Hugh Stowell, 1799-1865

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Isaiah 43:2

In Old Testament worship, the mercy seat was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, which housed the ten commandments, a pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded--all three physical evidences of Jehovah's miraculous provision for His people. The mercy seat was a most sacred, holy place. It symbolized the place of God's eternal presence with His people.

When the storms of life blow our way, we can either cringe in despair or flee to the heavenly Mercy Seat--the God of all comfort (II Corinthians 1:3 & 4). There we can find the help and strength to be overcomers. Trials can sometimes embitter and harden our spirits. However, if we use the trial to lean more fully on Christ and to learn the lesson He desires to teach us, we become stronger in our faith.

Hugh Stowell, the author of this hymn text, was a minister, known as one of the truly evangelistic leaders in the church during his time. His ministry was also characterized by a love for children and an active Sunday school in his church. This hymn text was originally titled "Peace at the Mercy Seat" and was first published in 1828 in a collection of poems by the author.

This hymn has been sung through the decades by Christians amidst varying degrees of trial and difficulty, but never has it been sung with more dramatic meaning than when in 1857 the eight American missionaries, Albert Johnson, John E. Freeman, David E. Campbell, John McMullen and their wives sung in Cawnpore, India, just before they and the two Campbell children suffered the death of Christian martyrs by order of the blood-thirsty Nana Sahib.

How different life would be "had suff'ring saints no mercy seat." How important it is for God's people to avail themselves of this "calm, sure retreat" by using prayer to commune with Him there on a consistent basis.

From every stormy wind that blows,
From every swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat;
íTis found beneath the mercy seat.

There is a place where Jesus sheds
The oil of gladness on our heads;
A place than all besides more sweet;
It is the blood-bought mercy seat.

There is a scene where spirits blend,
Where friend holds fellowship with friend;
Though sundered far, by faith they meet
Around one common mercy seat.

There, there, on eaglesí wings we soar,
And time and sense seem all no more;
And Heav'n comes down, our souls to greet,
And glory crowns the mercy seat.

Oh, let my hand forget her skill,
My tongue be silent, cold, and still,
This bounding heart forget to beat,
If I forget the mercy seat!

*For Today*: Psalm 61:2; Isaiah 25:4; Matthew 11:28; I Corinthians 1:3-5; Hebrews 4:16

Always remember--for the child of God through salvation, life's storms are opportunities to learn more about Him. Thank God even now for His heavenly Mercy Seat.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Based on Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Information on the Christian martyrs from One Hundred and One Hymn Stories by Carl Fowler Price. Published by The Abingdon Press, New York, 1923.

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