And Can It Be

The first time I heard this hymn was when I was in college, at the baptist church attended by most of the Christian students on campus. The lyrics totally blew me away because of the picture they gave me of what Christ accomplished for me on the cross. The God of the universe has such an incredible love for me that He died in my place to provide forgiveness, life, deliverance, righteousness, a new identity, and direct access to His presence! “And Can It Be” remains my favorite traditional hymn.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain –
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

‘Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace –
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

– Charles Wesley, 1739

Need of Jesus

I recently found a wonderful book called The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. I love the prayers in it because they express passionate devotion to God, honest confessions of failure and need, and deep dependence on God’s grace. Unfortunately, even though the editor lists sources (John Bunyan, David Brainerd, Charles Spurgeon, Isaac Watts, Richard Baxter, and others), he doesn’t note which prayer comes from which source, so the author of the following prayer will have to remain anonymous.

Lord Jesus,
I am blind, be thou my light,
    ignorant, be thou my wisdom
    self-willed, be thou my mind.
Open my ear to grasp quickly thy Spirit's voice,
    and delightfully run after is beckoning hand;
Melt my conscience that no hardness remain,
    make it alive to evil's slightest touch;
When Satan approaches may I flee to thy wounds,
    and there cease to tremble at all alarms.
Be my good shepherd to lead me into the green pastures of thy word,
    and cause me to lie down beside the rivers of its comforts.
Fill me with peace, that no disquieting worldly gales
    may ruffle the calm surface of my soul.
Thy cross was upraised to be my refuge,
Thy blood streamed forth to wash me clean,
Thy death occurred to give me a surety,
Thy name is my property to save me,
By thee all heaven is poured into my heart,
    but it is too narrow to comprehend thy love.
I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,
    but thy cross has brought me near,
        has softened my heart,
        has made me thy Father's child,
        has admitted me to thy family,
        has made me joint-heir with thyself.
O that I may love thee as thou lovest me,
    that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord,
    that I may reflect the image of heaven's first-born.
May I always see thy beauty with the clear eye of faith,
    and feel the power of thy Spirit in my heart,
    for unless he move mightily in me
    no inward fire will be kindled.

– Puritan prayer, from The Valley of Vision.

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