Light Out of Darkness

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This hymn there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emanuel’s veins was written by a man named William Cowper. I like to find out the stories behind the hymns and behind this hymn is a very fascinating story. This hymn, as we know is a hymn of freedom from guilt, freedom from condemnation. As you sing this hymn it uplifts your spirit. It’s like a victory hymn stating that I have made my way through it – I’m going through. It’s interesting to read the story of William Cowper. This hymn was written not too long after he made a certain experience.

“This is one of the first hymns Cowper wrote after his attack of temporary madness. Cooper had been promised a post as clerk of the general to the House of Lords but was dismayed upon learning that he would have to undergo a public examination in the house before beginning his duties.” The North American Review January 1834.

The article goes on to describe his dilemma

“As the time drew by his agony became more and more intense. He hoped and believed madness would come to relive him. He attempted to make up his mind to commit suicide though his conscience bore great testimony against it. He could not by any argument persuade himself that he was right. But this desperation prevailed and he procured from an apocathary the means of self destruction. On the day before his public appearance was to be made, he happened to notice a letter in the newspaper which to his disordered mind seemed like a malignant libel on himself. He immediately threw down the paper and rushed into the fields determined to die in a ditch.” The North American Review January 1834.

“Evidently he had done something in his life which had scarred him. Evidently he had done something before the public people, maybe a failure which made him afraid and paranoid that everybody was out to get him and so when this appeared in the newspaper, and having an interview the next day before the public, it was too much for him. He rushed into the fields determined to die in a ditch.” The North American Review January 1834.

“But the thought struck him that he might escape from the country. With the same violence, he proceeded to make hasty preparations for his flight. But while he was engaged in packing his poor man’s show his mind changed and he threw himself into a coach ordering a man to drive to the tower wharf intending to throw himself into the river and not reflecting it would be impossible for him to accomplish his purpose in that public spot. On approaching the approaching the water he discovered a porter seated upon some goods. He then returned to the coach and was conveyed to his lodgings at the temple. On the way he attempted to drink the poison that he had procured. But as often as he raised it, a convulsive agitation of his frame prevented it from reaching his lips and thus regretting the loss of the opportunity but unable to avail himself of it, he arrived half dead with anguish at his apartment.” The North American Review January 1834.

“He then shut the doors and threw himself upon the bed with the laudanum (poison) near him trying to lash himself up to the deed. But a voice within him seemed constantly to withhold him from it and as often as he extended his hand to the poison, he fingers were contracted and held back b y spasms. At this time one of the inmates of the place came in but he concealed his agitation and as soon as he was left alone a change came over him and so detestable did this deed appear that he threw away the laudanum and dashed the vile to pieces. The rest of the day was spent in heavy insensibility and at night he slept as usual. But on waking at three in the morning he took his pen knife and lay with his weight upon it, the point towards his heart. It was broken and would not penetrate. At daybreak he arose and passing a strong garter around his neck fastened it to the frame of his bed. This gave way with his weight but on securing it the door he was more successful and remained suspended until he had lost all consciousness of existence. After a time the garter broke and he fell to the floor so that his life was saved but the conflict had been greater than his reason could endure. He felt for himself for himself a content not to be expressed or imagined wherever he went into the street it seemed that every eye flashed upon him with indignation and scorn. He felt as if he had offended God so deeply that his guilt could never be forgiven and his whole heart was filled with tumultuous pangs of despair.” The North American Review January 1834.

What a stupid thing to do. Evidently there was something in this man’s experience which wreaked havoc in his mind. There was evidently some mistake which he had made in his life that he never got over. In Psalms 55 we read of David’s own personal experience and prayer. There is a circumstance to be met.

Psalm 55:1 To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. 2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. 4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Have you ever had the same hearts cry – just wanting to escape from it all? More often than not it comes in consequence of a mistake that we have made and even if we haven’t made the mistake and we are not guilty we need to learn – just move on – let it go. There are things in our lives that we do and probably the best word to describe it is “stupid” – they are “stupid” things. It is interesting that Sr White actually says that “a stupidity is resting upon God’s people.” Stupidity – And when we do these stupid things we think – there is no way I can face everybody ever again, let alone God.

Satan is like a spider. He is a master weaver. He weaves his little webs here and there and being as ignorant as we are we walk right into his sticky little traps and from these mistakes there are consequences and then we think Oh if only I had seen or if only I had known I would not have done it. But then we see its effects upon others. We may have offended someone who we love. We realise that our thoughts and habits are strengthened as we express them and we have now just strengthened something that it is best that we had not strengthened and we are a spectacle to men, to angels, to God. How can I ever come into his presence with joy and thanks giving when I am such a stupid dope? Have you ever felt that way?

The number of times I have made mistakes in this church or that I think I have made mistakes in this church and I think that I have failed in someone’s expectations or I’m afraid I’ve stepped on someone’s toes. It hurts to know that I have done it to my brothers and sisters in the church that I love. I go through this so often that sometimes it nearly gets too much for me and I think well why don’t I just put myself somewhere where there are no toes for me to step on. If there are no toes I won’t step on them because stepping on toes seems to be my occupation apart from perhaps crashing trucks or letting fires get out of control.

When I was about 16 years of age I came to a slight realisation of how stupid I really was and I don’t say that in a sense which is offensive to God. But I realised that of my own self I could do nothing right and there was one place that I wanted to be and that was in a padded room because all I could ever do was hurt people. Perhaps some of you know what it is that I am talking about. I take comfort knowing that it is the same afflictions are accomplished in my brethren. We all have our own struggles, we all have our weaknesses and sometimes we make mistakes. But the Lord is teaching me that when I start to get worked up. When the stress starts to rise, STOP. Calm down, take some deep breaths and remember what we read here in Genesis chapter 1 for our scripture reading.

Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

What was upon the face of the deep? There was darkness. It was dark and then next thing, there is the light.

Where something was not, there now it is.

Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

Can you bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Well it says not one.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? God can, because with God all things are possible. We need to remember this – when we make a mistake – when we have scattered darkness – God will bring light out of that darkness. Why are we reformers? Is it not because we believe that even though I am so vile, yet I can be righteous like Christ. If we didn’t believe that we wouldn’t even step foot in this church.

11 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

This glory of God which shines in the face of Jesus Christ – where is it? It is in our earthen vessels. In Isaiah we are described as having a whole head that is sick as being filled with putrefying sores and yet in that earthen vessel is the glory of God. You know how unbelieving the Israelites were – they danced around the golden calf right after being given the 10 Commandments. They murmured, they complained, they winged and yet God said let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them and so it is that God can bring light out of darkness. He can bring righteousness out of unrighteousness and that is why we are reformers – is that correct? We believe it.

We believe that even thought I am so guilty I can be free from it all I can be righteous. We had a whole Sabbath school lesson on it this morning. Justification by faith – leading to sanctification by faith. We are learning not to worry about our characters not being ready because it is a life long process and it will be imperceptible to ourselves. Just keep committing yourself to the Lord and he will bring light out of your darkness. Now if we believe that God can do that with human nature then won’t he do it with any other experience that we have in our lives? Whether it is a consequence of something that I may have done or it’s just something that happened – what cause is there for us to worry? With man yes it’s impossible but with God how many things are possible?

All Things Are Possible

The disciples were on a boat and the wind came up and the waves came in and they thought that they were going to die – it was a terrible storm. Even though they were experienced sailors they were losing the battle – it was dark. Then the next thing – it was all calm just like that. But what did Christ say? Has Christ ever said it to you? Oh ye of little faith wherefore didst thou doubt? Where was Jesus in the storm? He was sleeping – while the boat was going crazy – he was asleep. How could he be asleep in such a circumstance when to all appearances it’s the end of the road?  Here is a description of Christ’s ability to sleep in the midst of a storm.

Christ never murmured, never uttered discontent, displeasure, or resentment. He was never disheartened, discouraged, ruffled, or fretted. He was patient, calm, and self-possessed under the most exciting and trying circumstances. All His works were performed with a quiet dignity and ease, whatever commotion was around Him. Applause did not elate Him. He feared not the threats of His enemies. He moved amid the world of excitement, of violence and crime, as the sun moves above the clouds. Human passions and commotions and trials were beneath Him. He sailed like the sun above them all. {3MR 427.3}

What a testimony – to be in this world and yet not perturbed by the experiences of this world – would you love for that to be your experience? You know, I believe that is becoming our experience. We are learning to sail like the SON – the SON of God. What was Christ’s comfort? What was the anchor to his soul? This is a subject that I have shared many times before – but it is something that I find I need to go over, again and again and again.

The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. MH p488

Nothing befell him except that which infinite love permitted. Here was his source of comfort – and it is for us! His source of comfort was knowing that light would come out of that darkness. That it didn’t matter how terrible the storm was, the sun’s shining on the other side – so just hang in there. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. Whatever comes to him comes from the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Where do your trials and your afflictions come from? They come from the saviour. Nothing can touch him except by the Lord’s permission. Infinite love has permitted it to happen and this is to be our comfort – nothing can touch him except for the Lord’s permission.

All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, in short, all things work together for our good. All experiences and circumstances are God’s workmen whereby good is brought to us. {MH 488.4}

Do we believe it? Very interesting meditation when we may consider some of our experiences. To consider that – I can’t see the way out. There are things happening in my life – that to think light can come out of this is just incomprehensible. But let us just read it there….

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

How many things are for our sakes? Everything!!! So what cause is there for us to stress or to fret? It says – we know – we do! We have the mind of Christ it says. But sometimes things need to be exercised and when we really do take God at his word no matter what, then we will stand as a people unperturbed by anything. We will stand in a world which is falling apart shaking to atoms and we will be unmoved because we know that Jesus doeth all things well and yes the time is coming when we will have to stand before the courts and before the courts they will seek to discourage us, seek to slander our name, to destroy any testimony that we may have.

They will dig up our past and bring it out, the things that we thought we had done in secret will be proclaimed from the roof top. Before the judge, the jury, the lawyers, the journalists and the cameras it will all come out – all our past mistakes, all of those things that we wished nobody knew about – much of it will come out. Sr White says that the things we least expect to be brought before the courts will come up before the courts and Christ said that you will suffer the same way that I suffered and we know that with Christ they hired people to tell lies about Him in His court case. So we have nothing less to expect before us. But as we go through this – as we are drilled by the lawyers –whoever – will we batter an eyelid – will we hang our heads in shame and embarrassment – will we blush before the world?

No we won’t because we will sail like the sun above it all. The times of ignorance before we knew better, God winked at – and the times when I did know better but I was weak and because I wasn’t watching and praying I entered into temptation. I learned from those experiences and they drove me closer to Jesus because now I know that I cannot trust myself. That even though the road to me may seem so right, the end thereof is death – and I have chosen God’s way because I know by experience that his way is best and I refuse to walk any other. We will have a mentality that will thank God for permitting us to make those mistakes because light came out of that darkness. I am not granting you an indulgence to sin. I am not saying – go and do your thing – where sin abounds grace much more abounds – God forbid!

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

There is no excuse there – that is definite – Sin Not. Yes we have an ideal, we have a goal, a standard, a purpose that we are called to meet and yes go for it – put everything into it. But if you make a mistake do not be discouraged. Get up – pay the price perhaps if you have to – and move on. We have an advocate with the Father.

Do you make mistakes? (Yes I do) Do not let this discourage you. The Lord may permit you to make small mistakes in order to save you from making larger mistakes. ” (1 John 1:9). {HP 124.3}

Isn’t that amazing – God will permit me to have my own way – to make a mistake – fall flat on my face – grieve his Son – to save me from making a bigger mistake. Can you understand how it is that we ought to be grateful to God when we make a mistake? Can you understand that there is no need for us to batter ourselves over it – no need for us to stay in the ditch like William Cowper did – obviously he didn’t recover until shortly before he wrote that hymn. If we believe that God would love me so much that he would take my sinful nature and bring righteousness out of my unrighteousness then can’t I believe that any of the mistakes that I have made in consequences of my unrighteousness – God will sort that out as well?

Go to Jesus, and ask Him to forgive you, and then believe that He does. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). {HP 124.3}

The Elder Brother of our race is by the eternal throne. He looks upon every soul who is turning his face toward Him as the Saviour. He knows by experience what are the weaknesses of humanity, what are our wants, and where lies the strength of our temptations; for He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He is watching over you, trembling child of God. Are you tempted? He will deliver. Are you weak? He will strengthen. Are you ignorant? He will enlighten. Are you wounded? He will heal. The Lord “telleth the number of the stars;” and yet “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Ps. 147:4, 3. “Come unto Me,” is His invitation. Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. Desire of Ages p329

We have an advocate – do not be discouraged. How I love that sentence. You know when bugs get caught in webs they panic, and fret, and get tangled all the more so that even if they wanted to get out they can’t. So it is – Satan ensnares us and we get ourselves entangled and into a mess but the way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty.

The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon the Burden Bearer.{DA 329.1}

Is there any cause to stress, to fret, to panic, to run, to hide? We can face the world – we can face reality because we understand that whatever our experiences may be – it is his infinite love that has given it as What Sr. White describes as a “visitation of mercy”. She goes on to say that we should thank God for the trial. He only chastens those whom he loves. He must love me – and I know he does – he loves everyone of us. As we come and testify to each other – when we testify of our struggles – our trials – our hardships – we are testifying of a Father’s love – do not be discouraged by whatever your circumstances may be. This is a letter that Sr White wrote to J.N. Andrews while he was in Switzerland. Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. Many are called but few are chosen – Why? Because many cannot endure the hardness of the furnace of affliction – that’s why – only those who will hang on no matter what – God will choose them out of that affliction.

[LETTER TO ELDER J. N. ANDREWS, LABORING IN EUROPE, SOON AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS DAUGHTER, MARY.]

All the words of consolation I may give you will not amount to much. You know the Source of your strength and your consolation. You are not a stranger to Jesus and His love. You are among many to whom life is a long conflict of pain and weariness and disappointment. Hope deferred has made the heart sad, but this world is the scene of our trials, our griefs, our sorrows. We are here to bear the test of God. The fire of the furnace is to kindle till our dross is consumed and we come forth as gold purified in the furnace of affliction. You may, my dear brother, ponder upon the mysterious providence of God that has taken from you the light of your eyes. {TDG 348.1}

You feel that had it not been for this great loss you would be a comparatively happy man. But it may be that the very loss of your child here will be to you, and not to you only but to many in Switzerland, for the saving of souls. Light will come out of this darkness which to you at times seems incomprehensible. {TDG 348.2}

Something that seemed to be so bad – loss of a soul in death – could bring forth souls for heaven. Light will come out of this darkness which to you at times seems incomprehensible.

Job 1:20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Can we bless the name of the Lord in our trying circumstances? J.N. Andrews lost one – Job lost all of his children. Light will come out of this darkness which to you at times will seem incomprehensible.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Let this be the language of your heart. (Are rain clouds bright? No they are dark and black.) The cloud of mercy is hovering over you and will break over your head even in the darkest hour. God’s benefits to us are as numerous as the drops of rain falling from the clouds upon the parched earth, to water and refresh it. The mercy of God is over you. . . . {TDG 348.2}

The Lord loves you, my dear brother. He loves you. “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed” (Isa. 54:10). “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28). Could your eyes be opened, you would see your heavenly Father bending over you in love and could you hear His voice, it would be in tones of compassion to you who are prostrate with suffering and affliction. Stand fast in His strength; there is rest for you, the weary.–Letter 71, Dec. 5, 1878, to J. N. Andrews. {TDG 348.3}

Light out of darkness, yes – sure – it’s incomprehensible – but if you believe it – you will sail like the sun above it all – nothing will ruffle your feathers. In closing we are going to sing another hymn by William Cowper and strangely it was the last hymn that he wrote in his life – and there a story that goes with his hymn too. Again he had another bout of depression and again he decided that he would end it – and so he got into a carriage and asked the cab driver to take him to the river so that he could put an end to things and there came a thick dense fog – so black, so thick, so dense that they got lost and they drove here and they drove there, winding up and down the streets but they could not find the river and at last the carriage stopped, and there was William Cowper back at his doorstep. The darkness saved his life. And it was shortly after that, that he wrote his last hymn, “God moves in a mysterious way.” It seems it took him an entire life time to work it out – we don’t have a life time – May we learn quickly that we may have that peace that passeth all understanding.

Amen.

Posted on November 11, 2009, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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