Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Jesus, Lover of My Soul
By: Charles Wesley

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly, 
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last. 

Other refuge have I none; hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, O leave me not alone, still support and comfort me:
All my trust on thee is stayed, all my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of thy wing. 

Thou, O Christ, art all I want; more than all in thee I find:
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick and lead the blind:
Just and holy is thy name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am, thou art full of truth and grace. 

Plenteous grace with thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within:
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of thee;
Spring thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity. 
Charles Wesley, author of this hymn, was born in 1707 in Lincolnshire, England and was the youngest of eighteen children. His father, Samuel, was a poor country parson and his mother, Susannah, taught her children from the Bible as well as to sing psalms and spiritual songs as they did their chores. As a child, Charles demonstrated an unusual interest in poetry and composed verses on any subject at hand. Despite his family's poverty, Charles was sent to Westminster School in London at the age of nine, where he joined his older brother John. After he completed his schooling, he went to Christ Church College, Oxford, where he earned his Master of Arts degree in 1730. While at Oxford, Charles and a group of like-minded young men formed a Christian group that was known as the "Holy Club." The members adhered to strict rules and methods of living, studying, and practicing their faith. Because the followers of Wesley followed a different method, they were later called Methodists. In 1735, Charles Wesley was ordained a priest in the Anglican church. He was assigned as secretary to George Oglethorpe, the governor of the colony of Georgia. That same year he tried to travel to North America with the governor, but he fell sick in the fall of 1736 and set sail for England. He encountered a tremendous, alarming storm while on the journey, and Charles underwent spiritual transformation. In Wesley's journal he records the following concerning this even: "In this dreadful moment, I bless God, I found the comfort of hope; and such joy in finding I could hope, as the world could neither give nor take away." Wesley sought to comfort the other passengers and "urged them to resolve, if God saved them from this distress, that they would instantly and entirely give themselves up to Him." The vessel finally arrived back in England on December third. Wesley wrote in his journal: " I knelt down and blessed the Hand that had conducted me through such inextricable mazes." While Wesley has not specifically indicated that it was this experience that prompted the writing of "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," one reading may see the parallels in the first two verses of the hymn. 

A second life-changing experience occurred eighteen months later in May of 1738. Wesley was bedridden with fever, dysentery, and pleurisy, and despaired of ever returning to health. As he lay alone in his room in Aldersgate, he had a vision of a woman named Mrs. Musgrove telling him: "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise, and believe, and thou shalt be healed of all thy infirmities." From that hour his health rapidly improved and he embarked on the intensely evangelical lifestyle for which he is remembered.  It was just one year after this dramatic conversion that Charles Wesley wrote "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." Although Charles' brother John disliked the hymn for being too sentimental, it has become one of the best known and loved hymns and has been translated into all the languages of the missionary world. 

As the Methodist movement spread throughout England, he traveled on horseback from place to place. His mother died on July 23, 1742. Her last words were, "Children, as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God." Later, while preaching in Wales, Charles met Sally Gwynne, a young lady who was half his age. A courtship followed, and Charles wanted to propose, but he was virtually penniless with no way of supporting a wife. That's when he decided to publish his Hymns and Sacred Poems, as well as his journals and sermons, hoping the royalties would provide an income. Charles and Sally were married on April 8, 1749. Charles noted: "Not a cloud was to be seen from morning till night. I rose at four, spent three hours and a half in prayer or singing, with my brother...At eight I led my Sally to church...It was a most solemn season of love!" They left immediately on a preaching tour, and Charles continued his ministry until 1756, when at age 49, he and Sally settled down. He busied himself preaching, visiting, counseling, fretting about his three unsaved children, trying to keep Methodism within the Church of England, and giving unsolicited advice to his brother John. All the while, he worked on his hymns and poems. Early 1788, Charles was bedridden, not from sickness, but from a lifetime of fatigue. By March, too weak to write, he dictated his last hymn to Sally: 

 In age and feebleness extreme, who shall a sinful worm redeem? 
Jesus, my only Thou art, strength of my failing flesh and heart;
Oh, could I catch a smile from Thee, and drop into eternity!

I hope you all had a blessed Lord's day.

Sincerely yours, eternally His,

Psalm 46:1 
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

Ephesians 5:2
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I don't know that much about Charles Wesley, as more attention is usually given to John Wesley.


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