Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 101
The castle of the human heart...
Manuscript Hymn No. 300
The Heart taken
The castle of the human heart,
Strong in its native sin,
Is guarded well, in every part,
By him who dwells within.
For Satan there in arms resides,
And calls the place his own;
With care against assaults provides,
And rules as on a throne.
Each traitor thought, on him as chief,
In blind obedience waits;
And pride, self-will, and unbelief,
Are posted at the gates.
Thus Satan for a season reigns,
And keeps his goods in peace;
The soul is pleased to wear his chains,
Nor wishes a release.
But Jesus, stronger far than he,
In his appointed hour
Appears, to set his people free
From the usurper's power.
“This heart I bought with blood,” he says,
“And now it shall be mine;”
His voice the strong one armed dismays,
He knows he must resign.
In spite of unbelief and pride,
And self, and Satan's art,
The gates of brass fly open wide,
And Jesus wins the heart.
The rebel soul that once withstood
The Saviour’s kindest call,
Rejoices now, by grace subdued,
To serve him with her all.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 27 January 1778
Mr Scott was at the Great House tonight for the first time. I spoke from Psalm 4:3 [But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him] and I hope it was a pleasant opportunity. Surely thou dost help me in public, for I find myself unable often to see how the text I am to explain can be managed till I begin, and then word follows word, as if I was reading. C Stone prayed well tonight. Another instance of thy power and mercy – not long ago he was a town-sinner.
Thursday 29 January 1778
Met the children – spoke to them of the prodigal son and of myself. For never was the parable more exemplified than in me. O thou gracious Father, against whom I had so highly offended, thy ways are higher than ours and thy thoughts above our thoughts as the heavens are higher than the earth, otherwise thou wouldst have left me to perish. [Luke 15:11-32, noting v21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; and v24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found]
Saturday 31 January 1778
My gracious Lord, what abundant cause both for praise and humiliation does the close of every week suggest! In myself almost a cumber-ground but as an instance of thy goodness and mercy, almost a Miracle! How wonderfully favoured, spared and supported. Well may I be ashamed, when some who know me not commend my diligence, for thou knowest I am a trifler. O for pardon! O for wisdom and strength. Without thee I can do nothing, nothing right. May I live and die crying for mercy.
Sunday 1 February 1778
The anniversary of Cottingham, but I only just mentioned it in prayer, as the affair of Hull last year, has now given us a new commemoration day.
Hymn No. 300
[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