Reflection on the Past Year, December 3, 1748
Another year is fled, forever gone,
And what, where am I now, reflect my Soul
Grief Shame and Shame Grief and yet with word
Well mayst thou – what a numerous train of days,
How many Months, how many Years are lost, 5
Lost utterly – When Cesar lost a day,
Perhaps he wond’ring sigh’d, “But whats a Day?”
I’ve lost a thousand yet a Day to me
Is of as great importance as to Cesar.
But what is losing time? ’tis doing nothing,
A want of doing or receiving Good, 10
’Tis a mere negative substrated Evil,
And that how small compar’d with greater Ones.
I’ve more than lost, I have misimprov’d my time,
thick full with trifles, follies, sins,
Greatly abus’d it – O what loads of guilt 15
Have I heap’d up mountainous to the Skies,
And yet what cause for wonder Love and praise.
Yet has the mighty Pow’r
that which gave me being
Still lengthened out forbearance, mercy strong
And stronger still, Almighty pow’r and Goodness 20
Has fed and cloath’d me too! What countless mercies
Are shower’d in rich profusion round my head.
These Blessings great yet greater still remain
Beyond the reach of praise, surpasses Wonder,
Grace rich, free, infinite, I humbly hope 25
Tho’ trembling fearing is to me extended.
Tho’ I have greatly slighted gospel Mercies,
Have heard unheeded Wisdom’s ached voice
And scarce regarded Providential care,
Yet Grace divine I hope has kept me still 30
From crimes of deepest Dye and has not left
This wond’ring rebel heart to sink in guilt.
I’m penitent and harden’d but has shewn me
My sinful wretchedness, my deadly vileness,
And taught my Soul to mourn, with sighs repented. 35
Oh may my heart (yet hard) be humbled more
And each desire, implanted in my breast
By Grace (if such these are), grows stronger far.
Am I convinc’d that Earth’s whole store of pleasure
Are variety and nothing? sure I am. 40
Ev’n in the enjoyment secret sighs arise;
Disgusted, pain’d, I turn away abhorred,
Vexation, heartfelt pangs succeeding pangs,
And rend my trembling
Heart Soul with grief, with anguish.
But whence this knowledge? Does the pain convince, 45
Or is it heaven that whispers to my soul
And tells me Happiness isn’t below?
Alas, I know not yet I hope ’tis heaven
Else why these Wishes, these intense desires
For true substantial
Bliss permanent delight? 50
If Heaven inspires not, why is faith in Jesus
And wholeness of heart and love to
So ardently desir’d – But Ah, my heart
Soon sinks, tempted, betray’d again by sin.
I meanly stoop to despicable Toys 55
And learn again their empty nothingness.
This the amount of pleasure, what of trouble?
This springs not from the vain deceitful root
Of momentary pleasure, this alas
Is painful too, my drooping Spine to sink, 60
Doubting, desponding, ready to repine,
Distrustful of a gracious Father’s care.
A gracious Father may I call thee so,
My sovereign Lord I humbly hope I may.
Thy hand which has afflicted still sustain’d, 65
And ^if^ my hopes are true has caus’d each sorrow
To work for Good, has brought my feet
To seek thy favour as my only bliss.
Thy ways are righteous, blessed be thy name,
For all thy mercies, all thy boundless goodness, 70
O teach my Soul to know and love thee more.
Lord strengthen me by thy almighty grace
To hope and trust in thee with firm reliance,
Beholding Jesus with an Eye of faith
As my Redeemer, reconciling Friend. 75
Then Cares and Woes shall vanish from my sight
And peace celestial calm my anxious breath
While faith ^and^ hope prevailing raise my soul.
Earth’s Vanities allure not, I despise them.
My gracious God, O give me a strong faith 80
And Heaven-born hope and ardent Love to thee
That I may never disobey thee more.
Then tun’d to praise my joyful tongue shall sing
Thy kindness, thy forbearance, mercy, truth,
The riches of thy grace – but there I’m lost, 85
Nor Man’s nor Angel’s tongue can reach the height
Of that exalted Subject – yet a worm,
Low in the Dust, may
tremble wonder and adore.
Yes, dearest Lord, my praise tho’ faint and mean
Shall be the warmest ardour of my Soul, 90
My strongest transport, my sublimest joy
While fleeting Life remains. And when by death
My spirit freed shall drop this load of clay,
And rise with Angels, then a bolder praise
Shall fill my raptur’d Soul and tune my tongue 95
To notes divine; in
sweetest softest Harmony
And perfect Joy I’ll dwell on Jesus’ name
Text: STE 10/2. Cf. Hannah Wakeford’s poem.