William Cowper (Romans 3:25)

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains … .

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die … 

Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared, unworthy though I be,
For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me … 

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

The man who wrote these words suffered almost all his life from depression. In fact, it was while he was in an institution receiving help that he found Christ and the “cleansing fountain.” William Cowper (pronounced “Cooper”) was walking in the garden at Dr. Nathaniel Cotton’s Asylum at St. Albans when he found a Bible lying on a bench. Reading in John 11 about Christ’s raising of Lazarus, he was struck with the compassion and mercy of Christ. He went to his room and the first words that greeted him when he opened his Bible were from Romans 3, “Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed through the forbearance of God” (v 25). He described his grasp of that great truth: “I saw the sufficiency of the atonement He had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, and all the fullness and the completeness of His justification. In a moment I believed and received the gospel. My eyes filled with tears, and my voice choked with transport; and I could only look up to heaven in silent fear, overwhelmed with love and wonder.”

Born on November 15, 1731, in Berkhampsted, Herefordshire, England, Cowper later moved to Olney where he became a close friend and fellow-worker of John Newton. Cowper’s physical and mental problems made him a deeply sympathetic person. Newton wrote of him, “He loved the poor. He often visited them in their cottages, conversed with them in the most [obliging] manner, sympathized with them, counseled and comforted them in their distresses; and those who were seriously disposed were often cheered and animated by his prayers!” But it is for his poems and hymns that he is best remembered; among them are: “Hark, My Soul, It Is the Lord!”; “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”; “O for a Closer Walk with God”; “Jesus, Where’er Thy People Meet”; and, of course, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” He died on April 25, 1800. Newton wrote of his friend’s passing: “Oh! with what a surprise of joy would he find himself immediately before the throne, and in the presence of his Lord! All his sorrows left below, and earth exchanged for heaven.”

Is that your future as well – “sorrows left below, and earth exchanged for heaven”? Each of us is moving relentlessly and inevitably to eternity. The narrow way does culminate in a sorrow-free heaven where “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying.” Those are the effects of sin, and since sin will never enter heaven, its effects will never be felt there either. But the broad way leads to endless anguish and grief. The full effects of sin are felt eternally by those who are lost.

At Calvary, by His sufferings and death, the Lord Jesus opened a “fountain for sin and for uncleanness.” He cleanses the sinner from his sins; He enables once-guilty sinners to live forever in heaven. When John glimpsed those around the throne of God and of the Lamb, he recorded their words spoken to Christ: “Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.” Trust the Lord Jesus today and you will be able to adopt Cowper’s words as your personal experience:

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.