Several years ago, I purchased a volume of poems which immediately proved to be great refreshment to my soul. I am speaking of Worthy is the Lamb: Puritan Poetry in Honor of the Savior (compiled and introductions, Maureen Bradley; Don Kistler and Joel Rishel, eds., Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2004). One of the poets I was introduced to through the pages of this book was Ralph Erskine.
Ralph Erskine was born on my birthday–March 18, 1685, in Scotland. After preparing for the ministry at the University of Edinburgh, Erskine was ordained and served as a presbyterian pastor. Alasdair B. Gordon states that Erskine was influenced by some of the men who have assisted me in my theological formation, including Thomas Boston (1676-1732). Gordon then asserted, “But above all the books the one he studied most was, of course, his Bible” (see Some Sidelights to Ralph Erskine link below). Erskine died in November of 1752, having lived a life devoted to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Some of his works have been included in Worthy is the Lamb. Rather than reproduce one, I have decided to give you snippets of several. I trust you will be encouraged as you read.
From Proofs of God’s Power and Wisdom in the Creation and Preservation of the World:
The Lord Jehovah built the skies,
And reared this stately frame;
The wide creation testifies
The Greatness of His name.
From The Glory of God in Christ:
All nature spreads, with open blaze,
Her Maker’s name abroad:
And every work of His displays
The power and skill of God.
But in the grace that rescued man,
His brightest glory shines;
Here on the cross ’tis fairest drawn,
In precious bloody lines.
From We Will Make Thee Borders of Gold, with Studs of Silver:
For with united power divine
We Father, Son, and Spirit,
Do stand engaged thee to refine,
And make thy form complete.
Keep thou no finite powers view,
To grace and deck thee thus;
Creation-work, both old and new,
Belongs to none but Us.
From The Difference between the Law and the Gospel:
An angry God the law revealed;
The gospel shows Him reconciled.
By that I know He was displeased;
By this I see His wrath appeased.
From The Victor of My Heart:
Jesus the God, with naked arms,
Hangs on a cross and dies.
Then mounts the throne, with mighty charms,
To embrace me from the skies.
From The Mystery of the Saint’s Old and New Man:
My heart’s a mirror dim and bright,
A compound strange of day and night;
Of dung and diamonds, dross and gold,
Of summer heat and winter cold.
Down like a stone I sink and dive,
Yet daily upward soar and thrive.
To heaven I fly, to earth I tend;
Still better grow, yet never mend.