The Believer's Danger, Safety, and Duty
“Simon, beware!” the Saviour said,
“Satan, your subtle foe,
Already has his measures laid
Your soul to overthrow.
“He wants to sift you all as wheat,
And thinks his victory sure;
But I his malice will defeat,
My prayer shall faith secure.”
Believers, tremble and rejoice,
Your help and danger view;
This warning has to you a voice,
This promise speaks to you.
Satan beholds with jealous eye,
Your privilege and joy;
He's always watchful, always nigh,
To tear and to destroy.
But Jesus lives to intercede,
That faith may still prevail;
He will support in time of need,
And Satan's arts shall fail.
Yet let us not the warning slight,
But watchful still be found;
Though faith cannot be slain in fight,
It may receive a wound.
While Satan watches, dare we sleep?
We must our guard maintain;
But, Lord, do thou the city keep,
Or else we watch in vain. (a)
(a) Psalm 127:1
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 8 May 1775
Attended the Archdeacon’s Visitation. A poor unmeaning business. Heard a sermon on 1 Timothy 1:5. Laboured but nothing to the purpose. He did not discover[reveal] any anger or bitterness of spirit, but a lamentable ignorance of the truth.
Tuesday 9 May 1775
At the Great House I spoke near an hour from Colossians 3:12,13. And perhaps should have been shorter if I had had more to say. My mind was cold and confused, I had no settled view of my subject. It is pleasant to deliver a message with liberty as from the Lord – It is unpleasant to speak as by force, because it is expected, and because the time must be filled up. The latter is sometimes my case, and considering all things, I could not well wonder or complain were it always so.
Thursday 11 May 1775
Preached in the evening. Thus the Lord carries me on in public service, but the frame of my mind is very uncomfortable – attacked by temptations and, what is worse, under the power of them. Alas my sin, alas my shame. Lord help me for I am unable, and too often unwilling to help myself. Such mercies contrasted with such ingratitude and folly, make me, force me to confess, Behold I am vile. And yet I seem insensible of it, while I acknowledge it. Psalm 119:96.
Sunday 14 May 1775
Favoured with much liberty in the forenoon, and tolerably through the day. But the frame of my heart in secret, and my disposition to prayer which is as the pulse of my spiritual health, is very low. How easy to mistake the exercise of gifts for the exercise of grace, and yet how real, and how wide sometimes the difference between them. Spoke at night from Hymn No. 204.
1 Timothy 1:5
Hymn No. 204
[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]