Of all the Christian leaders from a bygone era, the one I can most readily identify with is the troubled poet/hymnwriter, William Cowper (pronounced Cooper).
Cowper battled deep depression for much of his life and attempted suicide on more than one occasion. Don't get me wrong, I haven't gone that far but I certainly can understand his pain.
While visiting England two years ago I made a special effort to visit the town of Olney where Cowper lived for part of his life. See the picture of Cowper's "Summer House" where he penned some of his best hymns and poems. John Newton and Cowper were close friends and Newton, by his encouragement of Cowper, likely kept him from further pain and heartache.
Check out this link for a short video clip concerning Cowper.
Here's a quote delivered John Newton at Cowper's funeral:
"I don’t know a person upon earth I consult upon a text of Scripture or any point of conscience so much to my satisfaction as Mr. Cowper. He could give comfort though he could not receive any himself. He was not only a comfort to me but a blessing to the affectionate poor people among whom I then lived. He used frequently to visit them and pray with them. I had the honor to be rector over a set of poor plain people chiefly lace makers. Their great confinement caused in them great depression of spirits. They used to say, “O Sir if I was right, sure I should not feel so.” But they well knew Mr. Cowper: they knew he was right, and from him they could take comfort."
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