Echoes from the Past | Erskine

I got this from a friend and I thought to share. It is an excerpt from a sermon by Ralph Erskine. The following selection is taken from Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets as found in “The Sermons and Practical Works of Ralph Erskine” (Glasgow: W. Smith and J. Bryce Booksellers, 1778) vol. 10, pp. 283-290. The text has been modified slightly, although there may still be a mix of old English involved. The original title appears as follows:

The Believer’s Principles concerning Justification and Sanctification, their Difference and Harmony


Kind Jesus spent his life to spin

My robe of perfect righteousness;

But by his Spirit’s work within

He forms my gracious holy dress.

He as a Priest me justifies,

His blood does roaring conscience still;

But as a King he sanctifies,

And subjugates my stubborn will.

He justifying by his merit,

Imputes to me his righteousness;

But sanctifying by his Spirit,

Infuses in me saving grace.

My justifying righteousness

Can merit by condignity;

But nothing with my strongest grace

Can be deserv’d by naughty me.

This justifying favour sets,

The guilt of all my sin remote:

But sanctifying grace delets

The filth and blackness of its blot.

The former is my Judge’s act

Of condonation full and free:

The latter his commenced fact,

And gradual work advanc’d in me.

The former’s instantaneous,

The moment that I first believe:

The latter is, as Heav’n allows,

Progressive while on earth I live.

The former pardons ev’ry sin,

And counts me righteous, free, and just:

The latter quickens grace within,

And mortifies my sin and lust.

My righteousness is infinite,

Both subjectively and in kind;

My holiness most incomplete,

And daily wavers like the wind.

So lasting is my outer dress,

It never wears nor waxes old;

My inner garb of grace decays

And fades, if Heav’n do not uphold.

My righteousness and pardon is

At once most perfect and complete;

But sanctity admits degrees,

Does vary, fluctuate, and fleet.

Hence fix’d, my righteousness divine

No real change can undergo;

But all my graces wax and wane,

By various turnings ebb and flow.

I’m by the first as righteous now,

As e’er hereafter I can be:

The last will to perfection grow,

Heav’n only is the full degree.

The first is equal, wholly giv’n,

And still the same in ev’ry saint;

The last unequal and unev’n,

While some enjoy what others want.

My righteousness divine is fresh,

For ever pure and heav’nly both;

My sanctity is partly flesh,

And justly term’d a menstrual cloth.

My righteousness I magnify,

‘Tis my triumphant lofty flag;

But, pois’d with this, my sanctity

Is nothing but a filthy rag.

I glory in my righteousness,

And loud extol it with my tongue;

But all my grace, compar’d with this,

I under-rate as loss and dung.

By justifying grace I’m apt

Of divine favour free to boast;

By holiness I’m partly shap’d

Into his image I had lost.

The first to divine justice pays

A rent to still the furious storm;

The last to divine holiness

Instructs me duly to perform.

The first does quench the fiery law,

Its rigor covenant fully stay;

The last its rule embroidered draw,

To deck my heart, and gild my way.

Though all my graces precious are,

Yea, perfect also in desire;

They cannot stand before the bar

Where awful justice is umpire:

But, in the robe that Christ did spin,

They are of great and hight request;

They have acceptance wrapt within

My elder Brother’s bloody vest.

My righteousness proclaims me great

And fair, even in the sight of God;

But sanctity’s my main off-set

Before the gazing world abroad.

More justified I cannot be

By all my most religious acts;

But these increase my sanctity,

That’s still attended with defects.

My righteousness the safest ark

‘Midst every threatening flood will be;

My graces but a leaking bark

Upon a stormy raging sea.

My righteousness is that which draws

My thankful heart to this respect:

The former then is first the cause,

The latter is the sweet effect.

Christ is in justifying me,

By name, The Lord my righteousness:

But as he comes to sanctify,

The Lord my strength and help he is.

The former does annul my woe,

By God’s judicial sentence past;

The latter makes my graces grow,

Faith, love, repentance, and the rest.

The first does divine pardoning love

Most freely manifest to me;

The last makes shining graces prove

Mine interest in the pardon free.

My soul in justifying grace

Does full and free acceptance gain;

In sanctity I heavenward press

By sweet assistance I obtain.

The first declares I’m free of debt,

And nothing left for me to pay;

The last makes me a debtor yet,

But helps to pay it every day.

My righteousness with wounds and blood

Discharged both law and justice’ score;

Hence with the debt of gratitude

I’ll charge myself for evermore.



One thought on “Echoes from the Past | Erskine

  1. Pingback: Sermons #6 — Sex and Loving God: Sin and Grace, Forgiveness and Righteousness « Gary Chorpenning's Blog

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