On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-Three

While time flies on, and I do not know what awaits me each day, hour, and moment, one thing is certain. My Lord will keep on holding me, molding me, and bringing me safely home in due time. What wondrous grace!

Some weeks ago, as I studied for the Humanities CLEP, I came across the following poem by John Milton. I saved it as a blog post draft until the opportune day arrived. 🙂

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arrived so near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits indu’th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven.
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-master’s eye.

Here is one explanation:

“Milton’s sonnet is a reflection about himself at the age of twenty-three. In it, he assesses himself in terms of his personal maturity, suggesting that he doesn’t appear to be as mature as others of his age, but that he may be more mature than he appears. Maturity here can be interpreted in terms of achievement and accomplishment, as well as in personal growth and understanding.

The sonnet ends by bringing in the idea of divine guidance, “the will of Heaven.” Milton writes in conclusion:

All is, if I have grace to use it so,

As ever in my great Task-Master’s eye.

All that he is and all that he might become, he hopes, will be a fulfillment of God’s will.

Milton is thought to have written the sonnet shortly after graduating from Cambridge University, and the poem is very consistent with the thoughts of a young man who has completed the early phase of his life and is about to move into a wider world.”

And another

be grateful to be kept low

“God blesses us all up to the full measure and extremity of what it is safe for him to do. If you do not get a blessing, it is because it is not safe for you to have one. If our heavenly Father were to let your unhumbled spirit win a victory in his holy war, you would pilfer the crown for yourself, and meeting with a fresh enemy you would fall a victim; so that you are kept low for your own safety.

When a man is sincerely humble, and never ventures to touch so much as a grain of the praise, there is scarcely any limit to what God will do for him. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace, and fits us to deal efficiently with our fellow men. True humility is a flower which will adorn any garden.”

— Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, April 5

Source

a hymn by John Donne

I thought it would be interesting to research the history of the following composition, but haven’t taken the time to do so. Any readers who care to find and share the history of it would be appreciated!

A Hymn To Christ At The Author’s Last Going Into Germany

by John Donne

In what torn ship so ever I embark,
That ship shall be my emblem of Thy ark;
What sea soever swallow me, that flood
Shall be to me an emblem of Thy blood;
Though Thou with clouds of anger do disguise
Thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes,
Which, though they turn away sometimes,
They never will despise.

I sacrifice this island unto Thee,
And all whom I love there, and who loved me ;
When I have put our seas ‘twixt them and me,
Put thou Thy seas betwixt my sins and Thee.
As the tree’s sap doth seek the root below
In winter, in my winter now I go,
Where none but Thee, the eternal root
Of true love, I may know.

Nor Thou nor Thy religion dost control
The amorousness of an harmonious soul;
But Thou wouldst have that love Thyself; as Thou
Art jealous, Lord, so I am jealous now;
Thou lovest not, till from loving more Thou free
My soul ; Who ever gives, takes liberty;
Oh, if Thou carest not whom I love,
Alas ! Thou lovest not me.

Seal then this bill of my divorce to all,
On whom those fainter beams of love did fall;
Marry those loves, which in youth scatter’d be
On fame, wit, hopes—false mistresses—to Thee.
Churches are best for prayer, that have least light;
To see God only, I go out of sight;
And to escape stormy days, I choose
An everlasting night.

Note: I have made bold those phrases that particularly stood out to me.

Psalm 119:81-88

81. My soul longs for your salvation;
I hope in your word.
82. My eyes long for your promise;
I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83. For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84. How long must your servant endure?
When will you judge those who persecute me?
85. The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;
they do not live according to your law.
86. All your commandments are sure;
they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
87. They have almost made an end of me on earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88. In your steadfast love give me life,
that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

81. I must be consumed with God’s promises for deliverance. God promised to not test His own beyond what they are able to endure. Currently, He has brought so many responsibilities [opportunities] into my life that I feel the need for deliverance from stress. What I really need, however, is a frame of mind to respond to stressful situations with calmness and faith in God’s strength working through me. The tasks He has put in front of me are my special assignments of service to Him. The fact that He gave them to me means that I can do them. Deliverance for me comes in the guise of thinking rightly about my circumstances.

82. The eyes, though they are small, are a wide gateway to the soul. They take in much, and what they take in is the material that our minds have to mull over. Our bodies will not be healthy if all we consume is not healthful. Similarly, it is foolish to assume that our thoughts will be pure if we fill our mind with images that promote the contrary. A sure hope is necessary when circumstances threaten despair. But, hope is not found in those circumstances. We must gaze intently upon the hope of our Lord. We must take in His splendor. We must diligently gaze upon His Word. Therein is our hope explained and therein is all we need to live well.

Set a strong guard about thy outward senses. These are Satan’s landing-place, especially the eye and ear. — William Gurnall

83. Though the psalmist was worn out by hardship, he could confidently state that he had not forgotten God’s Word. This is likely an understatement. I expect that he had actually been tending to his soul with God’s Word, not merely remembering that God’s Word existed. I assume that his remembering was diligent. Compare your diligence in studying God’s Word to your most diligent other endeavor. Are you really diligent in God’s Word?

84. My asking questions of God should not be in a demanding way. My attitude, even when perplexed and disturbed, should be one of joyful and humble submission to my Lord Who does all things well.

God will judge. On this earth, it may appear that He is more eager to judge His own than the lost. The wicked seem to have few or no troubles while the justified are overwhelmed by them. Is this unfair of God?

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. — Romans 8:25-39

Tribulation is a great aid to the Christian, as one of the things it does is demonstrate that he/she is held securely by God. Also, tribulation is a tool of sanctification in our lives.

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. — John 16:32-33

Tribulation shows that God’s promises always come to pass. It seems to me that one of the reasons Jesus promised tribulation is that His people might have peace. How does such a promise bring peace? A promise is only as sure as the person making it. No one or thing is more sure than God, Who existed from eternity past. His promises are sure. On one hand He promises tribulation. On the other, preservation. We are held by the most sure hands, and can rest peacefully therein.

Back to judgment–one day all will be made right. One day there will be no more injustice. The King of all things will do this, as no earthly judge is able to. So do not take revenge, but wait on God and learn to trust Him completely.

85. Here, the psalmist states what has been done to him. But, he does not express anger or desire for personally taking revenge. He expresses concern for God’s glory which the proud disregard by disobeying God’s law. My concern must be not for my comfort but for God’s glory.

86. The psalmist paints a distinction between God’s Word and the wicked’s ways. God’s way is Truth, and the way of sinners is falsehood. There is no bigger difference. So the psalmist turns to the only source of aid–the Lord. Do I turn to the Lord for help or do I prove myself an idolator by looking elsewhere?

87. What reason do I have to complain about life? The psalmist almost lost his life. Why do I complain about what makes my life interesting?

I must dig into God’s Word in the easy times if I am ever going to do so in the hard times.

88. True life is in God’s mercy. I have been given all I need for life and godliness in Jesus. However, I must daily nourish myself in His Word. Though I have been given eternal life by God’s initiative alone, the present day experience of life involves my participation. God’s Word is like manna that I must daily partake of for nourishment. Once-in-a-while-time-with-God is not enough to sustain me. I must diligently nourish my soul in His living Word that I may walk righteously and godly in this world.

Christ has opened Paradise

In church this morning, we sang Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.

The phrase that stuck out to me was Christ hath opened paradise. How awesome it is to ponder that Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden because of their sin, the garden was securely guarded to prevent any return, and now Christ has removed the barred gate to Paradise once and for all by His death and resurrection for those who repent and believe on Him. What a wonderful Savior He is!

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

— Charles Wesley

Jesus Lives, and So Shall I

Jesus lives, and so shall I.
Death! thy sting is gone forever:
He, who deigned for me to die,
Lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me with the just;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
And, his kingdom still remaining
I shall also be with Him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised; be it must:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and God extends
Grace to each returning sinner;
Rebels He receives as friends,
And exalts to highest honor.
God is True as He is Just;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and by His grace,
Victory o’er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways,
Ever to His glory living.
The weak He raises from the dust;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and I am sure
Naught shall e’er from Jesus sever,
Satan’s wiles, and Satan’s power,
Pain or pleasure– ye shall never!
Christian armor cannot rust;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and death is now
But my entrance into glory
Courage! then, my soul, for thou
Hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just–
Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.

– Christian F. Gellert (1715-1769)

The tune (sung in German)

Christ and the cross

Disclaimer: I do not endorse everything on all of the following websites. The following direct links are merely articles/quotes/songs that I found encouraging and thought might be to readers as well.

What Made the Cross so Heavy?

Was 3 Hours Of Suffering Enough?

The Answer to My Doubts

May Thy Cross…

How Awesome is That Day to Me

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

Ah, Lord Jesus

Herzliebster Jesu (German lyrics)

All Glory, Laud, and Honor