Here’s another poem to get you started this week. It’s also by Charles Wesley. As before, a short reflection is at the bottom. Have a good week!
Come, sinners, to the gospel feast,
Let every soul be Jesu’s guest;
Ye need not one be left behind,
For God hath bidden all mankind.
2 Sent by my Lord, on you I call,
The invitation is to all:
Come, all the world; come, sinner, thou!
All things in Christ are ready now.
3 Come, all ye souls by sin opprest,
Ye restless wanderers after rest,
Ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind,
In Christ a hearty welcome find.
4 Come, and partake the gospel feast;
Be saved from sin; in Jesus rest;
O taste the goodness of your God,
And eat his flesh, and drink his blood!
5 Ye vagrant souls, on you I call;
(O that my voice could reach you all!)
Ye all may now be justified,
Ye all may live, for Christ hath died.
6 My message as from God receive,
Ye all may come to Christ, and live;
O let his love your hearts constrain,
Nor suffer him to die in vain!
7 His love is mighty to compel;
His conquering love consent to feel,
Yield to his love’s resistless power,
And fight against your God no more.
8 See him set forth before your eyes,
That precious, bleeding sacrifice!
His offered benefits embrace,
And freely now be saved by grace.
9 This is the time; no more delay!
This is the acceptable day,
Come in, this moment, at his call,
And live for him who died for all.
This poem has a different feel to O For a Thousand Tongues. Whereas that hymn focused on declaring all the amazing things Jesus has done for the world and guiding us through how we can be transformed through his grace, here Charles turns preacher, imploring us to respond while still praising God. The setting for the hymn is communion when Christians take ordinary bread and wine, remember Jesus’ death and resurrection, pray for God’s Spirit to make it Jesus to us, and then eat and drink.
For Charles this was a moment when we can encounter the grace and love of God in a particular way and his desperation that we do so comes through in each verse.
He begins in verses one and two by emphasising that the call to encounter the love and grace of God is for everyone; no-one is too far from God to be found by him. This was a big deal for the Wesleys who were trying to emphasise the need to be converted while also proclaiming that all could be converted (against some High-Calvinists who did not believe in preaching the gospel publicly). For Charles, God’s grace is potentially available to all.
Then he dwells on the benefits of receiving salvation. Our souls are oppressed by sin and cares, restless and unable to be what we sense we should be; yet in Christ we find a welcome that bids us rest. We know that we sin; yet in Christ we find forgiveness. We know that we have walked away from God and will inevitably die; yet in Christ we are justified and given life.
Finally, in verses six to nine Charles shows us the responsibility that this call brings. We need to respond and receive God’s grace. The moment is now: ‘Come in, this moment, at his call, And live for him who died for all.’