Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wings to Fly: The law and the Gospel

My son, sent me this poem by Ralph Erskine.   He tells me it is from a much larger book by Erskine full of poems/sonnets.  Or perhaps it is one long Sonnet, I'm not sure. If I ever find the book I hope to either own it or download to my tablet.   Read carefully, Erskine has such insight.  And think, doesn't this remind you so much of that other short snippet usually ascribed to John Bunyan but most likely by another John or perhaps even by Erskine. I'm speaking of "Run John Run The law commands, but gives us neither feet nor hands, far better news the gospel brings, it bids us fly and gives us wings."  If you find the book by Erskine please let me know - I'll be grateful for sure.  Happy Thanksgiving, I am confident you will read the following with thankful heart overflowing .

The law can crave no more, yet craves no less,
Than active, passive, perfect righteousness.
The legal path proud nature loves so well,
(Though yet 'tis but the cleanest road to hell)

Free grace by promises effects:
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 pow'r convey.
What in the law has duty's place,
The gospel changes to a grace:

Law-threats and precepts both, I see
With Gospel-promises agree;
They to the gospel are a fence,
And it to them a maintenance

The righteous law condemns each man
That dare reject the gospel-plan;
The holy gospel none will save
On whom it won't the law engrave.

Observe, pray; for if here we err,
And do not Christ alone prefer,
But think the promise partly stands
On our obeying new commands;
Th' old cov'nant-place to works we give,
Or mingle grace with do and live

The gospel is the promise fair
Of grace all ruins to repair,
And leaves no sinner room to say,
Alas! this debt I cannot pay;
This grievous yoke I cannot bear,
This high demand I cannot clear.
The glorious gospel is (in brief)
A sovereign word of sweet relief;
Not clogg'd with cumbersome commands,
To bind the soul's receiving hands.
'Tis joyful news of sovereign grace
That reigns in state through righteousness

The law makes grace's pasture sweet,
Grace makes the law my sav'ry meat;
Yea, sweeter than the honey-comb,
When grace and mercy brings it home.

The precepts of the law me show
What fruits of gratitude I owe;
But gospel grace-begets the brood,
and moves me to the gratitude.

A rigid manner was the law,
demanding brick, denying straw;
But when with gospel tongue it sings,
It bids me fly, and gives me wings."
by Ralph Erskine

The above may have been collected from various parts of the book, "Gospel Sonnets" by Ralph Erskine.  I added the breaks between verses as I saw most fitting - you may have done better.  

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