Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 135
Afflictions do not come alone...
Manuscript Hymn No. 224
Afflictions do not come alone,
A voice attends the rod;
By both he to his saints is known,
A Father and a God!
“Let not my children slight the stroke
I for chastisement send;
Nor faint beneath my kind rebuke,
For still I am their friend.
“The wicked I perhaps may leave
Awhile and not reprove;
But all the children I receive,
I scourge because I love.
“If therefore you were left without
This needful discipline,
You might with cause admit a doubt
If you, indeed, were mine.
“Shall earthly parents then expect
Their children to submit?
And will not you, when I correct,
Be humbled at my feet?
“To please themselves they oft chastise,
And put their sons to pain;
But you are precious in my eyes,
And shall not smart in vain.
“I see your hearts at present filled
With grief and deep distress;
But soon these bitter seeds shall yield
The fruits of righteousness.”
Break through the clouds, dear Lord, and shine!
Let us perceive thee nigh!
And to each mourning child of thine
These gracious words apply.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 13 November 1775
[Yesterday] evening brought a letter from my Father George Catlett expressing his expectation of a speedy dissolution, and the peace and comfort of soul which thou art now pleased to afford him. I would praise thee on his behalf. I would admire thy rich and great goodness in this instant. Surely thou hast been long known to his heart, but thy work, through the disadvantages of his situation, languished and was faint for many years. But now in his old age, under heavy trials, and bereaving providences, now when the days are come to him that he can find no pleasure in them, how hast thou revived and comforted him, and caused him both to burn and shine to thy praise.
My Dear must now return to Chatham and Sally goes with her. O Lord I commit and commend her to thee. It seems as if she will have much to feel and to suffer, but thou canst support and sanctify. Thou didst uphold her in a much heavier trial last winter (for this indeed will call more for thankfulness than for grief). O be with her now. Let all work for good, and prove an occasion of drawing her heart nearer and nearer to thyself. Bless us mutually when separate, preserve us from hurtful temptations, and bring us together again to praise thy name.
Wednesday 15 November 1775
Last night my spirits were something faint. I therefore intermitted the Pilgrim, and spoke a word which I would hope thou gavest me, and didst enable me to enlarge upon. Psalm 56:3 [What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.] I hope thy presence was with us. O I am weak and foolish, and not withstanding what I say to others, find it not easy to trust in thee when I am afraid. Fear has been upon me upon this occasion, when thy Providence calls me to part with my Dear and I know the difficulties and inconveniences she may meet with. Hear thy people’s prayers and mine for her. Give her strength according to her day. I am just returned from accompanying her to Wooburne on her way. I have commended and committed her to thee. Lord help me to leave her and my all in thy hands without reserve, without anxiety. And do thou graciously shield, guide and bless us both while absent, and in thy best time bring us together again. Be my defence from all the slights of Satan while at home. Preserve us all in the house, that if it please thee we may have nothing distressing on either side to communicate, but fresh instances of thy bounty and care, whenever we write.
Saturday 18 November 1775
Much of my leisure since I have been alone, has been employed in writing to Mr Scott. This correspondence takes up much time, and hitherto I seem to get but little ground. It is thy prerogative to enlighten and awaken the heart. In dependence upon thy blessing I persevere. Yesterday my maidservant was taken ill. I felt a damp upon my spirits, but thou didst help me to remember it was thy hand. Thou knowest my situation. I thank thee that she is something better. Preserve us in health if it please thee at home, and preserve those abroad that we may meet to praise thee. The town is very sickly, and many have little to comfort them in their sufferings, while I and mine have all things and abound. I am now in the midst of interruptions which I cannot easily avoid, looking up to thee for a blessing upon tomorrow. I am unfurnished, and must expect immediate supplies. The study on my part which is always insufficient, is now in a manner impracticable. Give me a praying, believing, feeling heart, and then I know my tongue will speak to thy praise and not be silent. The Chancel is still uncovered, and there is danger of getting cold and illness, in attending thy worship, but thou canst preserve us from harm in every circumstance. Favour us with thy cheering presence, refresh our hearts and all will be well. And O may it please thee with thy blessing to remember and support my Dear. I know not her present trials but thou dost. May they both thirst for thee, and do thou open to them the wells of thy salvation in the wilderness where they are. Give us all a good night, and may we rise in the morning to praise thy name. Amen
Monday 20 November 1775
I thank thee Lord for supporting me through yesterday, so that though I had some cold I went on with little inconvenience, and received (I hope from thee) a word for the people. O do thou preach to my own heart, that I may be impressed myself by the truths I propose to others. Many are ill, and I know not when I have seen our assemblies so thin throughout the day. Sanctify the afflictions of those who are confined, and give us all the needful blessing. I would praise thee likewise for the safe arrival and health of my Dear and Sally at Chatham, and for thy goodness to our aged Father, who is waiting for thy full salvation. O may it be a time of grace to all around him. Continue thy mercy to us at home, and favour us with a measure of health, with peace, and especially with a dependent, thankful, submissive spirit.
[re Sunday 19 November 1775:]
Hymn No. 224
[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