Jericho; or, The Waters Healed

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John Newton, 1779, from Olney Hymns, vol. 1, hymn 37

Though Jericho pleasantly stood,
And looked like a promising soil;
The harvest produced little food,
To answer the husbandman's toil.
The water some property had,
Which poisonous proved to the ground;
The springs were corrupted and bad,
The streams spread a barrenness round.

2. But soon by the cruse and the salt,
Prepared by Elisha's command,
The water was cured of its fault,
And plenty enriched the land:
An emblem sure this of the grace
On fruitless dead sinners bestowed;
For man is in Jericho's case,
Till cured by the mercy of God.

3. How noble a creature he seems!
What knowledge, invention and skill!
How large and extensive his schemes!
How much can he do if he will!
His zeal to be learned and wise,
Will yield to no limits or bars;
He measures the earth and the skies,
And numbers and marshals the stars.

4. Yet still he is barren of good;
In vain are his talents and art;
For sin has infected his blood,
And poisoned the streams of his heart:
Though cockatrice eggs he can hatch,
Or, spider-like, cobwebs can weave;
'Tis madness to labor and watch
For what will destroy or deceive.

5. But grace, like the salt in the cruse,
When cast in the spring of the soul;
A wonderful change will produce,
Diffusing new life through the whole:
The wilderness blooms like a rose,
The heart which was vile and abhorred;
Now fruitful and beautiful grows,
The garden and joy of the Lord.

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