Brother and Friend

Posted on July 26, 2011

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I have just heard that a brother-in-Christ I admired from afar, Douglas Taylor, Assistant Editor at the Banner of Truth for more than 14 years, was recently diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer. On Tuesday June 7, 2011, Douglas began a blog that can be accessed here, in which he explains his motivation for writing and the intriguing title of the blog itself.

I want to commend this new blog to you, as well as Douglas and his wife Di, and all their family to your prayers.

Here is a sample of what you will find. This is an extract from a post that concludes with a John Newton hymn. Like Douglas, I am not ashamed I wept as the words of the hymn sank in:

After all, where can we find a Friend like the lowly Jesus, the ‘friend of publicans and sinners’ (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34)? And was not he who is not ashamed to call us brethren born for the very purpose of saving us from the greatest adversity there ever was, the plight of being lost in sin and unable to save ourselves?

But rather than enlarge on these things now, I would like to give some space to a hymn by John Newton which is based on a related verse, Proverbs 18:24. I am not ashamed to say that this hymn moves me to tears when I read it. It is No. 53 of Book 1 of the Olney Hymns:

1. One there is, above all others,
Well deserves the name of friend;
His is love beyond a brother’s,
Costly, free, and knows no end:
They who once his kindness prove,
Find it everlasting love!

2. Which of all our friends to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled, in him to God:
This was boundless love indeed!
Jesus is a friend in need.

3. Men, when raised to lofty stations,
Often know their friends no more;
Slight and scorn their poor relations
Though they valued them before.
But our Saviour always owns
Those whom he redeemed with groans.

4. When he lived on earth abased,
Friend of sinners was his name;
Now, above all glory raised,
He rejoices in the same;
Still he calls them brethren, friends,
And to all their wants attends.

5. Could we bear from one another,
What he daily bears from us?
Yet this glorious Friend and Brother,
Loves us though we treat him thus:
Though for good we render ill,
He accounts us brethren still.

6. O for grace our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, at length to love;
We, alas! forget too often,
What a Friend we have above:
But when home our souls are brought,
We will love thee as we ought.