The Burdened Sinner

Ah, what can I do

Author: John Newton
Published in 11 hymnals

Representative Text

1 Ah, what can I do,
Or where be secure!
If justice pursue
What heart can endure
The heart breaks asunder,
Though hard as a stone,
When God speaks in thunder,
And makes himself known.

2 With terror I read
My sin's heavy force,
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.

3 Each sin, like his blood,
With a 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.

4 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.

5 And must I then go,
For ever to dwell
In torments and woe
With devils in hell!
Oh where is the Saviour
I scorned in times past;
His word in my favor
Would save me at last.

6 Lord Jesus on thee
I venture to call,
O look upon me
The vilest of all;
For whom didst thou languish,
And bleed on the tree?
O pity my anguish;
And say, "'Twas for thee."

7 A case such as mine
Will honor thy power,
And hell will repine,
All heaven adore;
If in condemnation
Strict justice takes place,
It shines in salvation
More glorious through grace.

Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the use of Christians, 1803

Author: John Newton

John Newton (b. London, England, 1725; d. London, 1807) was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumul¬≠tuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape he himself became the captain of a slave ship. Several factors contributed to Newton's conversion: a near-drowning in 1748, the piety of his friend Mary Catlett, (whom he married in 1750), and his reading of Thomas √† Kempis' Imitation of Christ. In 1754 he gave up the slave trade and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist. After becoming a tide… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Ah, what can I do
Title: The Burdened Sinner
Author: John Newton
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain



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