Why art thou cast down?
Be still my heart! these anxious cares
To thee are burdens, thorns, and snares;
They cast dishonour on thy Lord,
And contradict his gracious word.
Brought safely by his hand thus far,
Why wilt thou now give place to fear?
How canst thou want if he provide,
Or lose thy way with such a guide?
When first before his mercy–seat,
Thou didst to him thy all commit,
He gave thee warrant, from that hour,
To trust his wisdom, love, and power.
Did ever trouble yet befall,
And he refuse to hear thy call?
And has he not his promise past,
That thou shalt overcome at last?
Like David, thou may’st comfort draw,
Saved from the bear’s and lion’s paw;
Goliath’s rage I may defy,
For God, my Saviour, still is nigh.
He who has helped me hitherto,
Will help me all my journey through,
And give me daily cause to raise
New Ebenezers to his praise.
Though rough and thorny be the road,
It leads thee home, apace, to God;
Then count thy present trials small,
For heaven will make amends for all.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 25 April 1775
Went yesterday to Bedford – an agreeable visit at Mr Barham’s, and some time with Mr Symonds. Returned safe this afternoon but my ride not so pleasant as at some times. At the Great House the Lord enabled me to speak with some closeness and freedom from Colossians 3:8-10. In my absence Mr Ranger attempted to preach in the Market Place on Market day, which was certainly wrong judged. He trusted I suppose to the name Olney bears abroad, but he found as much opposition, contempt and ill treatment as he might have looked for in the darkest town. He was very ill treated, and forced at last to break off abruptly.
[Colossians 3:8-10. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him]
Thursday 27 April
Met the children. Preached in the evening. My sermon was chiefly intended for the relief of E Collins, but she had her fits and was not out. It often happens thus when we take aim. But the Lord can make it useful to some whom I did not think of.
Jeremiah 3:22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.
Saturday 29 April
Mr and Mrs Nind came safe to dinner. In the evening I walked out – but alas I have seldom of late found that pleasure in my retired walks which I have sometimes known. I carry the reason about me. Conscience says, Hast thou not procured this to thyself? and I can make no answer – but, Lord have mercy upon me.
Sunday 30 April 1775
A tolerable day outwardly. A thunderstorm in the afternoon just as we were going to church occasioned a thin congregation, but the Great House was very full. [Hymn] No. 203.
2 Samuel 23:5 Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.
2 Peter 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
Hymn No. 203
[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]