Edward Taylor, Frozen, Jonathan Edwards, poem, Poetry, Puritan Poetry, Raptures of Love, Religious Affections
The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/edward-taylor-raptures-of-love-5/
Frost bitten love, frozen affections! Blush:
What icy crystal mountain lodge in you?
What wingless wishes, hopes pinfeathered, tush!
Sore hooft desires hereof do in you spring?
Oh hard black kernel at the core! Not pant?
Encastled in a heart of adamant!
What strange congealed heart have I when I
Under such beauty like the sun
Able to make frozen affection fly,
And icicles of frostbit love to run.
Yea, and desires locked in a heart of steel
Or adamant, break prison, nothing feel.
Not pant? Don’t you desire?
In these two stanzas, the poet turns to his own heart and notes that even though he sees such beauty in Christ, he does not respond as he should. The necessity of true and right response of the affection was a point underscored by the son of Taylor’s friend, himself a theologian of some repute:
And in the text, the Apostle observes how true religion operated in the Christians he wrote to, under their persecutions, whereby these benefits of persecution appeared in them; or what manner of operation of true religion, in them, it was, whereby their religion, under persecution, was manifested to be true religion, and eminently appeared in the genuine beauty and amiableness of true religion, and also appeared to be increased and purified, and so was like to be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. And there were two kinds of operation, or exercise of true religion, in them, under their sufferings, that the Apostle takes notice of in the text, wherein these benefits appeared.
- Love to Christ; “Whom having not seen, ye love.” The world was ready to wonder, what strange principle it was, that influenced them to expose themselves to so great sufferings, to forsake the things that were seen, and renounce all that was dear and pleasant, which was the object of sense: they seemed to the men of the world about them, as though they were beside themselves, and to act as though they hated themselves; there was nothing in their view, that could induce them thus to suffer, and support them under, and carry them through such trials. But although there was nothing that was seen, nothing that the world saw, or that the Christians themselves ever saw with their bodily eyes, that thus influenced and supported ’em; yet they had a supernatural principle of love to something unseen; they loved Jesus Christ, for they saw him spiritually, whom the world saw not, and whom they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes.
2. Joy in Christ. Though their outward sufferings were very grievous, yet their inward spiritual joys were greater than their sufferings, and these supported them, and enabled them to suffer with cheerfulness.
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There are two things which the Apostle takes notice of in the text concerning this joy. (1) The manner in which it rises, the way in which Christ, though unseen, is the foundation of it, viz. by faith; which is the evidence of things not seen; “In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice.” (2) The nature of this joy; “unspeakable and full of glory.” “Unspeakable” in the kind of it; very different from worldly joys, and carnal delights; of a vastly more pure, sublime and heavenly nature, being something supernatural, and truly divine, and so ineffably excellent; the sublimity, and exquisite sweetness of which, there were no words to set forth. Unspeakable also in degree; it pleasing God to give ’em this holy joy, with a liberal hand, and in large measure, in their state of persecution.
Their joy was “full of glory”: although the joy was unspeakable, and no words were sufficient to describe it; yet something might be said of it, and no words more fit to represent its excellency, than these, that it was “full of glory”; or, as it is in the original, “glorified joy.” In rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected: it was a most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind, as many carnal joys do; but did greatly beautify and dignify it: it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree of heavenly blessedness: it filled their minds with the light of God’s glory, and made ’em themselves to shine with some communication of that glory.
Hence the proposition or doctrine, that I would raise from these words is this,
DOCTRINE. True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.
We see that the Apostle, in observing and remarking the operations and exercises of religion, in the Christians he wrote to, wherein their religion appeared to be true and of the right kind, when it had its greatest trial of what sort it was, being tried by persecution as gold is tried in the fire, and when their religion not only proved true, but was most pure, and cleansed from its dross and mixtures of that which was not true, and when religion appeared in them most in its genuine excellency and native beauty, and was found to praise, and honor, and glory; he singles out the religious affections of love and joy, that were then in exercise in them: these are the exercises of religion he takes notice of, wherein their religion did thus appear true and pure, and in its proper glory.
-Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, WJE, online, vol. 2.