Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 28

When first my soul enlisted...

Manuscript Hymn No. 182

[also written as 4 Vol 2]

182 v1

Chapter 17:38-40

SAUL’s armour

When first my soul enlisted
My Saviour’s foes to fight,
Mistaken friends insisted
I was not armed aright:
So Saul advised David
He certainly would fail,
Nor could his life be saved
Without a coat of mail.

But David, though he yielded
To put the armour on,
Soon found he could not wield it,
And ventured forth with none.
With only sling and pebble,
He fought the fight of faith;
The weapons seemed but feeble,
Yet proved Goliath’s death.

Had I by him been guided,
And quickly thrown away
The armour men provided,
I might have gained the day;
But armed as they advised me,
My expectations failed;
My enemy surprised me,
And had almost prevailed.

Furnished with books and notions,
And arguments and pride,
I practised all my motions,
And Satan’s power defied:
But soon perceived with trouble,
That these would do no good;
Iron to him is stubble, (a)
And brass like rotten wood.

I triumphed at a distance,
While he was out of sight;
But faint was my resistance,
When forced to join in fight:
He broke my sword in shivers,
And pierced my boasted shield;
Laughed at my vain endeavours,
And drove me from the field.

Satan will not be braved
By such a worm as I;
Then let me learn with David,
To trust in the Most High;
To plead the name of Jesus,
And use the sling of prayer;
Thus armed, when Satan sees us,
He’ll tremble and despair.

(a) Job 41:27
John Newton bw better 150 x 55
  from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:

Tuesday 1 November 1774
Mr Barham and his two younger daughters [Mary & Martha] came to dinner – he goes home tomorrow and returns Saturday – they stay till Monday. In the evening spoke from Colossians 2:1 [For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh]. A pretty full house and I hope a good time. My text led me in speaking of Ministers’ conflicts, to speak more than I usually do of myself.

Thursday 3 November 1774
Met the children. The 32 Genesis came in course, and I expounded more largely than usual for the sake of my guests. In the evening preached from a text Miss M helped me to [probably Martha – see Sunday 6th], and I believe the subject was acceptable. Such subjects are indeed of frequent use in Olney. I was favoured with liberty. 2 Chronicles 20:1_12 [i.e. 20:1-12] [ for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.]

Sunday 6 November 1774
Morning subject for Miss Mary Barham. 1 John 5:10 [He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.]

1 John 5:10
Isaiah 53:2
[No hymn stated, but in sequence and context probably Hymn No. 182]

[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]

Image copyright:

Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University

Marylynn Rouse, 29/08/2013