Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 128
When Israel's tribes were parched with thirst...
Manuscript Hymn No. 246
That Rock was CHRIST
When Israel’s tribes were parched with thirst,
Forth from the rock the waters burst;
And all their future journey through
Yielded them drink, and gospel too!
In Moses’ rod a type they saw
Of his severe and fiery law;
The smitten rock prefigured him
From whose pierced side all blessings stream.
But ah! the types were all too faint,
His sorrows or his worth to paint:
Slight was the stroke of Moses’ rod,
But he endured the wrath of God.
Their outward rock could feel no pain,
But ours was wounded, torn, and slain;
The rock gave but a watery flood,
But Jesus poured forth streams of blood.
The earth is like their wilderness,
A land of drought and sore distress;
Without one stream from pole to pole,
To satisfy a thirsty soul.
But let the Saviour’s praise resound;
In him refreshing streams are found;
Which pardon, strength, and comfort give,
And thirsty sinners drink and live.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 11 June 1776
Breakfasted yesterday with [in shorthand]; feel some concern for his solitary situation. I see how [thou] art pleased to exercise and disappoint others, while everything goes on favourably with me, ungrateful and foolish as I am. At the Great House enabled to speak – went on with Hopeful's experience. Lord give me living, powerful words and make me more earnest for usefulness.
Wednesday 12 June 1776
Leisure in writing. In the afternoon visited the Emberton people and spoke of the woman of Canaan, Matthew 15. Some pleasing converse with my visitants by the way. American affairs begin to appear very critical. I am busy in aiming to affect others with a sense of what does but little affect me. How is it that while I am so unfaithful, I can take upon me the office of a monitor?
Thursday 13 June 1776
Met the children. And in the evening preached. My soul still beset with temptations which at some times appear vain and foolish to the last degree, but at others I am born away by them like a dead fish down the stream. O when shall I be wise?
Saturday 15 June 1776
Weak as infancy, yet wilful as the ass's colt, such is my character. I have now another week to look back upon with thankfulness and humiliation. What powerful causes for both, and yet how faint a sense of either. Ah my Lord what shall I, what can I say! My heart is still vile, perverse and disingenuous. I still complain of thy absence, and still build walls to hide thee from my soul. O for faith! this is what I want, this alone obtains the victory. A long walk with Miss Barhams in the forenoon, and alone in the evening. And yet I hope not quite alone. Didst thou not draw forth my desires towards thyself, for pardon and strength? O hear for thy mercies sake. Help me to resolve in thee! Thy grace is sufficient for me, but not the notion of it in my head, it must be the efficacy in my heart. Forgive the past, heal my wounds and anoint me with fresh oil. Let my soul live and it shall praise thee.
Sunday 16 June 1776
O my Lord, thine eye beholds many hearts and hands and eyes waiting here upon thee this morning for a blessing. Behold me among them. And shine upon me this day, that I may feel the importance of thy truths and their sweetness in my own soul, and may with an enlarged heart declare them to the people.
Thou hast heard me, and given me undeserved liberty through the day. O may I be thankful, humble and obedient, and not spend my whole life in an uncertain pining way. But grant that my eye may be single, and my conscience pure. The things which seem to interrupted and intercept my happiness, are in themselves like bubbles, yet if I am left to myself, they are as immovable by any power or effort of mine, as the Alps. I feel that I can do nothing, but let me feel that I can do all things by thy enabling power.
Hymn No. 246
[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