The Refuge, River, and Rock of the Church
[Jesus - the King, Refuge, River and Rock of his church]
He who on earth as man was known,
And bore our sins and pains;
Now, seated on the eternal throne,
The God of glory reigns.
His hands the wheels of nature guide,
With an unerring skill;
And countless worlds, extended wide,
Obey his sovereign will.
While harps unnumbered sound his praise,
In yonder world above;
His saints on earth admire his ways,
And glory in his love.
His righteousness to faith revealed,
Wrought out for guilty worms,
Affords a hiding-place and shield
From enemies and storms.
This land, through which his pilgrims go,
Is desolate and dry;
But streams of grace from him o'erflow,
Their thirst to satisfy.
When troubles, like a burning sun,
Beat heavy on their head,
To this almighty Rock they run,
And find a pleasing shade.
How glorious he! how happy they
In such a glorious friend!
Whose love secures them all the way,
And crowns them at the end.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Wednesday 5 February 1755
The opinions and foreboding of many, and many good people, are, that troublesome times are appearing – whether it may be so or no I know not.
When I think of our national abuse of mercies, I fear greatly, but I know that the Lord is gracious and merciful, and he has not left himself without a remnant amongst us, and if he puts it into their hearts to pray for our peace, I trust he will incline his ear to answer.
For my own part I desire and by his grace resolve to offer my mite, and to mourn daily for the evils I am not able to prevent.
One thing I know, that happen what will, it shall be well with them that fear the Lord. His glorious name is a strong tower in the day of trouble and he knoweth them that put their trust in him.
Lord have mercy upon me and [my Dear]; give us a timely knowledge of our saving interest in the Redeemer’s covenant that he may be unto us as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Isaiah 32:2 [And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.]
Tuesday 21 February 1775
My spiritual life is still faint and feeble, evils easily besetting, continually returning, and but half opposed, rob me of that strength and spirit, which I need to make my walk cheerful and successful.
Sunday 26 February 1775
Hymn in the Evening from Isaiah 32:1,2.
[see also series of 4 sermons preached on Isaiah 32:2 in September 1776]
Hymn No. 197
[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]