Sunday Hymnary: “Ah, What Can I Do?” by John Newton, 1779

Ah, what can I do, or where be secure?
If justice pursue, what heart can endure?
When God speaks in thunder and makes Himself known,
The heart breaks asunder though hard as a stone.

With terror I read my sins’ heavy score,
The numbers exceed the sands on the shore;
Guilt makes me unable to stand or to flee,
So Cain murdered Abel, and trembled like me.

Each sin, like his blood, with terrible cry,
Calls loudly on God to strike from on high:
Nor can my repentance, extorted by fear,
Reverse the just sentence; ’tis just, though severe.

The case is too plain, I have my own choice;
Again, and again I slighted His voice;
His warnings neglected, His patience abused,
His Gospel rejected, His mercy refused.

And must I then go, forever to dwell
In torments and woe with devils in hell?
Oh where is the Savior I scorned in times past?
His word in my favor would save me at last.

Lord Jesus, on Thee I venture to call,
Oh look upon me, the vilest of all!
For whom didst Thou languish and bleed on the tree?
Oh pity my anguish, and say, “’Twas for thee.”

A case such as mine will honor Thy power;
All hell will repine, all Heav’n will adore;
If in condemnation strict justice takes place,
It shines in salvation more glorious through grace.

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