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But did I say, I wonder Lord, to spy

Thyself so kind, and I so vile yet thine

I eat my word, and wonder more that I

No viler am, though all o’re vile do shine

As full of sin I am, as egg of meat

Yet find thy golden rod my sin to treat.

Nay did I say, I wonder t’see thy store

Of kindness, yet me thus vile with all

I now unsay my say, I wonder more

Thou dash me not to pieces with thy maul

But in the bed, Lord, of thy goodness lies

The reason of’t, which makes my wonder rise.

Summary:

These two stanzas cover the same problem from different perspectives. He takes issue with himself over his complaint that he “vile” despite the grace of God. He has asked, If I belong to God’s and God’s grace is effacious, then why am I not more holy?

He turns that question on its head. First, says, rather than wonder why I am so vile; I so should rather ask the question why I am not worse. Second, the real mystery here is not my sin but God’s mercy? Why would he be merciful to me?

Prosody:

To this point, the poem has not been very lyrical. Yet with these two stanzas we see a marked turn in the attention paid to sound. Of particular note is the long I repeated; most noticeably in the I-VILE. 

But did I say, I wonder Lord, to spy

Thyself so kind, and I so vile yet thine

I eat my word, and wonder more that I

No viler am, though all o’re vile do shine

As full of sin I am, as egg of meat

Yet find thy golden rod my sin to treat.

Nay did I say, I wonder t’see thy store

Of kindness, yet me thus vile with all

I now unsay my say, I wonder more

Thou dash me not to pieces with thy maul

But in the bed, Lord, of thy goodness lies

The reason of’t, which makes my wonder rise

Notes

But did I say, the parallel will be made with the next stanza, “Nay did I say”. By asking this question twice, he is calling into question his own self-understanding. There is a movement of thought as he holds up the potential responses to his wonder at his own sin. 

 I wonder Lord, to spy

Thyself so kind, and I so vile yet thine

While the verb “spy” may be attributed solely to the rhyme, the emphasis of the verb is on scrutiny and attention. Since the whole of the poem is a psychological and theological investigation of himself, to spy this out is appropriate.

I eat my word, This brings us to the next parallel between the stanza: He will “eat”, then “unsay”  the word he has said. There is a sort of repentance in this, he looks to himself and realizes the error.

and wonder more that I

No viler am, 

This will parallel 

Nay did I say, I wonder t’see thy store

Of kindness

He wonders at himself and at God. But now rather than wondering at the presence of any sin, he wonders at the lack sin! Why am I not even more vile than I presently appear? The parallel then helps with the understand: I am not more vile because the store of God’s grace is so extensive.

The mystery of grace has not transformed: Why am I not perfect if grace “works?” Instead, look at the mystery of grace that he has restrained so much sin.

though all o’re vile do shine This is a fascinating line, particularly in the context of Taylor’s standard imagery. Bright, shine, light are all characteristic he applies to God; while to himself and sin it is a matter of dark and shadow. But here, his vileness shines! The idea of sinfulness so extraordinary that it “lights-up” is strking. 

As full of sin I am, as egg of meat

And a parallel:

yet me thus vile with all

Yet find thy golden rod my sin to treat.

And the the parallel with the second stanza:

I now unsay my say, I wonder more

Thou dash me not to pieces with thy maul

The “rod” would be a rod of correction. But the correction is not destruction. As a side note, too much preaching aims at bare guilt, which is a psychological state of feeling bad for having done something wrong. The trouble with guilt is that standing alone it goes nowhere: Okay, I’m guilty. Since the feeling is bad, one merely tries to overcome the bad feeling. What is needed is repentance. It is the kindness of God which moves us to repentance: “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Romans 2:4

Look here at Taylor realizes:

Why doesn’t God destroy me? The goodness of God (Romans 2:4 in the KJV uses the word “goodness” rather than “kindness” as the English translation of chréston)

But in the bed, Lord, of thy goodness lies

The reason of’t, 

The addition of a bed of goodness creates a certain peace and restfulness to the whole which is remarkable. 

And now the wonder shifts. At the first, he wondered at his own sin. Now he wonders at the goodness, the kindness, the grace of God:

which makes my wonder rise.