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and to accommodate himself to the capacities of common readers. But it would not become me to make such a declaration. It behoved me to do my best. But though I would not offend readers of taste by a wilful coarseness and negligence, I do not write professedly for them. If the Lord, whom I serve, has been pleased to favour me with that mediocrity of talent, which may qualify me for usefulness to the weak and the poor of his flock, without quite disgusting persons of superior discernment, I have reason to be satisfied.
As the workings of the heart of man, and of the Spirit of God, are in general the same in all who are the subjects of grace, I hope most of these Hymns, being the fruit and expression of my own experience, will coincide with the views of real christians of all denominations. But I cannot expect that every sentiment I have advanced will be universally approved. However, I am not conscious of having written a single line, with an intention either to flatter or to offend any party or person upon earth. I have simply declared my own views and feelings, as I might have done if I had composed Hymns in some of the newly-discovered islands in the South Sea, where no person had any knowledge of the name of Jesus but myself. I am a friend of peace; and being deeply convinced, that no one can profitably understand the great truths and doctrines of the gospel, any farther than he is taught of God, I have not a wish to obtrude my own tenets upon others, if a way of controversy: yet I do not think myself bound to conceal them. Many gracious persons (for many such I am persuaded there are,) who differ from me, more or less, in those points which are called Calvinistic, appear desirous that the Calvinists should, for their sakes, studiously avoid every expression which they cannot approve. Yet few of them, I believe, impose a like restraint upon themselves, but think the importance of what they deem to be truth, justifies them in speaking their sentiments plainly and strongly. May I not plead for an equal liberty ? The views I have received of the doctrines of grace are essential to my peace; I could not live comfortably a day or an hour without them. I likewise believe, yea, so far as my poor attainments warrant me to speak, I know them to be friendly to holiness, and to have a direct influence in producing and maintaining a gospel-conversation; and therefore I must not be ashamed of them.
The Hymns are distributed into three Books. In the first, I have classed those which are formed upon select passages of scripture, and placed them in the order of the books of the Old and New Testament. The second contains occasional Hymns, suited to particular seasons, or suggested by particular events or subjects. The third book is miscellaneous, comprising a variety of subjects relative to a life of faith in the Son of God, which have no express reference either to a single text of scripture, or to any determinate season or incident. These are farther subdivided into distinct heads. This arrangement is not so accurate, but that several of the Hymns might have been differently disposed. Some attention to method may be found convenient, though a logical exactness was hardly practicable. As some subjects in the several books are nearly coincident, I have, under the divisions in the third Book, pointed out those which are similar in the two former. And I have likewise, here and there, in the first and second, made a reference to Hymns of a like import in the third.
This Publication, which, with my humble prayer to the Lord for his blessing upon it, I offer to the service and acceptance of all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, of every name and in every place, into whose hands it may come, I more particularly dedicate to my dear friends in the parish and neighbourhood of Olney, for whose use the Hymns were originally composed; as a testimony of the sincere love I bear them, and as a token of my gratitude to the Lord, and to them, for the comfort and satisfaction with which the discharge of my ministry among them has been attended.
The hour is approaching, and, at my time of life, cannot be very distant, when my heart, my pen, and my tongue, will no longer be able to move in their service. But I trust, while my heart continues to beat, it will feel a warm desire for the prosperity of their souls; and while my hand can write, and my tongue speak, it will be the business and the pleasure of my life, to aim at promoting their growth and establishment in the grace of our God and Saviour. To this precious grace I commend them, and earnestly entreat them, and all who love his name, to strive mightily with their prayers to God for me, that I may be preserved faithful to the end, and enabled at last to finish my course with joy.
JOHN NEWTON. Olney, Bucks, Feb. 15th 1779.
ON SELECT PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE.
Adam. Chap. iii.
How much did God bestow!
And own'd him Lord below.
With sweets for every sense;
He walk'd in confidence.
His honour forfeited,
His conscience fill'd with dread!
Which was before his joy,
From an all-seeing eye.
With stubbornness and pride,
Nor once for mercy cried. 6 But grace, unask'd, his heart subdu'd,
And all his guilt forgave;
And felt his power to save.
Though we the law transgress;
Unwilling to confess.
A pardon, bought with blood,
God's image, which he once possess'd:
In Cain, his first-born son, express'd! 2 The sacrifice the Lord ordain'd,
In type of the Redeemer's blood,
And thought his own first-fruits as good. 3 Yet rage and envy fill'd his mind,
When, with a sullen downcast look,
Who God's appointed method took.
Because the Lord approv'd his faith;
He vainly thought to hide his death. 5 Such was the wicked murd'rer Cain;
And such by nature still are we,
Malicious, blind, and proud as he.
And in our own devices trust;
And hate and persecute the just.
Have found his history fulfill’d;
Of Abels whom the Cains have kill'd.* 8 Thus Jesus fell—but, oh! his blood
For better things than Abel's cries;t Obtains his murd'rers peace with God, And gains them mansions in the skies.
Lot in Sodom. Chap. xiii. 10. 1 Oh! for a closer walk with God,
1 How hurtful was the choice of Lot, A calm and heavenly frame;
Who took up his abode A light to shine upon the road
(Because it was a fruitful spot) That leads me to the Lamb!
With them who fear'd not God! 2 Where is the blessedness I knew, 2 A pris'ner he was quickly made, When first I saw the Lord ?
Bereav'd of all his store; Where is the soul-refreshing view
And, but for Abram's timely aid, Of Jesus and his word?
He had return'd no more. 3 What peaceful hours I once enjoyed ! 3 Yet still he seem'd resolv'd to stay, How sweet their mem'ry still!
As if it were his rest; But they have left an aching void,
Although their sins from day to day The world can never fill.
His righteous soul distressd. 4 Return, O holy Dove, return,
4 A while he stayed, with anxious mind, Sweet messenger of rest;
Expos'd to scorn and strife; I hate the sins that made thee mourn, At last he left his all behind, And drove thee from my breast :
And fled to save his life. 5 The dearest idol I have known,
5 In vain his sons-in-law he warn'd, Whate'er that idol be,
They thought he told but dreams; Help me to tear it from thy throne,
His daughters, too, of them had learn'd, And worship only thee.
And perish'd in the flames. 6 So shall my walk be close with God, Calm and serene my frame;
6 His wife escap'd a little way, So purer light shall mark the road,
But died for looking back: That leads me to the Lamb. C.
Does not her case to pilgrims say,
“ Beware of growing slack!"
7 Yea, Lot himself could ling'ring stand, HYMN IV.
Though vengeance was in view;
'Twas mercy pluck’d him by the hand, 1 By faith in Christ I walk with God,
Or he had perish'd too.
If to the earth we cleave:
Lord, quicken all our drowsy powers, 2 I travel through a desert wide,
To flee to thee, and live.
HYMN VI. 3 Though snares and dangers throng my path, Jehovah-Jireh ; or, the Lord will provide.
And earth and hell my course withstand,
Chap. xxii. 14.
1 The saints should never be dismayed, 4 The wilderness affords no food,
Nor sink in hopeless fear: But God for my support prepares;
For when they least expect his aid,
The Saviour will appear. Provides me every needful good,
And frees my soul from wants and cares. 2 This Abram fonnd—he rais'd the knife, 5 With him sweet converse I maintain,
God saw, and said, “Forbear: Great as he is, I dare be free;
Yon ram shall yield his meaner life; Tell him all my grief and pain,
Behold the victim there!" And he reveals his love to me.
3 Once David seem'd Saul's certain prey; 6 Some cordial from his word he brings,
But hark! the foe's at hand ;|| Whene'er my feeble spirit faints;
Saul turns his arms another way, At once my soul revives and sings,
To save the invaded land, And yields no more to sad complaints.
4 When Jonah sunk beneath the wave, 7 I pity all that worldlings talk Of pleasures that will quickly end:
He thought to rise no more; !
But God prepar'd a fish to save, Be this my choice, O Lord, to walk
And bear him to the shore. With thee, my guide, my guard, my friend!
5 Bless'd proofs of power and grace divine, 7 No strength of our own, That meet us in his word !
Or goodness we claim; May ev'ry deep-felt care of mine
Yet since we have known Be trusted with the Lord.
The Saviour's great name,
In this our strong tower o Wait for his seasonable aid,
For safety we hide, And though it tarry, wait;
The Lord is our power, The promise may be long delayed,
The LORD will provide. But cannot come too late.
8 When life sinks apace,
And death is in view,
This word of his grace
Shall comfort us through;
No fearing or doubting,
With Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting,
The LORD will provide.
Esau. Chap. xxv. 34. Heb. xii. 16. 2 The birds without barn
1 Poor Esau repented too late, Or storehouse are fed ;
That once he his birth-right despis’d,
And sold for a morsel of meat,
What could not too highly be priz’d:
How great was his anguish when told,
The blessing he sought to obtain,
Was gone with the birth-right he sold,
And none could recall it again!
2 He stands as a warning to all,
Wherever the gospel shall come;
O hasten and yield to the call,
While yet for repentance there's room!
Your season will quickly be past;
Then hear and obey it to-day,
Lest when you seek mercy at last,
The Saviour should frown you away The Lord will provide. 4 His call we obey,
3 What is it the world can propose ? Like Abram of old,
A morsel of meat at the best !
For this are you willing to lose
A share in the joys of the blest?
Its pleasures will speedily end,
Its favour and praise are but breath;
And what can its profits befriend
Your soul in the moment of death? The LORD will provide. 5 When Satan appears
4 If Jesus, for these, you despise,
And sin to the Saviour prefer;
In vain your entreaties and cries,
When summoned to stand at his bar:
How will you his presence abide ? Though oft he has tried,
What anguish will torture your heart? This heart-cheering omise,
The saints all enthron'd by his side, The Lord will provide.
And you be compell'd to depart. 6 He tells us we're weak,
5 Too often, dear Saviour, have I
Preforr'd some poor trifle to thee;
How is it thou dost not deny
The blessing and birth-right to me?
No better than Esau I am,
Though pardon and heaven be mine
To me belongs nothing but shame; The Lord will provide.
The praise and the glory be thine. VOL. II.
4 Once a sinner near despair,
Sought thy mercy-seat by prayer; Jacob's Ladder. Chap. xxviii. 12.
Mercy heard and set him free; 1 If the Lord our leader be,
Lord that mercy came to me. We may follow without fear;
5 Many years have pass'd since then, East or west, by land or sea,
Many changes I have seen, Home with him, is ev'ry where.
Yet have been upheld till now:
Who could hold me up but thou ?
6 Thou hast help'd in ev'ry need ; Yet he was not left alone.
This emboldens me to plead :
After so much mercy past, 2 Kings are often waking kept,
Canst thou let me sink at last ? Rack'd with cares on beds of state;
7 No-I must maintain my hold; Never king like Jacob slept, For he lay at heaven's gate;
"Tis thy goodness makes me bold; Lo! he saw a ladder reard
I can no denial take,
When I plead for Jesus' sake.
HYMN XI. 3 “ Fear not, Jacob, thou art mine, Plenty in the Time of Dearth. Chap. xli. 56.
And my presence with thee goes: 1 My soul once had its plenteous years, On thy heart my love shall shine,
And throve, with peace and comfort fillid; And my arm subdue thy foes:
Like the fat kine and ripen'd ears,
Which Pharaoh in his dream beheld.
2 With pleasing frames and grace receiv'd, Till I have accomplish'd all."
With means and ordinances fed,
How happy for a while I liv’d, 4 Well does Jacob's ladder suit,
And little fear’d the want of bread. To the gospel-throne of grace; 3 But famine came, and left no sign We are at the ladder's foot,
Of all the plenty I had seen; Ev'ry hour, in ev'ry place :
Like the dry ears and half-starv'd kine, By assuming flesh and blood, Jesus heaven and earth unites;
I then look'd wither’d, faint, and lean. We by faith ascend to God,*
4 To Joseph the Egyptians went; God to dwell with us delights.
To Jesus I made known my case ;
He, when my little stock was spent, 5 They who know the Saviour's name, Open'd his magazine of grace. Are for all events prepar'd;
5 For he the time of dearth foresaw, What can changes do to them, Who have such a guide and guard ?
And made provision long before : Should they traverse earth around,
That famish'd souls, like me, might draw To the ladder still they come;
Supplies from his unbounded store. Ev'ry spot is holy ground,
6 Now on his bounty I depend, God is there—and he's their home. And live from fear of dearth secure;
Maintain’d by such a mighty friend,
I cannot want till he is poor.
17 O sinners, hear his gracious call! My name is Jacob. Chap. xxxii. 27. His mercy's door stands open wide;
He has enough to feed you all, 1 Nay, I cannot let thee go,
And none who come shall be denied.
HYMN XII. 2 Dost thou ask me who I am ?
Joseph made known to his Brethren. Ah! my Lord, thou know'st my name;
Chap. xlv. 3, 4. Yet the question gives a plea,
1 WHEN Joseph his brethren beheld To support my suit with thee.
Afflicted, and trembling with fear, 3 Thou didst once a wretch behold,
His heart with compassion was fillid, In rebellion blindly bold,
From weeping he could not forbear. Scorn thy grace, thy power defy ;
A while his behaviour was rough, That poor rebel, Lord, was I.
To bring their past sin to their mind ;
But when they were humbled enough, * 2 Cor. vi. 16.
He hastened to show himself kind.