Friday 19 April 2019

Looking at the Cross

For this year’s Good Friday, here is one of John Newton’s lesser-known hymns. This was published in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. ii., No. 57, under the title ‘Looking at the Cross’.

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career:

I saw One hanging on a Tree,
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d His languid eyes on me,
As near His Cross I stood.

Sure never, till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:

My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
And helped to nail Him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord had slain!

A second look He gave, which said,
‘I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die, that thou may’st live.’

Thus, while His death my sin displays,
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.

With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now is fill’d,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill’d.

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