The Word quick and powerful
The word of Christ, our Lord,
With whom we have to do,
Is sharper than a two-edged sword,
To pierce the sinner through!
Swift as the lightnings blaze
When aweful thunders roll,
It fills the conscience with amaze,
And penetrates the soul.
No heart can be concealed
From his all-piercing eyes;
Each thought and purpose stands revealed,
Naked, without disguise.
He sees his people's fears,
He notes their mournful cry;
He counts their sighs and falling tears,
And helps them from on high.
Though feeble is their good,
It has his kind regard;
Yea, all they would do, if they could, (a)
Shall find a sure reward.
He sees the wicked too,
And will repay them soon,
For all the evil deeds they do,
And all they would have done. (b)
Since all our secret ways
Are marked and known by thee,
Afford us, Lord, thy light of grace,
That we ourselves may see.
(a) 1 Kings 8:18
(b) Matthew 5:28
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 20 May 1777
Mr Robinson came here today from Leicester, as Mrs R did yesterday and her sister Miss Boys from Mepal in Ely on Saturday. He spoke at the Great House tonight and spoke well from 1 Corinthians 1:29 [that no flesh should glory in his presence].
Thursday 22 May 1777
Whitsun week – had no children's meeting. Mr Robinson preached in the evening from John 14:27 [Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.] A good discourse. O my Lord affect my heart with thy love, and fill it with thy peace. I see, I find, I feel, the world can give nothing capable of answering my wishes, nothing that will abide. But what thou givest is truly good, and thy gifts are without repentance. O make me entirely thine.
Friday 23 May 1777
Went to Collingtree. Mr Robinson etc with me. In the afternoon preached – from Revelation 14:13 [And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.] I was led to the subject by the death of Mrs Brittain and her father Wingrove since I preached there last. Her illness was very trying – a sudden paralytic stroke, which deprived her both of her limbs and senses in an instant, and so she continued nine months. O my Lord shall I complain. I see how much worse without couldst bring upon me in a moment, and most justly. Our afflictions are light compared either with our deserts or with what many others suffer. There was a tolerable congregation and I preached with liberty. I thank thee, my Lord, and pray that thy blessing may follow. Found all in peace at home. Only, my Dear's complaint still trying. Lord thou only knowest whether it will be removed – but thou permittest me to pray with submission to thy will. I would pray especially that it may be sanctified. Thou knowest what is best – thy wisdom and goodness are infinite. O help me to trust thee without wavering, and to resign all to thee without reluctance or reserve.
Saturday 24 May 1777
Mr Robinson etc left us this morning. The days pass I know not well how. I have been so long from home, that I cannot well settle into my own way, meeting with continual interruptions. Lord thy wisdom is needful for the improvement and management of the affairs of common life, and thy blessing to make them flourish. Teach and bless me for thy name sake.
Sunday 25 May 1777
I thank thee for a comfortable Sabbath – my Dear in tolerable health – liberty in speaking – and nothing very troublesome upon my mind. An old temptation seemed at the door of my heart this morning seeking admittance, but I hope I cried sincerely to thee against it, and it was removed. Lord let me no more offend thee, by indulging vain and wild imaginations. If I must sometimes feel them, yet Lord give me grace to abhor them, and to strive earnestly against them.
1 Peter 5:6
Hymn No. 274
[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]