So I’m reading Barb Duguid’s Extravagant Grace as part of PBC’s Sunday School class. She references a lot of John Newton’s writings. On page 66 she writes,
“Newton compared [morning over our own lack of righteousness] to a tune in which the bass line is self-humiliation over sin and melody is rejoicing over God’s faithfulness. When played together, the music is breathtaking.”
I thought this was a great metaphor from Newton. Bass is sin, rejoicing over forgiveness for sin is the melody.
Tonight I was reading Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and came across the same metaphor used to describe one Mr. Fearing who was very focused on his sin and struggled to believe God would let him into the Kingdom –
“Now Mr. Fearing was one that played upon the bass. He and his fellows sound the sackbut [trombone], whose notes are more doleful than the notes of other music are: though indeed, some say, the bass is the ground of music. And for my part, I care not at all for that profession which begins not in heaviness of mind. The first string that the musician usually touches is the bass, when he intends to put all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when he sets the soul in tune for himself. Only there was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing; he could play upon no other music but this till towards his latter end.”
Bunyan was saying that Mr. Fearing (and others) sometimes focus too much on sin and not on a balanced view of grace. Bunyan has another character balance this concern with a very important point: No true conversion happens without first a serious focus on the depth of sin (the bass line) but we shouldn’t stay there. Yes, God uses sin to ‘tune’ us to himself, but he doesn’t stay there. Sin is real, horrific and destructive, but it isn’t the end of the story and if you are a child of God, it definitely is not the end of your story! The end of your story sounds like this: Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Dear brother or sister, don’t only play the bass. See your sin, fly to Christ, repent and live. Then walk in light of that grace, filled with inexpressible thanksgiving and joy!