Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 115
When any turn from Zion's way...
Manuscript Hymn No. 237
Will ye also go away?
When any turn from Zion's way,
(Alas! what numbers do!)
Methinks I hear my Saviour say,
“Wilt thou forsake me too?”
Ah, Lord! with such a heart as mine,
Unless thou hold me fast,
I feel I must, I shall decline,
And prove like them at last.
Yet thou alone hast power, I know,
To save a wretch like me;
To whom, or whither, could I go,
If I should turn from thee?
Beyond a doubt I rest assured
Thou art the Christ of God,
Who hast eternal life secured
By promise and by blood.
The help of men and angels joined,
Could never reach my case;
Nor can I hope relief to find,
But in thy boundless grace.
No voice but thine can give me rest,
And bid my fears depart;
No love but thine can make me blest,
And satisfy my heart.
What anguish has that question stirred,
If I will also go?
Yet, Lord, relying on thy word,
I humbly answer, No!
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Thursday 21 March 1776
The anniversary of my great deliverance in 1748 calls for my grateful acknowledgement. As I could not conveniently walk today, I devoted a part of yesterday intentionally, to renew my praises and surrender to thee my gracious Lord. With this view I visited Mr Bull – hoping for some communion with thee by the way out and home. But ah – my heart was dull and barren; so it must be unless thou appear, and thou wert pleased to withdraw. Yet I hope the time was not wholly lost. I am struck with the wisdom, grace and impression of thine image which thou hast given to thy servant Bull, and I hope thou wilt teach me to profit by it; surely I love him for thy sake. In the midst of the necessary calls of this day, I would keep thy mercy in mind. I remember when I stood trembling to appearance upon the brink of eternity, and thought it impossible I could live a quarter of an hour. Since that memorable day thou hast added twenty-eight years to my life – and I am still living, and feel little abatement of health and strength. How wonderful has been thy goodness to me in this long space. And alas how amazing has been the contrast on my side – unfaithful, ungrateful, vile creature that I am. But still I am thine. Thou bearest with me, and multipliest forgiveness and mercies to me. O Lord, warm, animate and purify my heart. Draw nigh to my soul, unite my divided heart. So far as a poor creature can (who without thy secret influence can do nothing) I open to thee, and invite thee to take a full possession. Abase the power of self, and reign alone in my soul. My time is shortening apace. O that the remainder may be spent for thee. Be my Shepherd, my Saviour, my All – and may all that I have and am be devoted to thee, and employed for thee.
Tuesday at the Great House I was favoured with liberty in speaking on the case of Apostate in the Pilgrim. Blessed be thy name, that thou hast secretly and powerfully preserved me from wholly turning aside, though my backslidings have been many and grievous.
Met the children in the forenoon, and in the evening preached; closed what I purposed upon the throne of grace. O that I could myself do as I press upon others, and come boldly to the throne, at all times, for surely it is always a time of need with me. [lecture:] Hebrews 4:16 [Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.]
Saturday 23 March 1776
Indisposed with a cold, and my Dear has been more so, but the Lord [is] gracious and visits us gently. Drank tea at Clifton; reckoned upon the walk home, but neither then or the evening had I much of the spirit of prayer. But I feel at such times, a power given me to venture freely upon the Lord and his promises, knowing that his grace is not suspended upon conditions that I can perform.
Sunday 24 March 1776
My gracious Lord, and accept my thanks for support through another day. Give me power to speak – and grace to profit myself by what I set before others. How unworthy am I of the honour thou hast bestowed on me. And how little affected in the discharge of it. O give me a blessing that my own soul may thrive, and that I may see thy work prosper around me.
1 Peter 4:18
Hymn No. 237
[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