The true AARON
See Aaron, God's anointed priest,
Within the veil appear,
In robes of mystic meaning dressed,
Presenting Israel's prayer.
The plate of gold which crowns his brows,
His holiness describes;
His breast displays, in shining rows,
The names of all the tribes.
With the atoning blood he stands
Before the mercy-seat;
And clouds of incense from his hands
Arise with odour sweet.
Urim and Thummim near his heart,
In rich engravings worn,
The sacred light of truth impart,
To teach and to adorn.
Through him the eye of faith descries
A greater priest than he:
Thus JESUS pleads above the skies,
For you, my friends, and me.
He bears the names of all his saints
Deep on his heart engraved;
Attentive to the state and wants
Of all his love has saved.
In him a holiness complete,
Light and perfections shine;
And wisdom, grace, and glory meet;
A Saviour all divine.
The blood, which as a priest he bears
For sinners, is his own;
The incense of his prayers and tears
Perfume the holy throne.
In him my weary soul has rest,
Though I am weak and vile;
I read my name upon his breast,
And see the Father smile.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 16 March 1778
O my Lord could I feel that readiness for converse with thee, as with thy people, I should walk more wisely and comfortably. A cleaving to broken cisterns, and a proneness to wander from thee the fountain of living waters are evils blended in the whole tenor of my experience. O Lord I pray thee to give me wisdom and grace that I may seek and find my all in thee, and expect nothing from creatures but as instruments of thy goodness.
Tuesday 17 March
Little done today, but visiting the people – walked in the forenoon to Mrs Pettit, who is still living and some hope of recovery. She is in thy hand, and thou wilt do right.
Thursday 19 March 1778
Yesterday morning rode to Northampton to breakfast… In the evening I spoke to a full schoolroom from Romans 8:6 …to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
While at Northampton the news came of more trouble. War with France inevitable. All seems disastrous abroad and at home.
Friday 20 March 1778
Dined with Mr P_ – afterwards went to Lavendon, in the evening preached from Philippians 1:23 [For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better]. My Lord, may that be my experience, to live in a cheerful readiness to depart, a willing submission to stay, a happy indifference to both, leaving all to thy wisdom and goodness to appoint, when, where and how thou wilt. Make me more sensible how desirable it is to be with thee, and how desirable to continue here, even in the midst of affliction, if thou art pleased to honour me with occasions of serving and glorifying thee.
Saturday 21 March 1778
Thirty years are now elapsed since thou didst send from on high, and deliver me out of Great Waters. From that day thou didst begin to recover me from my daring dreadful apostasy. Oh my Lord, thou hast made me a wonder to many, and surely I ought to be so to myself. Help me to recollect that season of distress from which no hand but thine could relieve. Had I sunk then I had sunk for ever. But it could not be; thou hadst appointed me to live, to stand before thee, and to be a witness to many that thou canst save to the uttermost. Again I offer praise. Again I devoted myself to thee. Again I pray for Grace to humble me under a sense of my comparative unfruitfulness and unfaithfulness. Thou didst foresee what I should prove, and yet thou wouldst have mercy. Thirty years are gone – years filled up with mercies, supports and deliverances. Eternity is so much nearer, and cannot now be distant. Why do not I rejoice in the thought? Alas! my soul cleaves to the dust. O for quickening Grace! That I may at length begin to live to thee alone.
This evening we received my little nephew John Newton Nind. O my Lord, I pray thee to bless his coming, preserve him from harms, teach us to bring him up (while with us) for thee, that he may be a comfort to his parents. Support them, and sanctify to them in their late trial and change, and let us wait to see that thou art appointing all to work for good.
Sunday 22 March 1778
Psalm 31:15 [My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.]
[Mr Newman] 2 Corinthians 7:1
Hymn No. 307
[On this date Newton [and Newman] 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]