Posted by: rcottrill | April 22, 2016

Jesus, My All

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Words: John Cennick (b. Dec. 12, 1718; d. July 4, 1755)
Music: Maryton, by Henry Percy Smith (b. Dec. ___, 1825; d. Jan. 28, 1898)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Cennick)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: John Cennick came to faith in Christ in his teen years. For a time, he had lived a pretty wild life in London, with the theatre and dance hall crowd. At last, becoming depressed over his sinful ways, he decided to reform. He went to the opposite extreme, living a kind of ascetic life, eating leaves and grass, but he was so miserable that he prayed for death. Then, one day, he came upon the words, “I am thy salvation” (cf. Ps. 35:3, KJV), and the statement struck him powerfully. He turned to the Saviour, and found life and new joy in Him. (Incidentally, “salvation” in that verse translates the Hebrew Yeshuah (in Greek, it’s Jesus).

Cennick, later became a friend of John and Charles Wesley, and of evangelist George Whitefield. He served the Lord as a preacher of the gospel, and as the author of many hymns, including Children of the Heavenly King. The present hymn, Jesus My All was written in 1743.

The original hymn had nine four-line stanzas. The Cyber Hymnal combines some of these into three eight-line stanzas. I have returned to the original below, and used the tune Maryton, to which we often sing O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee. (Maryton was, apparently, an old farm or manor name.)

Some people seem to have it, others don’t. A sense of direction. When I was a boy, my father would sometimes take us for a Sunday afternoon drive, purposely going down roads he’d never been on before. He’d try to get lost, just for the fun of it. But he never did. Awhile later he’d say, “Oh yes, I see where this road comes out.” For me, it’s not like that. I have little sense of direction.

As it turns out, there’s a physical reason for this difference. There’s an area in the brain (the entorhinal region) that features a kind of built-in compass. In some people, like my father, the signals it sends out are sharp and clear. For others like me, the signals are fuzzy and indistinct. In those affected by Alzheimer’s this faculty weakens, which is one reason they are prone to wander off and get lost.

In the spiritual realm, wandering and lostness are chronic and universal. Isaiah puts it plainly: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). We all do it. The psalmist admitted, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep” (Ps. 119:176). We’re each like spiritual “Wrong-Way Corrigans.” Doug Corrigan got that nickname in 1938, after he started off from Brooklyn, New York, to fly his plane to Long Beach, California, and ended up in Ireland! He blamed the heavy cloud cover for his navigational error.

The Bible tells us, “When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). That is precisely the problem. Since we lack a spiritual compass of our own, we need someone to accompany us who knows the way ahead, and can guide us unerringly. We need a shepherd.

Christ is willing to be our Shepherd (Jn. 10:11). When we put our faith in Him, He will lead us unfailingly where we need to go. How wonderful to be able to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd!” (Ps. 23:1). But there’s something more. Not only is Jesus our Guide along the way, He Himself is the Way. He said to His followers, “I am the way….No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). There is no other way to our heavenly home.

After His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ returned to heaven again (Acts 1:9). But that did not end the shepherding of His people. He promised to be with believers, by His Spirit, “to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20), and He is still the only Way to heaven (Acts 16:30-31). Not surprisingly, during the days of the early church, Christians were known as people of the Way (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 24:22, etc.).

The present hymn is a personal testimony of John Cennick’s new sense of direction in Christ. Notice the third line in the eighth stanza: “Nothing but sin have I to give.” What an admission! How can we earn God’s acceptance, when all we have to give in payment is tainted by a bunch of dirty sins? Oh, but what about all those good deeds? No, all are corrupted by sin. “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).

In such a state, we can only cast ourselves upon the mercy of a loving God. And we’ll find, as Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (Jn. 6:37).

1) Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone,
He whom I fix my hopes upon;
His track I see, and I’ll pursue
The narrow way, till Him I view.

6) This is the way I long have sought,
And mourned because I found it not;
My grief a burden long has been,
Because I was not saved from sin.

7) The more I strove against its power,
I felt its weight and guilt the more;
Till late I heard my Saviour say,
“Come hither, soul, I am the Way.”

8) Lo! Glad I come; and Thou, blest Lamb,
Shalt take me to Thee, as I am;
Nothing but sin have I to give;
Nothing but love shall I receive.

9) Then will I tell to sinners round,
What a dear Saviour I have found;
I’ll point to Thy redeeming blood,
And say, “Behold the Way to God.”

Questions:
1) What are some of the false “ways” to heaven that some are counting on?

2) Do you personally have the assurance that Christ is “the Way” for you?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (John Cennick)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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