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November 23, 2021 12:00 am
Tragic for any church, any believer to look down on other believers who struggle with mental illness as if they are less lobbed by God or maybe less faithful or maybe less diligent in their faith. Frankly, I believe that as you read and as you learn as you look at the footprints of others left their footprints on the sands of time, you discover that some rather heroic believer's struggle with mental how debilitating it's often accompanied by embarrassment and fear of talking about even with people close to today is Stephen baby continues through his series entitled legacies of light. He's going to introduce you to an 18th-century English hymn writer named William Cowper CalPERS life was riddled with bouts of severe depression. He even spent time in asylums, but God used that time to reveal to Cowper, the truth of the gospel. His life of struggle demonstrates several valuable truths for us to one of England's most famous poets.
His name William Cooper was born in England in 1731, died just before his 70th birthday. His father was pastor more than likely unconverted as many pastors during the time of the great awakening unconverted's mother was a sweet and devoted mother suffering the death of five of her children. William would be one of two that would live but at the age of six years old. She died her death marks William he never forgot that sorrow and unfortunately his father gave him no sympathy effect to household servant girls used to manipulate him, promising him that if he were a perfect boy, she would come back you can imagine what this did this little boy who tried his best to be perfect, she never returned. He never got over losing her. He was sent off to a boarding school, which is everything you would imagine it was a terrible experience for this sensitive artistic boy. He was bullied mercilessly beaten, often by other students, mostly left to himself he endured seven years of it finally graduated that particular system and then entered a system where he would spend the next dozen or so years preparing for a life of politics and law because that's what his father wanted him to do at the age of 23.
Having failed at an interview to enter law he experienced his first paralyzing depression.
It would be the first of four battles in his life he would experience hallucinations. He would hear voices have nightmares. These breakdowns would be so severe he would do nothing more than stare out the window for months at a time in his day, there was little treatment. If you are living at our generation, he probably would have been diagnosed as schizophrenic or bipolar, and would have had medical treatment or help for his depression that was embryonic in its understanding and his generation, said it was little help. He was introduced to the poetry of a believer. Good written columns on 50 years earlier a man I've never heard of and that seemed to bring him out of this state, and he eventually was released. He had 10 years of relative health wandering couldn't keep a job, struggling 11 years after that internment, he suffered another complete breakdown in this time God providentially had him placed in the same all bins Institute or asylum for the insane. And I say providentially because it's director Dr. Nathaniel cotton was a 58-year-old passionate follower of Jesus Christ who determined that not only try to help his patients with her medical conditions, but deliver them.
The Gospel He Would Often Pl., Bibles throughout the hospital open certain passages and pray that God would bring just the right patient at just the right time to read that passage of Scripture. He engaged William Cooper in the long conversations about the Lord and the gospel was virtually unknown to Cowper, even though being raised in the pastor's home and he was interested in the gospel.
One morning by the grace of God.
William Cooper sat on a window bench waiting for breakfast to be served, and next to him on the window ledge fluttering in the breeze was an open Bible.
He reached out and he picked it up and he began reading immediately at Romans chapter 3 and verse 24 and 25 being justified as a gift by his grace made right, not by our perfection, but as a gift of God's grace.
He read on through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood. A satisfaction that he endured the wrath of God paid the price Cooper would later write.
I saw immediately the sufficiency of Christ's atonement.
My pardon sealed in his blood. I believe the gospel. I think I died with gratitude and joy. My eyes filled with tears and I could only look up to heaven in overwhelmed love and wonder. Several months later. William Cooper was released from the madhouse they called it St. Albans but his battles were not over, and one of the reasons that I have read his biography and I wanted to deliver it to you as it is important to understand the fact that when you come to Jesus Christ you're still fallen and flawed and frail and needy. I'm afraid we we provide a bill of sale to an unbelieving culture that if you come to Jesus.
Everything is for.
He's better than any pill any treatment or therapy come to him in life immediately gets better, and then as a church or as believers were left to struggle personally with why is that happening to me. Why hasn't this all disappeared. Why don't I only see the sun shining why do I struggle as Spurgeon admitted one day before his own congregation that he needed to stop gazing into the black hole of his own soul.
I don't have the time to really go in the details of what would happen next in Cooper's life as a believer. I will tell you at least a little bit that he fell in love with a cousin back in the days when my guess you could marry her cousins and they were engaged to be married and then her father stepped in and refused the marriage broke them apart and they never saw each other again. Though still in love with one another. She never married, followed privately, his poetic career as he became a household name in England. At one point in his life destitute. She said through a friend anonymous financial support on which he lived, and he never knew it was her only knows now, but he didn't know that following the breakup. He had another breakdown and sat in front of a window for 16 months without ever smiling. He did write to a friend that in his mind, he always seemed to have three threads of despair to one thread of hope. He had that one string or threat of hope, but he was always tangled up in the three thread they would never leave. He became convinced all over again that God did not love him that he would write that he was he would be the only person in the human race that it believed the gospel trusted in Christ, only to have God reject him after he died. He was convinced of that was a battle that he would wage his entire life, but in the midst of it all. William Cooper would write poems about faith and grace and redemption that the church is still singing nearly 300 years later will immediately Backed up start over again and try to summarize his life and amount of structure around five principles that we can observe and believe and follow. The first is this personal frailties may be unrelenting, but they do not signify the displeasure of God, long you'll need another for the quiz will be saved again personal frailties may be unrelenting, but they do not signify the displeasure. I might add in the rejection of God.
Frankly, it's tragic for any church, any author any believer to look down on other believers who struggle with mental illness as if they are less loved by God, or maybe less faithful or maybe less diligent in their faith. Frankly, I believe that as you read and as you learn as you look at the footprints of others left their footprints on the sands of time, you discover that some rather heroic believers struggle with mental illnesses about the brain is as fallen as your arthritic shoulders and knee and in what you do about it. You go and you get therapy, and you get medicine if you could help me talk to everybody. I drink some painting back together in groups of people that the surgery work that Aiken pain or whatever if we were all honest today. We would all admit to periods of discouragement and even despair certainly defeat the person who thinks that those maturing in faith will never struggle to go visit Joe sitting on the ash heap who said in his despair were 29 physical ailments. Having experienced the death of his children.
The loss of his finances and he would say that those men who attempted to be as counselors. I wish I had been stillborn. I wish my mother had miscarried me.
God has abandoned. We probably try to slip above verse and added to our prayer. He obviously doesn't have any faith, study the lives of Moses and Elijah and Jeremiah Jonah effective.
Never thought about the fact that the two men who come back in their standing with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus reveals the glory, pulls back the curtain and the rope in splendor and Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah. Peter wakes up and sees what's going on tries to build a shrine member story that narrative is ever occur to you that those two men that are standing there talking to Jesus at this in common.
Both of them and ask God to kill them. They said we want to die. Well, Cooper was there often that he went further in his own struggle and despair.
He attempted to take his life several times on one time vocation. He tried to drink poison but couldn't get his fingers open the bottle, no matter how hard he tried on another occasion you try to hang himself.
Just after passing into unconsciousness. The rope broke. He revived me talk about despair and depression. Instability guided not forsaken back over the years God would speak through him today without even knowing it will load up line from the poem singing him that he wrote while staring we give you a second principle personal friends may not eliminate your battles, but they can share them. I don't mind meeting in a cluster you know of people who had that surgery or talk but this Aiken pain we gather together that that's fine fact I think that's wonderful sharing the battle without medical knowledge or treatment. God would bring him to points of sanity and reason largely through the influence and encouragement of a friend fact on one occasion when he was released from the was his second turnip at St. Albans. He rented space in the home of an older woman who became to him for the rest of his life. Sort of a mother figure to him giving him what he belonged for never had. Having lost his mother and by the providence of God. She happened to live next door to the village pastor who was also a poet, a man who at one point in his life had been a slave trader and never quite got over the shame of it we sing his solo time amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
Cigarettes like me, they became fast friends and reading several biographies effective of Cooper II learn more about John Newton that I expected to learn. I did find out that that according to John Newton around Ronnie believe that the solution to any problem was work and so he immediately put Cooper work, he made him visit all the people in the parish and help Ben with his hands and skills in whatever was involved in the lives of people, and no doubt this had a tremendous encouraging impact as he served others that centuries later, a famous unbelieving psychiatrist by the name of manager you probably are what teach basically the same thing. He once said that if he felt depression creeping in, you should immediately locked up your house drive across the railroad tracks to a poor area of town, find someone in need and give your resources and energy in helping them. In other words, take your eyes off the blackhole of your soul with this was Newton's practical philosophy. He also encouraged Cooper to keep that his poems and Cooper did act he would write some 68 poems and then add them to newtons 200 poems and then they published that collection in a hymnal.
They call it the only from the village of olio L anyway. Only him conscious and 7079 perfect now. Historian said that was the most influential hymnal. That sort of That great awakening singing the most influential hymnal for nearly a century and he quickly had another principle number three painful struggles might not eliminate ministry opportunities they may enlarge his suffering provides kind of depth and a kind of insight that would find unusually deep and insightful statements in his him.
He wrote a poem entitled the tasks and all it did was describe ordinary life, but he integrated into that poem the gospel and that poem would be purchased by England made him famous made him rich as he introduced people to the gospel following the publication of that poem. He had another dark episode he lost sight of God's ability to forgive him and once again was tormented the gutted castaway effect he would write this God who made the regrets that he did it decided to drown himself when he arrived at the bridge from which he was going to job a man was sitting in place. He wanted to jump from and that distracted him and took the coach back home and then realizing God had spared his life again sat down and wrote a poem that to this day is probably one of the best descriptions of the providence and sovereignty of God.
We probably heard some of it. Some of it goes like this. God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm deep in unfathomable minds of never ending the skill he treasures up his bright designs and works his sovereign will judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace behind the frowning providence. He hides smiling face.
We give you another principle worth practicing for personal interaction with nature can't replace God's word, but it can enlighten and encourage during one period of recovery. Some children in the only village brought him here. The little rabbits who needed tending and he took care of them and they they thrive and then multiplied and soon he had a lot of rabbits. He became for the repository in this little village for unwanted animals or animal to needed care and he took them in and then he eat, he planted a garden help feed them when language growing melons and cabbages and cauliflower, broccoli, and all those things that are really great for animals to eat in my opinion, but eventually had his large collection of guinea pigs, rabbits, a squirrel, pigeons to canaries to goldfinches to dogs.
Several cats hands docs and some peace wasn't just feeding them, or tending to them. He was observing he began to draw analogies between then and truth from God's word characteristics of God's care and creative design. He began writing about them in his journal keeping sort of event with great passion in his little green house.
He made where he would grow.
All of these vegetables along with myrtles and pineapples said flowers is little doubt that although William Cooper suffered without friends in service to others in a growing fascination with the creation of God would have suffered so much more. He was living in a time when there was no medicinal help. On one occasion even wrote a friend and said this, he said, caring for animals and plants and working as a gardener helps me fight off melancholy and hypochondria interested. He began to refer to himself as God's under gardener in paradise. The principle is simple and yet it's it's profound. Take your eyes off yourself. Go out and serve someone else take care of an animal tie what you observed in nature to Scripture the Lord create a handy word thoughts character is grace is designed maybe write out the analogies like he did drawing them out.
Thinking them through as they related to Scripture. Very practical terms. Maybe today, the best thing you could ever do is go take a walk. He would walk two hours a day, put up a birdfeeder doing watch them, feed them plants and flowers get a dog. Laura for two dogs, slip their body are plan something maybe using IVR you can come the Mallard plant flowers anytime you like. Maybe one more principle powerful faith does not guarantee freedom from suffering, but it does provide a guide to through we visited is an older man, Cooper once remarked to a friend that God had marked him out for misery.
Friends would know God has marked you out for mercy and object of mercy. To this day we sing of God's gospel of grace and mercy because of what Cooper struggled with and through what what he doubted in his despair but he still clung to that one strand even though tangled up with the others.
His greatest him. We sing in earlier today.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from manuals vein sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stay used the resourcing of entities because it's filled with despair. It speaks the truth and turns the corner and shows the satisfaction of Christ on our behalf for the we can believe by faith what God gave us what converted William Cooper that we are justified as a gift by his grace we will never be perfect.
We will never measure up to His grace to sinners because of the satisfaction of Christ or Cooper would summarize it in that him and he would write a stanza like this with the dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I know file as he washed all my sins away.
There you have that transparent blend of despair and deliverance the wrath of God. The favor the age of 69 we Cooper died in his sleep.
One of his friends who saw just after he died, remarked that William had an expression on his face that could only be described with the word surprise. I love surprise. Could it mean in that brief transition between earth and heaven.
Perhaps surprise that he was being escorted into place. He felt he would be rejected from that that God was actually satisfied with Christ, and Cooper was in Christ surprise may be that he is singing what he prophesied in his him that he doubted deeply. He would ever do in that one stanza stanza we been singing there for nearly 300 years. Here's what he dared to write as he struggled when this poor lisping stammering tongue lies silent in the grave that in a nobler sweeter song, I'll sing thy I'll sing thy power to say, I'll sing thy power to say.
Then in a nobler sweeter song, I'll sing and by the way, Cooper still singing and we because our satisfaction is in Christ to satisfy the wrath of God will sing with him the same prophetic truth now fulfilled in all of our lives, no matter our frailties are disabilities are failures are downs we cling to Christ, and we shall one day soon his essay. Thanks for joining us today on wisdom Stephen Davies lesson on the life of William Cowper is part of a series of Christian biographies called legacies of light, perhaps as you are listening, you realize that one of your friends or loved ones could benefit from hearing the encouraging story of William Cowper and how God used his struggles, I encourage you to share this lesson.
It's on our website so you can send them the link. If you go to wisdom online.org.
Thanks again for joining us.
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