Title: Come Thou Fount of ev'ry blessing
Robert Robinson had been saved out of a tempestuous life of sin through George Whitefield's ministry in England. Shortly after that, at the age of twenty-three, Robinson wrote the hymn Come, Thou Fount.
Thou Fount of ev'ry blessing,
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Sadly, Robinson wandered far from those streams and, like the Prodigal Son, journeyed into the distant country of carnality. Until one day -- he was traveling by stagecoach and sitting beside a young woman engrossed in her book. She ran across a verse she thought was beautiful and asked him what he thought of it.
to wander -- Lord, I feel it --
Prone to leave the God I love.
Bursting into tears, Robinson said, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then."
-- Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, p. 52.
See: Psa 119:176; Matt 18:12;
Title: Edgar Allen Poe
The life of Edgar Allen
Poe is one of the most tragic of all American writers. Within a brief span
of forty years he literally went from riches to rags. Raised by foster
parents who loved him deeply, he was provided with an education that matched
his genius in his field of interest. He attended private schools in England.
He was schooled in Richmond at the University of Virginia. He even spent
a period of time as a cadet at West Point.
Poe, in his heyday, was unparalleled as a literary critic, editor, poet, and author of short stories. Most of us have probably had our spines tingled by The Pit and the Pendulum or The Tell-Tale Heart or The Raven. His works have indeed left their mark.
But the mark left by his life is another story. Poe lost his young bride through a bitter case of tuberculosis. By that time, alcohol and drug abuse, along with involvement in the occult and Satanism, had proved to be his undoing. Depression and insanity plagued his short life, eventually leaving him unconscious in the gutter of a windswept street in Baltimore. Four days later he died, having never regained consciousness.
Poe began his life with money and brilliance, which quickly brought him prestige and fame. But it was only a matter of time before he became a ragged, penniless bum.
This tragedy, the slow slip from riches to rags, happens not only to individuals but to churches as well. The church at Corinth was just such a case. Its beginning was so rich that it seemed invincible. Like Poe, it went from riches to the beggarly rags of spiritual poverty before it finally ended up in the gutter.
See: 1 Tim 1:19; Heb 10:38; 2 Pet 2:20
Title: Rust on the Surface
During a tour of a large
manufacturing plant, a visitor noticed a man using a fiery torch of high
intensity to work on huge slabs of steel. Operating from a blueprint on
a nearby table, a pointer traced the pattern and then by a clever system
of levers enlarged the design as it was burned into the metal.
There were times, however, when the flame would not make any impression. When this happened, a chemical substance was applied to the resisting patch, and immediately the cutting could be resumed. The worker explained that although the torch was able to go through clean steel 8 inches thick, if it encountered the slightest film of rust on the surface, the flame would not penetrate it. The Bible-believing visitor remarked, "It struck me forcefully that this is a picture of the Christian. The Holy Spirit is seeking to produce in us God's perfect design. If the life is unblemished, He is able to continue His efforts; but if we become carnal or backslidden, His work of shaping us is hindered until the area in question has been thoroughly cleansed."
See: Rom 8:29; Rom 12:2; Heb 12:1; Col 3:10
Title: Suffering and Backsliding
What a painful reminder of the consequences of sin: "You cannot backslide without suffering."
-- D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, Romans, Vol. 2, p. 29.
See: Luke 9:62; Heb 5:11-6:1
Title: Cast Iron Faith
In the later years of
his life Robert Louis Stevenson was a man of deep and profound faith. It
was not always like that, however. Like many young people he rebelled against
his upbringing. He was raised in Scotland in a very strict Calvinist home.
As a college student he quickly shed his rigid upbringing, which he called
"the deadliest gag and wet blanket that can be laid on a man," and adopted
a thoroughly Bohemian lifestyle. He called himself a "youthful atheist."
As he became older, however, he began to have "doubts about his doubts." He came to see that for all its claim to wisdom, the world had no satisfying answers to the deepest questions of life. Later Robert Louis Stevenson would write, "There is a God who is manifest for those who care to look for him." Still later he would describe his own religious outlook as a "cast iron faith."
See: Luke 15:24; 1 Pet 2:25