- He was born while his father, a pastor, was imprisoned for his faith.
- He only grew to be five feet tall, had frail limbs and a disproportionately large head.
- He was rejected by the woman he loved. Her words when he asked her to marry were, “If only I could say I admired the casket as much as I admire the jewel it contains.”
- Offered the easier route of a fully paid Oxford education, and a subsequent life in the government-approved church of his day, he chose instead to stay with the Covenanters, the Christians persecuted by the king. He chose to stand with those known as Nonconformists, with those for whom scripture was the “infallible rule of faith and practice.”
- He never married and was sick for much of his adult life.
- His name was Isaac Watts, and he wrote:
I am persuaded, that in a future state we shall take a sweet review of those scenes of providence which have been involved in the thickest darkness, and trace those footsteps of God when he walked with us through deepest waters. This will be a surprising delight . . . to have those perplexing riddles laid open to the eyes of our souls, and read the full meaning of them in set characters of wisdom and grace.
- Watts wrote of the wise providence of God, and of the surprising delight to come, in some 750 hymns. Joy to the World; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; O God, Our Help in Ages Past — 300 years later we still sing and hear his words. Three-hundred years later we’re still strengthened.
His life encourages and convicts me. His life was set upon the realization that “God, the mighty Maker, died for man the creature’s sin,” and that God did so gladly. His words honor the Lord who made him.
Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
Was it for crimes that I had done he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut his glories in,
when God, the mighty Maker, died for man the creature’s sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes in tears.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away; ’tis all that I can do.
Do I give myself away? Do I delight, no matter the thick darkness or deep waters, in the providence of God? Do you?
Hymn: by Isaac Watts, Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed, 1707
Painting by Ivan Aivazovsky, The Black Sea at night, 1879