Last week a friend introduced me to this hymn by John Newton. At least I think it is a hymn. Personally I think it works better as poetry, but I suppose there is a fine line between the two. Read it and I think you’ll see that Newton knew what it was to sin, and he knew who it was that was tempting him to sin. And he knew that the pleasure offered by sin was only a fleeting kind of pleasure. “Often thus, through sin’s deceit, / Grief, and shame, and loss I meet, / Like a fish, my soul mistook, / Saw the bait, but not the hook.”
Sin, when viewed by scripture light,
Is a horrid, hateful sight;
But when seen in Satan’s glass,
Then it wears a pleasing face.
When the gospel trumpet sounds,
When I think how grace abounds,
When I feel sweet peace within,
Then I’d rather die than sin.
When the cross I view by faith,
Sin is madness, poison, death;
Tempt me not, ’tis all in vain,
Sure I ne’er can yield again.
Satan, for awhile debarred,
When he finds me off my guard,
Puts his glass before my eyes,
Quickly other thoughts arise.
What before excited fears,
Rather pleasing now appears;
If a sin, it seems so small,
Or, perhaps, no sin at all.
Often thus, through sin’s deceit,
Grief, and shame, and loss I meet,
Like a fish, my soul mistook,
Saw the bait, but not the hook.
O my Lord, what shall I say?
How can I presume to pray?
Not a word have I to plead,
Sins, like mine, are black indeed!
Made, by past experience, wise,
Let me learn thy word to prize;
Taught by what I’ve felt before,
Let me Satan’s glass abhor.