. He tells me his short visit was pleasant, and he hopes profitable. Accept my thanks. O confirm thy work in him. Make him happy in himself, useful in life.
Thou hast opened me a correspondence with Mrs [initial in shorthand] . Give me wisdom for my part of it, and crown it with thy blessing. What she sees not do thou teach her. May it not be said that she is not far from thy kingdom? Help her thou[through?] every hindrance, that she may be truly happy in thy love.
Help me, my Lord, to feel and plead for many of thy poor people here, who are grievously vexed by Satan. Thou hast wise reasons for what thou dost, and what thou permittest. They are tossed with tempests and not comforted. But thou art with them in the storm. Particularly my dear friend [name in shorthand – probably Cowper]. Thou hast laid his case upon the hearts of many. Enable us still to wrestle in prayer for him and not to faint.
[Friday 20/Saturday 21 October 1775]
I have been visiting thy people at Emberton … I adore thy grace in supporting thy poor afflicted ones . Particularly in the case of Hannah Markam, whom thou art pleased still to continue in life, that we may all observe and admire, the wonderful effects thy Gospel is designed to produce, where it is received and embraced by simple faith. How does that glory shine in a poor cottage, of which it is to be feared few traces are to be found in the palaces of kings. May my last end be like hers. And may I now begin to die daily, and estimate the things around me, as they now appear to her, and will one day appear to me. Surely they are vanity farther than as connected with thy love, and improved to thy service.
Sunday 22 October 1775
...at the burial of Sarah Wooding I had an opportunity of speaking to many in the church. I have found thou hast given a blessing upon such occasion.
Hymn No. 220
[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, 10/09/2013