Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 129
Opressed with unbelief and sin...
Manuscript Hymn No. 223
My Grace is sufficient for thee
Oppressed with unbelief and sin,
Fightings without, and fears within;
While earth and hell, with force combined,
Assault and terrify my mind:
What strength have I against such foes,
Such hosts and legions to oppose?
Alas! I tremble, faint, and fall;
Lord, save me, or I give up all.
Thus sorely pressed, I sought the Lord,
To give me some sweet cheering word;
Again I sought, and yet again;
I waited long, but not in vain.
Oh! ’twas a cheering word indeed!
Exactly suited to my need;
“Sufficient for thee is my grace,
Thy weakness my great power displays.”
Now I despond and mourn no more,
I welcome all I feared before;
Though weak, I’m strong; though troubled, blessed;
For Christ’s own power shall on me rest.
My grace would soon exhausted be,
But his is boundless as the sea;
Then let me boast, with holy Paul,
That I am nothing, Christ is all.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 6 November 1775
Thou hearest and answerest prayer. Thou didst lead us out in peace, and bring us home in safety... I brought a cold and hoarseness home with me, but thy goodness strengthened and helped me through the service of yesterday. I spoke from hand to mouth and had still something to say. Surely this is of thee, for how often do I keenly feel that I have not sufficiency of myself to think a good thought.
Wednesday 8 November 1775
Yesterday I read over again, the Narrative of my life formerly published. It revived in my mind O Lord, the remembrance of my vileness and of thy mercies. Strange that I am no more affected with my own story. Oh soften this heart: it is ice, it is rock, without thy gracious influence. I am thine. Help me, save me. Speaking last night on the character of Byends I was straitened in my views of the subject. I have reason to believe and acknowledge, that without thy continual influence I can do nothing, and that thou dost assist in times and ways when I am least aware. O let me have no byends. Let me always act in a spirit of simplicity and godly sincerity and aim in all things at thy glory.
Thursday 9 November 1775
[lecture:] 2 Chronicles 16:9 [For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…]
Friday 10 November 1775
My Lord, help me to praise thee for all thy mercies. From day to day I arise in health and peace, and when we meet in the family we find thou hast been gracious to us all. But ah my soul is sick – a palsy in my head, a fever in my heart, and my imagination wild and vain almost like Phrenzy. The meerest trifles drink up my attention, while I trifle with the most serious concerns. O what a nature is this. And O what is the Mercy and Grace that can pardon and save such a wretch. Sin abounds but Grace superabounds, therefore I will rejoice in thy salvation… O I am a singular debtor to thy care. May I ever trust thee myself, and commend thee to others.
Saturday 11 November 1775
Thou hast brought me gracious Lord in peace and safety through another week. O that I could praise thee as I ought, and feel my spirit humbled before thee, from a sense of what I am. To thee I belong; accept, enlarge and bless me. O that my heart may be full of gratitude, for a full tide of temporal blessings, and so general a protection from sharp trials. I thank thee for these mercies, but these are not thy presence. Here I am kept short. I seek thee, alas I hardly seek thee, therefore I cannot find thee. Bless my soul, my house, my people this evening. Prepare us a comfortable Sabbath. My subject in the forenoon is to be, thy Might, thy Sword, thy chariot, thy Victories. O come forth and ride prosperously among us while I am speaking. Let my words be thy words, yea let them be thine arrows pointed with love to pierce thine enemies and subdue them into friends. Engage my heart to pray for thy cause and kingdom through the earth, thy people in this land.
Sunday 12 November 1775
I have to praise thee for thy gracious assistance... which made my public work pleasant to me, particularly in the forenoon and evening.
Psalm 45:3-5 [Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.]
Hymn No. 223
[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