Edward Taylor, Literature, Poems, Poetry, Praies, Praise, Romans 12:1
Having fully set out the problem, Taylor prays for a resolution. If he is not adequate by nature, then he seeks to be made adequate by grace. That is, it is not a work of Taylor’s effort, but a work of God, “this worthy work of thine.”
The prayer is threefold: first that his heart be made a sacred vessel (thy golden box); second, filled with the correction disposition (love divine); third, offered up to God.
Oh! That my heart was made thy golden box
Full of affections and of love divine
Knit all in tassels, and the true-love knots,
To garnish o’re this worthy work of thine.
This box and all therein more rich than gold
In sacred flames I to thee offer would.
The image of gold is used for those things most proper to God. In the previous stanza the poet notes that he had tied “knots” – had decorated the “earth’s toys” lovingly with flowers; but in this stanza, the God-given new heart would decorate the be a “golden box” impossibly knit together from tassels and flower (knots).
The box would contain “affections” and “love divine”.
The golden box so decorated would be more wonderful than a mere gold box.
And last, the box would then be offered up as a sacrifice to God. He would spend this box “in sacred flames.”
The concept of sacrifice here may sound odd, because a fiery sacrifice would be the destruction of the golden box. While Taylor is perfectly willing to mix metaphors (a golden box made of flowers), the concept here is more likely the concept of a “living sacrifice”:
Romans 12:1 (AV)
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
If he so reworked and remade, then he will be fit for that heavenly pleasure he desires:
With thy rich tissue my poor soul array:
And lead me to thy Father’s House above.
Thy graces’ storehouse make my soul I pray.
Thy praise shall then wear tassels of my love.
If thou conduct me in thy Father’s Ways,
I’ll the golden trumpet of thy praise.
The word “tissue” does not here mean an insubstantial paper. The older meaning was a cloth interwoven with gold or silver: the clothing of royalty. And so dress me like a prince and lead to the Father’s House.
Father’s House comes the Lord’s words in the Upper Room:
John 14:1–2 (AV)
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
By the way, “mansion” does not mean separate enormous houses: the Greek here speaks of a place to live, a dwelling place.
The prayer to be led, is a common prayer in the Psalms; which undoubtably was behind Taylor’s prayer in the poem. For instance:
Psalm 43:3 (AV)
3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me;
let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
He prays not merely to be led, but rather for the entire renovation of the soul to be a storehouse filled with grace. The idea of grace is free work of God in him: it is the good which God does and gives.
Then finally being filled with God’s grace and no longer a “leaden mind”, a “blockhead”, he will burst forth in praise. In fact, the praise will be “tassels” a decoration of his love: thus bringing the image of a decorated heart again into view.
This time, if God will bring Taylor to that “Palace of Pure Gold” he will no longer be dumb but will now offer praise.