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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, March 04, 2012

"An Epistle to the Reverend Mr. George Whitfield" by Charles Wesley

The following is Charles Wesley's poem "An Epistle to the Reverend Mr. George Whitfield". Wesley wrote this as a reflection on the separation of fellowship he and his brother John had from Whitfield, stemming from their debates on salvation and the sovereignty of God. Separation in a sinful world is often inevhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifitable. But nothing is so beautiful as the restoration of fellowship (Psalm 133; 2 Cor. 2:5-11, 7:8-11).

Those who wish to learn more about the relationship between Whitfield and the Wesley's can check out this article:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1993/issue38/3834.html

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Come on, my Whitfield! (since the strife is past
And friends at first are friends again at last,)
Our hands, and hearts, and counsels let us join
In mutual league, to' advance the work Divine,
Our one contention now, our single aim,
To pluck poor souls as brands out of the flame;
To spread the victory of that bloody Cross,
And gasp our latest breath in the Redeemer's cause.

Too long, alas! we gave to Satan place,
When party-zeal put on an angel's face;
Too long we listen'd to the cozening fiend,
Whose trumpet sounded, "For the faith contend!"
With hasty blindfold rage, in error's night,
How did we with our fellow-soldiers fight!
We could not then our Father's children know,
But each mistook his brother for his foe.
"Foes to the truth, can you in conscience spare?
"Tear them, (the tempter cried,) in pieces, tear!"
So thick the darkness, so confused the noise,
We took the stranger's for the Shepherd's voice;
Rash nature waved the controversial sword,
On fire to fight the battles of the Lord;
Fraternal love from every breast was driven,
And bleeding charity return'd to heaven.

The Saviour saw our strife with pitying eye,
And cast a look that made the shadows fly:
Soon as the day-spring in His presence shone,
We found the two fierce armies were but one;
Common our hope, and family, and name,
Our arms, our Captain, and our crown the same;
Enlisted all beneath Immanuel's sign,
And purchased every soul with precious blood Divine.

The let us cordially again embrace,
Nor e'er infringe the league of gospel-grace;
Let us in Jesus' name to battle go,
And turn our arms against the common foe;
Fight side by side beneath our Captain's eye,
Chase the Philistines, on their shoulders fly,
And, more than conquerors, in the harness die.

For whether I am born to "blush above,"
On earth suspicious of electing love,
Or you, o'erwhelm'd with honourable shame,
To shout the universal Saviour's name,
It matters not; if, all our conflicts past,
Before the great white throne we meet at last:
Our only care, while sojourning below,
Our real faith by real love to show:
To blast the aliens' hope, and let them see
How friends of jarring sentiments agree:
Not in a party's narrow banks confined,
Not by a sameness of opinions join'd,
But cemented with the Redeemer's blood,
And bound together in the heart of God.

Can we forget from whence our union came,
When first we simply met in Jesus' name?
The name mysterious of the God Unknown,
Whose secret love allured, and drew us on
Through a long, lonely, legal wilderness,
To find the promised land of gospel peace.
True yokefellows, we then agreed to draw
The' intolerable burden of the law;
And jointly labouring on with zealous strife,
Strengthen'd each other's hands to work for life;
To turn against the world our steady face,
And, valiant for the truth, enjoy disgrace.

Then, when we served our God through fear alone,
Our views, our studies, and our hearts were one;
No smallest difference damp'd the social flame:
In Moses' school we thought, and spake the same:
And must we, now in Christ, with shame confess,
Our love was greater when our light was less?
When darkly through a glass with servile awe,
We first the spiritual commandment saw,
Could we not then, our mutual love to show,
Through fire and water for each other go?
We could:- we did:- In a strange land I stood,
And beckon'd thee to cross the' Atlantic flood:
With true affection wing'd, thy ready mind
Left country, fame, and ease, and friends behind;
And, eager all heaven's counsels to explore,
Flew through the watery world and grasp'd the shore.

Nor did I linger, at my friend's desire,
To tempt the furnace, and abide the fire:
When suddenly sent forth, from the highways
I call'd poor outcasts to the feast of grace;
Urged to pursue the work by thee begun,
Through good and ill report I still rush'd on,
Nor felt the fire of popular applause,
Nor fear'd the torturing flame in such a glorious cause.

Ah! wherefore did we ever seem to part,
Or clash in sentiment, while one in heart?
What dire device did the old Serpent find,
To put asunder those whom God had join'd?
From folly and self-love opinion rose,
To sever friends who never yet were foes;
To baffle and divert our noblest aim,
Confound our pride, and cover us with shame;
To make us blush beneath her short-lived power,
and glad the world with one triumphant hour.

But lo! the snare is broke, the captive's freed,
By faith on all the hostile powers we tread,
And crush through Jesus' strength the Serpent's head.
Jesus hath cast the cursed Accuser down,
Hath rooted up the tares by Satan sown:
Kindled anew the never-dying flame,
And re-baptized our souls into His name.
Soon as the virtue of His name we feel,
The storm of strife subsides, the sea is still,
All nature bows to His benign command,
And two are one in His almighty hand.
One in His hand, O may we still remain,
Fast bound with love's indissoluble chain;
(That adamant which time and death defies,
That golden chain which draws us to the skies!)
His love the tie that binds us to His throne,
His love the bond that perfects us in one;
His love, (let all the ground of friendship see,)
His only love constrains our hearts to' agree,
And gives the rivet of Eternity!

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