Gospel Sonnet

(The following Gospel Sonnet by Ralph Erskine illustrates, in the first part, his grief over how some preached sermons of works and obedience to the law while only briefly mentioning Christ at the conclusion. The second part demonstrates the exact opposite approach whereby Erskine sought to preach Christ and set forth the great substantial truths of the Gospel [i.e., A Gospel-driven approach which was truly evangelical, strongly opposing legalistic doctrine and lifeless morality].)

Christ is not preach’d in truth, but in disguise,
If his bright glory half obscured lies,
While Christ the author of the law they press,
More than the end of it for righteousness;
Christ as a seeker of our service trace,
More than a giver of enabling grace;
The King commanding holiness they shew,
More than the prince exalted to bestow;
Yea, more on Christ the sin-revenger dwell,
Than Christ, Redeemer both from sin and hell.

The gospel preacher then, with holy skill,
Must offer Christ to whosoever will,
To sinners of all sorts that can be nam’d,
The blind, the lame, the poor, the halt, the maim’d;
Not daring to restrict the extensive call,
But opening wide the net to catch them all.
No soul must be excluded that will come,
No right of access be confin’d to some.
Though none will come till conscious of their want,
Yet right to come, they have by sov’reign grant,
Such right to Christ, his promise and his grace,
That all are damn’d who hear and don’t embrace.
So freely is the unbounded call dispens’d,
We therein find even sinners unconvinc’d.

Ralph Erskine, Gospel Sonnets


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