Duty to God and Neighbor (Poetry)

I recently discovered an old book by Isaac Watts (who incidentally was the inspiration for this blog) entitled Divine and Moral Songs for Children. There are some interesting poems that you might find helpful for children (or just helpful in general). A couple that I really like have to do with loving God and loving neighbor:

With all thy soul love God above.
And, as thyself thy neighbour love.

and,

Love God with all your soul and strength,
With all your heart and mind:
And love your neighbour as yourself;
Be faithful, just, and kind.
Deal with another as you’d have
Another deal with you;
What you’re unwilling to receive,
Be sure you never do.

You can browse all the poems HERE.

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Sunday Hymn: Jesus, My Great High Priest

As is my Saturday custom, I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tonight. In it, speaking of ‘the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel,’ he quoted the words of this great hymn:

Jesus, my great High Priest,
Offered his blood and died;
My guilty conscience seeks
No sacrifice beside.
His pow’rful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the Throne.

Jesus, My Great High Priest is another beauty from Isaac Watts. The tune, Bevan, is very easy to pick up. You can click the link HERE for the words and tune. You can find it in the Trinity Hymnal at number 306. Here are the lyrics:

Jesus, my great High Priest,
Offered his blood and died;
My guilty conscience seeks
No sacrifice beside.
His pow’rful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the Throne.

To this dear Surety’s hand
Will I commit my cause;
He answers and fulfills
His Father’s broken laws.
Behold my soul at freedom set;
My Surety paid the dreadful debt.

My Advocate appears
For my defense on high;
The Father bows his ears
And lays his thunder by.
Not all that hell or sin can say
Shall turn his heart, his love, away.

Should all the hosts of death
And pow’rs of hell unknown
Put their most dreadful forms
Of rage and mischief on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
His conqu’ring pow’r and guardian grace.

Bless’d Are The Humble Souls That See

This is Isaac Watts’ rendering of the beatitudes for singing:

Bless’d are the humble souls that see
Their emptiness and poverty;
Treasures of grace to them are giv’n,
And crowns of joy laid up in Heav’n.

Bless’d are the men of broken heart,
Who mourn for sin with inward smart;
The blood of Christ divinely flows,
A healing balm for all their woes.

Bless’d are the meek, who stand afar
From rage and passion, noise and war;
God will secure their happy state,
And plead their cause against the great.

Bless’d are the souls that thirst for grace
Hunger and long for righteousness;
They shall be well supplied, and fed
With living streams and living bread.

Bless’d are the men whose bowels move
And melt with sympathy and love;
From Christ the Lord they shall obtain
Like sympathy and love again.

Bless’d are the pure, whose hearts are clean
From the defiling powers of sin;
With endless pleasure they shall see
A God of spotless purity.

Bless’d are the men of peaceful life,
Who quench the coals of growing strife;
They shall be called the heirs of bliss,
The sons of God, the God of peace.

Bless’d are the suff’rers who partake
Of pain and shame for Jesus’ sake;
Their souls shall triumph in the Lord;
Glory and joy are their reward.

-Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Hymn 1:102 Matt. 5:3012

And Heaven Begins Below

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

And when we taste thy love,
Our joys divinely grow
Unspeakable, like those above,
And heaven begins below

-Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs (on 1 Peter 1:8)

Which is reminiscent of,

The men of grace have found
Glory begun below;
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow.

-Isaac Watts, Come We that Love the Lord (We’re marching to Zion)

It is Better for Me to do Something for God…

I am at last convinced that it is better for me to do something for God, though it be imperfect, than to be guilty of perpetual delays in hopes of better pleasing myself.

-Isaac Watts, from the Preface to A Guide to Prayer

Watts had been ill. This illness had kept him from producing the quality of work to which he aspired. I’m glad he did something. Maybe you and I need to as well.

Sunday Hymn: We’re Marching to Zion

This is another of my favorite hymns written by Isaac Watts. I think of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones every time I sing it, as he was fond of repeating the middle verses:

The men of grace have found
Glory begun below;
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow.

The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Or walk the golden streets.

And, speaking of the Doctor, today would be a good day to listen to one of his sermons. They’re available for free HERE. He’s far and away the best preacher I have ever heard.

 

Sunday Hymn: O God, Our Help In Ages Past

This is another one of my favorites. It is another Psalm paraphrase by Isaac Watts, and it happens to be one of my favorite Psalms (Psalm 90). It is a tradition in many Presbyterian (and other) churches to sing this hymn on the first Sunday morning of each new year. Enjoy:

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Praying

If you find your heart so very dry and unaffected with the things of religion that you can say nothing at all to God in prayer, that no divine content occurs to your thoughts, go and fall down humbly before God and tell him with a grievous complaint that you can say nothing to him, that you can do nothing but groan and cry before him. Go and tell him that without, his Spirit you cannot speak one expression, that without immediate assistance from his grace you cannot proceed in this worship.Tell him humbly that he must lose a morning or an evening sacrifice if he does not condescend to send down fire from heaven upon the altar.

– Isaac Watts, A Guide to Prayer

Profess your powerlessness. Admit your inability. Plead your prayerlessness. You will find that you are praying.

John Calvin writes,

It is, therefore, by the benefit of prayer that we reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father. For there is a communion of men with God by which, having entered the heavenly sanctuary, they appeal to him in person concerning his promises in order to experience, where necessity so demands, that what they believed was not vain, although he had promised it in word alone. Therefore we see that to us nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers. So true is it that we dig up by prayer the treasures that were pointed out by the Lord’s gospel, and which our faith has gazed upon (Institutes 3.20.1).

In other words, to my point, it is by pleading our inability that we dig up the riches of prayer itself. It is by pleading our prayerlessness that we call down the blessing of prayer. For God promises, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). The Spirit is the Spirit of supplication. And we plead with him therefore, to give us the grace of prayer. And as we do so, he is already at work, for in our pleading about prayerlessness, we are already praying.

Sunday Hymn: Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

This Isaac Watts (I love Isaac Watts for the record) hymn is based on the second half of Psalm 72, which includes the words (in verse 17), His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.” If you’re interested in how the language of the sun traveling (running successive journeys) jives with modern science, then read about solar orbit HERE. The ‘Solar Orbit’ post has received very little traffic, but it is actually one of my favorite posts, and I refer to it fairly regularly in conversation as an example of how scientific opinion is always changing.

This version is not great. It is a song that is meant to be sung by congregations more than individuals, but it’s the best I could find that included the lyrics.

Treating All People As Teachers

Can you be humble enough to realize that everyone has something to teach you?

If you happen to be in company with a merchant or a sailor, a farmer or a mechanic, a milk-made or a spinster, lead them into a discourse of the matters of their own peculiar province or profession; for every one knows, or should know, his own business best. In this sense a common mechanic is wiser than a philosopher. By this means you may gain some improvement in knowledge from every one you meet.

-Isaac Watts, The Improvement of the Mind, p. 80

The above quote from Isaac Watts is one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received. I use it virtually every day of my life, and I cannot tell you how much it has helped me and enriched my existence in this world. It is one of the ways in which we can ‘become as little children.’