William Cowper’s Suffering Songs

As we begin 2011, some have already entered this year with suffering. It is for you that I record this entry.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote, “We may be in heaviness through many trials at this present time, and we may be weeping as we go along … We are promised that the day will come when the ‘Lamb which is in the midst of the throne … shall lead us unto living fountains of water’ and that God Himself ‘shall wipe away all tears from our eyes …’ ‘Thank God we are in His hands. It is His way of salvation and not ours. Let us submit ourselves to God, let us be content to be in His hands, and let us say to Him: Send what Thou wilt, our only concern is that we may ever be well-pleasing in Thy sight” (Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones ~ page 232).

If you are suffering this New Year let me encourage you with a brief description of the life of William Cowper.

In November of 1731, William Cowper (said “Cooper”) was born in Hertfordshire, England. Three of his brothers and two sisters died in infancy, and two days before his sixth birthday his mother died in childbirth, leaving him one infant brother and a father.

In 1753 he fell in love with a woman named Theodora, but her father forced an end to the relationship, and would not allow them to marry. In large part, due to this event, and his natural disposition towards depression, he became exceedingly melancholy, and resolved to end his life. He tried to hang himself, but the weight of his body broke first an iron pin, and then a wooden spar. The third attempt was almost successful, but just as he went unconscious, the noose broke, and his body slumped to the floor.

In 1763 he had to be institutionalized in St. Alban’s Asylum for two years. However, it was during this time that the wonder of God’s grace began to radically affect him, and he became a lover of the gospel, and of Jesus Christ. For the rest of his life he would continually fight against the recurrence of these fits of depression.

However, it is because of William Cowper’s deep discoveries of grace that we have hymns like “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” and “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” Carefully read these words.

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

 

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs

And works His sovereign will.

 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

 

His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.

 

Blind unbelief is sure to err

And scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

 

There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

 

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;

And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;

And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

 

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power

Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;

Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

 

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;

Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

 

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

 

Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared, unworthy though I be,

For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me!

‘Tis strung and tuned for endless years, and formed by power divine,

To sound in God the Father’s ears no other name but Thine. Amen.

 

Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning. And when it comes, it comes with a song. Not a cheap or juvenile song, but a deep and weighty song. It does not gloss over tragedy, or pain, or loss. When the sails of joy go up, the heartaches of life, which once threatened to capsize the boat, become ballast deep in the belly of the ship to make the keel cut deep through the waves and guide the ship through rougher seas ahead.

 

Advertisements

One Response to “William Cowper’s Suffering Songs”

  1. David Sims Says:

    Thanks…good stuff….reality encouragement…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: