Travailing in Birth for Souls

What contradictions meet
In ministers’ employ!
It is a bitter sweet,
A sorrow full of joy:
No other post affords a place
For equal honor, or disgrace!

Who can describe the pain
Which faithful preachers feel;
Constrained to speak, in vain,
To hearts as hard as steel?
Or who can tell the pleasures felt,

The Savior’s dying love,
The soul’s amazing worth;
Their utmost efforts move,
And draw their bowels forth:
212 They pray and strive, their rest departs,
Till CHRIST be formed in sinners hearts.

If some small hope appear,
They still are not content;
But, with a jealous fear,
They watch for the event:
Too oft they find their hopes deceived,
Then, how their inmost souls are grieved!

But when their pains succeed,
And from the tender blade
The rip’ning ears proceed,
Their toils are overpaid:
No harvest–joy can equal theirs,
To find the fruit of all their cares.

On what has now been sown
Thy blessing, LORD, bestow;
The pow’r is thine alone,
To make it spring and grow:
Do thou the gracious harvest raise,
And thou, alone, shalt have the praise.

– Olney Hymns, Book 2, Hymn 26 by John Newton

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