March 29, 2013
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert (1593-1633)
July 8, 2010
[Robert Browning was a great 19th century British poet. His religious beliefs are not clear – in many of his poems, the voice belongs to someone other than the poet. The following is an excerpt from “Saul” (1845 and 1855). Browning imagines David playing the lyre and singing when “a harmful spirit from God was upon Saul” (1 Samuel 16:23). The voice throughout is David’s. In the first section, David, echoing Isaiah 6, is overwhelmed by seeing the majesty, wisdom and love of God laid bare, and submits himself willingly, lovingly to God. In the second section, David first addresses God, then, in the last four lines, Saul. He expresses confidence that God’s love is greater than his own, and that God will become incarnate in David’s own descendant for the salvation of the ungodly. While Scripture does not give us warrant for thinking that Saul is saved in the end, these lines beautifully express deep biblical truths. You can read the entire poem (more than 4000 words) at this link and a number of others. Thanks to Carla Stout for pointing me to this poem – Coty]
I spoke as I saw:
I report, as a man may of God`s work – all`s love, yet all`s law.
Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
I but open my eyes, – and perfection, no more and no less,
In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
The submission of man`s nothing-perfect to God`s all-complete,
As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet. . . .
Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou – so wilt thou!
So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown -
And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
`Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!
April 2, 2010
Ten thousand talents once I owed,
And nothing had to pay;
But Jesus freed me from the load,
and washed my debt away.
Yet since the Lord forgave my sin,
and blotted out my score,
Much more indebted I have been,
than e’er I was before.
My guilt is canceled quite I know,
and satisfaction made;
But the vast debt of love I owe
can never be repaid.
The love I owe for sin forgiven,
for power to believe,
For present peace and promised heaven,
no angel can conceive.
That love of Thine, Thou sinner’s Friend!
Witness Thy bleeding heart!
My little all can ne’er extend
to pay a thousandth part.
Nay more, the poor returns I make
I first from Thee obtain;
And ’tis of grace that Thou wilt take
such poor returns again.
‘Tis well – it shall my glory be
(Let who will boast their store)
In time and to eternity,
to owe Thee more and more.
(John Newton, 1779)