Of all the gifts Thy love bestows

Of all the gifts Thy love bestows,
  Thou Giver of all good.
E’en heav’n itself no richer knows
  Than Jesus and His blood.
Faith, too, that trusts in Him through grace,
  From that same love we gain;
Else, sweetly as it suits our case,
  The gift had been in vain.
We praise Thee, and would praise Thee more,
  To Thee our all we owe:
The precious Savior, and the power
  That makes Him precious too.
Ana Lara

Storrs, Connecticut, United States

William Cowper wrote a few lines about his mother’s portrait at 60 whom he lost as a child:

“And while that face renews my filial grief,

Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief. ”

A contemporary of John Wesley and George Whitfield – leaders of the evangelical revival in England-Cowper embraced the Calvinistic theology of Whitfield. A warm Evangelical brand of Calvinism shaped by John Newton (“Old African Blasphemer”), remembers when young people gathered at 4 AM to hear Whitfield preach in the open air.

William was 27 when Jonathan Edwards died in America, lived through the American and French Revolution and Ben Franklin gave his volume a good revival. He spent almost all his adult life at Olney and Weston, the rural English country.

Cowper’s father of Great Berkhamsted was the rector to the Church of St. Peter and King George II’s chaplain. His father’s sister was a poet, Judith Madan and his mother was Ann née Donne. He and his brother John were the only two of seven children to live past infancy. He was from a well-to-do family but not evangelical so Cowper had no saving relation to Christ. After his mother’s death at 6 years old, he was sent to San Potoman’s Boarding School. From the age of 10 to 17 he attended Westminster Private School. He learned Greek and Latin well enough to translate Homer’s works and Madame Guyon’s writings.

In 1749, William became an apprentice to a solicitor with a view to practice law but he had no heart for the public life as a lawyer. For 10 years he lived a life of leisure with little involvement in his supposed career. In 1752, he sank into his first of four paralyzing depressions. This would be one of the major battles; break downs so severe as to set him to “string out of windows. ” For weeks at a time he struggled with despair which became the theme of his life. At 21 years old not yet a believer he wrote, “Day and night I was upon the rack lying down with horror and rising up in despair. ” He came through this depression with the help of the poems by George Herbert who lived 150 years earlier which contained beauty enough for hope. William would take several months away from London by way of Southampton. That was the “Hand of mercy,” the merciful hand of God in nature but he did not see Him or give Him the glory.

Between 1749 and 1756 Cowper was falling in love with Theodora his cousin. He would visit her home on the weekends. She became the “Delia” of his poems. They became engaged but her father forbade the marriage because of the “inappropriateness of their consanguinity. ” A relationship developed for 7 years as well as their engagement only to shatter on a “brick wall” at the last minute. After 1756, they never saw each other again. She would outlive him but never married. She followed his poetic career anonymously and sent a regular stipend. He wrote 19 poems to her.

In 1759, at age 28 through influence of his father, he was appointed Commissioner of Bankruptcy in London, four years later he was about to be made Clerk of Journalism in Parliament but fear struck him and he had a mental breakdown. He tried to commit suicide three times and was sent to an asylum. For six months his feelings where those of “a man when he arrives at the place of execution. ”

The traumatic death of his mother and his father’s decision to send him away to boarding school where he was bullied extensively caused young William’s breakdowns.

William was saved at age 32 in an asylum, after trying three times to commit suicide. In July 1764, he was outside the asylum’s garden reading the Scriptures and read Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ” Verse 24 further explained that we are justified by His grace through the relationship with Jesus Christ whom God put forward as a propitiation for our sin. Through His blood we are forgiven by faith. “I received the strength to believe it! My pardon sealed in His blood. ” It was here he wrote the hymn: “There is a fountain filled with blood. ”

David Miller

Washington, DC, United States

James 1:17 All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

Concerning Thou Become Me, and I Become Thee in Stanza 4 of Hymn #130 in Chinese

In His way of redemption God's desire is that His Son would become us and that we would become His sons in Him. The Bible clearly says that the Lord became flesh (John 1:14). We are flesh. The apostle Paul says, "To me, to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). When Paul first met the Lord, the Lord asked him, "Why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). At that time Saul was persecuting the Lord's disciples (v. 1), but the Lord said that Saul was persecuting Him. This is because the disciples and the Lord were one. In the Lord's eyes they were the same as the Lord Himself. The criticizing ones say that it is correct to speak of God becoming a man but that it is wrong to say that "God becomes me." They further assert, "Although Paul said, 'To me, to live is Christ, ' he would not dare say, 'I am Christ. '" I wish to ask: Is not God becoming a man the same as God becoming me or us? Am I not a man? Are we not men? Does "To me, to live is Christ" not mean that I become Christ? If the disciples whom Saul persecuted had not become the Lord, how could the Lord say to him, "Why are you persecuting Me?"

The criticizers say that a dangerous deduction can be made from the phrase "Thou become me, and I become Thee" in hymn #130 in Chinese. Certainly it is always dangerous to make unreasonable deductions from words taken out of context. When we say, "I become Thee," we are not saying that we are Christ in the sense of His Godhead and sovereign Lordship. The criticizers are interpreting these words without regard to context. If we interpret in this way, then the first stanza of hymn #366 in Chinese (Hymns, #477 in English), which says, "The Cross on Golgotha, / Will never save thy soul," could also be considered as "dangerous." According to their plain meaning, the Cross on Golgotha is the cross of the Lord, and it is wrong to say that the cross cannot save us. However, according to the context, the writer is saying that the Lord's cross must become our subjective experience; otherwise, we will not know the subjective experience of salvation. Furthermore, the first stanza of hymn #26 in Chinese (Hymns, #38 in English) says, "E'en heav'n itself no richer knows / Than Jesus and His blood." If one interprets this line without any regard to its context, this line is also wrong, because God is greater than the blood in heaven. However, we know that the writer's intention was to describe the importance of the Lord's blood. If we interpret words without regard to context simply in order to find fault, we will lose the blessing. We should use our best efforts to understand the poetic meaning of the words in order to gain benefit from them.

After the overcomer conference in Hangchow in the autumn of 1934, the attendants of the conference went to Shanghai for a short stay. One day everyone went to Chao Feng Garden in Shanghai to pray. After praying, a few of us sat down with Brother Nee for fellowship. Someone suddenly asked Brother Nee, "The chorus in hymn #362 in Chinese says, 'Always walk on the narrow way of the cross, / Where my Savior died for me. ' This is not quite correct, because the Lord died on Mount Calvary, not on the narrow way of the cross." Brother Nee looked at him but did not say anything. When I heard the way he asked the question, I thought, "This person is interpreting the words according to their literal meaning but without any regard to context. Dying on Mount Calvary is the same as dying on the narrow way of the cross. Mount Calvary is included in the narrow way of the cross. The way that he strictly interprets the meaning of the words could become a problem in the future." Little did I know that what I felt that day would become a reality!

This hymn speaks of the vastness of God's riches. We have to wait until that day before we can fully prove the value of God's love. Some people think that it is good enough for God to give us heaven. However, heaven is not the best thing that a person can have. If a man is just satisfied with heaven, he is limiting God's love. He is in reality limiting God's love to heaven. Some people say that they will be satisfied with a small corner in heaven. These people are limiting God's love to a small corner. However, our God is not stingy. His grace is abundant, both in the past and the present and in the future as well. God sends the rain and the wind in free and full measure. God does not mind giving us a little more than we need. If God were to exercise restriction, it would be a terrible thing for us.