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For now I wonder t’feel how I thus feel.

My love leaps into creature’s bosoms; and 

Cold sorrows fall into my soul as steel,

When fail they, yet kiss [?] thy love’s white hand

I scarce know what t’make of myself. Wherefore

I crave pardon, Lord, for thou hast store.

Textual note: Stafford reads, “Yet kiss thy love’s white hand.” Patterson marks “kiss” as uncertain and confirms only the “is”. I’m not certain what could be correct not having access to the original manuscript and not knowing exactly what Taylor intends. 


At this stanza, the poem takes a new turn. The poet has resolved the question of the presence of sin, but restating his understanding as a wonder that he has not more sin. Rather than concluding, grace must be insufficient or he is not redeemed based upon the presence of sin; Taylor concludes that grace is present, because there is not more sin. 

This leads to a second problem: If God has shown such patience and spent such grace on me, then why don’t I love him more? 

This question of affections is perhaps more critical than the question of indwelling sin. Puritan Richard Sibbes, from two generations earlier than Taylor writes:

Affections therefore are lawful, yea, necessary in God’s children. All actions in God’s worship are esteemed according to the affections that they are done with. We are as we love, not as we know. What is the life of a Christian but the performance of things with courage, delight, and joy? And therefore the strongest Christians have strongest affections. For religion doth not harden the heart, but mollifies it; and regeneration doth not take affections away, but restores them sanctified and pure.

Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 5 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 125–126. Closer to Taylor’s poem is this passage from Puritan Thomas Doolittle:

That prayer be managed to the spiritual profit of those in the family, the master of the family should get his own heart in good frame, and get his own affections warmed in the duty.—Do you come to prayer with a lively heart, and quickened affections yourselves; your heat might warm them, and your earnest importunity might stir them up unto the same. Let them see you are in good earnest by your fervent praying, as becomes men that are begging for such things as the life of their souls, the pardon of their sin, the favour of God, deliverance from hell, and for everlasting happiness. Whereas if you come to the duty with flat, dull, and cold affections, this will make them so too. As you find it with yourselves when you are under a dull and lukewarm preacher,—you have little workings of affections; so your family will find it under your prayers, if they be such. For as a minister should get lively workings in his own breast of those affections which he would raise in the people,* so should you, in family-duties, get those workings of love, joy, and sorrow for sin, which you would desire should be in those that join with you; for what a minister is in the church, that you are, proportionably, in your house.

James Nichols, Puritan Sermons, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981), 239–240.

            Jonathan Edwards, the son of Taylor’s fellow pastor, will work out a substantial theology around the matter of love. (While his sermon on sin appears in high school anthologies, the question of love and desire seem to be the key to his theology. I have not undertaken a thorough study of all his work, but a passing glance shows the importance of affections to his understanding of human conduct.)

            Edwards will write:

True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.

Jonathan Edwards, 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), 95.

If love and affection are so critical to true spiritual life, then why is it missing in the life of Taylor? He would certainly assent to these quotations of those before and after him in this religious tradition.  Thus, his quandary: 

For now I wonder t’feel how I thus feel.

He looks at his love(s) and sees them disordered. First, he loves the wrong things too much:

My love leaps into creature’s bosoms;

The phrase “love leaps” is quite good. And the image of love leaping into the heart of any creature that happens by is remarkably vivid. I am in love with some many things that capture my sense, but they are all mere creatures.

This trouble is set forth in Paul and John. In Romans 1, Paul writes of worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator. In 1 John 2, John warns against loving the “world.” This snare, in parallel to Paul’s observation, runs counter to our duty toward God. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Our love is easily drawn to sensible objects. And while the contention might be that these are “real” things, tangible things; the quickly becomes problematic when you begin to consider what you actually behold with your senses. The difficulties here are far more profound than you may imagine, so for now merely consider that the world may be quite different than what you imagine it to be.


Cold sorrows fall into my soul as steel,

When fail they,

The sounds and pictures are excellent. I’ve marked the end “l” col[d], fall, soul, steel, fail. Also the “O” cold, sorrows, soul. The “f” fall, fail. 

A cold sorrow is something: we think of sorrow as tears. Anger may be cold, but sorrow is hot. A cold sorrow however fails. The sorrow comes which should have had an effect, but it “falls” – and from where does it fall? – into the soul and there being cold, it fails. 

And so his love is quick, but set on the wrong objects. His sorrow is cold and fails. 

Moreover, the idea of steel falling into the soul has more than a hint of murder: it missing word is “sword”.

yet kiss [?] thy love’s white hand

If the text is obscure here, then kiss may be questioned. Indeed, I wonder if this poem not quite finished in other respects. The ideas were in place, but in the first stanzas it works better as argument than poetry. 

Does he mean that he does receive God’s love? Or that the sorrows kiss the hand? I’m not sure what to do here.

I scarce know what t’make of myself.

This is a driving theme in the poem: What a strange strange am I and here he does not know what to think of himself. 

We are riddle to ourselves in many ways. The Christian has the riddle of the desires which, as Peter says “war against our soul”. How can these conflicting things be present in one life?


I crave pardon, Lord, for thou hast store.

I do not know what is so very wrong with me. What I do know is that I am utterly dependent the grace of God: I cannot even make sense of my own heart. All I can be certain of is the extraordinary grace of God.