Charles Wesley.

Sacred poetry, selected from the works of the Rev. Charles Wesley; online

. (page 1 of 26)
Online LibraryCharles WesleySacred poetry, selected from the works of the Rev. Charles Wesley; → online text (page 1 of 26)
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Of Christ Church, Oxford, and Presbyter of the
Church of England


These abilities are the inspired gift of God, rarely bestowed ; and are of power
to allay the perturbations of the mind, and set the affections in right tune; to cele-
brate in glorious and lofty hymns the throne and equipage of God's almightiness,
and what he works, and what he suffers to be wrought, with high providence in his
Church. Milton.





APR 21 1:





"It may be affirmed that there is no principal element of
Christianity, no main article of belief, as professed by Protestant
Churches ; that there is no moral or ethical sentiment, peculiarly
characteristic of the Gospel — that does not find itself emphatically
and pointedly and clearly conveyed in some stanza of Charles Wes-
ley's poetry." Isaac Taylor.

" Full of inspiration, this sweet singer translated into the lan-
guage of earth snatches of orisons unutterable, till his plastic felicity
embodied them in immortal verse." James Hamilton, D.D.

" Perhaps no poems have ever been so devoutly committed to
memory as these, nor so often quoted on a death-bed." Southey.

" This fervent lyrist and liturgist was perhaps the most gifted min-
strel of the modern Church ; none since the Psalmist has embodied
in strains so genuine the religious exercises of the soul."

London Quarterly.

" Christian experience furnishes him with everlasting and inex-
haustible themes ; and it must be confessed that he has celebrated
them with an affluence of diction and a splendor of coloring rarely
surpassed." James Montgomery.


'Twere new indeed to see a bard all fire
Toucli'd with a coal from heaven, assume the lyre,
And tell the world still kindling as he sung,
With more than mortal music on his tongue,
That He who died below and reigns above,
Inspires the song, and that his name is Love."


" A comparison of the poetry of Doddridge, Watts, Kenn, and
Wesley, would show that Doddridge rises above Watts from having
caught the spirit of Kenn ; and Wesley is deep and interior from
Laving added to the Chrysostomian piety of Kenn the experimental
part of St. Augustine. Watts is a pure Calvinist, Kenn is a pure
Chrysostomian. Doddridge is induced to blend both, and the effect
is valuable and interesting. Wesley advances this union. He too
adds the views of grace to those of advanced holiness ; but having
derived the former from a more unadulterating medium, he is uni-
formly practical and experimental.

" I know no equal specimen of pure primitive piety, or rather
Scriptural united piety, than this poetry ; and for clear views and
expressions of the true evangehc religion, I know but one human
parallel— the matchless liturgy of the Church of England.

Alexander Knox.


The recorded judgments ii23on tlie pre-
ceding pages, of authorities eminent in
tlie walks of literature and religion, and
the introduction wMcli follows, dispense
with the necessity of an extended pre-

Many persons of excellent taste and
unaffected piety have expressed a desire
to possess a wider range of this poetry
than can be found in any one collection;
and the editor, to meet this requirement,
has made selections from the author's va-
rious works, and brought them within
the limits of this volume.

New-York, September^ 1864.




A celebrated writer, in delineating the influence
of jjoetiy on the character and morals of a nation, de-
clares : " Let me but make the ballads of a nation, I
care not who make their laws."

"Milton esteemed poetical genius the most tran-
scendent of all God's intellectual gifts. He esteemed
it in himself as a kind of inspiration, and wrote his
great works with something of the conscious dignity
of a prophet. Poetry is the divinest of all arts ; for
it is the breathing or exj)ression of that principle or
sentiment which is deepest and sublimest in human

"It lifts the mmd above ordinary life; gives it a
respite from depressing cares, and awakens the con-
sciousness of its affinity vrith what is pure and noble.
In its legitimate and highest eflbrts it has the same
tendency and aim with Christianity ; that is, to spirit-
ualize our natures.

" Poetry has a natural alliance with our best affec-
tions. The fictions of genius are often the vehicles
of the sublimest verities; and its flashes often open
new regions of thought, and throw new light upon


the mysteries of onr being. It is not true that the
poet paints a life that does not exist ; he only ex-
tracts and concentrates life's volatile fragrance, brings
together its scattered beauties, and prolongs its more
refined but evanescent joys ; and in this he does well ;
for it is good to feel that life is not wholly usurped
by cares for subsistence and physical gratifications,
but admits in measures which may be indefinitely en-
larged, sentiments and delights worthy of a higher

Poetry is the sublime and beautiful expressed in
measured language. It should be as music to the ear,
pictures to the eye, and it should display all the sym-
metry of architecture. It works principally by simile
and melody, and in its perfect state gives as complete
satisfaction to the moral faculties as it affords delight
to the heart and senses ; for its final aim is to benefit
man by means of delight. By poetry we also mean
certain feelings expressed in certam language ; for po-
etical feelings are all the highest and best of our na-
ture ; feelings which come like sunbeams suddenly and
rarely to our hearts, too constantly engrossed with
earth and its cares ; illuminatmg awhile our darkness,
and leaving us with a gleam of light. Truly has the

poet said:

" Our better mind
Is like a Sunday's garment, then put on
When we have naught to do ; but at our work
We wear a worse for thrift."

* Channin";.


Almost every human being is alive to the influ-
ence of poetry, and when vii'tue, by which the heart
is fitted by its Author to receive its most sublime
delights, is embodied in genuine poetry, its power
is such that none but callous minds can resist it.
Even the slave of vice is taken unawares, and must
love his caj)tivity, feeling a strange pleasure, to which
he would instantly sacrifice all his most valued grati-
fications could he but hope to retain it for ever.

Cold, selfish, and earthly as we are, no nature is
altogether unpoetical, for let a chance circumstance
touch the chord of love, rouse our devotion, or
awaken noble feelings m our hearts, causing us to
forget ourselves and to think only of the happiness
and comfort of others, then do we rise as it were
out of ourselves and experience poetical feelings ; for
of necessity poetry exalts and ennobles us, elevating
us to a higher state of mind than we commonly enjoy.
These noble and exalting feelings prose fails to ex-
press, while her more heavenly sister, poetry, adopts
them as her own and sends them forth to the world
imbued with a double portion of her spirit.

We admire beautiful thoughts and sublime images
in the unassuming garb of prose, but Avhen they come
to us in all the graces of flowing rhythm and musical
measure, our hearts are touched and our souls are
charmed. Nor do we alone feel the efiects of rhythm ;
the most barbarous nations are sensible of its influ-


ence, giving ample evidence that it is not earth-
born, for

" Yerse comes from heaven like in-R-ard light,
Mere human pains can ne'er come by it."

Those impressions which the poet has imbibed into
his own mind by observation, good poetry combines
into living forms, and the faculty of producing from
such impressions the distinctions of individual charac-
ter, action, or scenery we call imagination. Words-
worth says : " Poetry is the spontaneous overflow
of powerful feelings ; it takes its origin from emotion
recollected in tranquillity." Bp'on also says : " Poet-
ry is a distinct faculty, it will not come when called.
I have revolved some of my compositions for whole
years in my heart before I attempted to write

Poetry is nearly allied to the fine arts, but possesses
over them the great advantage of being able to assert
a truth. As it is the only art which employs lan-
guage for its instruments, it is the only one which
can enunciate a proposition and command this chief
element of the moral sublime. "We will here add Mil-
ton's definition of poetry, which is in itself perfect —
that it " ought to be simj^le, sensuous, and impas-
sioned ; that is to say, single in conception, abound-
ing in sensible images, and informing them all with
the spirit of the mind."

Having now shown what true poetry is, we will


note a few characteristics of the true poet. The true
poet is he wlio not only thinks and feels more deeply
and intensely than his fellow-men, but expresses his
thoughts and feelings more elegantly, more accurate-
ly, and more musically. We cannot conceive un-
musical poetry any more than Ave can conceive
shapeless statuary. Form is as essential as subject.
But whence the origin of the beautiful thoughts and
images w^hich the poet presents to us clothed in his
own language ? They are not the creations of his
own mind, as many think, not the emanations of his
genius, or the productions of beauty out of the depths
of his own personality — they are the creations of God ;
and the true poet moves as a seer and translator
through the regions of beauty and truth that lie in
the realities around him, seeking those things which
are hidden from the mass of men, (whose eyes are
covered with the film of familiarity,) and finding
them, he imparts to others all this truth and loveli-
ness which the Creator has written everywhere in
nature, whether flaming on the walls of space, smiling
in the flowers that adorn the green earth, or written
on the human heart : it is thus the poet gives us ap-
parent pictures of unapparent nature.

Poetry may be divided into three classes — natural,
moral, and religious. To be the successful poet of
nature needs but the poetic vision, and much culture
in the use of human speech; to be the successful


poet of life and the social relations, demands not
merely poetic sensibility but also moral culture ; and
to be the successful poet of religion needs not only
the poetic vision and moral culture, but the vital
action of religion on the soul : " An unction from the
Holy One."

In the daily wear of the spirit, if vre can hardly
keep fresh the affections appropriate to our relations
of social and moral life, how much more difficult do
we find it to preserve the affections and feelings
relating to om* spiritual life in all theu- purity and
fervour. How great then the value of sacred poetry
which addresses itself to the quickening and develop-
ing of the religious affections.

A great portion of the sacred writings contains
poetry of the most impressive and spiritual charac-
ter, and the Divine teaching is conveyed to us not in
oratory but in the music and beauty of song, whose
powers of influence for good are rarely appreciated.
" There are no songs," says Milton, " comparable to
the songs of Zion."

There may be said to be two distinct forms or
species of the poetry commonly called sacred, and
these are characterized by two distinct principles or
elements of power.

One of these species deals chiefly with the form and
movements of outward nature, grouping them in such
various imagery of beauty or grandeur as may serve


to excite the various sentiments of admiration, a^ve,
and reverence.

It is the poetry of natural religion in which the visi-
ble creation stands forth as a grand symbol of Deity.
But its religious quality is only incidental. In its
essential character it is only the poetry of the im-
agination, its processes and methods are simply de-
scriptive, and its power is exclusively aesthetic. To
this species belongs Byron's magnificent Address to
the Ocean, beginning with.

" Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty form ;"

and even Addison's beautiful hymn on the glories
of the heavens, which captivates the soul with its
contemj^lations of the beauty, order, and harmony
of creation, falls for the most part under the same
species, addressing the sentiments more than the
afiections, and stirring the emotions of taste rather
than inspiring the feelings of religious devotion.

The other form or sj)ecies of sacred poetry is essen-
tially lyrical, and belongs more to the afiections than
to the imagination; it enlists the devotional element
of our nature as its highest power, and recites in
glowing language the fervid experiences of the soul
in its communion with God, the struggles of peni-
tence, the triumphs of faith, and the aspirations of a
holy hope, that soars from the grave to the skies.

The poet, merely as a poet, fails to ajDprehend


the true poorer of this poetry, for its inspiration is
not an endowment of natural genius, but a gift of
regeneration, conferred only by the indvrelling of
the Holy Ghost.

When the Psalmist exclaims, " As the hart panteth
after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee,
O God," though every one must feel the force and
beauty of the natural imagery, yet only he who knows
by actual experience what that Divme longing is,
how ardent is the passion, and with what intensity
it S'eizes and clings upon the soul, can appreciate the
spirit of the verse, and feel the living truth more
beautiful than its imagery, and more powerful than
any form of mere poetry. But lest that fervour, which
is the best characteristic of this species of poetry,
should run into vulgar and ii*reverent extravagance,
it should be guided by a truly poetic imagination and
be chastised by a cultivated taste.

Among the svriters of sacred poetry none ex-
hibit, in a more eminent degree, the qualities de-
scribed in the preceding remarks, than Charles
Wesley ; the variety of his compositions is great ;
they have long enjoyed a well-established fame, and
they stand upon their own intrinsic merits. As a
valuable aid in the dissemination of Divine truth
they are not unworthy of the praise of gaining
•' listening ears to the harmonies of heaven."

In the diversity of this volume will be found some
of the most beautiful paraphrases of numerous pas-


sages of the Sacred writings, combined with the truest
and highest ideal of evangelical religion — the media-
torial and personal truths of Christianity — namely,
grace and holiness.

No similar compositions extant are so free from
the blemishes usually to be met with in many writers
of sacred poetry. They are neither obsolete in man-
ner nor abstruse in meaning, dry, rugged, or mystical,
verbose or languid : they are pointed and powerful,
no " middle flight " is aimed at ; the sentiment and
diction being progressive and ascending, a lofty emi-
nence is attained without efibrt. All their doctrines
and phraseology have their root in the inspired Word,
and find their utterance accordingly. Another strik-
ing feature in this poetry is, that notwithstanding all
its vigour, warmth of piety, and intensity of expres-
sion, there is a total absence of any language ap-
proaching a sentimental and fondling phraseology ;
nothing of the familiar and colloquial style, so irrever-
ent in our intercourse with the Deity, nothing con-
trary to correct judgment and devotional taste. By
those of refined perception and elevated religious feel-
ing, these compositions will be found to possess the
strength, the purity, and the eloquence of the English
language, combined with the highest degree of poetic
inspiration. The author's genius is not only conse-
crated, but subordinated to the higher principles of
piety, and every theme is applied to the purposes of


vital personal godliness. " When poetry thus keeps
its place as the handmaid of piety, it will attain, not
a poor, perishable Tvealth, but a crown that fadeth not

T. :>i.



The Christian— Jacob's Ladder— A Soxg of Praise— Praise to the Re-
deemer—Heavenly Wisdom— Heavenly Joy— The Invitation— A Thanks-
giving—Happiness OP Salvation— Happiness of Obedience— Happiness
of Christ's Followers- Happiness of thb Righteous- The Good Shep-
herd — For Believers — Image of God desired — The Kingdom of Grace,



The Means of Grace— Christ the Saviour op all Men— Prater for
Restoring Grace — Blessed are they that Mourn — The Mourner
Comforted — Pleading for Salvation — Faith in Christ- The Path of
Faith— The Light of Faith— Christ the Author op Faith— The
Righteousness of Faith — The Power op Faith — Prayer for Faith —
The Marks of Faith— The Power of Faith— The Faith op Abraham
— Christ our Faith— Light in Darkness— Forgiveness Implored —
Divine Light — Prayer against the Power of Sin — Restlessness op
THE Soul— The Soul seeking its Rest— To Whom shall we Go?— The
Woman op Canaan— The Good Samaritan— Seeking Rest in Christ —
The Pool of Bethesda — Why will ye Die ?—Lukewarmness— Prater
to Christ— After a Relapse into Sin — A Prayer under Conviction —
Prayer for a Contrite Heart — Wrestling Jacob — Repentance —
Waiting for Salvation— The Peace of God Sought— Resignation to
Christ— Reliance on Christ— Looking unto Jesus— Salvation Sought
—A Solemn Reflection— Christ our Rest— The Wanderer's Return
—The Sinner's Plea— Call to Christ— Come, for all Things are
Ready— The Waters op Life, 25-95


The Lord's Prayer- Desiring to Prat— Secret Prayer— Pray without
Ceasing — Prayer— The Power of Prayer— Avenge me of mine Advbr-
SARY— Awake to Righteousness— The Beatitudes— In a Hurry op
Business, 99-113



The Mystery of Godliness — The Heavenly Fire — Moses's TTish — For
Renewed Grace — In Temptation — An Act of Devotion — The Love of
Christ the Sinner's Plea— Divine Love, I., II., III., IV., V., YI.,
YII., Vni 117-135


Penitence and Love — The Propitiation for our Sins — Sorrow for Sin
— Restoration to the Favour of God — Repentance of Believers —
Re-Union to God — Christ our Advocate and Friend — Long-Suffering
of God — A Penitential Hymn — The Prodigal's Return — Renunciation
OF Worldly Vanities — After a Relapse into Sin — Watch and Pray
—Pay thy Vows— Christian Example— Filial Fear— Christian Re-
sponsibility — The Captain of our Salvation — The Fear of God —
Watch in all Things — For a Tender Conscience — For a New Heart,


Christ the Way — In Worldly Care — The Lord our Guide — The Sacri-
fice OF OUR Persons, I., II., III. — Desire for Salvation — The Author of
ALL Good — Te Deum Laudamus— Praise to the Trinity— The Christian's
Victory— The Reign of Christ— The Gift of Righteousness- Christ
OUR Intercessor — Gloria in Excelsis — The Trinity— The Kingdom of
God — The Godhead of Christ — The Name of the Lord Proclaimed —
Mystery of the Trinity — The Sovereignty of God — The Peace of
God — To God the Father — Prayer and Praise — Hymn to God the
Father— In Temptation — Goodness and Mercy — Converse with God-
Justice AND Mercy — Christ All in All — Mercy and Pardon — Praise
to the Redeemer — Free Grace — A Thanksgiving, I., n. — The Year of
Jubilee— Christ's Everlasting Love, 167-214:


The PROinsE of Sanctification — The God of Jeshurun — The Christianas
Rest — Holiness Desired — Prayer for Sanctification — Zion's Prosperi-
ty — The New Creation — Purity of Heart Desired — Christ our Sanc-
tification — The Pure in Heart — Rejoicing in Hope, I., II.— Hymn to
God the Sanctifier — Hymn to the Holy Ghost — A Prayer for Holi-
ness — Love the Fulfilling of the Law — The End of Christ's Com-
ing — Wait on the Lord — Pure Religion — Devout Aspiration — The Mind
of Christ — Christ our Physician and Purifier — The Inner Life— The
Baptism of the Spirit — Hope of Salvation — Submission to Christ —
Enoch's Faith — Prisoners of Hope — The Promised Land — Establish-
ment IN Grace — Christ our Righteousnt:ss — The Spirit of Burning —
The Communion of Saints, L, IL, IIL, IV., V., VL, VIL, VIIL, IX.,
X., XL 217-276



The CHCRcn Militant— Zealous Love— The whole ARMorR op God— The
Resignation — Trust in Providence — The Yoyage of Life — Spiritual

FLICTION— FAITHFULNESS OF Christ- In Suffering— Christ our Pattern-
Sympathy OF Christ— The Trial of Faith — God our Protector — Christ
OUR Preserver— Suffering Saints 279-303


The End of Life— The Traveller— Death Considered — Prelibation of
Heaven — Death of the Righteous — The Glory to bs Revealed — The
Dying Christian — Eternity Considered — Conflagration of all Things
— Reward of the Righteous — The Seventh Angel — Christ's Second
Coming, L, II., III. — The Judgment — The Wise Virgins — The Resurrec-
tion — The Final Victory — The Ransomed of the Lord — The Saints
Glorified — The Church in Glory— The Redeemed in Heaven — The In-
numerable Multitude — The New Jerusalem — To Die is Gain — The
City of God, 307-343


The Holy Scriptures, I., IL, III., IV., V., VL, . . . . 247-^51
The Lord's Supper, I., IL, III., IV., V., VL, VIL, VIII., . . 852-360
The Incarnation of Christ, L, IL, IIL, IV., V., A'L, VIL, VIIL, 361-369
The Resurrection and Ascension, L, II. , IIL, IV , V., VI., VIL, 370-370
The Extension of Christ's Kingdom, I., IL, IIL, IV., V., VL, 37S-3S3
For the Restoration of the Jews, 3S4


Morning Hymn, L, IL, IIL, IV. V.— Evening Hymn, x., IL, IIL, IV.—
A Midnight Hymn- Birthday Hymn, L, II. , IIL, IV.— For Whitsun-
day, I., II. — The Day of Pentecost — The New-Year, L, II. , III. — ^In-
fant Baptism, L, II. — For Children, I., II. — Adult Baptism, I., IL—
On the Death of a Widow— The Evangelist's Prayer— Daily Duties,
I., IL, III.— Grace before Meat— At Table— Grace after Meat—
The tr e Use of Music— Public Prayer, L, IL— Greatness of the
Deity— In a Storm at Sea, 3S9-431


A LiTANT Hymn — Communion with a Saint Departed — Primitive Christ-
ianity — Catholic Christianity — Confession of Faith— Friendship— The
Forgiveness of Sins — In the Beginning op a Recovery from Sick-
ness — After a Recovery from Sickness — Our Lord's Address to Pe-


TEK — Naomi asd Ruth — Parextal Sl'ffering — On tce Death of a Cuild
— Epitaph on an Infant — On a Removal — Faith in God's Projuses —
On the Death of a Friend — On the Death of his !^Iother — In Pros-
pect of his own Death — Prayer for Final Sanctification, . 437-46T

Selections from a Poetical Version of the Psalms of David, . 4S-3-694

ShOi^t Hymns, principally on Particular Tents in the Book of
Psalms, G()l-(>37

Paraphrases on Miscellaneous Texts of Scriptures . . . C3S-6i-4


The Lord's Prayer— The Christian Pilgrim— The Wateus of Life-
Hope IN Death- Christian Zeal — God our Portion— Renouncing all
for Christ — Redemption Found — The Believer's Triumph — The Change
—God's Love to Mankind— A Prater to Christ— Sufferings and
Love of Christ — Confiding in God — Gratitude for our Conversion —
On the Attributes of God — The Condescension of God — Trust in
Providence— Living by Christ— Christ the Source of Grace— Rfdemp-
tion Found — Christ Protecting and Sanctifying — The Soul seeking Re-
pose in God — Morning Dedication to Christ— The Believer's Sup-
POP.T— In Affliction or Pain — Public Worship — The Faithful Am-
bassador—God's Husbandry, G45-695



;ttrci) foctril.

Online LibraryCharles WesleySacred poetry, selected from the works of the Rev. Charles Wesley; → online text (page 1 of 26)