break out your badges for
24.7.1725 – 21.12.1807
uncontrolled profligate, slave trader, scoffer of scripture, a ‘wretch’ bent upon a wild career – suffered chastisement after chastisement and knew suffering and distress before he was brought to the end of himself – converted at the age of 29.
‘…I was delivered from a fear which had long troubled me, the fear of relapsing into my former apostasy. But now I began to understand the security of the covenant of grace and to expect to be preserved, not by my own power and holiness but by the mighty power and promise of God, through faith in an unchangeable Saviour.’
At Olney from age 39 for 16 years – compiled “Olney Hymns” with William Cowper published 1779. Then spent 28 years in London (St Mary Woolnoth) – accused by Calvinists of being an Arminian and by Arminians of being a Calvinist – poor guy, I know how he felt…
My conscience felt, and owned the guilt, Through many dangers, toils and snares
And plunged me in despair; I have already come;
I saw my sins His blood had spilt, Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And helped to nail Him there. And grace will lead me home.
Alas! I knew not what I did; On the rock of ages founded,
But now my tears are vain; What can shake thy sure repose?
Where shall my trembling soul be hid? With salvation’s walls surrounded,
For I the Lord have slain. Thou may’st smile at all my foes.
Thus, while His death my sin displays …By prayer let my wrestle,
In all its blackest hue, And He will perform;
(Such is the mystery of grace) With Christ in the vessel,
It seals my pardon too. I smile at the storm…
John Newton said of William Cowper after his death and many years of suffering with severe depression
‘The Lord’s thoughts and ways are so much above ours that it becomes us rather
to lie in the dust in adoration and praise than to enquire presumptuously
into the grounds of His proceedings.’
Sources: John Dunn; Banner of Truth Trust articles