Olney Hymns Book 2 Hymn 91
On the same flower we often see...
Manuscript Hymn No. 301
The spider and bee
On the same flower we often see
The loathsome spider and the bee;
But what they get by working there
Is different as their natures are.
The bee a sweet reward obtains,
And honey well repays his pains;
Home to the hive he bears the store,
And then returns in quest of more.
But no sweet flowers that grace the field
Can honey to the spider yield;
A cobweb all that he can spin,
And poison all he stores within.
Thus in that sacred field, the Word,
With flowers of God's own planting stored,
Like bees his children feed and thrive,
And bring home honey to the hive.
There, spider-like, the wicked come,
And seem to taste the same perfume;
But the vile venom of their hearts
To poison all their food converts.
From the same truths believers prize,
They weave vain refuges of lies;
And from the promise licence draw,
To trifle with the holy law.
Lord, shall thy word of life and love
The means of death to numbers prove?
Unless thy grace our hearts renew, (a)
We sink to hell with heaven in view.
(a) See also Book 3, Hymn 71
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 10 February 1778
Forenoon busied in writing letters to go by Mr Collins. He preached again in the evening and excellently from Luke 15:7. Thou hast greatly honoured him with gifts, but still more by a spirit of grace, meekness and love, and a devotedness of heart to thee. Make him a blessing to many amongst us, and to myself also. Mr Gardiner of Yardley came to hear him, thus by thy providence one opportunity was put into his hand; it is my duty to pray that it may not be lost upon him. They who sat near him thought he seemed very impatient and uneasy. It must be so, if he was left to his own spirit, for the discourse was close, and the service long. Yet Lord, though he were wild as a bull thou canst tame him. Surely he cannot be farther off, or more averse than many of those whom thou hast made willing in the day of thy power.
Thursday 12 February 1778
The anniversary of our marriage. We have now completed 28 years and are still spared, and are still abounding in outward comforts. Accept my praises for what is past. What a review have I to make – what mercies, supports and supplies and deliverances! What unsuitable returns on our part. What striking cause for humiliation and thankfulness! And yet alas! how little affected with either. Lord I would aim at both. I beseech thy blessing upon the uncertain remnant of time we have to live together. O may we live to thee. O may we be daily preparating for a separation. Free us from those evils which have defiled our union hitherto! I am still favoured with perfect health, and she is comparatively well. Thou hast been a good Guide, Provider and Physician thus far. I would trust thee for the rest, and especially pray that all may be sanctified – the chief point is, that after we have finished our pilgrimage here we may stand accepted before thee at last, and spend an eternity together in thy praise. Lord help me to plead for a special blessing upon her, and upon myself. And may we walk in all thy commandments and ordinances blameless.
Met the children. Mr Scott preached in the evening from Romans 5:10. My heart rejoiced and wondered. O my Lord what a teacher art thou! How soon, how clearly and solidly is he established in the knowledge and experience of thy Gospel, who but lately was a disputer against every point. I praise thee for him, and for the honour of being in any measure instrumental in this great work. Often in my faint manner I have prayed to see some of my neighbours of the clergy awakened. Thou hast answered prayer. O that it may please thee yet to add to the number.
Saturday 14 February 1778
The week is closing. It has been a week of mercies – and alas of sins. Accept my praise, renew my pardon. I have been seeking thy blessing on tomorrow. O show thyself a hearer of prayer. Fill me with thy truth and thy Spirit. And let my poor services be acceptable in thy sight, and profitable to thy people.
Sunday 15 February 1778
Assisted by thy blessing today and favoured with liberty. O were it as easy to feel and practice, as I sometimes find it, to speak. Give me O Lord to see thy seal more plainly impressed upon my heart, and to enjoy more sensibly the earnest of the promised inheritance. Mr Scott came to the Great House this evening, though it was late, and I had began speaking some time. He is now like a tree in spring, in full bloom, or rather like the spring season, when every day brings the blossoms and flowers visibly forward. But I see, by thy mercy, he is not only growing and springing, but solidly established in what he has already attained. In the evening upon the Bee and Spider.
Hymn No. 301
[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
Marylynn Rouse, 11/09/2013