Tuesday Hymns: “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”

Francis Scott Key, a Maryland lawyer, is most famous for his poem which was written on board a ship in the Baltimore harbor during the British attack on Ft. McHenry on the night of September 13, 1814. He was involved in the process of getting Dr. William Beanes released from his incarceration by the British when he penned the words which became the National Anthem of the United States, The Star Spangled Banner. However, that is not the only poem written by the famous author, as our Tuesday Hymn for the week also bears his name.

Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee is a hymn about the love and grace of our living Lord. In it, Key asks the Lord for aid in learning to praise Him as he ought, realizing the truth that it was the Lord who sought him when he was a “wretched wand’rer far astray.” It is sung to the tune, RIPLEY.

Lord, with glowing heart I’d praise thee
For the bliss thy love bestows,
For the pard’ning grace that saves me,
And the peace that from it flows;
Help, O God, my weak endeavor;
This dull soul to rapture raise;
Thou must light the flame, or never
Can my love be warmed to praise.

Praise, my soul, the God that sought thee,
Wretched wand’rer far astray;
Found thee lost, and kindly brought thee
From the paths of death away;
Praise, with love’s devoutest feeling,
Him who saw thy guilt-born fear,
And, the light of hope revealing,
Bade the blood-stained cross appear.

Praise thy Saviour God that drew thee
To that cross, new life to give,
Held a blood-sealed pardon to thee,
Bade thee look to him and live;
Praise the grace whose threats alarmed thee,
Roused thee from thy fatal ease,
Praise the grace whose promise warmed thee,
Praise the grace that whispered peace.

Lord, this bosom’s ardent feeling
Vainly would my lips express;
Low before thy footstool kneeling,
Deign thy suppliant’s prayer to bless:
Let thy love, my soul’s chief treasure,
Love’s pure flame within me raise,
And, since words can never measure,
Let my life show forth thy praise.

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My Favorite Anglican: J. C. Ryle

My favorite Anglican (although now that he is in heaven I am sure he is a Presbyterian…just kidding) is J. C. Ryle. If all Anglicans were like Bishop Ryle (take note, N. T. Wright) the world would be more theologically and Biblically orthodox. This morning he blessed me (even 110 years after his death) with these words from Day by Day with J. C. Ryle:

“Just as the vine-dresser prunes and cuts back the branches of a fruitful vine, in order to make them more fruitful, so does God purify and sanctify believers by the circumstances of life in which He places them. Trial, to speak plainly, is the instrument by which our Father in heaven makes Christians more holy. By trial He calls out their passive graces, and proves whether they can suffer His will as well as do it. By trial He weans them from the world, draws them to Christ, drives them to the Bible and prayer, shows them their own hearts, and makes them humble. This is the process by which He ‘purges’ them, and makes them more fruitful.”

J. C. Ryle, May your tribe increase.

Tuesday Hymns: “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

Warfare was a frequent analogy of the Christian life, both in Scripture and in the history of hymnody. However, many in the present generation apparently have delicate constitutions and shy away from such language. In some hymn books, for example, Onward, Christian Soldiers has become Onward, Christian Pilgrims, and in others the hymn has been purged altogether. However, our Tuesday Hymn for this week, Am I a Soldier of the Cross?, takes seriously the battle that the Christian fights everyday with his three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Isaac Watts, prolific hymn writer of the eighteenth century, understood the battle that has existed since man’s fall between the “seed of the woman” and the “seed of the serpent,” and writes of the need to be vigilant in fighting the fight of faith. However, he also understands it is the Lord who gives the victory as he reminds us that we are “supported by Thy [His] Word” and that God must “increase our courage.” Although it has been sung to several tunes since it was written, the compilers of the red Trinity Hymnal have chosen ARLINGTON , which is easy to sing, and allows the worshipper to focus on the message of the hymn.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A foll’wer of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flow’ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign:
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy Word.

Thy saints, in all this glorious war,
Shall conquer, though they die;
They view the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all thine armies shine
In robes of vict’ry through the skies,
The glory shall be thine.

“Misfortune Nobly Borne is Good Fortune.”

I know that many who read these words are unhappy with the result of the health care deliberations in Washington, D. C., and, to be perfectly honest with you, so am I. However, the imprudence of others should never dictate the tenor of our lives. If Paul could write, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1) while Nero was the Emperor of Rome, then who am I to disparage those that God has placed in authority over me. I can disagree passionately with the decisions of the President and Congress, yet, still respect the offices that they hold, for “Respect is given, trust is earned.”

Granted, I believe our nation’s fiscal irresponsibility will be its undoing, and I have the privilege of working, if I so choose, to elect others to office to change that course of action; but, until then, I need to live by the principle that Robert E. Lee shared with E. V. Valentine, the sculptor who was chosen to make a bust of him, “Misfortune nobly borne is good fortune.” What matters most are not the circumstances in which we live, but the way we live in our circumstances. So whatever transpires, by God’s grace, live according to the third membership vow that one takes when one becomes a member of a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church, “I now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that I will endeavor to live as becomes a follower of Christ.

The Valley of Vision

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions is, by far, my favorite book of devotions. Arthur Bennett has collected prayers by men such as Thomas Shephard, Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, William Williams, Philip Doddridge, William Romaine, David Brainerd, Augustus Toplady, Christmas Evans, William Jay, Henry Law and Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Each prayer provides the reader an opportunity to meditate on the sin that afflicts the believer, and the grace that carries him. The following is just one example of the blessings that await the reader who takes the time to read this marvelous compilation.

O SUPREME MOVING CAUSE,

May I always be subordinate to thee,
be dependent upon thee,
be found in the path where thou dost walk,
and where thy Spirit moves,
take heed of estrangement from thee,
of becoming insensible to thy love.

Thou dost not move men like stones,
but dost endue them with life,
not to enable them to move without thee,
but in submission to thee, the first mover.

O Lord, I am astonished at the difference
between my receivings and my deservings,
between the state I am now in and my past
gracelessness,
between the heaven I am bound for and
the hell I merit.

Who made me to differ, but thee?
for I was no more ready to receive Christ
than were others;
I could not have begun to love thee hadst thou not first loved me,
or been willing unless thou hadst made me so.

O that such a crown should fit the head of such a sinner!
such high advancement be for an unfruitful
person!
such joys for so vile a rebel!

Infinite wisdom cast the design of salvation
into the mould of purchase and freedom;

Let wrath deserved be written on the door of hell,
but the free gift of grace on the gate of heaven.

I know that my sufferings are the result of my sinning,
but in heaven both shall cease;

Grant me to attain this haven and be done
with sailing,
and may the gales of thy mercy blow me safely
into harbour.

Let thy love draw me nearer to thyself,
wean me from sin, mortify me to this world,
and make me ready for my departure hence.

Secure me by thy grace as I sail across this
stormy sea.

Tuesday Hymns: “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched”

Joseph Hart was an eighteenth century pastor whose life ran the gamut from legalist, to antinomian, before finally experiencing true conversion, resting in the sovereign grace of God. His most well known hymn is our Tuesday Hymn for this week, Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched. It plainly speaks of the Gospel Truth that one’s salvation rests totally on the finished work of Christ, offered through His grace and received by faith. In hymn books, it is usually connected to the tune, BRYN CALDARIA, or CAERSALEM, although the message is so timeless, modern arrangements by groups such as Indelible Grace have become well known to many worshippers.

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with pow’r:
He is able,
He is able,
He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more.

Come, ye needy, come and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev’ry grace that brings you nigh,
Without money,
Without money,
Without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all:
Not the righteous,
Not the righteous,
Not the righteous,
Sinners Jesus came to call.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of him;
This he gives you,
This he gives you,
This he gives you;
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

Lo! th’incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of his blood;
Venture on him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude:
None but Jesus,
None but Jesus,
None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.

“The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin”

Johannes G. Vos wrote a series of excellent lessons on the Westminster Larger Catechism in his Blue Banner Faith and Life magazine back in the late 1940s. In 2002 G. I. Williamson edited those lessons, added an introduction by W. Robert Godfrey, and published The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary. This is a book that every pastor should have on his shelf because, in a sense, it provides a “catechism on the catechism.”

In the section on Question 152: What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God? We find in the following series of questions and answers, an excellent description of the sinfulness of sin in man’s life.

1. How evil is sin? The catechism asserts, and the Scripture references prove, that sin is absolutely evil; that is, that sin possesses an absolute character, and even the least sin shares in that absolute character as a repudiation of the authority of God. Some sins are more heinous than others, but even the least sin is a total rejection of God’s authority over us. This principle is well illustrated by the first sin committed by any human being, the sin of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit. In itself what can seem to us a slight and apparently unimportant action, the eating of the fruit nevertheless involved a total rejection of God’s authority over the human race. It involved believing Satan’s lie in preference to God’s truth, and trusting human reason rather than God’s revelation. The same is true, essentially, of every sin; every sin involves believing a lie rather than the truth, and following our own reason or desires rather than the revealed will of God. Thus every sin is absolutely evil and deserves God’s wrath and curse both here and hereafter.

2. How can a finite being, such as man, commit a sin which is absolutely or infinitely evil? Sin is infinitely evil because it is committed against God, who is infinitely perfect. We must always guard against the modern humanistic way of thinking about sin, which tends to regard sin primarily in relation to its effects on human beings. The primary fact about sin is that it is an offense against God. Since God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his sovereignty, goodness, and holiness, every sin, even though committed by a finite creature such as man, is infinitely evil.

Those Biblical truths make me rejoice that the following is also true:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

“Carpe diem!”

I read a couple of days ago that the woman believed to be the oldest person in the United States, Mary Josephine Ray, died at the age of 114 years and 294 days old. I went on to learn that the oldest living American now is Neva Morris, who is 114 years, 218 days old, and the oldest person in the world is Japan’s Kam Chinen, who is 114 years, 303 days. You can read the full article here.

We all need to be realistic here; most of us will never sniff 100 years, let alone 114 years. However, we do have today. I am firmly convinced that it is not so much the length of life that matters as much as how that life is lived. Every day is a gift from God that should be lived to the fullest, because we do not know if tomorrow will ever come. The Westminster Shorter Catechism spells out for us how our lives should be lived, and where guidance for the living our lives is to be found.

Question 1: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Question 2: What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?

Answer: The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

So don’t waste your days focusing on something for which you have no control (the length of your life), but instead focus on that for which you do have a measure of control through God’s grace (the quality of your life). The words of Jesus should ring in our ears every morning:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-33)

Carpe diem! (Seize the Day!)

Tuesday Hymns: “All Glory Be to Thee, Most High”

Just because a hymn is old does not mean that it is good. However, our Tuesday Hymn for this week is both ancient (it goes back to the Fourth Century) and full of praise to our Triune God (which qualifies it to be “good’ in my book). All Glory Be to Thee, Most High (written by an anonymous author) begins with a verse about God’s glory in general, followed by specific praise to each member of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is something comforting about the knowledge that one is singing a song of praise that the covenant people of God have been singing together for over a millennium. It is most often sung to a tune written in 1539 entitled ALLEIN GOTT IN DER HOH.

All glory be to thee, Most High,
To thee all adoration;
In grace and truth thou drawest nigh
To offer us salvation;
Thou showest thy good will to men,
And peace shall reign on earth again;
We praise thy Name for ever.

We praise, we worship thee, we trust,
And give thee thanks for ever,
O Father, for thy rule is just
And wise, and changes never;
Thy hand almighty o’er us reigns,
Thou doest what thy will ordains;
‘Tis well for us thou rulest.

O Jesus Christ, our God and Lord,
Son of the Heavenly Father,
O thou who hast our peace restored,
The straying sheep dost gather,
Thou Lamb of God, to thee on high
Out of the depths we sinners cry:
Have mercy on us, Jesus!

O Holy Spirit, precious gift,
Thou Comforter unfailing,
From Satan’s snares our souls uplift,
And let thy power, availing,
Avert our woes and calm our dread.
For us the Saviour’s blood was shed;
We trust in thee to save us

“Thou Must Save, and Thou Alone”

As I was preparing to preach at the Federal Prison today, my mind turned to a verse of Augustus Toplady’s hymn, Rock of Ages. It says a great deal about the purpose of God in our salvation:

“Not the labors of my hands, Can fulfill Thy Law’s commands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.”

No matter how diligently we work, we will never work hard enough. No matter how much we try to keep God’s Law, we will always break His commands. No matter how sincere we may be, we will always have a deceitful heart. No matter how many times we weep over our sins, we will never be sorrowful enough for them. Jeremiah said it correctly, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23) No, we can’t do good, because we are so accustomed to doing evil.

I am so grateful for Christ who did on our behalf, what we could never do for ourselves: “For our sake he [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Yes, “Thou must save, and Thou alone.”

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