Monday, December 10, 2012

Long Ere the Sun

The song service has long been an important part of Primitive Baptist worship. One of the first songs I learned when I began attending the church was Long Ere the Sun. The way that this song embraces and glories in the beautiful truth of sovereign election and salvation by an everlasting covenant really struck a chord with me. As a result it has been one of my favorites from that day forward. It is for this reason that I decided to republish the lyrics here and provide a brief commentary regarding the truths contained therein.  


Long Ere The Sun Began His Days
Or moon shot forth her silver rays
Salvation's scheme was fixed, 'twas done,
In cov'nant by the Three in One.

First and foremost, this hymn embraces the thoroughly biblical doctrine of sovereign election - the truth that it is God who chose a people to save and that this was done before any of them even existed or had done any good or evil. (Romans 9:11) The carnal heart of man is ever and only repulsed by a salvation which is not based on merit but based solely upon the grace of God (Romans 8:7), but this is indeed the bible's testimony (Ephesians 2:8-10). In just 4 short lines, this verse manages to affirm covenantal salvation by grace, which of necessity establishes TULIP, and also the triune nature of the God of scripture.

The Father spake, the Son replied;
The Spirit with them both complied;
Grace moved the cause for saving man,
And wisdom drew the noble plan.

One of the best views of this covenant in scripture is found in the Lord's Prayer in John 17. I'll publish it again here, highlighting certain words that underscore the covenant, without further commentary...
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:1-26)
The Father chose His only Son
To die for sins that man had done;
Emmanuel to the choice agreed,
And thus secured a num'rous seed.

The Father chose not only a people to save but his Son to be their savior who "secured" a numerous seed. It is exceeding strange to me that there are many who will defend tooth-and-nail the concept that Jesus Christ died for every single child of Adam ever to walk the face of the earth, but who deny that his death actually secured the salvation of those for whom he died. If that is the scheme of salvation taught in the scriptures then Paul was certainly wrong when he said, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." (Romans 8:33-34) If Christ died for all and some of those for whom he died will none-the-less be eternally damned, then one might well respond to Paul with, "So what? Lots of those for whom Christ died end up in hell. What's your point, Paul?" Indeed the doctrine of universal atonement would completely invalidate Paul's argument. Paul believed in particular, effectual redemption - this is the entire point of Roman's 8:28-39. Understanding this point is one of the greatest blessings of assurance that a child of God can know in this lifetime and God's people should not be ashamed of this ironclad biblical truth, but should rather be well-grounded in it.

He sends His Spirit from above,
To call the objects of His love;
Not one shall perish or be lost;
His blood has bought them dear they cost.

This stanza underscores immediate Holy Spirit regeneration. Though the vast majority of the professing Christian world believes that God uses means in the regeneration of men, the Primitive Baptists maintain that this is done through a direct act of God alone - the voice of the Son of God (John 5:25). Any means-based theory of regeneration runs up against an enormous exegetical problem - the Old Testament. Those who assert that one must hear the gospel, have access to the bible, ask Jesus into your heart, be baptized or do a host of other things in order to obtain eternal life would do well to study the life of Job. 

This stanza also speaks of divine preservation. Not perseverance but preservation. God's people do not always persevere, but they are preserved in grace because the Lord's work on their behalf is bound by covenant (Numbers 23:19) and perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). Once one establishes that God has covenanted to save a chosen people, the preservation of those same people is likewise established.

What high displays of sov'reign grace!
What love to save a ruined race!
My soul, adore His lovely name,
By whom thy free salvation came.

The saving grace of God is an electing, redeeming, regenerating, and preserving grace. If we shy away from these well-established biblical truths can we truly say that we are not ashamed of the gospel? As far as I am concerned, apart from these great truths, we simply don't have any gospel at all.


  1. Any recent Hymnals published by PB available that you know of?

    1. I am not too knowledgeable regarding the current availability of various PB hymnals. You might check with Elder Bryce Lowrance who is pastor of Brentwood Hills Primitive Baptist Church in Forth Worth, TX. He's more in the know about all things PB music related. If he doesn't know he can probably point you in the right direction.

      God bless,