Olney Hymns Book 1 Hymn 5
How hurtful was the choice of Lot...
Manuscript Hymn No. 278 [MS mistakenly 288]
LOT in Sodom
How hurtful was the choice of Lot,
Who took up his abode
(Because it was a fruitful spot)
With them who feared not GOD!
A prisoner he was quickly made,
Bereaved of all his store;
And, but for Abraham's timely aid,
He had returned no more.
Yet still he seemed resolved to stay,
As if it were his rest;
Although their sins from day to day (a)
His righteous soul distressed.
Awhile he stayed with anxious mind,
Exposed to scorn and strife;
At last he left his all behind,
And fled to save his life.
In vain his sons-in-law he warned,
They thought he told his dreams:
His daughters too, of them had learned,
And perished in the flames.
His wife escaped a little way,
But died for looking back:
Does not her case to pilgrims say,
"Beware of growing slack?"
Yea, Lot himself could lingering stand,
Though vengeance was in view;
'Twas mercy plucked him by the hand,
Or he had perished too.
The doom of Sodom will be ours,
If to the earth we cleave;
Lord, quicken all our drowsy powers,
To flee to thee and live.
(a) 2 Peter 2:8
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Sunday 29 June 1777
Mr Barham writes that Mr La Trobe, who has constantly attended Dr Dodd, makes no doubt but he died a believer in thy Name. I know thy mercy is thy delight, and higher than the heavens – I trust, it was so, and praise thee on his behalf. Thou canst show thy goodness and thy severity in the same moment.
Tuesday 1 July 1777
A visit from Mr [John] Mayor of Worcester College Oxford. He wishes to spend some months here, if we can find him a place. Lord if it be thy will thy providence will own it. I wish to be useful to any of thine.
Wednesday 2 July 1777
Walked to the Mill with Mr Mayor … preached at Lavendon, in the evening, from 2 Corinthians 12:9 [And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.]
Thursday 3 July 1777
… alas! my spirit is far estranged from thee... I am like a person who is lame, his steps are unequal, ungraceful and painful. O Lord my Saviour what shall I say? Alas my confessions seem but invented and lip service for I am not affected by them. Psalm 40:2 [He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.]
Sunday 6 July 1777
At the sacrament ... Sally Perkin was there for the first time. Thou hast been pleased to comfort her, and many I can see, like Gideon’s wet fleece; for this I am bound to praise thee, that thou art pleased to bear any testimony to my ministry, though I receive so little myself.
Thou hast found a place for Mr Mayor and his companion Mr [Thomas] Charles [later referred to as ‘Charles of Bala’] to reside while amongst us. It is the act of thy providence; may thy blessing make it useful to them, and to many. Hymn No. 288 [278 intended]
Hymn No. 278
[On this date Newton preached from the above texts at his church, St Peter & St Paul, Olney, during the morning and afternoon services, and from this hymn at the informal evening service]
Hymn: MS Eng 1317, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Diary: John Newton Collection, CO199, Princeton University
Marylynn Rouse, 29/08/2013