Thomas Manton, The Temptation of Christ, Sermon 1.b


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II. The reasons why Christ submitted to it.

A. With respect to Adam, that the parallel between the first and second Adam might be more exact. … 

Manton draws out a series of parallels here:

And as in other respects, so in this;

 in the same way we were destroyed by the first Adam, in the same way we were restored by the second. 

Christ recovereth and winneth that which Adam lost. 

Our happiness was lost by the first Adam being overcome by the tempter; 

so it must be recovered by the second Adam, the tempter being overcome by him. 

He that did conquer must first be conquered, that sinners might be rescued from the captivity wherein he held them captive. 

The first Adam, being assaulted quickly after his entrance into paradise, was overcome; and therefore must the second Adam overcome him as soon as he entered upon his office, and that in a conflict hand-to-hand, in that nature that was foiled. 

The devil must lose his prisoners in the same way that he caught them. Christ must do what Adam could not do. 

The victory is gotten by a public person in our nature, before it can be gotten by each individual in his own person, for so it was lost. 

Adam lost the day before he had any offspring, so Christ winneth it in his own person before he doth solemnly begin to preach the gospel and call disciples; and therefore here was the great overthrow of the adversary.

2. In regard of Satan, who by his conquest got a twofold power over man by tempting, he got an interest in his heart to lead him ‘captive at his will’ and pleasure, 2 Tim. 2:26; and he was made God’s executioner, he got a power to punish him: Heb. 2:14, ‘That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.’ 

The note on Hebrews 2:14 is interesting, because it is a passage which receives strikingly little comment by preachers or commentators. 

Therefore the Son of God, who interposed on our behalf, and undertook the rescue of sinners, did assume the nature of man, that he might conquer Satan in the nature that was conquered, and also offer himself as a sacrifice in the same nature for the demonstration of the justice of God. 

This argument has affinity with Anslem:

The argument is briefly this: man must render satisfaction, and he cannot do it; but only man ought to, and only God can; hence, God became man in Jesus Christ. “This cannot be done except by a complete satisfaction for sin, which no sinner can make” (ii. 4, 3). “There is no one therefore who can make this satisfaction except God Himself.… But no one ought to make it except man; otherwise man does not make satisfaction.… If, therefore, as is evident, it is needful that that heavenly state be perfected from among men, and this cannot be unless the above-mentioned satisfaction be made, which no one can make except God, and no one ought to make except man; it is necessary that a God-man make it” (ii. 6, 4 and 5). Christ is God-man, not by conversion of the Divine nature into the human, nor by the blending of the two natures into a tertium quid, but by the co-existence of the two natures in one person (ii. 7). He must be of the race of Adam, in order to make satisfaction for it (ii. 8). Being sinless, He did not need to die (ii. 10). “But there is nothing more severe and arduous that a man can suffer for the honour of God of his own accord, and not as a matter of debt, than death. And a man can in no way more entirely give himself up to God, than when he delivers himself up to death for His honour” (ii. 11, 21). Christ’s death was therefore voluntary, and herein consisted its supreme value: His merits are infinite, hence superabundant and available for man’s rescue. It is then shown “how His death outweighs the number and greatness of all sins” (ii. 14, 1). The merit of His death is derived from the uniqueness of His personality; “because a sin which is committed against His person surpasses beyond comparison all those which can be conceived of apart from His person” (ii. 14, 7). “The life of this Man was so exalted and so precious, that it may suffice to pay what is due for the sins of the whole world, and infinitely more” (ii. 17, 40).

George Cadwalader Foley, Anselm’s Theory of the Atonement: The Bohlen Lectures, 1908 (London; Bombay; Calcutta; New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1909), 129–130.

Manton then draws an interesting observation concerning Christ as an example. There is a school which reads all of Christ’s work as solely exemplary. But Manton here states example then merit:

First, Christ must overcome by obedience, tried to the uttermost by temptations; and then he must also overcome by suffering. By overcoming temptations, he doth overcome Satan as a tempter; and by death he overcame him as a tormentor, or as the prince of death, who had the power of executing God’s sentence. 

So that you see before he overcame him by merit, he overcame him by example, and was an instance of a tempted man before he was an instance of a persecuted man, or one that came to make satisfaction to God’s justice.

And how that example can act as a comfort to us: We can trust Jesus:

C. With respect to the saints, who are in their passage to heaven to be exposed to great difficulties and trials. Now that they might have comfort and hope in their Redeemer, and come to him boldly as one touched with a feeling of their infirmities, he himself submitted to be tempted. [Heb. 2:18, 4:15] …..

Christ hath experienced how strong the assailant is, how feeble our nature is, how hard a matter it is to withstand when we are so sorely assaulted. His own experience of sufferings and temptations in himself doth entender his heart, and make him fit for sympathy with us, and begets a tender compassion towards the miseries and frailties of his members.

This also has a hint of Anselm in it: The value of Christ’s obedience was increased because it was given in the face of temptation:

4. With respect to Christ himself, that he might be an exact pattern of obedience to God. The obedience is little worth, which is carried on in an even tenor, when we have no temptation to the contrary, … Now Christ was to be more eminent than all the holy ones of God, and therefore, that he might give an evidence of his piety, constancy, and trust in God, it was thought fit some trial should be made of him, that he might by example teach us what reason we have to hold to God against the strongest temptations.

Thomas Manton, The Temptation of Christ, Sermon 1.a


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Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil.—

Matt. 4.1

Jesus Tempted, Giovanni Battista

The first step in exegesis is an examination of the grammatical/logical elements of the text:

This scripture giveth us the history of Christ’s temptation, which I shall go over by degrees.

In the words observe:—

1. The parties tempted and tempting. The person tempted was the Lord Jesus Christ. The person tempting was the devil.

2. The occasion inducing this combat, Jesus was led up of the Spirit.

3. The time, then.

4. The place, the wilderness.

Following this outline of the elements, he proposes an observation of what is to be learned from the text:

From the whole observe:—

Doct. The Lord Jesus Christ was pleased to submit himself to an extraordinary combat with the tempter, for our good.

Next he provides the elements of his sermon, which will be both an examination of the elements and an exhortation based upon the same:

1. I shall explain the nature and circumstances of this extraordinary combat.

2. The reasons why Christ submitted to it.

3. The good of this to us.

Now the examination:

I. The circumstances of this extraordinary combat. And here—

Manton looks at the Who, What, How, When

A. The persons combating—Jesus and the devil, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. It was designed long before. Gen.3:15 ….

B. The manner of the combat. It was not merely a phantasm, that Christ was thus assaulted and used: no, he was tempted in reality, not in conceit and imagination only. It seemeth to be in the spirit, though it was real; as Paul was taken up into the third heaven, whether in the body or out of the body we cannot easily judge, but real it was. I shall more accurately discuss this question afterwards in its more proper place.

He emphasizes that this was a historical reality. Even though it involved at one non-physical being (the Devil), we should not consider spiritual engagements as less real. Next he considers, how did this come about:

C. What moved him, or how was he brought to enter into the lists [who arranged for this combat to take place] with Satan? He was ‘led by the Spirit,’ meaning thereby the impulsion and excitation of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. Luke 4:1.

From this, Manton draws a deduction

He did not voluntarily put himself upon temptation, but, by God’s appointment, went up from Jordan farther into the desert.

At this point, Manton begins to draw a lesson. He presumes that the life of Jesus is exemplary for the conduct of our life. This is consistent with Peter’s teaching that Jesus’ conduct [at the passion] is exemplary for our life. 1 Peter 2:21. Paul writes that we are being conformed into the image of Jesus. Col. 3:10. Paul applies this in particular to our response to difficulties. Rom. 8:28-29. And so, Manton’s application in this manner is warranted

We learn hence:—

1. That temptations come not by chance, not out of the earth, nor merely from the devil; but God ordereth them for his own glory and our good.

He then provides examples, Job 1:12; Luke 22:31; Matt. 8:31

If we be free, let us bless God for it, and pray that he would not ‘lead us into temptation:’ if tempted, when we are in Satan’s hands, remember Satan is in God’s hand.

2. Having given up ourselves to God, we are no longer to be at our own dispose and direction, but must submit ourselves to be led, guided, and ordered by God in all things. So it was with Christ, he was led by the Spirit continually. Luke 4:1; Romans 8:14.

From the factual conclusions, Manton draws a conclusion as to our conduct:

3. That we must observe our warrant and calling in all we resolve upon. To put ourselves upon hazards we are not called unto, is to go out of our bounds to meet a temptation, or to ride into the devil’s quarters. Christ did not go of his own accord into the desert, but by divine impulsion, and so he came from thence. We may, in our place and calling, venture ourselves, on the protection of God’s providence, upon obvious temptations; God will maintain and support us in them; that is to trust God; but to go out of our calling is to tempt God.

And finally an observation as to human will and the power of God:

4. Compare the words used in Matthew and Mark, chap. 1:12, ‘And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.’ That shows that it was a forcible motion, or a strong impulse, such as he could not easily resist or refuse, so here is freedom—he was led; there is force and efficacious impression—he was driven, with a voluntary condescension thereunto. There may be liberty of man’s will, yet the victorious efficacy of grace united together: a man may be taught and drawn, as Christ here was led, and driven by the Spirit into the wilderness.

Manton now come to when this took place.

D. The time.

1. Presently after his baptism. Now the baptism of Christ agreeth with ours as to the general nature of it. Baptism is our initiation into the service of God, or our solemn consecration of ourselves to him; and it doth not only imply work, but fight. (Rom. 6:13, 13:12 ….).  

Which raises the question of why would Jesus be baptized?

….His baptism was the taking of the field as general; we undertake to fight under him in our rank and place.

What is the connection between the baptism and the temptation? The temptation comes immediately upon the baptism and the Father’s recognition of Jesus as the Son (Mark 3:16-17)

2. Thus many times the children of God, after solemn assurances of his love, are exposed to great temptations.…God’s conduct is gentle, and proportioned to our strength, as Jacob drove as the little ones were able to bear it. He never suffers his castles to be besieged till they are victualled.

Why does the temptation come immediately before his public preaching ministry (his prophetical office):

3. … Experience of temptations fits for the ministry, as Christ’s temptations prepared him to set a-foot the kingdom of God, for the recovery of poor souls out of their bondage into the liberty of the children of God: … Christ also would show us that ministers should not only be men of science, but of experience.

4. The place or field where this combat was fought, the wilderness, where were none but wild beasts: … In this solitary place Satan tried his utmost power against our Saviour.

This teacheth us:—

a. That Christ alone grappled with Satan, having no fellow-worker with him, that we may know the strength of our Redeemer, who is able himself to overcome the tempter without any assistance, and to ‘save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him,’ Heb. 7:25.

b. That the devil often abuseth our solitude. It is good sometimes to be alone; but then we need to be stocked with holy thoughts or employed in holy exercises, that we may be able to say, as Christ, John 16:32, ‘I am not alone, because the Father is with me.’ Howsoever a state of retirement from human converse, if it be not necessary, exposeth us to temptations; but if we are cast upon it, we must expect God’s presence and help.

c. That no place is privileged from temptations, unless we leave our hearts behind us. David, walking on the terrace or house-top, was ensnared by Bathsheba’s beauty: 2 Sam. 11:2–4. Lot, that was chaste in Sodom, yet committed incest in the mountain, where there were none but his own family: Gen. 19:3031, &c. When we are locked in our closets, we cannot shut out Satan.

The world has had enough experience

One would think that the world has had enough experience of revolutionary change to obviate any claims that political and social “transformation” lead to anything remotely resembling human fulfillment. Ordinary human observation and experience arrive at such a negative verdict.

Robert Benne presenting the Lutheran position in Five Views of the Church and Politics

Happiness and Christianity


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It is a central principle of Christianity that humans naturally seek to be happy. Now this desire for happiness often goes askew – and this is sin. Sin a sort of failure to actually achieve happiness. As it reads in Proverbs 13:15, “the way of transgressors is hard.”

This is not say that happiness is the immediate lot of the Christian. As Jesus himself says, “In the world you will have tribulation.” John 16:33. Rather this happiness is not found in the world; it is a gift of God.

Thomas Watson commenting upon the text

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 1Cor3.21-23. Writes as follows

Happiness is the mark and centre which every man aims at. The next thing that is sought after Being, is being happy; and surely, the nearer the soul comes to God, who is the fountain of life and peace, the nearer it approacheth to happiness; and who so near to God as the believer, who is mystically one with him? he must needs be the happy man: and if you would survey his blessed estate, cast your eyes upon this text, which points to it, as the finger to the dial: ‘For all things are yours

And so the happiness is to be found in God. Augustine begins from a different place. In the City Of God, he casts his eye upon the pagan gods of the Romans. Happiness is what we should seek, but who could find happiness among such gods?

For, to whom—if not to Felicity alone—should men who want eternal life dedicate themselves, if, indeed, Felicity were divine. But, since happiness is not a goddess, but a gift of God, to what God save the Giver of happiness should we consecrate ourselves? For, we love with religious charity that eternal life where there is a true and complete beatitude. I think, from what I have said so far, that no one can imagine that the Giver of happiness is any of those gods who are worshiped with such indecent rites, and are more indecently angry when they are not so worshiped, and who thus show themselves to be nothing but unclean spirits.

What is to pray without ceasing

From Thomas Manton’s sermon on 1 Thess. 5:17.

Since to pray “without ceasing” could misunderstood, Manton works the possibilities and then concludes

“This praying without ceasing is to be interpreted of the universality and the frequency of the return of the occasions and opportunities of prayer; and we may be said to do that without ceasing which we do very often. So that though the act of prayer be intermitted, the course of prayer should not be interrupted; for we are to pray at all times, in all conditions, and in all businesses and affairs.”

As for all times means at the least daily

“We need daily bread, daily pardon, daily strength against temptations. Yea, there seemeth to be a double standing occasion; every day in the morning for direction, in the evening for protection; as God appointed a morning and evening sacrifice: Num. 28:4,”

It is also in every condition in which we may find ourslef

“In all estates and conditions, afflicted and prosperous. In an adverse or afflicted estate: James 5:13, ‘Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.’ That gives vent to our sorrow, and turneth it into a spiritual channel. In a prosperous estate we are to pray that we may not forget God.”

And finally prayer is not to spiritual matters alone

“In every business, civil or sacred: ‘In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,’ Prov. 3:6. In business secular. Abraham’s servant beggeth success in his errand: Gen. 24:12, ‘O Lord God of my master Abraham! I pray thee send me goodspeed this day.’ In matters sacred: 2 Thes. 3:5, ‘The Lord direct your heart into the love of God.’ So that a serious sensible christian seldom wanteth an errand to the throne of grace, and if we be not strangers to ourselves, we cannot be strangers to God.”

Prayer as Desire

Thomas Manton in his sermon on 1 Thess. 5:17 (pray without ceasing) defines prayer as desire

“It is an offering up of our desires. Desires are the soul and life of prayer, words are but the body. Now as the body without the soul is dead, so are prayers unless they are animated with our desires: Ps. 10:17, ‘Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble.’ God heareth not words, but desires.”

He then further specifies the nature of this offering up of prayer.

First the desire is offered with the right heart.

“These desires are offered unto God, or brought before the Lord in this solemn way: Zeph. 3:10, ‘My suppliants, even the daughters of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering;’ that is, shall reverently express their desires to God. An offering was either a sacrifice, and prayer is a spiritual sacrifices: 1 Peter 2:5,”

The prayer is offered up not on our own account but we come bearing Christ’s name

“They are desires presented in the name of Christ, in whom alone we are acceptable to God: John 16:23, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.’”

Finally these are agreeable to God

“All our desires must be regulated by his revealed will, and subordinated to his secret will, so far as God seeth it fit for his glory and our good; for upon other terms he is not bound to us.”

Kuyper, Common Grace.19 (Original Righteousness Continued)


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The previous post in this series may be found here.

Kuyper continues on with the issue of original righteousness in Adam: Was righteousness a supernatural addition to human nature? In this chapter Kuyper examines the issue from a different direction: Whence disordered or rebellious desire in human beings?

He presents the contrast between the Roman Catholic and the Reformed understanding of the question. 

The Roman Catholic view (he cites to Bellarmine) explains it thus: The mater which makes up human nature is inherently subject to this defect. To create a human being is to create a being capable of defecting and such defection is an unavoidable consequence of making human beings from matter:

Bellarmine, the skillful Roman Catholic polemicist, who has argued the case for the Roman Catholic side of this doctrine most thoroughly, returns time and again to the point that the temptation to sin lies in the makeup of our nature. Thus he says among other things, “The desire of the flesh is at present a punishment for sin, but for man in his natural state this condition would undoubtedly have been natural, not as a given positive aspect of his nature, but as a deficiency, yes, even as a certain sickness of his nature, that flowed from the constitution of matter.”

If this is so, then there is something matter which is inherently contrary to God. If God could have created a human without this defect inherent in matter, then God could have/should have done so. That God did not create such a human being argues that God could not make such a being and still use matter. There thus must be something ultimately incorrigible in matter.

So, the “fountain of sin” lies in the very fact that we are human beings: which is a deduction Kuyper makes from Bellarmine’s understanding of human nature. Since this “fountain” bubbles up as its own accord, a sinful desire is not sinful. It only become sinful when the will consents to the desire. There must be a second move to turn a desire for sin into a sinful desire. 

He makes the observation that the Reformed and Roman Catholic positions differ not on the doctrine of the Trinity but on the doctrine of humanity. Our anthropologies differ: this is the place where the two diverge. Sin does not have its origin in something inherent in the physical body and the soul, but rather has its source in the spiritual (not the physical). Satan a pure spirt without body introduced humanity to sin. 

Human beings were created with original righteousness, not as a supernatural addition but as something inherent in humanity – but that this original righteousness exists in our dependence – not independence from God. 

Kuyper then draws out an implication from this fact of dependence: Human beings were not created with humanity as the end, the purpose of humanity. Human beings were created for God and God’s purposes. Human beings were specifically created to glorify God; God creates us for His glory. 

There is another corollary which Kuyper draws: If human beings have some purpose other than God’s glory, if there is some purpose, some end which we should/may achieve other than God’s glory, then God becomes an instrument to help us achieve that end. God becomes a tool in our effort to achieve our glory. 

God created Adam in such a way, with excellency and glory, because such an Adam was needful for God’s aim. God did not need Adam, but it did please God to create Adam and to work through Adam and to so sustain Adam by grace. 

Edward Taylor, My Shattered Fancy.6


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But, Lord, as burnished sunbeams forth out fly,
Let angel-shine forth in my life outflame,
That I may grace Thy graceful family
And not to Thy relations be a shame.
Make me Thy graft, be Thou my golden stock.
Thy glory then I’ll make my fruits and crop. 

The rhythm of this final stanza is quite regular until the accent on the first syllable of the fifth line:


The emphasis works particularly well here: it puts an emphasis on an element of the prayer. The entire poem has been a meditation upon what it would be to be grafted into Christ and here he makes his prayer: Make me that graft. The spondee on the first foot of the line makes the prayer a plea, a demand: DO THIS FOR ME!

The language of the angels and fire is not mere commonplace for bright. In Hebrews 1:7 it reads

Of the angels he says

He makes his angels winds,

And his ministers a flame of fire. 

And thus, while he is not praying to be made an angel for a fire, the allusion to angles and flame has a basis in the glory given to Christ. The rest of the chapter in Hebrews describes the greatness of Christ over the angelic host. 

This last stanza is not merely a prayer that the wonder of being joined to Christ should be Taylor’s. There is the issue honor and shame. 

The concept of shame and honor are a major theme throughout the Bible. Shame is first seen in Genesis 2 when Adam and Eve. They experience shame as a result of their sinfulness. The biblical concept of shame contains both an objective and subjective element – both of which are present in the Genesis account. 

First, there is the subjective element: I feel ashamed of what I have done. I am not mere guilty, but I worthy to be excluded. This is shown by the human pair both hiding in the trees and trying to make clothing. They feel they cannot be seen by God.

Second, there is an objective element: shame from the position of the other. This is typically seen as being vulnerable to the power of another. For instance in Psalm 25:2, the prayer reads:

O my God, in you I trust let me not be put to shame

Let not my enemies exult over me.

To be in shame is for the enemy to exult. Or in 37:1

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; 

Let me never be put to shame

In your righteousness deliver me. 

To be protected from shame is to be rescued. 

There is also the reversal of shame. Since suffering, particularly at the hands of an enemy is shameful. But, as Peter writes, the apparent shame of suffering will be reversed by Christ:

1 Peter 1:6–8  

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 

Now shame is something which one can convey to others. To be in the company of one who is shameful is to shame me. This is seen by the nature of being unclean under Mosaic Law: one can convey uncleanness by contact. 

To bring Taylor into the relations around Christ has the power to bring shame upon the family. And so Taylor prays that he not bring such shame

But, Lord, as burnished sunbeams forth out fly,

Let angel-shine forth in my life outflame,
That I may grace Thy graceful family
And not to Thy relations be a shame.

Thus, to avoid such shame, Taylor is dependent upon Christ to make him glorious. Taylor is not contending that such glory is inherent in him – he is asking that be made in him. 

This particular prayer has an interesting relation to Hebrews 2 which describes Christ’s relationship to humanity. That God would be sinful humanity would cast shame upon God. God should be ashamed to be with human beings, who are not glorious (which is obvious if you have ever met one of us). But the Son is not ashamed to be called our brother:

Hebrews 2:10–13 (KJV 1900)

10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

The Son is not ashamed because he sanctifies – he makes holy (which is glorious) – his own. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them brothers. He makes his people who are not glorious glorious and so fit to live with him. 

There is a line in C.S. Lewis to the effect that the least saint in glory would be such a wonder we would all be tempted to worship that human being were we to see such a one. 

And indeed that hope to be glorious is not a matter of vanity; it is lovely. We are often so petty and ridiculous because we seek to make ourselves glorious – and not receive true glory from our Creator. 

Edward Taylor, My Shattered Fancy.5


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This stanza presents a question without an answer, but it does mention the response.

My Lord, what is it that Thou dost bestow?
The praise on this account fills up, and throngs
Eternity brimful, doth overflow
The heavens vast with rich angelic songs.
How should I blush? How tremble at this thing,
Not having yet my gam-ut learned to sing.

The introductory question, “What is that thou does bestow?” is not directly answered. The implied answer is, An engrafting of your life into my life, which results in you being brought into my web of relationships.

The rhythm of the first line puts the emphasis on the first word of the question, “What”. It does this by placing the word immediately after a pause and accented syllable. 

my LORD, WHAT is IT that THOU dost BEstow?

Yes, what is it? The rhythm makes it impossible to run past the question. 

It is now interesting that the question is not answered.  It is assumed by the word “this”

The praise on this account fills up, and throngs
Eternity brimful

But he never clearly says what “this” is.  He does raise the matter of relations again in the next stanza, “Thy graceful family”.  But here it is merely implied.

The result of this “this” is unceasing praise throughout heaven:

The praise on this account fills up, and throngs
Eternity brimful, doth overflow
The heavens vast with rich angelic songs.

In this, Taylor is again on solid scriptural ground. First, Taylor has come to a gathering:

Hebrews 12:22–23 (KJV 1900)

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Second, the most common scene in the pictures of heaven is one of singing:

Revelation 5:8–14 (KJV 1900) 

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 

11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. 

The picture of heaven being “brimful” and overflowing with song is remarkable. We normally do not picture songs as occupying a space, but here the songs are palpable. 

As is most common in Taylor, he pauses for a moment at the fact that he is not fit to be present in this company. Taylor’s treatise on the Lord’s Supper begins with a discussion of the scene in Matthew 25 of the man who is present at the wedding feast but lacks the proper garments. That image seems to lie behind Taylor’s unfitness which these preparations were met to remedy.

He says:

How should I blush? How tremble at this thing,
Not having yet my gam-ut learned to sing.

His gamut would be the full range music. The original usage from Gamma (the Greek letter) which in Medieval music was on tone lower than middle A + ut. The concept developed into the full range of musical notes which a voice or instrument could produce. In our modern usage, the origin in music has dropped out and now the concept is merely the full range. Here, Taylor has the musical usage in mind:

How can I possibly participate in this singing and not be ashamed – I don’t know how to sing with these angels.

Edward Taylor, My Shattered Fancy.4


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These two stanzas go together. Each stanza begins with “I being graft in thee.” From that follows the nature of the relationship which now exists between the two. The first of these stanzas speaks of the particular relationships which have come into being. The poet primarily takes on the feminine role; the Lord the masculine. Hence he is sister, mother, spouse. Dove is neutral but in the allusion to Canticles, dove is feminine:

Song of Solomon 6:9 (KJV 1900)
9 My dove, my undefiled is but one;
She is the only one of her mother,
She is the choice one of her that bare her.
The daughters saw her, and blessed her;
Yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

The ESV translates “undefiled” here as “my perfect one.”

The one characteristic which is unambiguously male is “son”. But in this context, it is the diminutive position, because the Lord is “father.”

Sister is likewise from Canticles (or Song of Solomon). Before reading this it should be noted that “sister” carries the emphasis of the intense closeness of the relationship is not meant to suggest something untoward:

Song of Solomon 4:9–12 (KJV 1900)
9 Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse;
Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes,
With one chain of thy neck.
10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse!
How much better is thy love than wine!
And the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
11 Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb:
Honey and milk are under thy tongue;
And the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse;
A spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

As for “mother”, one may ask how the poet could be in the position of “mother” toward the Lord. The answer is from the Lord himself. When Jesus’ family heard he was in a house teaching, “his family heard of it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’” Mark 2:20-21.

As the family pressed for admittance, the matter came to Jesus’ attention:

Mark 3:31–35 (KJV 1900)
31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. 33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

This also being another reference to “sister.”

As spouse:

Isaiah 54:5 (KJV 1900)
5 For thy Maker is thine husband;
The Lord of hosts is his name;
And thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel;
The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

The most extensive discussion of marriage in the New Testament, Ephesians 5:21-33, speaks directly of human marriage and then applies the same to Christ and the church.

I being graft in Thee, there up do stand
In us relations all that mutual are.
I am Thy patient, pupil, servant, and
Thy sister, mother, dove, spouse, son, and heir.
Thou art my priest, physician, prophet, king,
Lord, brother, bridegroom, father, everything.

The relationship of prophet, priest, king are considered to be the formal offices of Christ, as set forth in the Westminster Confession.

It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only-begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man,1 the Prophet,2 Priest,3 and King;4 the Head and Saviour of his Church,5 the Heir of all things,6 and Judge of the world;7 unto whom he did, from all eternity, give a people to be his seed,8 and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.9
As for Father, there is the refrain made famous in Messiah:

Isaiah 9:6 (KJV 1900)
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
And the government shall be upon his shoulder:
And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

In the next stanza on relationship, Taylor says that by being brought into relationship with Christ, he is brought into all of Christ’s relationships. Being in Christ, the relationships an angel has toward Christ are now Taylor’s relationship:
“I thy relations my relations name.”

I being graft in Thee I am grafted here
Into Thy family, and kindred claim
To all in heaven, God, saints, and angels there.
I Thy relations my relations name.
Thy father’s mine, Thy God my God, and I
With saints and angels draw affinity.

The relating of my God-your God, my Father, your Father comes Jesus’s words as he takes leave of Mary Magdalene following the Resurrection:

John 20:17 (KJV 1900)
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

And so these two stanzas work out the nature of the new relationships gained by the poet upon his union with Christ. First, there are the transformation of the relationships between himself and Christ; and then the transformation of his relationships to others, because he is in Christ.

It cannot be developed here, but at the Fall in Genesis 3, the totality of relationships between the humans and Creation have fundamentally changed for the worse. But here, in God’s Garden, by being brought into relationship in Christ, there is a complete restoration of relationship between God and human; human and all other creatures.