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Fifth Stanza

Oh! Grace, Grace! This wealthy grace doth lay

Her golden channels from thy Father’s throne,

Into our earthen pitchers to convey

Heaven’s Aqua Vitae to us for our own,

O! Let thy golden gutters run into 

My cup this liquor till it overflow.

Summary: This is a pray of praise and request. The quatrain is a pray of praise for the grace received: The water of life which flows from the Father’s throne. The couplet is a prayer of request that this grace continually flow until it overflows.


The predominate praise in the quatrain is an element which is struck in Puritan writing, but is often missing and even obscured in broadly Christian works. The doctrine he proclaims is this: The love of the lost is in the Father before it is procured by Christ. The Father does not come to love the lost because Christ has died. The belief is that the Father is angry and the Son somehow pacifies the Father. While the death of Christ does propitiate the wrath of God; there is love which lies behind it all. 

Yes God has anger at sin. That is not in dispute. But, the Father loves the lost who are sinning against God. The Father is the fountain of love which is displayed by the Son. This love is unmeasurable toward the rebellious creatures. It is not only that the Son gives himself on our behalf. It is also that the Father gives the Son.

The great Puritan divine John Owen expresses it thus:

I come now to declare what it is wherein peculiarly and eminently the saints have communion with the Father; and this is LOVE,—free, undeserved, and eternal love. This the Father peculiarly fixes upon the saints; this they are immediately to eye in him, to receive of him, and to make such returns thereof as he is delighted withal. This is the great discovery of the gospel: for whereas the Father, as the fountain of the Deity, is not known any other way but as full of wrath, anger, and indignation against sin, nor can the sons of men have any other thoughts of him (Rom. 1:18; Isa. 33:13, 14; Hab. 1:13; Ps. 5:4–6; Eph. 2:3),—here he is now revealed peculiarly as love, as full of it unto us; the manifestation whereof is the peculiar work of the gospel, Tit. 3:4.

1. 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” That the name of God is here taken personally,1 and for the person of the Father, not essentially, is evident from verse 9, where he is distinguished from his only begotten Son whom he sends into the world. Now, saith he, “The Father is love.” that is, not only of an infinitely gracious, tender, compassionate, and loving nature, according as he hath proclaimed himself, Exod. 34:6, 7, but also one that eminently and peculiarly dispenseth himself unto us in free love.” So the apostle sets it forth in the following verses: “This is love.” verse 9;—“This is that which I would have you take notice of in him, that he makes out love unto you, in ‘sending his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him’ ” So also, verse 10, “He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” And that this is peculiarly to be eyed in him, the Holy Ghost plainly declares, in making it antecedent to the sending of Christ, and all mercies and benefits whatever by him received. This love, I say, in itself, is antecedent to the purchase of Christ, although the whole fruit thereof be made out alone thereby, Eph. 1:4–6.

John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 19–20. Owen can be difficult at times in his learning and profusion. But the concept which Owen works out in detail, Taylor here displays in the picture of love flowing through golden channels from his throne to us.

That we are called “earthen pitchers” is taken directly from Paul, 

2 Corinthians 4:5–7 (AV)

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

The glory of God is poured into and is displayed in earthen vessels. The idea here is that God has poured his glory into human beings who are made of the earth and are vessels or pitchers which hold this heavenly beauty. The glory redounds to God, because the clay pitchers are commonplace and certainly not glorious.

Aqua Vitae means water of life and comes from John’s Gospel. The image is used twice by Jesus. First, it is used in his conservation with the Samaritan woman at the well: 

John 4:10–15 (AV)

10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

And later at the Temple:

John 7:37–39 (AV) 

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

The couplet turns the praise into a prayer of request: He asks that this grace be poured into him until it overflows.

Here Taylor displays (again) great theological precision. In John 7, as quoted, Jesus uses the image of the overflowing water of life as an image for the Holy Spirit.  (Note this is a profoundly Trinitarian passage: The love of the Father in the Son is conveyed to the poet by the Spirit – which is also the manner in which this was explained by Calvin, of whom the Puritans were quite familiar). 

The idea of being overfilled with the liquor of the Spirit is explained by Paul in Ephesians

Ephesians 5:18–20 (AV)

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 

The congruence of Taylor and his sources is seen in the fact that he not merely alludes to Ephesians 5 in the couplet but he also performs the work called upon by Ephesians 5: beign filled with praise.


The great note here is on the word “grace” and the alliterative “G”

Oh! GraceGrace! This wealthy grace doth lay

Her golden channels from thy Father’s throne,

Into our earthen pitchers to convey

Heaven’s Aqua Vitae to us for our own,

O! Let thy golden gutters run into 

My cup this liquor till it overflow.