For this week’s poem from C-Dub (as literally no-one calls Charles Wesley), I’ve picked a prayer to the Holy Spirit to come and work in us which seems a great place to start the week. As ever, there’s a short reflection below but the poem’s awesome in its own right.

Spirit of faith, come down,
Reveal the things of God,
And make to us the Godhead known,
And witness with the blood:
‘Tis thine the blood to apply,
And give us eyes to see,
Who did for every sinner die,
Hath surely died for me.

No man can truly say
That Jesus is the Lord,
Unless thou take the veil away,
And breathe the living word;
Then, only then, we feel
Our interest in his blood,
And cry, with joy unspeakable,
“Thou art my Lord, my God!”

O that the world might know
The all-atoning Lamb!
Spirit of faith, descend, and show
The virtue of his name;
The grace which all may find,
The saving power impart;
And testify to all mankind,
And speak in every heart.

Inspire the living faith,
Which whosoe’er receives,
The witness in himself he hath,
And consciously believes;
The faith that conquers all,
And doth the mountain move,
And saves whoe’er on Jesus call,
And perfects them in love.

As with almost everything C-Dub (a term that, even in the time it has taken you to read this, are growing to appreciate) wrote, this poem is almost impossibly theologically and biblically rich. This man packed more into four verses than most (even most good) preachers can pack into four sermons. Here are the highlights for those wanting to get a quick hit to set them on their way:

  • The Holy Spirit can be prayed to – we can have a personal relationship with him. In the words of the Nicene Creed (pretty much the best test of Christian orthodoxy), he is ‘worshipped together with the Father and the Son’.
  • He reveals the things of God to us. He takes the Word made flesh, and the Word recorded in Scripture, and makes them live for us  (sorry Karl, time to take an early Barth, C-Dub was there two centuries earlier).
  • The flip-side is that we need the Spirit to reveal Christ to us; the Wesleys were under no illusions about humanity’s condition without the awakening work of the Holy Spirit – we need him.
  • Yet at the same time Christ died for and loves everyone; to take the words of St John, he is the light which, coming into the world, enlightens everyone. The love of Christ and the grace of God are therefore potentially for everyone and so Charles prays for the Spirit to bring everyone to him. Do you feel away from the grace of God this morning? Then ask the Spirit to make it real for you again!
  • Finally, the Spirit not only reveals what Jesus has done for us (in prevenient grace) and applies it to us (in justifying grace), he works it in us (in sanctifying grace). Charles shared John’s optimism about the potential for the grace of God to truly transform us and perfect us in love. He can therefore pray for it with absolute sincerity.

This is a lesser known hymn but one that should burn in our hearts the truth and the love and the soul-cleansing, heart-restoring, love-filling, God-glorifying grace of God.

Happy Monday!