The message first to Smyrna sent,
A message full of grace,
To all the Saviour’s flock is meant,
In every age and place.
Thus to his church, his chosen bride,
Saith the great First and Last,
Who ever lives, though once he died,
“Hold thy profession fast.
Thy works and sorrows well I know,
Performed and borne for me;
Poor though thou art, despised and low,
Yet who is rich like thee?
I know thy foes, and what they say,
How long they have blasphemed;
The synagogue of Satan they,
Though they would Jews be deemed.
Though Satan for a season rage,
And prisons be your lot,
l am your friend, and I engage
You shall not be forgot.
Be faithful unto death, nor fear
A few short days of strife;
Behold! the prize you soon shall wear,
A crown of endless life!”
Hear what the Holy Spirit saith
Of all who overcome;
“They shall escape the second death,
The sinner’s aweful doom!”
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Sunday 22 November 1778
My afternoon's subject seemed difficult and I knew not how I could manage it, but by thy secret influence I went through it easily. [Jonah 1:7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.] The world despises us as Enthusiasts, and pretenders to inspiration. Ah! What a poor creature should I be if not inspired by thee. How impossible then to do anything right or to the purpose.
Tuesday 24 November 1778
Yesterday employed in the Hymns, today it did little but write two letters. Drank tea with Edward Andrews. I hope thy hand of grace is upon him. It seems he has been thoughtful and enquiring for many years, though I knew nothing of it. I would hope this is the case with some others, and that thou art still owning thy Word by my mouth, to persons with whose feelings I am not acquainted.
Thursday 26 November 1778
Preached in the evening, proceeded to the beginning of the 12th [chapter of] Hebrews as a proper inference from the 11th [Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us]. Spoke of the cloud of witnesses, and the manner in which we are encompassed about with them, but was rather confused in one part of my subject. O for that faith which beholds invisibles and acts under the influence of the perception.
Saturday 28 November 1778
Thou hast now provided for my Brother and Sister Nind, when everything else failed them, thou didst preserve to them kind friends, whose endeavours have at length succeeded. Thou hast kept them long waiting but they are not disappointed. It is good to wait upon thee, for thou surely hearest prayer.
Sunday 29 November 1778
Favoured with strength and messages today. O my Lord, how glorious, how All-sufficient, how condescending art thou. I endeavoured to speak of thee today. But alas, I am too little impressed myself with those thoughts which ought to be my continual food and joy. Jonah's history is a glass in which, by thy light, I and others may see ourselves; O help us likewise to see thee, thy wisdom and goodness towards us perverse as we are.
Hymn No. 329
[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]