Edward Taylor, Meditation 43.2

Tags

, , , , ,

Second Stanza

Nature’s corrupt, a nest of passion, pride,

Lust, worldliness, and such like bubs; I pray,

But struggling find these bow my heart aside.

A knot of imps at barley breaks in’t play.                                         10

They do enchant me from my Lord, I find

The thoughts whereof prove daggers to my mind.

Notes

He begins with the second stanza with a new sound and an accented syllable:

NAtures corRUPT  `- -`

The second line likewise begins with an accented syllable

LUST, WORLDliness,

The effect is to emphasis “nature” and the sins which compose it.

Nature refers to what a human being is by birth, after the time of Adam, one who is infected by original sin.  “By spiritual Edwards means “sanctified” in opposition to “carnal,” which signifies the natural or unsanctified man.” Smith, John E. “Editor’s Introduction.” Religious Affections, edited by John E. Smith and Harry S. Stout, Revised edition, vol. 2, Yale University Press, 2009, p. 24.

“That naturally we are not the children of God: we are not born God’s children, but made so. By nature we are strangers to God; swine, not sons, 2 Pet. 2 ult. Will a man settle his estate upon his swine? he will give them his acorns, not his jewels: by nature we have the devil for our father, John 8:44. ‘Ye are of your father the devil.’ A wicked man may search the records of hell for his pedigree.” 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, p. 294.

Taylor gives this definition of human nature aside from the work of the Spirit,

                        a nest of passion, pride,

Lust, worldliness, and such like bubs

A “nest of passion” is a striking image. It sounds like a nest of snakes.

Bub is likely here a mixture of yeast and meal to promote fermentation: Here, the concoction would be vile indeed.  

When he turns to pray (I pray), he discovers this his mind and attention are drawn elsewhere, after these sins. Thomas Manton preached a sermon, “How May we Cure Distractions in Holy Duties.” He described the problem in this manner:

First, That there is such a sin, sad experience witnesseth; vain thoughts intrude importunately upon the soul in every duty; in hearing the word we are not free (Ezek. 33:31), nor in singing; but chiefly they haunt us in prayer, and of all kinds of prayer, in mental prayer, when our addresses to God are managed by thoughts alone; there we are more easily disturbed. Words bound the thoughts, and the inconvenience of an interruption is more sensible, as occasioning a pause in our speech; and as in mental prayer, so when we join with others, to keep time and pace with the words, unless the Lord quicken them to an extraordinary liveliness, we find it very hard; but how great a sin this is, is my first task to show.

Manton, Thomas. The Complete Works of Thomas Manton. James Nisbet & Co., 1871, pp. 443–44. Nathanel Vincent preaching on prayer wrote something similar:

Take heed of distraction in prayer, and not minding what you ask, or what you are doing, when at the mercy-seat.—It is great hypocrisy, to be present only in body at the sanctuary; the heart, in the mean while, running away after pleasures, coyetousness, vanity: and this exceedingly provokes the Lord to jealousy; and “are you stronger than he?” (1 Cor. 10:22.)

Nichols, James. Puritan Sermons. Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981, p. 312.  It such a thing which troubles Taylor: he composes himself to pray,

But struggling find these bow my heart aside.

(This painting in the Getty Museum, LA. Artist, Hans Holbein, the Younger (1497-1541) The motto reads, “And so desire carries me along.” The framing for the painting is of a style used for a coat of arms, making the depiction ironic.)

These bubs of sin draw his attention elsewhere. He then goes on to describe this as cluster of devils (“knot of imps”) busy at a game:

A knot of imps at barley breaks in’t play.    

To take an image from Faust, it as if devils at hexensabbat.  The game he chose is appropriate to the imagery:

BARLEY-BREAK, an old English country game frequently mentioned by the poets of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was played by three pairs composed of one of each sex, who were stationed in three bases or plots, contiguous to each other. The couple occupying the middle base, called hell or prison, endeavoured to catch the other two, who, when chased, might break to avoid being caught. If one was overtaken, he and his companion were condemned to hell. From this game was taken the expression “the last couple in hell,” often used in old plays.   Encyclopedia Britanica, 1911 “Barley-Break” https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/b/barley-break.html

The couplet scans as perfect iambs

They do enchant me from my Lord, I find

The thoughts whereof prove daggers to my mind.

Enchant here has a wholly negative meaning: to be enchanted would be to suffer from an evil spell, not a romantic glamor.

The final line returns to the paradox of his situation: These sins cause him to need a Savior. Yet, this sins draw him from his Savior. He finds a compulsion to go after these sins and simultaneously a detestation of the sins to which he is attracted.  They are “daggers” in his thinking.

This underscores a fundamental difference between Taylor’s desire for sanctification and would be recommended in modern therapy. The therapist would consider the problem to be the distress he is feeling in the conflict. Rather than feeling conflicted, he should come to terms with and accept “nature.”

Taylor’s desire to to transcend these desires to seek something better. He wants to “overcome” and receive a crown.

In this sense, we can see that the common therapeutic model and desire to alleviate distress by refusing to reject nature is, at least on the terms laid by Taylor, a religious decision.

The imps of the therapeutic model would be contesting the impulse and thinking of such things as “sin”.

Edward Taylor, Meditation 43.1

Tags

, , ,

Revelation 2:10 (KJV)

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

First Stanza

Fain I would sing thy praise, but fear I feign

My sin doth keep out of my heart thy fear

Damps love: defiles my soul. Old blots new stain.

Hopes hobbled lie, and rusty chains worn clear.

My sins that make me stand in need of thee                         5

Do keep me back to hug all sin I see.

Notes:

Fain: I desire

Feign: I pretend

Fear: a fear of his own sin

Fear: a rightful respect and awe of God

FAIN i would SING thy PRAISE but FEAR i FEIGN

The poem begins with an accented syllable: Fain. That leads to a very quick “I would”, with the accent falling squarely on “Sing.” Interestingly, there is no accent on the word “I” which appears twice in this line. There is assonance on the long “A” of Fain, Praise, Feign. There is alliteration on Fain, Fear, Feign.

Fain I would sing thy praise, but fear I feign

I desire to praise you, but I am fearful that praise would be a mere pretense.  This leads to the question: Why does he fear himself?

My sin doth keep out of my heart thy fear

The fear of himself from the first line appears here in absence: He is fearful of his heart, because his heart does not fear.

The concept of sin will be developed in two directions: First, it is his person sin.  That is an attribute. “My sin” (2) Second, there are individual events, “sin” (5).  Third, there is sin in the abstract, “hug all sin.” (6)

Psychologically: sin and fear of God are inconsistent with one-another.  The lack of fear of God is a characteristic of human rebellion, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Rom. 3:18

This lack of fear is a dreadful symptom, because fear of God is a blessing of the New Covenant,  Jeremiah 32:39 (KJV)  “And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them.”

My sin …

Damps love: defiles my soul. Old blots new stain.

What does sin do?  Three clauses. The first two begin with an accented D. The third clause is accented on a B.  The line does not move along easily.

DAMPS love. DEfiles my SOUL. old BLOTS new STAIN

The sounds are spit out: Damp defile blot stain. It sounds with the revulsion Taylor feels at himself.

Hopes hobbled lie, and rusty chains worn clear.

He continues with the negative effects of sin, but now he shifts the sound H/L

HOPES HOBbled LIE and RUSty chain worn CLEAR

The line must be read slowly. Sin destroys and leaves him without hope.

I’m not sure exactly what to make of “rusty chain worn clear”. For a rusty chain to be freed from rust and thus clear, would entail lots of dragging and scraping.

The couplet is the paradox of the Christian life:

My sins that make me stand in need of thee                         5

Do keep me back to hug all sin I see.

We need grace and forgiveness because of our sin. This should cause us to love God for his grace and forgiveness. But sin destroys our love and defiles our conscience. The sin that necessitates God’s grace simultaneously drags us away from God and to our sin.

The nature of addiction works well: The addiction to the drug necessitates the help of others to drag the addict away from the drug: but the desire for the drug draws him back.

The image of hugging sin is perverse. He does not come near sin, he draws it to his chest in a loving manner.

Measure for Measure Act 1 Scene 2c

Tags

, , ,

Lucio and Gentlemenexit[1]

Bawd

 [79]    Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat,

 [80]    what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am

 [81]    custom-shrunk.

It is an odd scene in many ways. A trio of men have been making crude jokes about venereal disease, one-upping one another by means of insults.  We have heard also that Claudio has been arrested for getting his fiancé pregnant.

The woman who runs the house of prostitution is found standing alone on the stage, everyone else having walked off. She then looks to the audience and says she is suffering for business.  How do we feel for this woman? Is she sympathetic, because she is facing financial difficulty? Is she to be despised because her work leads to the spread of incurable disease?

Pompey who enters is her “tapster”: he is the one who rounds up clients.

EnterPompey.⌝

Bawd

 [82]    How now? What’s the news with you?

Pompey

 [83]    Yonder man is carried to prison.

Bawd

 [84]    Well, what has he done?

He comes in. She wants to know what is happening. He points to someone who has been arrested. While she has heard about Claudio, she apparently does not yet know that it is Claudio.

This exchange is interesting on two levels. First, it repeats the news of Claudio’s arrest but in a comic rather than serious register. Second, it continues with the irreverent word-play.

The opening scene was formal. We then shift to the lower level of society with the gentlemen and Lucio making dirty jokes. We now shift even lower to the purveyors of the vice which Angelo has been enlisted to stamp out.

The trio had been joking about disease. Now we are hearing jokes about pregnancy.

Another level of joke is the distance between the tapster’s name and profession. He is named after a great Roman statesman. He exists at the criminal end of society.

Pompey

 [85]    A woman.

[What is the crime? Answer an ambiguous joke.]

Bawd

 [86]    But what’s his offense?

[Okay, we’re playing this game. I get it he “did” a woman. What was illegal?]

Pompey

 [87]    Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

[Another joke. Ask for the name of the offense, another joke. He was poaching fish on private property. That is, he was somewhere doing something he should not have been doing.]

Bawd

 [88]    What? Is there a maid with child by him?

Pompey

 [89]    No, but there’s a woman with maid by him.

 [90]    You have not heard of the proclamation, have you?

[She asks for clarification, a third question: Is someone pregnant? Again, we receive a joke answer: He did not get a maid – a virgin – pregnant, but he did make a virgin a “woman”.  We then get new information: Have you heard about the proclamation. This begins a new movement in the scene. We are going to get another level of exposition, but it is given as another round of jokes.]

Bawd

 [91]    What proclamation, man?

Pompey

[92]     All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be

[93]     plucked down.

Bawd

 [94]    And what shall become of those in the city?

Pompey

 [95]    They shall stand for seed. They had gone down

 [96]    too, but that a wise burgher put in for them.

We again get a joke, but this one with a bite of hypocrisy. The work will only be half-done. A wise burgher, an important citizen allowed some houses to remain.

Bawd

 [97]    But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs

 [98]    be pulled down?

Pompey

 [99]    To the ground, mistress.

Bawd

 [100]  Why, here’s a change indeed in the commonwealth!

 [101]  What shall become of me?

[What will happen to the city. She sees her work as useful to the common good: what will happen to the commonwealth? She then narrows the focus, to herself.]

Pompey

 [102]  Come, fear not you. Good counselors lack no

 [103]  clients. Though you change your place, you need

 [104]  not change your trade. I’ll be your tapster still.

 [105]  Courage. There will be pity taken on you. You that

 [106]  have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you

 [107]  will be considered.

Pompey picks up on the ironic theme of her service to the common good. He tells her that she will survive, that he will help her. Also, she will be remembered for her service to the common good. There’s a level of irony here about what constitutes the common good. Should the laws be enforced? Is that the common good? Should the law permit this conduct, is that common good?

The main work of these first two scenes has been exposition, commonly a dull element in a play. The first scene was a brief formal installation of Angelo. We then move to the low and then lower still

The first scene provided the exposition as to what was happening at the level of government. It is set forth with an air formality. The change in the city is then marked at the lowest level in a series of jokes.

This moment of extended puns and jokes then turn to something deathly serious and the first true poetry in the play

Enter Provost, Claudio, Juliet, ⌜andOfficers.

Bawd

[108]   What’s to do here, Thomas Tapster? Let’s

[109]   withdraw.

Pompey

[110]   Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the Provost

 [111]  to prison. And there’s Madam Juliet.

Bawd and Pompeyexit.

Again, we have exposition and explanation. The audience needs to be told who is entering the stage. Their desire to exit the scene also makes internal sense: the law is approaching the lawless.

Claudioto Provost

 [112]  Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to th’ world?

 [113]  Bear me to prison, where I am committed.

Provost

 [114]  I do it not in evil disposition,

 [115]  But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

Claudio

 [116]  Thus can the demigod Authority

 [117]  Make us pay down for our offense, by weight,

 [118]  The words of heaven: on whom it will, it will;

 [119]  On whom it will not, so; yet still ’tis just.

Enter Lucio and Second Gentleman.

Unlike the coarse jesting of the “gentlemen” and Lucio, Clauido and the Provost speak in verse. Claudio then provides the first poetry of the play. The government officials spoke in verse, but were merely functional in their language. The low characters were quite clever in the speech, but to no purpose beyond insulting one-another and making jokes.

Claudio’s first words are in verse, are eloquent and insightful. His speech points beyond the bare functionality of the characters. Up until this point in the play, the speech of the characters has little reference beyond the worlds of the characters. But Claudio makes an observation which is true within the world of the play, but is also true for the audience.

It is worth unpacking his observation:

[116]   Thus can the demigod Authority

[117]   Make us pay down for our offense, by weight,

[118]   The words of heaven: on whom it will, it will;

[119]   On whom it will not, so; yet still ’tis just.

Authority has the power of a god. By referring to the one who exercises the authority of the law as a demigod, Claudio alludes to John 10:35.  If we cross the law, the one in authority can make us pay the entire debt incurred by transgression: by weight, the value of the infraction. The law comes down like the words of heaven.

The enforcement of the law can be arbitrary; “on whom it will, it will.”

But one suffers the enforcement of the law cannot complain. It is just if I have broken the law.

But there is something else in these lines. The enforcement does seem extreme and unjust.  Consider the opening:

Claudioto Provost

 [112]  Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to th’ world?

 [113]  Bear me to prison, where I am committed.

Provost

 [114]  I do it not in evil disposition,

 [115]  But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

Lord Angelo, in his new authority is imposing an excessive sentence. Claudio is not merely punished but is also shame.

In this respect I hear an echo of the Hephaestus in the first scene of Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus. Zeus has just gained authority among the gods and enacts a peculiarly harsh penalty upon Prometheus:

“Therefore, on this joyless rock you must stand sentinel, erect, sleepless, your knee unbent. And many a groan and unavailing lament you shall utter; for the heart of Zeus is hard, [35] and everyone is harsh whose power is new.”

Aeschylus. Aeschylus, with an English Translation by Herbert Weir Smyth, Ph. D. in Two Volumes. 1. Prometheus Bound. Edited by Herbert Weir Smyth, Harvard University Press, 1926.

This is precisely how Lord Angelo is portrayed in the play. The one who has just gained authority is anxious to impose his will make his authority known. It thus common for such authority to exact the law without wisdom or remorse.


Edward Taylor, Meditation 42.6

Tags

, , , ,

Stanza Seven

Adorn me Lord with holy huswifry.

All blanch my robes with clusters of thy graces.

Thus lead me to thy threshold: give mine eye

A peephole to see bright glory chases.

Then take me in: I’ll pay, when I possess

Thy throne and thee the rent in happiness.

Notes

Prepare me and let me see the beauty of the world to come. Then, when I come to it, I will repay that sight with thankfulness.

Adorn me Lord with holy huswifry.

All blanch my robes with clusters of thy graces.

We come to the petition which ends the poem. He first asked to be adorned.

The verb adorn has a perfectly comprehensible meaning here: prepare me. But there is also an allusion to the heavenly new world:

Revelation 21:1–2 (KJV)

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The people of God are referred to as the “bride”. In Hosea, Israel is referenced as a bridge. Hos. 2:2, etc. The church is referred to as the bride of Christ. Eph. 5:25-30

Prepare for this holy service and care. (huswifry)

The robes are “blanced”, that is, made white. We again have an eschatological allusion:

Revelation 7:13–14 (KJV)

13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 19:7–10 (KJV)

7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

The culmination of history is a wedding, where the bride has been made ready to meet her husband. The poet is asking to be prepared for that wedding.

This helps underscore the importance of marriage as concept in Christianity. While the current sociological aspects are important, so is the eschatological reference. The concept of marriage of importance to human beings to teach of the coming event.

The robes are not merely washed white in blood, but they are further adorned with graces. This leads to another allusion, this time to the robes of the priest to enter the temple:

Exodus 39:22–26 (KJV)

22 And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue. 23 And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole, that it should not rend. 24 And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen. 25 And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates; 26 A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Just as the people of God are referred to as the wife, they are referred to as priests:

1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

A priest is one who comes into the presence of God.

Having been prepared, he now requests a sight of what will come:

Thus lead me to thy threshold: give mine eye

A peephole to see bright glory chases.

Before we consider the details, notice that this references back to the beginning of the poem wherein the poet is distressed that his love is insufficient. The love is made active by means of a sight of the beloved. It is an increase in a greater desire for something holy which causes the change in his life.

He is asked to be led to the place of a view and there

to see bright glory chases.

A “chase” is an enclosed park or a hunting ground.  An example of that use of the word would be found in the poem “Chevy Chase”

Here the use would be the park, not the hunting ground. The idea would be a closed garden space. The image of a garden runs throughout Scripture. The first couple were placed in a garden. Jesus is buried in a garden tomb. Mary Magdalen mistakes Jesus for a “gardener.” The word “paradise” means garden. The Song of Solomon uses the image of a garden repeatedly for a place of romantic encounter:

Song of Solomon 5:1 (KJV)

1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

Thus, Garden combines both eschatological and marriage images.

Then take me in: I’ll pay, when I possess

Thy throne and thee the rent in happiness.

The poet will possess the throne as a “joint heir” with Christ. Rom. 8:17

We end with happiness. Yet to rejoice in the Lord is end of all the other aspects of justification and sanctification. It is to rejoice in being reconciled to and living with our God. We give gifts and hope for the happiness of the one who receives that gift.

A wounded spirit who can bear?

Tags

, , , ,

Proverbs 18:14 (KJV)

14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

Original

14 רֽוּחַ־אִ֭ישׁ יְכַלְכֵּ֣ל מַחֲלֵ֑הוּ וְר֥וּחַ נְ֝כֵאָ֗ה מִ֣י יִשָּׂאֶֽנָּה׃

Ruach of a man. The spirit of a man.

[Distinctions between rûaḥ and nepeš: rûaḥ is the principle of man’s rational and immortal life, and possesses reason, will, and conscience. It imparts the divine image to man, and constitutes the animating dynamic which results in man’s nepeš as the subject of personal life. The distinctive personality of the individual inheres in his nepeš, the seat of his emotions and desires. rûaḥ is life-power, having the ground of its vitality in itself; the nepeš has a more subjective and conditioned life. The NT seems to make a clear and substantive distinction between pneuma (rûaḥ) and psychē (nepeš). G.L.A.]

Payne, J. Barton. “2131 רִיַח.” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris et al., Electronic ed., Moody Press, 1999, p. 837.

’ish, man can mean a human being or a male as opposed to a female, a husband rather than a wife.

יְכַלְכֵּ֣ל

Contain, sustain, endure. The root idea is to hold, take hold of something. The spirit of a man can endure. Could we say “hold it together”/ “not fall apart”?

מַחֲלֵ֑הוּ

His (the man’s) sickness, infirmity

וְר֥וּחַ נְ֝כֵאָ֗ה

But a spirit broken/cross-references
The HALOT gives all the uses:
נָכֵא: נכא: cs. נְכֵא, fem. נְכֵאָה: defeated, רוּחַ נְכֵאָה Pr 15:13 17:22 18:14 (:: לֵב שָׂמֵחַ); נְכֵה־רוּחַ broken in spirit (Gesenius-K. §128x) Is 66:2, 1QIsa pl. נכאי (כאה, see Kutscher Lang. Is. 200), cj. Ps 109:16 נִכְאֵה לֵבָב rd. נְכֵא/ה var. †

Proverbs 15:13 (KJV)
13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Proverbs 17:22 (KJV)
22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Isaiah 66:2 (KJV)
2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
Psalm 109:16 (KJV)
16 Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.

Interesting thing as a tentative notice: A broken spirit is something which a human being cannot bear. But, it is simultaneously that which renders one to become a object of God’s mercy.

מִ֣י יִשָּׂאֶֽנָּ

Who can bear/carry?

The spirit can bear infirmity.
But an infirm spirit can bear nothing.

Van Gogh Old Man in Sorrow

Some commentators:

The body can, as it were, fall back upon the support of the spirit, when it is distressed and weakened; but when the spirit itself is broken, grieved, wearied, debilitated, it has no resource, no higher faculty to which it can appeal, and it must succumb beneath the pressure. Here is a lesson, too, concerning the treatment of others. We should be more careful not to wound a brother’s spirit than we are to refrain from doing a bodily injury; the latter may be healed by medical applications; the former is more severe in its effects, and is often irremediable.

Spence-Jones, H. D. M., editor. Proverbs. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909, p. 350.

Verse 14 points out that one’s attitude, for good or ill, is the single most important factor in confronting adversity.

Garrett, Duane A. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993, p. 165.

  1. STRENGTHEN YOUR SPIRIT (18:14)

That this proverb makes a true observation, few would doubt. “What can you do when the spirit is crushed?” (THE MESSAGE) “Short of outward resources, life is hard; short of inward, it is insupportable.”9 The purpose of 18:14, however, goes beyond mere observation to help the reader avoid a crushed spirit. God has designed the way of wisdom to bypass problems. The more we walk in this path, the less chance of having our spirits crushed. Broken hearts do happen, sometimes by our mistakes and sometimes through no fault of our own. Knowing this, God endowed others with the capacity to bring us joy (see 17:21–22; 12:25).

Lennox, Stephen J. Proverbs: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition. Wesleyan Publishing House, 1998, p. 185.

It is unusual that the word “spirit” appears twice. In v 14a it stands for the strength and determination of a person that can deal with physical sickness. In v 14b it is a “crushed spirit” that is so far depressed and shaken that it simply destroys a person. The phrase “crushed spirit” occurs in 15:13 and 17:22, where the contrast is with a joyful heart. Here the contrast is with the normal drive for life that anyone would usually have in confronting illness or adversity; the situation may be difficult, but one can recover; cf. Prov 12:25. However, the effect of the rhetorical question in line b is to throw doubt on the possibility of recovery, when one’s courage fails.

Murphy, Rowland E. Proverbs. Thomas Nelson, 1998, p. 136.

Wouldst thou have a sound body; then see to it that thou hast a joyful heart and a good courage, a heart which is assured of the grace of God and well content with His fatherly ordaining.—[T. ADAMS (on ver. 14): The pain of the body is but the body of pain; the very soul of sorrow is the sorrow of the soul.—FLAVEL:—No poniards are so mortal as the wounds of conscience.—WATER-LAND:—On the misery of a dejected mind].

Lange, John Peter, et al. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Proverbs. Logos Bible Software, 2008, p. 169.

  1. Bear up patiently (18:14). “The spirit of a person will sustain his infirmity.” Willpower and determination can counterbalance physical weakness and enable a person to win the day. On the other hand, “a broken spirit who can bear?” If the willpower is undermined, a person cannot endure. He must surely succumb and suffer defeat. In the first clause the term “spirit” is masculine, in the second feminine. The change of gender suggests that the manly quality of the inner person has become weakened through affliction. The implication is that believers should be as reticent to wound a brother’s spirit as they would be to injure his body. The latter may be healed by medical treatment; the former is more severe in its effects, and is sometimes irremediable.

Smith, James E. The Wisdom Literature and Psalms. College Press Pub. Co., 1996, p. 596.

A man’s spirit will endure sickness: TEV has interpreted spirit as “[your] will to live” and translates endure sickness as “can sustain you when you are sick.” In some languages if this model is followed, it will be necessary to say something like “desire to go on living” or “desire to stay alive.”
But a broken spirit who can bear?: A broken spirit renders the same Hebrew expression translated by RSV in 17:22 as “a downcast spirit” meaning “discouragement” or “despair.” However, TEV makes spirit refer to the same “will to live” as in the first line: “but if you lose it.…” Bear renders a word meaning to carry a load. In this case the burden is the emotional one of despair. Stated as a question we may ask “Can anyone stand it?” “Who can bear up under it?” or “Who is able to carry on?” Since the question is rhetorical, it may also be put as a statement; for example, “No one can bear it.”

Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. A Handbook on Proverbs. United Bible Societies, 2000, p. 389.

Yet there are bounds beyond which a man cannot go, without almost miraculous assistance. The spirit, like the body, may be borne down by a weight beyond its strength: and when the spirit, which ought to support a man under all his other trials, is itself broken, he must fall of course.

Now there are many things which inflict so deep a wound upon the spirit, as to destroy all its energy, and incapacitate it for its proper office: and that we may provide an antidote against them, and afford some consolation under them, we will,

Simeon, Charles. Horae Homileticae: Proverbs to Isaiah XXVI. Holdsworth and Ball, 1833, p. 193.

Simeon lists 4:
Nervous disorders, bodily ailments.
By great and long-continued afflictions
By guilt upon the conscience
By violent temptations/trials
By spiritual desertion

He then lists three remedies:

  1. There is no affliction which is not sent by God for our good—
    [Afflictions, of whatever kind they be, “spring not out of the ground:” they are all appointed by God, in number, weight, and measure, and duration
  2. Our afflictions, of whatever kind they be, will endure but a little time

Simeon, Charles. Horae Homileticae: Proverbs to Isaiah XXVI. Holdsworth and Ball, 1833, p. 196.

  1. There is in Christ a full sufficiency for every wound

The Lord Jesus “will not break a bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax, but will bring forth judgment unto victory;” and, if we confide in him, “our heaviness may indeed continue for a night, but joy shall come in the morning.”]

Simeon, Charles. Horae Homileticae: Proverbs to Isaiah XXVI. Holdsworth and Ball, 1833, p. 197.

Cross References:
See broken spirit HALOT, above.

There are a few ways to take this spirit:

  1. Body vs. soul/spirit. The spirit can hold up a broken body. But a broken spirit leaves no remedy.
  2. As a matter of self-control/self-will/courage. Sort of a stoic, Kipling’s If
    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
  3. As just an observation: If your crushed in spirit, you cannot survive
  4. As pointing to something beyond the immediate verse.

a. First look at the cross-references
b. Second consider the issue of overwhelming grief and trial generally (as Simeon does. He may have gotten here from cross-references, but if so, he doesn’t show his work).
c. What do we find?
i. The unusual phrase broken spirit is used three times in Proverbs as something one cannot bear.
ii. But it is used twice outside of Proverbs as a predicate for the mercy of God. If take the phrase more broadly to include smashed/shattered we get these verse:
Psalm 51:17 (KJV)
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Isaiah 61:1 (KJV)
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Psalm 34:19 (KJV)
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Psalm 147:3 (KJV)
3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
iii. A very clear pattern is seen: There is a brokenness which overcomes a human being, a degree of suffering which shatters one heart/spirit. It cannot be overcome
But, this very same irremediable trouble is something which makes one the peculiar object of God’s mercy and grace.

iv. This when thought of more broadly opens up to those passages
a. Rom. 5:1-5

Romans 5:1–5 (KJV)
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

b. James 1:2-3
James 1:2–3 (KJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

Conclusion: We could look at weakness as something to avoid at all costs. Our weakness is something we cannot bear. We then look at God’s help as something which rescues us and puts back on our own feet. But that is not what the texts when taken together tell us. If gaining God is a good which we should seek, then weakness is not an evil but a good for us. We glory in our weakness because our weakness makes us dependent upon God.

Another conclusion: When come to speak with, to counsel and encourage another who is broken in spirit, we should realize they actually cannot bear the trouble they face. They are weak, and that is not bad. An attitude of, “Why don’t you trust Jesus, buck-up” is cruel and harmful. If we are coming in the Spirit of Christ, we should come with the attitude, that you cannot bear this burden and you should not expect that you can. While this is exceptionally painful, it is not bad. This is for your good. God uses this to conform you to the image of the Son:

Romans 8:28–30 (KJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

There is no other way to this end without the benefit of being crushed so that what we now have will give way to what He will give.

The Good

Tags

, ,

We are hardwired to search out the good. History proves that. History also proves we seem to have no idea what the “good” might be.

            We disagree with one another as to what the good might be. Our self today disagrees with our former self about the identity of the good. We form governments which seek impose a vision of the common good upon us all.

            We even war about the good. The Romans were quite certain the good entailed Romans ruling over everyone in the world. Everyone in the world was not always in agreement. The German tribes were certain they should rule the Romans. And so lifetimes were spent brawling over the nature of the good, as each sought to kill the other in the name of the good.

            The giants of human thought provided us their insight into the good. Aristotle began his treatise ethics with the observation: “Every art and every investigation, and likewise every practical pursuit or undertaking, seems to aim at some good: hence it has been well said that the Good is That at which all things aim.” (Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Translated by H. Rackham, Revised edition, vol. XIX, Harvard University Press, 1934, p. 3.) All things aim at the good.

            He then must spend page upon page seeking to ascertain the good that everything is trying to achieve. One would think that if anyone could solve that problem for everyone at all times, then it would be someone like Aristotle. But not even Aristotle (nor any philosopher since) was able to provide an answer for which everyone could say, “Yes, that is the good.”

            We are like children sent out into the world with a compulsion to come home with the good, while having no idea what the good actually is. We must have it, but we can’t identify it.

            What a strange thing the “good” must be. We must have it. We can’t identify it, however we try. We cannot live without it. It is a matter of life and death. We will kill to have it, and kill to make others see it our way. It something upon which we cannot agree. The desire is common to all human beings always. The solution is not.

            The good is like a Blackhole. A massive, invisible beast which directs the actions of all things about it, and yet itself is never seen.

            When we come to Romans 8:38, we just as lost. Perhaps the most common misuse is to tell some who has just lost her job, “all things for good. You’ll get a better job.” But she does not get a better job. Instead, she gets cancer. So she concludes the promise was a lie.

            Our trouble comes with that slippery word “good.”

            One reason we cannot find the good is that we define the good in a circle. I want the good. What I wants is good. Therefore, whatever I want is good.  It is good because I want it.

            Such thinking would not have trapped Aristotle. But even Aristotle could not reason his way to “good.” While he could not think about the “good” without knowing something of the desire for the good; he could not find the good.

            The reason even Aristotle has failed is that the good is not here. It is not apart of this age, this world. The good is so elusive, because the good is further away from us than even the furthest star. One could travel – if one could live long enough – to the furthest star. But no one could travel to the good.

            The good belongs to who and what we are. We were made for a very different place. We were created for Eden’s Garden and direct fellowship with God. We were created in God’s image, to re-present that God in this creation. But we now live in a world under a curse. Augustine famously said we are looking for a happy life in the land of death. The good is not here.

            What a sad thing to be a human being, possessed of an unquenched desire for that we can never obtain.

            If that is so, then how can Paul promise the good? Because a way to the truest good, the most profound god, the end for which we are created is opened upon here. To use the sloppy tropes of science fiction, a portal to another dimension has been opened.

            The good is that we will be made fit for the world to come. The perishable cannot inherit the imperishable. (1 Cor. 15:50) We must be made fit to receive that inheritance. We must be change to reflect and display that image for which we were created. And so, the good is that we would be conformed to the image of the Son of God, of Christ himself. Rom. 8:29

            The good is not something from this world or of value in this world. The good is to be made fit and to be put to use for something different.

            The good is be given a new identity, to be conformed to the image of our Creator. (Col. 3:10) That let us make man in our own image purpose of Genesis 1:26-17, is being renewed. To be conformed to Christ is our good.

            We long for this good, because this good fulfills the reason we are. Stamped upon every human being is the desire for this good, the greatest of all goods: to reflect the image of God.

            And if that is so, it is no wonder our life is marked with such trouble. How then can be conformed, if to be conformed is good?

Edward Taylor, Meditation 42.5

Tags

, , , ,

Stanza Six

Can’an in golden print enwalled with gems

A kingdom rim’d with glory round: in fine

A glorious crown pal’de thick with all the stems

Of Grace, and of all properties Divine.

How happy wilt thou make me when these shall                    35

As a blessed heritage unto me fall?

Notes

The import of this stanza is simple. A glorious kingdom is shown to him as his inheritance. He anticipates how happy he will be when he receives this inheritance.

Canaan was the land promised to Israel. As the promised land it functions as a picture of heaven. Here is an example from Jonathan Edwards, the son of Taylor’s friend:

“But the first possession he had in it was the possession of a burying place, or a possession for him to be in after he and his were dead; which signifies this, that the heavenly Canaan, the land of promise, the rest that remains for the people of God, is a land for them to possess, and abide and rest in, after they are dead.” Edwards, Jonathan. Notes on Scripture. Edited by Harry S. Stout and Stephen J. Stein, vol. 15, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 335.

He compares the sight of Canaan as an image which has been interlaid (enwalled) with gemstones.

Gem stones are used throughout the Scripture as an image of the glory of the world to come:

“This kingdom excels in the riches of it; gold doth not so much surpass iron, as this kingdom doth all other riches; ‘the gates are of pearl,’ Rev. 21:21. ‘and the foundations of it are garnished with all precious stones,’ ver. 19. It is enough for cabinets to have pearl; but were gates of pearl ever heard of before? It is said ‘kings shall throw down their crowns and scepters before it.’ Rev. 4:10 as counting all their glory and riches but dust in comparison of it; this kingdom hath Deity itself to enrich it, and these riches are such as cannot be weighed in the balance; neither the heart of man can conceive, nor the tongue of angel express them.” 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, p. 74.

He repeats the image this time as a kingdom of glory.

“In fine” means in conclusion. (Latin, finis)

The image of the kingdom is repeated, as a crown. Grace is made to be the adornment of a crown.

all properties Divine. There are two possible references here. This could be a generic reference to all things divine, pertaining to God, of any sort.

However, “properties” is a technical theological term. For example, this usage by Jonathan Edwards, “COMMUNICATION OF PROPERTIES with respect to the divine and human nature of Christ. Such a communication of properties and characters with respect to Christ in the language of Scripture, which divines suppose to have its foundation in the union of the divine and human natures of Jesus, is not absurd.” Misc. 1219. Properties is an equivalent of attributes.

This second usage means the glory of the world to come which so stirs Taylor’s heart is the nature of God himself. John Piper had a useful meditation on this particular point some years ago. https://www.desiringgod.org/books/god-is-the-gospel

The hope is not some place, as lovely as it may be, but communion with God. This is also known in Christian theology as beatific vision.

“CHAP. XLVI

“The happiness of the beatifical vision discovered

“Secondly, they shall have the Beatifical Vision of God, we shall be where he is, and we shall see his face. Says Christ, Father, I will, that those which thou hast given me, be where I am, that is a blessing; but in Rev. 22:4. it is said, They shall see his face, and that is more, They shall know as they are known,* 1 Cor. 13:12. It is the promise of the pure in heart, that they shall see God: 1 John 3:2. Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, that when he shall appear,* we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. It is the happiness of the Angels that they behold the face of God; so it shall be the happiness of the Saints to behold the face of God in heaven: As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness, Psal. 17:15. and so we may have the help of divers Scriptures to shew, that this is the happiness of the Saints.” Burroughs, Jeremiah. Moses His Choice, with His Eye Fixed upon Heaven: Discovering the Happy Condition of a Self-Denying Heart. John Field, 1650, p. 535.

This sight is the greatest answer for the human heart.

tu excitas, ut laudare te delectet, quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.” Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine’s Confessions, Vol. 1: Latin Text. Edited by T. E. Page and W. H. D. Rouse, Translated by William Watts, The Macmillan Co.; William Heinemann, 1912, p. 2.

“Because you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.”  Augustine, Confessions, 1.1.1. You can find an analysis of that sentence here. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/an-analysis-of-one-of-the-greatest-sentences-ever-written/

George Muller: Five Principles For Prayer

Tags

, , ,

“Five grand conditions of prevailing prayer were ever before his mind:

1. Entire dependence upon the merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only ground of any claim for blessing. (See John xiv. 13, 14; xv. 16, etc.)

2. Separation from all known sin. If we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us, for it would be sanctioning sin. (Psalm lxvi. 18.)

3. Faith in God’s word of promise as confirmed by His oath. Not to believe Him is to make Him both a liar and a perjurer. (Hebrews xi. 6; vi. 13-20.)

4. Asking in accordance with His will. Our motives must be godly : we must not seek any gift of God to consume it upon our own lusts. (1 John v. 13; James iv. 3.)

5. Importunity in supplication. There must be waiting on God and waiting for God, as the husbandman has long patience to wait for the harvest. (James v. 7; Luke xviii. 1-10.)”

Arthur Tappan Pierson. George Müller of Bristol, Chapter XII, “New Lessons in God’s School of Prayer”

Spiritual Eye-Salve: Sermon Outline

Tags

, , , , , ,

SPIRITUAL EYE-SALVE
Thomas Adams
Ephesians 1:18
This grace that here Paul prays for his Ephesians is illumination. Wherein is described to us — I. an eye; II. an object [what the eye sees]. The eye is spiritual, the object celestial.
I. The eye is the most excellent organ of sense.

But it is certain, in God’s image be not in the understanding, the soul is in danger; if they chimed air, there is comfort of life gay, life of comfort. Hence it is that the God of this world dothso strive to blinded the minds of them that believe not
God hath set to bid us to defend the poor real eye from annoyances. So he had given the understanding faith and hope to shelter it.

A. The situation of the spiritual eye is the soul. God, framing man’s soul, planted in it two faculties: the superior, that is the understanding, which perceive it and judge it; the inferior, that is the will, which being informed of the other, accordingly follows are flies, chooseth or if refuseth.

Use 1: this teaches us to desire in the first place the enlightening of our eyes, and then after, the strengthening of our feet…. Keep it labors for feet before he has eyes, takes a preposterous course; for, up to, the lame is more likely to come to his journeys and then the blind…. Chrysostom says, knowledge of virtue must ever go before devotion; for no man can earnestly affect the good he knows not; and the evil whereof he is ignorant, he fears not.

Use 2: this reprehends a common fashion of many auditors. When the preacher begins to analyze this text, and to open the points of doctrine, to inform the understanding, they lend him very cold attention…. But alas! No eyes, no salvation.
B. I come from the situation to the qualification of the spiritual eye: enlightened…. Man’s mind is not only dark, darkness, Ephesians 5:8, till the Spirit of knowledge of light on him, lighten him…. When a natural man comes in the Temple, among the congregation of God’s saints, the soul is not delighted with their prayers, praises, songs, and service; he sees no comfort, no pleasure, no content in their actions. True, he does not, he cannot; for his understanding is not enlightened ….Wwhat a world of happiness does this man’s I not see! Whereupon we call a mere full and natural. The world links have esteemed and misnamed Christians Gods fools; but we know them the fools of the world.

There are two reasons why we must all day of God for ourselves, as Paul did for the Ephesians, this grace of illumination:
Reason one: Our spiritual blindness came upon us by God to just curse for our sins.

Reason two: This original defect is increased by actual transgressions…. But I rather think that, like the water man, but look one way and row another; for he must needs be strangely squinted eye that can at the same instant fashion one of his lights on the light of glory, and the other on the darkness of iniquity.
C. [Diseases of the eye]:
1. First the cataract, which is a thickness drawn over the eye, and bread of many causes: this especially, either from the rheum of vainglory, or the inflammation of malice…. This dark mind is the fault were saints and keeps his seminary, and since hatching a black root of the lusts.
The means took spell this disease is to take God’s law and to thy hand and heart, and through that glass to look to thyself…. This inspection is difficult. It is a hard, but a happy thing, to know oneself. Private sins are not easily spied out…. He that is partially indulgent to one sin is a friend to all. It is at pains well taken to study thyself. If thou wouldst be good, first know that thou art evil.

And as in some, the fuliginous vapors arising from the lower parts of the body blind the eyes; so in him the fumous evaporations of the flesh’s lusts have caused absolute blindness.

2. Secondly, there is another disease called pearl in the eye: a dangerous disease, and hereof are all worldlings sick; for earthly riches is such a great pearl in the eye, that they cannot see the pearl of the Gospel, which the wise merchant sold all he had to purchase…. We are easily inclined and declined from our supernal bliss, by a doting love of these transient delights…. The eye follows the heart with more diligence than a servant his master…. This pearl must be cut out of the worldling’s eye with a sharp knife of repentance otherwise he is never likely to see heaven.

D. There is also a double defect in this natural eye

1. First it perceives only natural and external things. A beast has one kind of eye, a natural man to a Christian three. The beast has an eye of sense; the natural man, a sense and reason; the Christian, of sense, of reason, and of faith. Each of these has its several objects, several intentions. The eye of sense regards only natural things; the eye of reason, only sensible and natural things; the eye of faith, spiritual, supernal, and supernatural things.

2. The second defect in the eye is an insolid levity; it is roving, like Dinah’s, and ravished abroad; but wants self-inspection. Nothing does sooner blind us in comparisons. He they would mount to a high opinion of his own worth, by comparing it to the base wickedness of another, is like one that observing a cripple’s lameness, wonders at himself that he is so swift.

E. Spiritual blindness

1. Spiritual blindness shall appear the more perilous, if we compare it with natural. The bodies I may be better spared than the souls; as to want the eye of Angels is far worse than to want the eyes of beasts. The want of corporeal site is often good, not evil: evil in the sense, and good in the consequence. He may the better intent heavenly things, that sees no earthly to draw him away. Many a man’s eyes has done him hurt [like David].

Besides, the bodily blind fields and knowledge is his want of sight; but the spiritually blind thinks that none have clearer eyes than himself. He that wants corporeal eyes blesses them that see; this man derides and despises them…. But the mind and soul is led by the world, which should be his servant, is his traitor; or, by the flesh, which should be as a wife, is his harlot; or by the devil, which is a dog indeed, a crafty curb, not leading, but misleading him.

2. The means to cure it:
i. A knowledge of God, procured
a. By his works.
b. by the Scriptures
c. But the scriptural knowledge (common to the wicked) is not sufficient; there must be a spiritual knowledge.
ii. A knowledge of ourselves, procured
a. Naturally, by looking into the Constitution and composition of our own persons.
b. Morally: by considering how frequently we have transgressed these virtues to which the very heathen gave a strict obedience.
c. Spiritual knowledge goes yet further: it searches the heart; and if that most inward chamber, or in any thereof, you can find an idle, it brings it forth.

II. The object to be seen: ‘the hope of his calling, and the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints.’
The philosophers propound six necessary occurrences to her perfect seeing

A. Firmness or good disposition of the organ that sees. A rolling eye bolts nothing perfectly…. This object is so immense, that we cannot well look besides it.

B. The spectacle must be objected [made an object] to the sight:… nor can the understanding see into the super natural joys, lest the Lord objects [shows it] it to them.

C. That there be a proportional distance between the organ and the object: neither too near, nor too far off…. The best I upon earth looks but through a glass, a lattice, and obscuring impediment.
It is required that the objective matter be substantial…. but this object here proposed is no empty chimera, or imaginary, translucent, airy shadow, but substantial: “the hope of God’s calling, and a glorious inheritance;” which though natures goal I cannot reach, the fates by sees perfectly.

D. And the subject of this spectacle is by demonstration proved solid and substantial; because nothing but that can give this intellectual eye firm content and complacency. How go the affections of man and a rolling and ranging pace from one creature to another. Now that hard to set up on wealth…. say wealth was calm, thou art than for honor; they riches are a latter, whereby thou would client dignity [and so on from one desire to another – no man is content with anything in this world. Here is an irony: The man who cannot see God is still not content with anything but God.] Nothing but the Trinity of persons in that one Deity can fill the triangular concave of man’s own heart.

E. clearness of space between the organ and the object …. there must be removing all thick and impenetrable obstacles:
i. Some have whole mountains between their eyes and heaven; the mountains of vainglory hinder their sight.
ii. Others, to make sure prevention against their site of heaven, have rolled the whole earth between that and their eyes.
iii. Others yet have interjected such a skewer and peachy clouds between their site and his son of glory, but they cannot see. Whether of the errors, the dark and light of truth, or of affected ignorance, but blind to their own eyes; or a blasphemous atheism; they will see nothing what they do see…. Thus the devil deals with them,…. First he put out their eyes with their own iniquities, and then leaves them about to make himself sport.

F. lastly, the object must be stable and firm.

Conclusion: ….Contemn we, condemn we the foolish choice of worldlings, in regard of our portion, and the better part, never to be taken from us. Why should I mislike my gold, because he prefers his copper? The least dram of these joys shall outweigh all the pleasures of earth. And as one performance in hell shall make the reprobate forget all earthly vanities; so the least drop of this pleasure shall take from us the remembrance of our former miseries. We shall not think on our poverty in this world, when we possess those riches; but forget contemptible baseness, when God shall give us that glory of Saints… God give us to see these things now in grace, that we may hereafter see them in glory! Amen.

Edward Taylor, Meditation 42.4

Tags

, , , ,

Stanza Five

He takes them to the shining threshold clear                         25

Of his bright palace, clothed in grace’s flame.

Then takes them in thereto, not only there

To have a prospect, but possess the same.

The Crown of Life, the Throne of Glory’s place,

The Father’s house blanched o’er with orient grace.                        30

Notes

In the last stanza, he prayed that his heart would be opened, that he would be given apparel fitting to wait upon the King, and that such apparel would bedeck his Love, who would come ot the Lord, the King.

In this stanza, the King leads the poet on.

The time and perspective change slightly in this stanza. Rather than speaking directly to God, he seems to be standing at distance from himself and observing the work of the King leading his people to the palace:

He takes them to the shining threshold clear                         25

Of his bright palace,

The “them” must be all others for whom Christ has “prepared a place.” This “place” is now revealed to be a palace.

It is ambiguous as to whom whom is “clothed in grace’s flame.” It could refer to the King who displays the grace of those whom he is bringing to the palace, or it could refer to the subjects of the King who have received the grace. In line 29, Taylor references “the Throne of Grace” which is the place from whence the Lord dispenses grace. I would think the reference is best fit to the subjects, but that is not completely clear and the ambiguity may be deliberate: All are clothed in grace.

Why does the King lead the procession: To show them their inheritance, and then to give them their inheritance:

Then takes them in thereto, not only there

To have a prospect, but possess the same.

“To have a prospect” means to be able to see, to look upon. They will be shown the palace and then given a place in the palace.

Romans 8:17 promises that we are “joint heirs with Christ”, that is, we will share in his inheritance. Revelation 20:6 promises that the saints will reign with Christ. The promise is to share in the inheritance given to Christ.

What is the content of this inheritance? In an including but not limited to list we find:

The Crown of Life, the Throne of Glory’s place,

The Father’s house blanched o’er with orient grace.                        30

The Crown of Life:

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.

Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:14–16 (ESV)

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Father’s House is the place wherein Jesus will prepare a place:

John 14:1–2 (ESV)

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

To blanched over is to be made shining bright. Orient grace: Taylor here repurposes “grace” to refer to earthly splendor. The orient would have been understood by a man from Britain as being a place of gold and gems and spice and wonder.  Thus, the most magnificent which he could imagine.