Olney Hymns Book 3 Hymn 9

My soul is beset...

Manuscript Hymn No. 229

229 v1



My soul is beset
With grief and dismay,
I owe a vast debt
And nothing can pay:
I must go to prison,
Unless that dear Lord,
Who died and is risen,
His pity afford.

The death that he died,
The blood that he spilt,
To sinners applied,
Discharge from all guilt:
This great Intercessor
Can give, if he please,
The vilest transgressor
Immediate release.

When nailed to the tree,
He answered the prayer
Of one who, like me,
Was nigh to despair; (a)
He did not upbraid him
With all he had done,
But instantly made him
A saint and a son.

The jailor, I read,
A pardon received; (b)
And how was he freed?
He only believed:
His case mine resembled,
Like me he was foul,
Like me too he trembled,
But faith made him whole.

Though Saul in his youth,
To madness enraged,
Against the Lord's truth,
And people, engaged;
Yet Jesus, the Saviour,
Whom long he reviled, (c)
Received him to favour,
And made him a child.

A foe to all good,
In wickedness skilled,
Manasseh, with blood,
Jerusalem filled; (d)
In evil long hardened,
The Lord he defied;
Yet he too was pardoned,
When mercy he cried.

Of sinners the chief,
And viler than all,
The jailor or thief,
Manasseh or Saul:
Since they were forgiven
Why should I despair,
While Christ is in heaven,
And still answers prayer?

(a) Luke 23:43
(b) Acts 16:31
(c) 1 Timothy 1:16
(d) 2 Chronicles 33:12,13
John Newton bw better 150 x 55
  from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:

Friday 22 December 1775
Thy mercies O Lord are new every morning, have been renewed to me, through the greatest part of another week. On Tuesday I finished on Demas and the Silver Mine [from Pilgrim’s Progress], and last night preached an occasional sermon, Molly Thompson being at church for the first time. Thy wonderful appearance in her favour, rising her from the gates of the grave, and the tenor of her experience for a while before suggested my text, which is indeed equally suitable for myself. Only that thy patience towards me has been still more extraordinary. Now thou hast appointed her for life, may she live to thee! [Molly Thompson suffered a difficult childbirth].
I am chiefly now engaged in preparing New Year’s hymns etc; was long thinking about a text for the young people. I hope thy good Spirit has fixed my choice, for to thee I desire to look for direction, and O give me the sermon likewise, that I may preach with demonstration and power. My debate with Mr Scott seems closed for the present; he writes very friendly and I shall wait in hope, of a blessing attending my occasional intercourse with him. He has sincerity (and if I mistake not) in such a sense as he could not have, if thou hadst not in some degree visited his heart. O that thou wilt be pleased to lead him gently on, and reveal thy salvation to him.
As to myself – thou seest O Lord how poor, how needy I am. I bless thee that I am no worse, and that my faith, love and joy are so faint I must blame myself. O that I had hearkened unto thee. On Wednesday evening I heard Mr [John] Whitford Romans 8:1.
Ezra 9:13 [And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;]
23 December 1775
Forgive a week of sin, for alas sin cleaves to all I do. I look up to thee for a blessing on [the] morrow, and the approaching season. That we may have a manifestation of thy love in taking our nature and cause upon thyself, and submitting to be poor that we may be made rich. May this thy humiliation make me humble, and win my heart to be entirely thine. O that I might love and serve thee as I ought. May my sleeping and waking thoughts this night be sanctified, and when I open my eyes in the morning may I be still with thee.
26 December
Praise the Lord O my soul. Thou wert pleased to support and supply me in the services of the Sabbath and yesterday. Though within I feel almost continually dry in my spirit, and am a prey to a thousand vain and wicked imaginations. The congregations yesterday were large, in the evening especially, when thou gavest me much liberty, and I trust enabled me to deal plainly and faithfully. There seemed great attention. O Lord afford a great blessing. Let me sow thy word not my own and do thou water and give the increase. Heard Mr Whitford in the afternoon from Romans 8:3,4. He was much straitened and forced to conclude abruptly. My heart told me, how justly this might be my case, but O thou dealest with me according to thine own mercy, and not my deservings.
Psalm 45:9 Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Hymn No. 229
Haggai 2:7-9 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.
Luke 2:34,35 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

[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]

Image copyright:

Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University

Marylynn Rouse, 12/09/2013