Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Words of Life from Poets of Old


The best poets and preachers are able to distill their thoughts and feelings

into words which have impact within and beyond their own generations.
Indeed some of them had to persevere through intense personal struggle,
even severe depression, which only served to sharpen their skill in sharing
their insights with others.

Jesus said, of the sign of His Coming and the end of the age,
that many would betray one another and hate one another,
many prophets would arise and mislead many and that,
because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold,
but the one who endures to the end will be saved.

We wonder at our own willfully disobedient societies yet one hundred
and seventy years ago Horatius Bonar wrote these lines:

The serpent’ s brood increase,
The powers of hell grow bold,
The conflict thickens, faith is low,
And love is waxing cold.
 
The following year he penned these more famous lines:

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down, thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place, and He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, Stoop down and drink and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream.
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light.
Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that Light of Life I’ll walk till traveling days are done. - c1846

Charles Spurgeon wrote, for the Lord's Supper, this hymn:

Amidst us our Belovèd stands,
And bids us view His piercèd hands;
Points to the wounded feet and side,
Blest emblems of the Crucified.
......
Thou glorious Bridegroom of our hearts,
Thy present smile a heav’n imparts!
Oh lift the veil, if veil there be,
Let every saint Thy beauties see! - c1860

Two hymns from John Newton, seafarer and
slave-trader turned pastor:
 
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death! c1779
 
Dear Shepherd of Thy people, hear;
Thy presence now display;
As Thou hast given a place for prayer,
So give us hearts to pray.
......
May we in faith receive Thy Word,
In faith present our prayers;
And, in the presence of our Lord,
Unbosom all our cares. - c1779

John Piper describes the pastoral relationship between Newton and
William Cowper, the poet, in this link - http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/insanity-and-spiritual-songs-in-the-soul-of-a-saint
 
O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!
 
Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?
......
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.
 
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb. - William Cowper c1772

These final words sum up our continued spiritual struggle
to achieve a balance between our words and actions
which is both mentally healthy and spiritually sound.
 
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.
......
Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm! - John G. Whittier c1872