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Stanza Three

Nature’s amazed, Oh monstrous thing, quoth she,

Not love my life? What violence doth split

True love and life, that they should sundered be?                  15

She doth not lay such eggs, nor on them sit.

How do I sever then my heart with all

It powers whose love scare to my life doth crawl.


“Nature” now makes an appearance. “She” is amazed when she looks upon the unnatural love of Taylor of that which is not his life. This leads the poet to a question: How do I stop my heart from loving that which is not his life?


Nature’s amazed: this is an interesting personification of nature. The concept of “nature” or “natural” has a few potential meanings, which need to be distinguished here. 

First is “nature” in the sense of being or essence: it is a kind of nature you are: “Since Christ, being a divine Person, did not suffer according to His divine nature but according to His human nature, exaltation as such did not occur according to His divine nature.” Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992), 625.

Second, there is nature as opposed to grace: to be “natural” is what one is aside from the work of  the Spirit. “By spiritual Edwards means “sanctified” in opposition to “carnal,” which signifies the natural or unsanctified man.” John E. Smith, “Editor’s Introduction,” in Religious Affections, ed. John E. Smith and Harry S. Stout, Revised edition., vol. 2, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 24.

Third, there is a common grace operation of the Spirit generally, which makes certain considerations “natural” to everyone, “The nature of the work of the Spirit may be learnt from the nature of his work in legal conviction. ’Tis the same common enlightening assistance of both, but only one is of evil, and the other of good. Those legal convictions that natural men have are from the common illuminations of the Spirit of God concerning evil.” Jonathan Edwards, The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. 501–832), ed. Ava Chamberlain and Harry S. Stout, vol. 18, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2000), 357–358. 

But a personified “Nature” is certainly not a common idiom among those of Taylor’s intellectual world. This “nature” is no human being, but rather fulfills the position of say an angel who can look upon and see Taylor, but is not himself God nor another human being. 

But such an understanding immediately runs into a problem in the next line:

Nature’s amazed, Oh monstrous thing, quoth she,

Not love my life?

The “my” of “my life” means that Nature is the one conveying the life to Taylor. But that life is also in God and of God. I can understand what Taylor means by this usage, but this is not Taylor’s most theologically careful usage. 

Perhaps a way to keep this line is as if “Nature” refers to the natural life which Taylor being alive. It would then be his own life speaking to him: Why don’t you cherish your own life? But that is problematic with this line:

She doth not lay such eggs, nor on them sit.

And so we are left with a vaguely personified Nature speaking to him.

Love and life:

The incoherence of sin is here laid out: He loves something which is contrary to his life. Rationally, one’s love should be to one’s own life. As Paul writes, “For no one ever hated his own flesh.” Eph. 5:29 But in sin one loves something not only trivial but also contrary to one’s own good. 

This then justifies the use of “Nature” in the sense of: to love something contrary to one’s own life is certainly “unnatural”.

Finally, the quandary:

How do I sever then my heart with all

It powers whose love scare to my life doth crawl.

This is a Kierkegaardian despair: What do I do? How can I stop this of love of what is not my life? I have a heart which refuses to even seek its own good: It will not even crawl toward life. 

Someone whose body was ravaged would drag and crawl out of a wreck, but his heart will not even make an effort toward it’s own life: Hence, it is unnatural.