Recently, in a sermon I quoted a brief poetic verse to illustrate Grace, a verse that has been a favorite of mine for many years. It was the last two lines of the poem found below. They express my own amazement about the Grace, that changed my life into an amazing adventure. A church member asked me about the origin and I gladly provided it. It reminded me again that there is a world of treasure in the generations behind us. Years ago, people felt the same thrill you and I can feel, at the very thought of God’s Grace. Ralph Erskine (1685-1752) wrote some of the best thought of all time in his work, Gospel Sonnets. Will you visit the early 1700’s with me? I have edited some of his lines into (mostly) modern English. It is still a bit tough to read, but it is worth it. Mr. Erskine was writing about Law and Grace.
“The law may rouse me from my sloth, To faith and to repentance both : And though the law commands each, Yet neither of them can it teach.
To what the law by fear may move, To that the gospel leads by love. To run to work, the law commands ; The gospel gives me feet and hands : The one requires that I obey ; The other does the power convey. What in the law has duty’s place, The gospel changes to a grace : Hence legal duties therein named, Are herein gospel-graces framed.
Arise and walk, the Law commands, but gives me neither feet, nor hands.
A better word, the Gospel brings, It bids me fly, but gives me Wings.”
The faith we are offered is not a recent invention. I find it encouraging and enlightening to read people of all times celebrating the same good news that I celebrate. As I read international news, I see that people from all over the world are committing their lives to this same Christ. The scripture says he is “full of Grace and Truth.” (John 1:14) One reason grace is amazing is that Christ who knows all the truth about us, can still offer all his grace and love to us. Truth and grace meet in him without conflict.