On Sunday morning, I quoted briefly from an old hymn by John Newton, We Were Sinners Once, As You Are. As hymns go, it is a bit off the beaten path. I didn’t grow up singing it – I imagine that is true for most. However, the lyrics are beautiful – and capture so well the vision of sanctification and growth into maturity I pray comes to our church in this season of our ministry.

Here’s the full text:

Shall men pretend to pleasure
Who never knew the Lord?
Can all the worldling’s treasure
True peace of mind afford?
They shall obtain this jewel
In what their hearts desire,
When they by adding fuel
Can quench the flame of fire.

Till you can bid the ocean,
When furious tempests roar,
Forget its wonted motion,
And rage, and swell, no more:
In vain your expectation
To find content in sin;
Or freedom from vexation,
While passions reign within.

Come, turn your thoughts to Jesus,
If you would good possess;
‘Tis he alone that frees us
From guilt, and from distress:
While he, by faith, is present,
The sinner’s troubles cease;
His ways are truly pleasant,
And all his paths are peace.

Our time in sin we wasted,
And fed upon the wind;
Until his love we tasted,
No comfort could we find:
But now we stand to witness
His pow’r and grace to you;
May you perceive its fitness,
And call upon him too!

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:
It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.

I especially love – and am convicted by – the imagery of the second verse. When the furious tempests of life roar – when things get hard, we will never find contentment, freedom, or peace, apart from Christ. So, let us turn our thoughts to JesusWhile he, by faith, is present, the sinner’s troubles cease; His ways are truly pleasant, and all his paths are peace.


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