For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Sometimes Isaac Watts’ hymns are simply inspired in a general sense by a source passage. Other times he puts his paraphrasing skills honed in the Psalms to work in other passages, as he does here:
How wretched was our former state,
When, slaves to Satan’s sway,
With hearts disordered and impure,
O’erwhelmed in sin we lay!
But, O my soul! for ever praise,
For ever love his name,
Who turned thee from the fatal paths
Of folly, sin, and shame.
Vain and presumptuous is the trust
Which in our works we place,
Salvation from a higher source
Flows to the human race.
’Tis from the mercy of our God
That all our hopes begin;
His mercy saved our souls from death,
And washed our souls from sin.
His Spirit, through the Saviour shed,
Its sacred fire imparts,
Refines our dross, and Love divine
Rekindles in our hearts.
Thence raised from death, we live anew;
And, justified by grace,
We hope in glory to appear,
And see our Father’s face.
Let all who hold this faith and hope
In holy deeds abound;
Thus faith approves itself sincere,
By active virtue crowned.
How wretched was our former state (Titus 3:3-8)