Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interesting Lyrics

We sang this song in church Sunday to the tune of "There is a Fountain."
I thought it was really interesting. I imagine, knowing some of the background of Mr. Watts' theology might shed some skepticism on my love of a phrase or two in this song... because of what exactly Watts may mean by them. However, if I look at them as I see them biblically defined, it is a great song to me. It certainly is more engaging than some of the repetitious choruses that churches sometimes use. I really like hymns so much better.

O Help My Unbelief
by Isaac Watts

How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive minds
Fast in his slavish chains
But there's a voice of sov'reign grace,
Sounds from the sacred word:
"O, ye despairing sinners come,
And trust upon the Lord."

My soul obeys th' almighty call,
And runs to this relief
I would believe thy promise, Lord;
O help my unbelief!
To the dear fountain of thy blood,
Incarnate God, I fly;
Here let me wash my spotted soul,
From crimes of deepest dye.

Stretch out Thine arm, victorious King,
My reigning sins subdue;
Drive the old dragon from his seat,
With all his hellish crew.
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall;
Be thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.


  • A lovely hymn, Rose. (As indeed, is "There is a fountain")

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/19/2008 10:47 AM  

  • Hey, Colin :~) I like "There is a Fountain" as well.

    1. Had you ever heard this song before? Our music director said it was very obscure.

    2. I found an article that says The Calvinism of Watts was of the milder type which shrinks from the doctrine of reprobation. ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 2/19/2008 11:00 AM  

  • No...I hadn't heard it before. I'm not up on Watts - although I have a biography on him by David Fountain (A coincidence in name there!)

    You would need to define what you mean by the "Doctrine of Reprobation" as it is very wide. If you have "election" then you necessarily have "reprobation" unless all are elect - and (I think we both agree) that all are not.

    Funny that you should reproduce here a hymn that says:

    And Satan binds our captive minds - Fast in his slavish chains as there was battle done over words like these during the past week on the UoG blog.


    There are a number of questions I would love to ask you (!) but it would only lead to another fight and you can weary fighting all the time. If you're happy singing it, then the Lord bless you indeed!

    Yours ever serenely,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/19/2008 11:14 AM  

  • I knew that you would appreciate the irony of that. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 2/19/2008 11:27 AM  

  • I just checked - Mr Spurgeon it in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Hymnbook (Our Own Hymnbook #474) under the section: "Man's Fallen State"

    If I'd time, I would try and see when they ever sung it, as you get a list of his hymns sung at the end of his printed sermons.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/19/2008 11:39 AM  

  • Don't you need to believe God before you can pray to Him to help your unbelief?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/19/2008 12:54 PM  

  • Rose, Watts may have been mild in his Calvinism. I do not know.

    However, he did reject, or at least doubt the docttine of the Trinity.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/19/2008 12:55 PM  

  • Don't you need to believe God before you can pray to Him to help your unbelief?



    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/19/2008 1:23 PM  

  • Don't you need to believe God before you can pray to Him to help your unbelief?

    Hi Rose/ Matthew,
    I believe Watts has this Scripture passage in mind in his hymn.

    After the Transfiguration

    Mark 9: 14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out [4] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

    From J. C. Ryle
    Let us learn, in the third place, from these verses, how faith and unbelief can be mixed together in the same heart. The words of the child's father set this truth before us in a touching way. "Lord," he cried, "I believe; help my unbelief."

    We see in those words a vivid picture of the heart of many a true Christian. Few indeed are to be found among believers, in whom trust and doubt, hope and fear, do not exist side by side. Nothing is perfect in a child of God, so long as he is in the body. His knowledge, and love, and humility, are all more or less defective, and mingled with corruption. And as it is with his other graces, so it is with his faith. He believes, and yet has about him a remainder of unbelief.

    What shall we do with our FAITH? We must use it. Weak, trembling, doubting, feeble as it may be, we must use it. We must not wait until it is great, perfect, and mighty, but like the man before us, turn it to account, and hope that one day it will be more strong. "Lord," he said, "I believe."

    What shall we do with our UNBELIEF? We must resist it, and pray against it. We must not allow it to keep us back from Christ. We must take it to Christ, as we take all other sins and infirmities, and cry to Him for deliverance. Like the man before us, we must cry, "Lord, help my unbelief."...

    By Blogger Bill, at 2/19/2008 4:09 PM  

  • What's up with all these people quoting JC Ryle?

    By Blogger Antonio, at 2/19/2008 8:02 PM  

  • Rose said, "It certainly is more engaging than some of the repetitious choruses that churches sometimes use. I really like hymns so much better."

    Amen & Amen sister!!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 2/19/2008 8:10 PM  

  • Antonio, yeah.

    JC Ryle wrote some very edifying things, but he also wrote a lot of rubbish as well.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/20/2008 1:48 AM  

  • Rose

    "I would believe thy promise, Lord;
    O help my unbelief!"

    THe writer does not have the faith to believe God's promise, but he has enough faith to believe that God is able and willing to answer his prayer.

    It seems rather confused.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/20/2008 1:51 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/Antonio:

    What's up with all these people quoting JC Ryle?

    All what people? :o) There is only one quote on this page. And why not? Ryle was a solid, balanced, Old Time Evangelical, Victorian preacher who eschewed all that was doctrinally novel and was universally loved of Bible Evangelicals everywhere.

    More good quotes from Ryle please!


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/20/2008 1:53 AM  

  • Good morning, DF:

    You're up early!

    I think you hit problems with this text of Scripture (for it is probable that Watts had the Scripture in mind) if you are pitting great faith vs non faith. I think we are looking here at weak faith and that he was seeking to effectively strengthen the things that remain. I would view it the request as similar to that of the Apostles who asked the Lord to increase [their] faith


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/20/2008 1:57 AM  

  • Colin, it does appear that the gentleman who said those words in the New Testament believed.

    Therefore at that moment, he was not in unbelief.

    Either what he was saying was nonsensical (which is possible) or else he feared his own tendency to doubt in the future.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/20/2008 1:34 PM  

  • Matthew: I don't think he was talking nonsense. I agree that he might have wondered about the strength of his faith in the future. I think also that he felt the weakness of his faith there and then. The wonderful thing is that the Lord recognised even his weak faith and healed his Son through it.


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/20/2008 2:24 PM  

  • Oops...should read "his son" i.e. the man's son.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 2/20/2008 2:25 PM  

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