PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Streams of Mercy-Never Ceasing!”
By: Ron Woodrum
Robert Robinson was born September 27th 1735. He lost his father at an early age and was raised by a poor single mother. She was a godly woman, raising 12 children on a meager income. She prayed for her children, and especially prayed that Robert would become a preacher of the gospel. In 1750, at the age of 15 he was indentured to a barber in London. He worked hard but had more interest in books and taught himself four languages, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and French. He loved to listen to the Methodist preachers of his day but was especially drawn to the powerful preaching of George Whitefield. He came to faith in 1752 at one of Whitefield’s preaching services. He wrote his testimony in Latin, talking about born of the flesh in September 27, 1735. and born-again May 24, 1752. He studied under John Gill, John Wesley, and Whitefield of course. In 1759 he was invited to preach at a Baptist Church at Cambridge, later made famous by Robert Hall. He soon began preaching there and drew large crowds. He followed the Lord in Believer’s Baptism and became a Baptist. He soon wrote two hymns. One called-Brightness of Thy Eternal Glory.
Brightness of eternal glory,
Shall Thy Praise Unuttered lie?
Who would hush the boundless story?
Of the one who came to die
Came from off the throne eternal.
Down to Calvary’s depth of woe
Came to crush the powers infernal;
Streams of praises ceaseless flow.
Sing His blest triumphant rising
Sing Him on the Father’s Throne
Sing til heaven and earth surprising
Reigns the Nazarene Alone!
His most famous hymn was Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy Grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Calls for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love.
He was also asked to write a History of English Baptists. His history became a standard for many years. But as often happens, he began to be drawn in by other voices. Friends bombarded him with teachings of the Unitarian faith. He soon began to wander into teachings that questioned the deity of Christ, and the fundamentals of the faith. He soon quit preaching and returned to a life in the far country. One bright Sunday morning Robert was in the mood for anything but sunny. All along the street there were people hurrying to Church. But in this crowd Robert was a lonely man. The sound of the Church bells reminded him of years past when his faith in God was strong, and the Church a joyous part of his life. He walked outside, and hailed the horse drawn cab to take him to the local pub. He saw the cab was occupied by a young woman obviously dressed for Lord’s Day, he waved the driver on, but she insisted he join her. He got in. She was reading a book. To his surprise, she handed it to him and she asked his opinion of the hymn she was reading. His eyes fell on these words:
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that grace, now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
He began to cry as he read those words. She asked, “what is wrong?” He said, “mam…I am the poor wretched, miserable man that wrote those words! I would give anything to have the joy that I had when I penned them!” She reminded him of the previous verse “steams of mercy never ceasing” are still flowing even for the author that needed them now more than ever. That encounter was used of God to bring Robinson back to His Lord. God did take his heart and seal it. He returned to usefulness and preached several times each Sunday until the day he died in June 9th, 1790. Galatians tells us that when we see a brother, “overtaken in a fault, ye that are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself”. The word restore is “katartidzo”- it means “restore a broken bone” it means “restore a torn fishing net”. The idea is to take what is broken and restore it to full usefulness. God used this dear lady in the horse-drawn cab to use Robert’s own words to restore his soul. Perhaps God wants to use you today to restore a broken brother or sister.