Freedom from care
While I lived without the Lord,
(If I might be said to live),
Nothing could relief afford,
Nothing satisfaction give.
Empty hopes and groundless fear
Moved by turns my anxious mind;
Like a feather in the air,
Made the sport of every wind.
Now, I see, whate'er betide,
All is well if Christ be mine;
He has promised to provide,
I have only to resign.
When a sense of sin and thrall
Forced me to the sinner's Friend,
He engaged to manage all,
By the way, and to the end.
"Cast," he said, "on me thy care, [a]
'Tis enough that I am nigh;
I will all thy burdens bear,
I will all thy wants supply.
"Simply follow as I lead,
Do not reason, but believe;
Call on me in time of need,
Thou shalt surely help receive."
Lord I would, I do, submit,
Gladly yield my all to thee;
What thy wisdom sees most fit,
Must be, surely, best for me.
Only, when the way is rough,
And the coward flesh would start,
Let thy promise and thy love,
Cheer and animate my heart.
[a] Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 17 June 1776
Thy servants Barham and La Trobe came to dinner, and proceeded in the evening to Northampton. Conversation various, some interesting and instructive. A remarkable instance of thy power over every heart, in the conduct of the King of Prussia towards a preacher who sought his favour by labouring to promote infidelity.
Tuesday 18 June
Little done in the study. Many interruptions and much remissness have thrown me greatly behindhand this year. Lord every way I am unfruitful. Converse and visiting the people till Great House.. I hope O Lord thou wert amongst us, particularly in favour of Wm Peace, who has been lately hurt in his spirit by something, and has kept much away for fear of being called to prayer.
Wednesday 19 June
Thy servant [John] Whitford was settled today with his people. I went with my guests to hear the first sermon preached by Mr [John] Carver from Colossians 1:27 latter part […Christ in you, the hope of glory]. I was something affected. His matter was weighty and seasonable, his manner lively and powerful. O I would admire thy grace. This is a Minister of thine own preparing, called by thee not from a University or Academy, but from hedging and ditching to preach thy Gospel. Thou pourest contempt upon the wisdom and learning of men, by showing how abundantly thou canst qualify for thy service without them.
I have now determined to go to London, to consult the Surgeons about my complaint. This and all my concerns are in thy hand. Help me in faith to rely on thee. Do thou decide in the consultation and direct the event. Do thou make me perfectly resigned to thy will. I have deserved to be put to pain, to be laid quite aside. Give me strength to bear, and enable me to glorify thee upon every call.
Have received a long letter from Mr Madan in answer to one I wrote last week. He is kind and friendly to me, but I perceive his spirit is still hurt. Thou didst enable me to be faithful, and thou hast caused it to be well taken. I have now done. The only friendly part remaining for me, could I perform, is to remember him in prayer. But alas, Who am I, that thus to take upon me to admonish others, when I am so blameable myself. Ah, if my case were known, they whom I reprove might think me deserving of their pity. It is a mercy, that my follies do not fall under public observation. Yet I ought to abhor myself before thee, and to say, Behold I am vile. O interpose – by pardon and grace and revive my soul that it may praise thee.
Thursday 20 June
Met the children and had liberty in speaking to them from the song of Mary. This usually is the service that I feel the most reluctance to in prospect, yet thou art often pleased to make it pleasant when I am engaged in it. O Lord make it useful. Preached in the evening and concluded the subject which has been several weeks in hand. Afterwards J Ward called upon me. He has been formally under sharp convictions, but had shaken them off, and gone great lengths in sin. He now complains again, and wishes me to visit him. O may thy mercy effectually call him. This would be a triumph of grace, and might tend to stop the mouths of wickedness.
Psalm 89:18 For the Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.
Saturday 22 June
Yesterday poor. Rob H told me a sad story. Ah what villainy in the human heart. O my Lord thou art wise and good. How easily couldst thou have prevented it. Yet it seemed as if the poor cried to thee for help in vain. Forgive my presumptuous spirit that was ready to ask, Why was this? I doubt not but he will say in the end, All was well.
The week closed in peace. We are all well, and surrounded with mercies. Alas my heart! That I am so little affected by them and make thee such poor returns.
Sunday 23 June
All the events of my journey are before thee, though I know them not. Enable me simply to trust and follow thee. May I receive some good myself, be instrumental of good to others, preserve my Dear_[Polly] and family in my absence, and restore me to them in peace, that we may praise thee. O let me learn to live in thee, to thee and for thee.
I thank thee my Lord, for helping me the forenoon; the afternoon service approaches, the subject I hope thou hast brought upon my mind. Do thou give me wisdom and a blessing. There is great cause for humiliation and prayer amongst us. In vain shall I try to touch their hearts, unless thou art pleased to work.
John 1:48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brethren, pray for us.
Hymn No. 247
[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]