23rd May 2014
Rev Perry's Smith's Research into the Convictions and Emotions of John and Charles Wesley towards the end of their lives.
I have traced the background of Hymn 874 in my Methodist Hymn Book, in my very old ‘Collection of
Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists', and in John Telford's ‘New Methodist Hymn Book
Illustrated' My 1840 copy of ‘The Works of John Wesley' in 14 volumes contains his 1735?1790 Journal,
his Last Will and Testament, his Sermons on Many Occasions, his many Articles (including The Character
and Principles of a Methodist), his Letters to many people, and his Short English, French, Latin, Greek
and Hebrew Grammars!
Charles Wesley's Hymn 874 in my precious Methodist Hymn Book, ‘Away with our Fears' originally had
verses, and this was verse 2:
No grievous alloy shall diminish the joy
I today from my Maker receive:
‘Tis my duty to praise His unspeakable grace,
And exulting in Jesus, to live.
Charles (1707?1788) wrote this in his 40s and died three months before John's birthday in 1788. John
lived longer (1703?1791) but recalling Charles' death, he wondered at the strength of body and mind
granted to him, so he wrote, ‘Even now, though I find pain daily in my eye, or temple, or arm; yet it is
never violent and seldom lasts many minutes at a time. Whether or not this is sent to give me a warning
that I am shortly to quit this tabernacle, I do not know, but be it one way or the other, I have only to say,
(Original v.14) My remnant of days I spend in His praise,
Who died the whole world to redeem:
Be they many or few, my days are His due,
And they all are devoted to Him! (= MHB 874 v.7)
John Wesley said in a Letter to Thomas Maxfield, ‘I was constrained to
cry out - and you yourself used the same words to God in my behalf,
(Original v.10) O the fathomless love that has deigned to approve, and prosper the work of my hands!
I love this hymn and how John prepared for his Home?call. In my 80s I still have the urge to preach the
Gospel, but I too am ready for my Home?Call in God's own timing, with my ‘Mission Accomplished'.
In MHB 874 the Hymn is headed Wesley's
Birthday Hymn. Here are three more verses:
What a mercy is this, what a heaven of bliss,
How unspeakably happy am I;
Gathered into the fold, with Thy people enrolled,
With Thy people to life and to die.
All honour and praise to the Father of grace,
To the Spirit and Son I return;
The business pursue He has made me to do,
And rejoice that I ever was born.
In a rapture of joy my life I employ
The God of my life to proclaim
‘Tis worth living for this, to administer bliss
And salvation in Jesus's name.
MHB 526 by John Ernest Bode (1816?74)
O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend.
MHB 781 by Frances Ridley Havergal has lines so relevant to my preaching:
Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone ...
O lead me ... O strengthen me ...
O teach me ... O fill me ...
O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as you will, and when, and where.
I often use these prayer lines of her Hymns
521 & 400 when I preach from God's Word:
I am trusting Thee for power,
Thine can never fail;
Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee ...
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.