The Wheat and Tares
Though in the outward church below
The wheat and tares together grow,
Jesus ere long will weed the crop,
And pluck the tares, in anger, up.
Will it relieve their horrors there,
To recollect their stations here?
How much they heard, how much they knew,
How long amongst the wheat they grew!
Oh! this will aggravate their case!
They perished under means of grace;
To them the word of life and faith
Became an instrument of death.
We seem alike when thus we meet,
Strangers might think we all are wheat;
But to the Lord's all-searching eyes,
Each heart appears without disguise.
The tares are spared for various ends,
Some, for the sake of praying friends;
Others, the Lord, against their will,
Employs his counsels to fulfill.
But though they grow so tall and strong,
His plan will not require them long;
In harvest, when he saves his own,
The tares shall into hell be thrown.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Sunday 22 February 1778
Spoke in the afternoon from a text of Peggy's proposal, Matthew 20:16 [So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen]; she is very uneasy of late. Do thou Lord make it work for her good. Lord I stand now among the first for turn[?] of profession, but I have reason to believe, some who are last, and have set out much later, have got before me in grace. Though none could have greater advantages, or greater mercies to help them forward then thou hast afforded me.
Friday 27 February 1778
The appointed Fast day. O my Lord May it please thee to hear the prayers and bless the word of this day. Surely thou hast seen many of thy children, sighing and mourning before thee, under a sense of sin, and from a prospect of judgements being at the door. [afternoon sermon:] Mark 13:36 [Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.]
Sunday 1 March 1778
Hymn No. 304
[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]