SEEKING, PLEADING AND HOPING
Rest for weary souls
Does the gospel-word proclaim
Rest for those who weary be? (a)
Then, my soul, put in thy claim,
Sure that promise speaks to thee:
Marks of grace I cannot show,
All polluted is my best;
Yet I weary am, I know,
And the weary long for rest.
Burdened with a load of sin,
Harassed with tormenting doubt,
Hourly conflicts from within,
Hourly crosses from without:
All my little strength is gone,
Sink I must without supply;
Sure upon the earth is none
Can more weary be than I.
In the ark, the weary dove (b)
Found a welcome resting-place;
Thus my spirit longs to prove
Rest in Christ, the ark of grace:
Tempest-tossed I long have been,
And the flood increases fast;
Open, Lord, and take me in,
Till the storm be overpast.
Safely lodged within thy breast,
What a wondrous change I find!
Now I know thy promised rest
Can compose a troubled mind:
You that weary are, like me,
Hearken to the gospel call;
To the ark for refuge flee,
Jesus will receive you all!
(a) Matthew 11:28
(b) Genesis 8:9
Similar Hymns: [relating to this whole section]
Book 1, Hymns 45, 69, 82, 84, 96
Book 2, Hymn 29
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 11 March 1776
New mercies and old follies. Alas my Lord must this be always my round! O for help from on high. I was assisted yesterday, and not put to shame. Yet I feel a want of that spiritual light, and savour, to which my sin deprives me of – so that my views of thy truth are often general and superficial.
Much and deservedly out of frame this morning. Confused thoughts, heartless, hasty, formal prayer. Desires for a revival, but O I have no power to revive or heal myself. At ten thy servant Bull came and stayed till after dinner. Was he not thy messenger – O make his visit a blessing. With him I conversed freely as though I had a savour of divine things, and a right to speak of them and perhaps he thought me better than himself. But what would he think if he knew me as I am? Were this possible I should be ashamed to see him. Yet I thus stand open to thy holy eye, and hardly feel the thought. I can perceive that he meditates upon thy Word indeed and makes it his food; to me though I assent to the truths and know them so as to say something concerning them, it is almost a sealed book with respect to experimental, influential knowledge. What a strange creature. Ah my Lord I am weary of this course. Return I pray thee. How long? It is winter with me, I cannot melt the ice, and soften the ground, and make that flourish which is ready to die. I cannot, but thou canst. O heal my backslidings and love me freely, and bid me revive as the corn. Lord I came as I came at first, a poor, helpless, worthless sinner, without plea or hope, but thy sovereign free mercy and grace which superabounds over all the aboundings of sin. O that I could ask in faith, that from this night, my languishing graces might begin to spring, and my powerful corruptions might begin to languish.
[texts on Sunday 10 March included:]
Isaiah 25:4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
My gracious Lord, I am weary of living at such a distance from thee, and feel this day by thy mercy some desire for a revival. O cherish it, and let it prove a seed of thy planting and bring forth fruit. O unite my heart to fear thy name. Make me strong out of weakness to resist temptation, and to hate and renounce whatever has a tendency to damp my spirit towards thee. At the Great House the case of Ignorance suggested the subject. O make me thankful. I was once blind but now I see – once in the dark, but thy grace has called me out of darkness into marvellous light.
In the evening preached a second sermon on the throne of Grace. Ah – how am I self-condemned when lead to speak of the privilege of prayer. How far do I fall short of that frequency, freedom and importunity which I recommend to others. This is one of the chief causes of my groaning. But it must be thy power and not my own that can relieve me.
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.]
Sunday 17 March
Last night and this morning in my attempted retirement, I groaned under hardness and dissipation of spirit – but was enabled to remember I am not under the law but under grace. Thy salvation, my Lord, is free, and thou givest pardon and blessing for thine own name sake. In public thou didst supply me. O water the seed sown, that it may produce root and fruits in many hearts.
Psalm 45:13 The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
Isaiah 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
Hymn No. 236
to John Thornton, 23 March 1776
Somewhere I have met with the sentence (I think it is the title of a poem of Dr Watts) – Seeking a Divine Calm in a restless world. A restless world indeed! full of changes, disappointments so called, and confusion. In our bodies, spirits, families, callings and in our more general relation as members of society, we are every hour liable to something that has a tendency to unsettle us. The world is like the sea, which though it be smoother at one time than another, can never be depended on. How desirable is it, if it be practicable, to possess a calm in the midst of storms and changes. A Divine calm.
…And lastly, to fix our eye upon what is within the veil, to remember the time is short, and every moment brings us nearer home, where we shall have done with wants, tumults and changes for ever – see him as he is and be completely like him, and always with him to behold his glory – this will preserve in the mind a peace which the world can neither give nor take away.
[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]