Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 125
If Paul in Caesar's court must stand...
Manuscript Hymn No. 299
If Paul in Caesar’s court must stand,
He need not fear the sea;
Secured from harm on every hand
By the divine decree.
Although the ship in which he sailed
By dreadful storms was tossed;
The promise over all prevailed,
And not a life was lost.
Jesus! the God whom Paul adored,
Who saves in time of need;
Was then confessed, by all on board,
A present help indeed!
Though neither sun nor stars were seen,
Paul knew the Lord was near;
And faith preserved his soul serene,
When others shook for fear.
Believers thus are tossed about,
On life’s tempestuous main;
But grace assures, beyond a doubt,
They shall their port attain.
They must, they shall appear one day,
Before their Saviour’s throne;
The storms they meet with by the way,
But make his power known.
Their passage lies across the brink
Of many a threatening wave;
The world expects to see them sink,
But Jesus lives to save.
Lord, though we are but feeble worms,
Yet since thy word is past,
We’ll venture through a thousand storms,
To see thy face at last.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 20 January 1778
In the forenoon walked to Emberton and visited some of the people. I praise thee my Lord for the wonderful display of thy grace and faithfulness in the case of Hannah Markham who is evidently conformed to thy will and image above most, and is consequently very happy in the midst of poverty, sickness and the infirmities of extreme old age. She lives in thy love, and seems raised above all fears and wants, while at the same time, she is filled with heart humiliation and self abasement. In the evening, changed my subject, and spoke from 1 Corinthians 9:7 – first clause [Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?] – of the Christian life as a warfare, and how the Lord bears the charges of his soldiers, and provides for all their wants.
Saturday 24 January 1778
Another week is now closing, and surely I may look back upon much of it with regret. Alas how cold, how barren my heart, how faint, infrequent and interrupted my communion with thee. I come to thee for pardon, O for such a sense of pardon, as may remove my complaints. O break down the wall and scatter the clouds which hide thy presence from my heart. How much do I speak of thee to others! How little do I know of thee and hear from thee, myself. Come Lord, make thy face to shine upon the thy poor servant; surely unworthy as I am, I can say, Thou art he whom my soul longs for, and without whose favour and influence I cannot be happy. I am now withdrawn to seek thy blessing on tomorrow. Help me so to seek that I may find.
Sunday 25 January 1778
Forenoon subject suggested by what Mr Newman told me... Mr N preached in the afternoon. Pretty well, and showed a good,simple, humble, zealous spirit. Yet for want for something which could not yet be reasonably expected, and because he was long, I believe some were displeased. O Lord we have reason to be thankful, for every display of thy powerful grace. To see a man so prejudiced, so connected, brought to sit, like a child, shows that thou canst do all things.
Mr Newman: Revelation 3:12
Hymn No. 299
[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]
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 10/09/2013