The Believer's Safety
Incarnate God! the soul that knows
Thy name's mysterious power,
Shall dwell in undisturbed repose,
Nor fear the trying hour.
Thy wisdom, faithfulness, and love,
To feeble helpless worms,
A buckler and a refuge prove
From enemies and storms.
In vain the fowler spreads his net,
To draw them from thy care;
Thy timely call instructs their feet
To shun the artful snare.
When, like a baneful pestilence,
Sin mows its thousands down
On every side, without defence,
Thy grace secures thine own.
No midnight terrors haunt their bed,
No arrow wounds by day;
Unhurt on serpents they shall tread,
If found in duty's way.
Angels, unseen, attend the saints,
And bear them in their arms,
To cheer the spirit when it faints,
And guard the life from harms.
The angels' Lord, himself is nigh
To them that love his name;
Ready to save them when they cry,
And put their foes to shame.
Crosses and changes are their lot,
Long as they sojourn here;
But since their Saviour changes not,
What have the saints to fear?
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Sunday 23 February 1777
Another post without any news about Hull. I had a letter from Mr Madan informing me of his visiting Dr Dodd by his own earnest desire, and his hope that he was truly humbled and penitent. I made this unhappy case the subject of my evening discourse at the Great House, and endeavoured to press it as a warning to backsliders and against backsliding. Lord – I admire thy mercy to myself in keeping me from falling. Others are set up as examples to me of the deceitfulness of the heart, and the power of Satan instead of my being left to be a warning and example to them. Hebrews 10:24, Hebrews 13:7
Thursday 27 February 1777
In the evening preached. The subject as most I have preached from of late was with a reference to our present state of suspense [re a call to Hull]. Jeremiah 14:7,9
Saturday 1 March 1777
Yesterday walked with Mr Whitford to Brayfield... Came home to attend the post. But another week has past, without bringing any information about Hull. Lord, thou affordest time for prayer, O that I could improve it better. When such an important turn is depending, how earnestly, how frequently should I ply the throne of grace. But alas – my hard heart, my foolish wandering spirit. I have not for some time spent a week in which less time has been redeemed for thee and thy service. Ah! My plea, must be mercy, mere mercy. I may well confess myself an unprofitable servant, I am so in my own eyes, how much more so in thine. Yet thy mercy and goodness has followed me. This night, with a Sabbath and a Sacrament in view, and while uncertain how much may depend upon tomorrow – I am weak, empty, unfurnished. O what an unsuitable frame, considering my obligations, my wants, my privileges, and the important office I am called to of publishing thy Gospel. Lord open to me the twofold fountain, of blood to wash, of grace to revive me, and lead me to thy house refreshed in my own soul, and filled with a gracious message for the refreshment of thy people.
Sunday 2 March 1777
No news by this post. My heart trembled before it came. Methinks I am afraid of consequences; if I may but be sure I am in thy path, and doing thy will.
Psalm 34:5 [They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.] Ezekiel 34:23 [And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.]
Hymn No. 270
[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]