William Cowper (on truth and freedom)

He is the free man whom the truth makes free, and all are slaves beside.

William Cowper (1731–1800). Cowper’s is a name that I knew from hymnals in our little Baptist Church when I was a child. I hadn’t known he was responsible for this line, which adorned the masthead of my little home town’s weekly Grand River Sachem, and may yet. It is likely inspired by the Gospel of John, in which Jesus says, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” 

Cowper was also a noted poet and occasional madman, in addition to his writing of Christian hymns. “God moves in a mysterious way, / His wonders to perform; / He plants his footsteps in the sea, / And rides upon the storm” is a Cowper lyric. So is this familiar line from a poem I’d never heard of: “Variety’s the very spice of life, / That gives it all its flavour.” Good job, Bill!

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