Monday, February 24, 2014

Hymn: A Charge To Keep

I was raised in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition. There are a number of things I cherish from my early formation. One is the emphasis on holy living and its antithesis that selfishness is sin. Another is that this stream of Evangelical Protestantism does not teach unconditional assurance of salvation ("once saved always saved"). Salvation is not a static judicial state but rather a dynamic relationship. One of the "real hymns" that was in our little country church's gospel hymnal was a sober reflection coming out of foundational Methodism written by Charles Wesley. Each verse is a call to the serious nature of having an eternal soul and the high stakes of salvation. The closing lines are a burning reminder to remain faithful.

Charles Wesley

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,
And on Thyself rely,
Assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall for ever die.

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