William Gadsby's Fragments (Complete)

Christ The Believer’s Breakwater

Being A Few Poetical Remarks, Occasioned By A Visit To The Breakwater, In Plymouth Sound, On The 30th Of January, 1822.

“The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid; the depths also were troubled.”—Psalm 77:16

On Wednesday last, a pleasant day.
When winds did not their force display,
The sea assumed a gentle form,
Nor did the sky denote a storm,
The Breakwater I went to view,
A bulwark great and useful too.
The day began and finish’d bright,
And truly ’twas a pleasant sight.
Amidst the ocean I could stand,
And view the deep on either hand.
With friends I spent six hours or more,
Who show’d all kindness in their power.
Upon the Breakwater we walk’d,
Look’d round, and of its wonders talk’d;
And many things it brought to view,
With which I’ve often had to do,
And while I on this earth remain,
Shall have to do with them again;
Yea, and when time shall be no more,
Shall love some of them, and adore.
Say you, “I know not what you mean
By Breakwater! Pray this explain.”
It is a mound the waves to stay,
By human skill made in the sea;
Almost two million tons of stone
Are in the mighty ocean thrown,
Which forms a wall that docs restrain
The current of the dreaded main,
That vessels may in safety ride,
And not be deluged with the tide;
And though the work is incomplete,
Its benefits are very great;
What is already done repels
The raging ocean when it swells;
Which as a means, it is believed,
Has seamen oft from death retrieved.
But greater bulwarks I behold
In HIM, whose glories can’t be told,
Who stems in various ways and forms
A multitude of dismal storms.
HE, with his mighty power, repels
The boisterous sea of sin, which swells,
And would each earthen vessel dash
To atoms, with a dreadful crash,
Did not He, with bis outstretch’d arm,
Prevent its rage from further harm.
To this abyss of filth and woe,
God fix’d sure bounds, nor can it flow,
With all its madness, rage, and force,
An inch beyond its destined course.
When this destructive, troublous sea
Strives to surmount His firm decree,
He shows his own Almighty hand,
And makes it yield to his command.
Within this bound it must abide,
Nor further spread its swelling tide.
He’ll make the very wrath of man
In some way magnify his name;
And he’ll restrain, in various ways,
The wrath that would not his name praise,
To the eternal Lord Most High
We owe all earthly good and joy.
If sin were not by God withstood,
Sinners would drench themselves in blood,
Madness and murder rage and reign,
And all the human race be slain.
But thanks to Him, he stems this flood,
And makes it work for Zion’s good.[1]
But one thing more my thoughts engage,
That flood of sin, with boisterous rage,
Connected with Mount Sinai’s power,
Which threaten’d Zion to devour.
This form’d a vast abyss indeed,
And roar’d with mighty force and dread;
Nor angels could its current stop,
Nor give the church one gleam of hope.
Not all that Adam’s race may do
Can its o’erwhelmiug waves subdue.
Millions have toil’d both night and day,
To stem the torrent of this sea;
I hit all their works increase its power,
And only make it rage the more.[2]
But shall it then o’er Zion burst?
And must she be for ever curst?
No! thanks to our incarnate God,
He stemm’d the fury of this flood.
Let blessings rest upon his name,
Himself the Breakwater became.
The curse of sin, and Sinai too,
With all the wrath to Zion due,
Roll’d on him with vindictive power,
And spout their strength, to rise no more.
That wrath which must have sank to hell
The millions that in Zion dwell,
Exhausted all its direful power
On Christ, our sure defence and tower.
Eternal honours rest on him,
He for his people was made sin;
And that they might his glory view,
He bore all curses to them due;
Here was a rich display of grace,
To sinners of the vilest race.
A breakwater of endless love,
That death and hell can never move;
Love deeper than the vast abyss,
Higher than angels’ highest bliss;
Immortal, sov’reign, rich, and free,
Fix’d on such guilty worms as we.
My soul, adore and bless his name,
And spread abroad his matchless fame.
What’s other love compared with this?
His love secures eternal bliss.
He saves from devils, hell, and sin,
All those who put their trust in him.
He raises such to joys divine,
And makes them in his beauties shine.
He quell’d this vast destructive flood,
By his almighty power and blood;
Atoned for sin, law magnified,
Justice well pleased and satisfied.
O love, almighty love divine!
How bright thy blazing glories shine
In this amazing work of God,
Who bathed his Son in sweat and blood,
That those who hi rebellion lay
Might live with him to endless day!
This love will vanquish every foe,
And break down each distressing woe.
Blest Jesus, thou Incarnate Word,
Thy name shall ever be adored;
Thou art thy church’s rock and rest,
And in thee she’s completely blest.
Let Zion sing the matchless fame
Of this Almighty Breaker’s name;
And trust his faithfulness and power,
In each perplexing, trying hour,
And with incessant pleasure tell,
The grace that saves from death and hell.
My soul, adore his glorious might,
And in his blessed name delight;
Well he deserves thy highest praise,
In time and to eternal days.[3]
Twas He who stemm’d the boisterous tide,
Thy cursed unbelief and pride,
Or thou wouldest have been swept away
To gulfs of horror and dismay.
I rode at ease in this dread flood,
Blasphemed the holy name of GOD;
Delighted in an unclean heart,
Nor from it ever wish’d to part;
Though conscience sometimes said, Forbear,
I still pursued my mad career,
“And fought with hands uplifted high,
“Against the God who rules the sky.”
But O! in Christ what glories beam!
He stemm’d this deep and deadly stream,
And in his own appointed hour,
By the Almighty Spirit’s power,
He made my roving spirit stop,
And ask’d in what I placed my hope.
I stood convicted, self-condemn’d,
And surely thought I must be damn’d;
I felt and saw the raging flood,
Which rose against the mighty God.
Adored be his sov’reign grace,
My Jesus show’d his lovely face,
Set up himself within my heart,
And made all guilty fears depart;
Bestow’d a sense of pardon’d sin,
And with his love my soul did win.[4]
Fresh troubles since have oft swell’d high,
Which seem’d almost to reach the sky;
But he’s put forth his mighty arm
And hush’d the whole into a calm;
Let all the band redeem’d by blood,
Adore and praise their triune God.
And in each fearful storm depend
On HIM whose goodness knows no end.[5]
When Satan roars with hideous din,
And like a swelling flood comes in,
Then God the Spirit will outspread
His sacred banner o’er each head,
And raise this Breakwater on high,
Which will the hosts of hell defy.[6]
Afflictions too, whate’er they be,
Are all ordain’d in His decree,
And though at times they highly swell,
He does in wisdom those compel
To take that course which he thinks well.
They must his sov’reign will obey,
And stop where’er he bids them stay.
When they like billows rise and roar,
He speaks and quells their raging power;
And though the chosen sons of God
Oft faint beneath a Father’s rod,
Yet in due time they fully prove,
Each stroke was in paternal love.[7]
By mountains, men, and the red flood,
Israel of old, hemm’d in, once stood;
The waves ran high, and they rebell’d,
But Jesus’ power the storm dispell’d.
Like walls he made the waters stand,
And form’d a path of solid land;
And o’er this new, miraculous road,
Brought Israel through the briny flood;
Immersed their foes to rise no more,
That Israel might the Lord adore.
Yes, Jesus led them safely on,
To make his mighty wonders known;
And still leads those lie did redeem,
In every storm to trust in him.
Though troubled waters fathomless
Make mountains tremble to their base,
And hurl them with tremendous roar,
Down from their seats to rise no more,
Jesus, the Rock of Ages, proves
Invincible! and never moves;
And earth and hell in vain combine
To shake a bulwark so divine.[8]
When grace has wrought a change within.
And swept away the guilt of sin,
Still sin remains, and will annoy,
Nor we its influence can destroy.
But when old nature swells its tide.
Lust, blasphemy, and cursed pride,
And we no refuge can espy,
To Jesus may we look and cry,
And on his mighty arm rely.
‘Tis he breaks down our lust and pride,
And stems the current of the tide;
He e’er exerts his matchless power,
Or else this flood must all devour;
Yea, like a mighty torrent sweep
Our souls into the fiery deep.
‘Tis grace, free grace, which holds us in,
And overcomes the power of sin;
Not unto us the praise belongs;
Jehovah claims our highest songs.
The world may frown, and rage, and roar,
But Jesus breaks its arm of power.
Though tribulations swell their tide,
Shelter’d in Christ, we safe abide,
And shall each boisterous storm outride.[9]
Yea, the tremendous storm of death,
Which chills our frame and stops our breath,
On him has spent its dreadful might,
Fox in that dark, but blessed night,
He bore the storm of sin and hell.
And all death’s power before him fell.
Then let us his bless’d name adore,
And magnify him evermore.
He is our Safeguard, God, and Friend,
And ever will our souls defend.
‘Tis on this Breakwater we stand,
And rest our foot on solid land;
And while by faith on him we rest,
We feel ourselves secure and blest.
Poor tempest-tossed sinner, cry
To Jesus, and on him rely;
He will assuage thy every grief,
And give thy soul a blest relief.
Ea.ch swelling tide shall see thy God,
And tremble at his mighty nod;
And when he stretches forth his arm,
Retire, and leave a peaceful calm.
Awhile he may appear asleep,
And leave thee toss’d upon tho deep;
And thy poor trembling heart may fear,
Yea, almost sink in deep despair;
But this is done thy faith to try,
To slain thy pride, and make thee cry
To him with fervency of soul,
“Who can and will the waves control;
And in his own good time arise,
The tempest still, and clear the skies.
All hurricanes, be what they may,
Must his all-sovereign will obey.
He’ll break down all their boisterous power,
And make them fall to rise no more.
Thou let the church with heart and voice,
In his immortal name rejoice;
Rest on his power, his love, and blood,
Nor fear the most tremendous flood;
Since nothing ever can occur,
To shake this mighty BREAKWATER.[10]

[1] “Thy right, hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.” (Ex 15:6) “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.” (Matt 23:32; Gen 15:16) “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord that shall stand.” (Prov 19:21; Ps 33:10,11; Is 46:10; 14:26,27) “Surely the wrath of men shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” (Ps 76:10) Were sin left to its own natural course, uncontrolled and unrepeled by the Lord, it would sweep the whole human race into inevitable ruin, and the world would be nothing but a stage for massacres and blood-guiltiness. But Jehovah has fixed a bound to this high-swelling and tremendously-deluging sea. By his almighty power, he restrains the madness of sin itself, nor can it go beyond those bounds which must issue in the glory of his justice or his grace; and as far as it relates to the objects of God’s everlasting love, who are redeemed from all iniquity by the blessed God-Man Mediator, it is so overruled by the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Lord as to issue in the declarative glory of all the perfections of the blessed Trinity and the real welfare of the spouse of Christ. Therefore, let the real believer adore Jehovah, as the Almighty Breakwater, who has fixed the bounds of sin itself, and ever says, “Hitherto shalt thou go but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” How blessedly secure from the damning power of sin are they whose lives are hid with Christ in God!
[2] Eternal truth says, “The wages of sin is death;” (Rom 6:23) and “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all tilings which are written in the book of the law to do them;” (Gal 3:10) “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Rom 3:23; 5:12) “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” (Rom 3:20) However outwardly moral men may be, still they are sinners, and stand guilty before God as breakers of his holy law; “for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all.” (Js 2:10) So that sin, with its damning power, and the law, with, its just curse, must have deluged all the fallen race of mankind in black despair, for anything they could have done to help themselves. Men may be very zealous, and, like the Jews of old, go about to establish their own righteousness, but this will never stop the dreadful torrent of sin, nor satisfy the claims of the law of God; for the law requires sinless, perfect, and perpetual obedience, in heart, lip, and life, from the first moment we breathe to the last; and nothing short of such an obedience will satisfy its claims. By reason of our federal union to Adam the first, we are shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mother conceive us; (Rom 5:12; Ps 51:5) “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one;” (Job 14:4) “So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God!” (Rom 8:8) All the works of righteousness which we can do, for the purposes of appeasing the wrath of God, making satisfaction for sin, or recommending ourselves to the favour of the eternal Jehovah, only increase our flood of guilt, and leave us exposed, to the curses of the broken law. In matters of civil society among men, creature-goodness has its effect, and shall not lose its reward; but in matters of eternity, nothing will stand but the perfect obedience of Christ, and the things connected therewith.
[3] Eternal thanks be unto our God, Zion shall be saved with an everlasting salvation; the whole election of grace shall be saved and called “with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which, was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Tim 1:9) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy be saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Tit 3:5). Salvation, from first to last, is all of rich, free, unmerited grace. Blessings for over rest upon the head of the Lord Jesus Christ, he put himself in Zion’s place, and became her sure defence, her Almighty Breakwater. All the dreadful floods of sin, death, hell, and the curse of the law, fell upon him, and he has broken down their damning power, by his own active and passive obedience; and real faith in him is a receipt in full, of sins pardoned, law magnified, hell destroyed, and death swallowed up in victory. (Jn 3:14-16; 1 Cor 15:55-57) “The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all;” (Is 53:6) “For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor 5:21) The sins, of God’s elect children fell upon Christ, as their surety, and his blessed righteousness, with all its matchless beauties, is made over to them. He was made a curse for us, and we obtain the blessing of Abraham in him: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree; that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.” (Gal 3:13,14) O ye saved sinners, keep this blessed truth in view. The Lord Jesus Christ is your Almighty Breakwater. All the floods of guilt, and wrath due to you rolled upon him, and there they spent all their tremendous power. O matchless grace, unparalleled love! My soul, adore this indescribably glorious Friend; and, by a living faith in his finished work, sweetly sing the victories he has won; for these never-to-be-forgotten victories were won for thee.” “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Tit 2:14) His blessed work is perfect, and can neither be mended nor marred. Every perfection in the Triune Jehovah is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake. He has magnified the law, and made it honourable, and is the end of it for righteousness to every one that believes. The wonders of his love will be an everlasting song for all the redeemed. Eternity will never erase the glorious subject from the hearts of God’s blessed family. The glories of a covenant God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, will be the bliss of heaven for ever, and for ever fill all the inhabitants of those unsullied realms with indescribable delight. (Rev 7:9-12)
[4] Till the Lord quickens our dead souls, and enlightens our dark understandings, we live in the gratification of our carnal desires; and whether our outward deportment be that of the self-righteous pharisee or the open profane, we are in heart enmity to God: “So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God;” (Rom 7:7,8) “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jn 3:6) But, thanks be to God, we have the solemn verities of Christ to attest that “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” The invincible energy of God the Holy Ghost shall quicken the dead soul, and make it cry vehemently for mercy; and when Christ is sweetly seated in the conscience, and faith views his love and loveliness and embraces him as a complete Saviour, he proves a blessed Breakwater indeed, and breaks down the raging flood of the reigning power of sin, and the boisterous torrent of the guilt connected therewith. “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein, in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world;” (Eph 2:1,2) “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from dead works, to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14) “Whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory;” (1 Pet 1:8) “Christ in you the hope of glory;” (Col 1:17) “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath stained in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6)
[5] The children of God are exposed to a great variety of enemies, but the Lord Jesus Christ will ever stand up for their defence, and he will break down the malignant power of all their foes, be they of what kind soever they may. It is the blessed privilege of the believer in time of trouble to take shelter in Christ, There he is safe, and no where else. No weapon formed against the child of God shall prosper. (Is 54:17) “Whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.” (Is 54:15) The 45th Psalm contains a blessed song for the heirs of promise; every sentence of it is big with blessedness. The Lord is at all times and under all circumstances a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. O for more faith to look unto and rest upon Christ, wholly and entirely; for they that trust in the Lord shall never he confounded. 0 blessed Lord, “how terrible art thou in thy works! “Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.” (Ps 66:8)
[6] Floods of temptations, infernal suggestions, and damnable heresies will sometimes rise up against the spouse of Christ; “The serpent casts out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” (Rev 12:15) But “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Is 59:19) This standard is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Almighty Break water. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 Jn 3:8; Heb 2:14)
[7] Bread of adversity and waters of affliction are things the Lord’s people are no strangers to. (Is 30:20) “I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.” (Zeph. 3:12) But all kind of afflictions arc at the wise control of our blessed God and Saviour. They must come, and last, and end, as shall please him, and profit us; and though our untoward nature may for a while rebel against them, in the end the Lord will cause us to say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” (Ps 119:71) “In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” (Is 63:9) When the centurion considered afflictions in the capacity of soldiers marshaled by and at the express command of Christ, “Jesus marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” (Matt 8:8) It is very blessed to be enabled to see all afflictions and tempests marshaled by infinite wisdom, for ends of his own glory and our real good. A sweet sense of this, under the unction and influence of God the Holy Ghost, will produce a solemn calm in the conscience under the severest trial. Blessed Lord, graciously bestow upon us a greater increase of vital faith; for “as many as thou lovest thou dost rebuke and chasten.” (Rev 3:10; Heb 12:5; Prov 3:11,12)
[8] The heirs of promise may be brought into very straitened circumstances, but the Lord will make a way for their escape. Kingdoms and men may be deluged in a variety of storms, but Christ, the Rock of Ages, is a foundation against which the gates of hell can never prevail; and they that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth for ever. “As the mountains are round about; Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth, even for ever.” (Ps 125:1,2; Is 54:9,10)
[9] Real believers in Christ will find their own inbred corruptions to be like a troubled sea, nor are they able to keep down its high swelling tides. What the ungodly bring forth in fruit, we feel we have in root; and were it not for the grace of God we should have it in fruit too. But, adored be the Lord our God, he has, thousands of times, subdued our iniquities, and broken down their rage, when we have almost been deluged in them; and, bless his precious name, though they may rise up again, “he will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all. our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Mic 7:18,19) Tribulation from within and from without we must expect; (Acts 14:22) but in Christ, and only in Christ, have we any real peace. He has overcome the world, flesh, and the devil, and we shall overcome through him. (Jn 16:33; Rev 12:10,11)
[10] O ye much-esteemed and highly-favoured sinners, who through the rich grace of God are enabled to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, what have you to fear? Death itself is, by your Almighty Breakwater, swallowed up in victory; and, by faith in Christ, it is your blessed privilege to shout for joy, and solemnly exclaim, “O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is tho law; but thanks be to God which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:55-57) To live and walk by faith is a most blessed employ; for when we can sweetly feel our standing in Christ, we view the waves of sin, the world, Satan, death, and the curse of the law, all roll against and spend their strength upon the Lord Jesus Christ; while we possess a heavenly calm, and an immortal security in him, and have a soul-transporting view of the King in his beauty, and the land that is very far off, and at the same time view the thousands of God’s vessels of mercy safely ride in the harbour of everlasting love, protected by the finished work of Christ and the solemn oaths and promises of the adorable Trinity, where they shall outride every storm, and at bust enter into the blessed port of immortal felicity, shouting, Victory, through the blood of the Lamb.