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God, not to jump into the river. As
he cast his burden on the Savior,
his heart was comforted. With
gratitude he sat down and penned
these reassuring words:
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.”
Under the kind attention of Dr.
Nathanael Cotton, an evangelical
believer, Cowper began his
Pastor John Newton
journey back. It was a beautiful
od sent along helpers.
morning in July of 1764 when
When he moved to Olney
Cowper picked up a Bible and
began reading from Romans. Nick in 1774, he was visited by Rev.
Rhodes in his book describes the John Newton. John Newton was
a great help to Cowper and a
event: calming, assuring voice in his life
“Suddenly, for the first time when he needed it most. Together
in many months, he began to they published the Olney Hymns,
experience an in-rush of hope, containing some of the greatest
an almost hysterical joy. This was, hymns ever written. Of these
in true Evangelical tradition, the hymns, 280 were written by
moment of his conversion, the Newton and 68 by Cowper.
turning point in his life.” 2
Newton’s hymns include
owper had lived a moral
and honorable life.
His “How Sweet the Name
father had been a minister. His
of Jesus Sounds”
mother an honorable, righteous
“Glorious Things of
woman. All of his life had
Thee Are Spoken”
been, in a sense, “religious,” but
until this moment there had
“May the Grace of
been no personal experience.
Christ Our Saviour”
From this moment onward,
Cowper was a new man. His world
How Sweet the Sound”
changed and he changed the world.
Among those written by
However, he was a damaged man.
William Cowper are the
Still at times he would be plunged
following: into despondency.
“O for a Closer
The Olney Church
Walk with God”
“Hark My Soul
It Is the Lord”
“God Moves in a
Thy People Meet”
“There Is a Fountain
Filled with Blood”
The publication of the Olney
Hymns propelled Cowper into
fame. His influence, along with
Newton, spread throughout
Great Britain into the vast
Commonwealth of Nations,
As I sat on a bench in the beautiful
little park across from his home,
I thought of the words of one of
his hymns. Feeling that he had
strayed from Christ, Cowper
wrote the following:
“Where is the blessedness
When first I saw the Lord?