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Fourth Stanza

Why mayn’t faith drink thy health, Lord, o’re

The head of all my sins? And cast her eye                                                    20

In glorifying glances on the door

Of thy free grace, where crowns of life do lie:

Thou’lt give a crown of life to such as be

Faithful to death. And shall faith fail in me?


This stanza begins an argument which will be continued, may I, may I not approach and receive?

I am in this present state of paradox. To use Luther’s famous phrase, the justified sinner; or, if you will, the innocent criminal. What may I do from this position:

May I acknowledge you in a positive manner. In interesting example of this from 1798, in Edmund Burke’s The Annual Register, or a review of History, Politics, and Literature for the year 1978 (published 1800) Chronicle, p. 6, a duke says, “Gentlemen, give me leave to drink your health.”

 Since we are not in the habit of “drinking one’s health” as a toast, it is interesting that the duke requests permission to do so.

Taylor is asking, May I, or why may I not acknowledge you Lord? The difficulty comes with the prepositional phrase, “over the head of all my sins”.  There is a contradiction between the toast and the one giving the toast. It is as if one were to “drink the health” of someone they despised or had sought to destroy.

My faith wishes to drink your health, but there is a trouble here: there is also all my sin.

He then asks a second question: May my faith look toward that door to the room which contains “thy free grace.”

Free grace in Taylor’s theology would be the “impulsive cause” of salvation:

3. The third thing is, how we come to be the children of God?

Ans. There is a double cause of our filiation or childship:

1. The impulsive cause is God’s free grace: we were rebels and traitors, and what could move God to make sinners sons, but free grace? Eph. 1:5. ‘Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, according to the good pleasure of his will.’ Free grace gave the casting voice; adoption is a mercy spun out of the bowels of free grace; it were much for God to take a clod of earth, and make it a star; but it is more for God to take a piece of clay and sin, and instate it into the glorious privilege of sonship. How will the saints read over the lectures of free grace in heaven?

Watson, Thomas. “Discourses upon Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.” Discourses on Important and Interesting Subjects, Being the Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson, vol. 2, Blackie, Fullarton, & Co.; A. Fullarton & Co., 1829, pp. 297–98.

Thomas Brooks deals with the quandary faced here by Taylor:

First the “device of Satan”, the means by which the Christian can be disquieted and fearful:

Device (3). By suggesting to them the want of such and such preparations and qualifications. Saith Satan, Thou art not prepared to entertain Christ; thou art not thus and thus humbled and justified; thou art not heart-sick of sin; thou hast not been under horrors and terrors as such and such; thou must stay till thou art prepared and qualified to receive the Lord Jesus, &c.

Then the “remedy”:

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly To dwell upon these following scriptures, which do clearly evidence that poor sinners which are not so and so prepared and qualified to meet with Christ, to receive and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, may, notwithstanding that, believe in Christ; and rest and lean upon him for happiness and blessedness, according to the gospel. Read Prov. 1:20–33, and chap. 8:1–11, and chap. 9:1–6; Ezek. 16:1–14; John 3:14–18, 36; Rev. 3:15–20. Here the Lord Jesus Christ stands knocking at the Laodiceans’ door; he would fain have them to sup with him, and that he might sup with them; that is, that they might have intimate communion and fellowship one with another.

Now, pray tell me, what preparations or qualifications had these Laodiceans to entertain Christ? Surely none; for they were lukewarm, they were ‘neither hot nor cold,’ they were ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked;’ and yet Christ, to shew his free grace and his condescending love, invites the very worst of sinners to open to him, though they were no ways so and so prepared or qualified to entertain him.

Brooks, Thomas. The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks. Edited by Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1, James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866, pp. 146–47.

Taylor is seeking to avail himself of this remedy: Can my faith lay hold of that door behind which lies your free grace?

Behind that door lies the “crowns of life”:

                                    where crowns of life do lie:

Thou’lt give a crown of life to such as be

Faithful to death. And shall faith fail in me?

The crown of life is offered to the one’s faith perseveres
James 1:12 (ESV)

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

If I am faithful till the end, I will get this crown. But, will I be faithful until the end? Will that be me?

Another look at the couplet:

Thou’lt give a crown of life to such as be

Faithful to death. And shall faith fail in me?

This stanza has been moving along in iambs, until we come to the last line:

The accent lands on the first syllable, giving us this phrase:

FAITHful to DEATH `- -`

The galloping first line of the couplet stumbles over faithful as it comes to the next line.  The emphasis is all upon “faith”. Faith as the subject-actor of this entire stanza: It is faith that seeks to toast and to look upon the door to free grace.  These things are proper to those who have “faith”. Thus, the abrupt “FAITHful” places the emphasis where it belongs: Is that me?