Reigning Grace (Or: Cast Your Idol Works Away)

 John Newton’s hymns cover many different Scripture texts and themes.  One biblical theme that often comes up in his hymns is grace – the fact that salvation from start to finish, beginning to end is all of grace, only by grace, and of grace alone (Eph. 2:5).  Here are a few selections from various hymns that talk about grace:

Not of Works
1) Grace, triumphant in the throne,
Scorns a rival, reigns alone!
Come, and bow beneath her sway,
Cast your idol works away.
Works of man, when made his plea,
Never shall accepted be;
Fruits of pride (Vain-glorious worm!)
Are the best he can perform

Reigning Grace
1) Now may the Lord reveal his face,
And teach our stamm’ring tongues
To make his sov’reign, reigning grace,
The subject of our songs!
No sweeter subject can invite
A sinner’s heart to sing,
Or more display the glorious right
Of our exalted King.

3) Grace reigns, to pardon crimson sins,
To melt the hardest hearts;
And from the work it once begins
It never more departs.
The world and Satan strive in vain
Against the chosen few;
Secur’d by grace’s conqu’ring reign,
They all shall conquer too.

4) Grace tills the soil, and sows the seeds,
Provides the sun and rain;
Till from the tender blade proceeds
The ripen’d harvest grain.
‘Twas grace that call’d our souls at first;
By grace thus far we’ve come;
And grace will help us through the worst,
And lead us safely home.”

The Power of Grace
5) O thou whose voice the dead can raise,
And soften hearts of stone,
And teach the dumb to sing thy praise,
This work is all thine own!

7) Grace bid me live, and taught my tongue
To aim at notes divine;
And grace accepts my feeble song,
The glory, Lord, be thine!

Quite a few other hymns of Newton also magnify God’s electing, justifying, sanctifying, and preserving grace.  Newton knew it from Scripture and experience: a sinner is saved by grace alone.  By grace alone the Lord began a good work in me, and by grace alone he’ll finish it.  Salvation is not by works, performance, spiritual attempts, religious emotions, or proper feelings.  Salvation is all of grace, and only of grace!

The above hymns of Newton are found in volume 3 of his Works.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015