Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gospel Sonnets of Ralph Erskine

Can you picture the father of good ol' John Paton, missionary to New Hebrides, sitting under the tree reading Erkine's Gospel Sonnets, his future wife secretly observing  him,  he reading until he can bear no more and must get low and pray?  

As I read them I think and think and think some more
Methinks I see the senior Paton, Christ to adore.
But really with faith's keen eye it's not that fatherly man I see
For these Poems, gospel rich, have awakened prayer in me.
(with apologies)

I was captivated by these two lines from Gospel Sonnets:

The law can crave no more, yet craves no less,
Than active, passive, perfect righteousness.

So searching through Erskine's book I found the whole in context as follows:
     The believer, being married to Christ, is both justified and sanctified
Proud nature may reject this gospel-theme,
And curse it as an Antinomian scheme.
Let slander bark, let envy grin and fight,
The curse that is so causeless shall not light.
If they that fain would make by holy force
‘Twixt sinners and the law a clean divorce,
And court the Lamb a virgin chaste to wife,
Be charg’d as foes to holiness of life,
Well may they suffer gladly on this score,
Apostles great were so malign’d before.
When as a cov’nant stern the law commands,
Faith puts her Lamb’s obedience in its hands:
And when its threats gush out a fiery flood,
Faith stops the current with her victim’s blood.
The law can crave no more, yet craves no less,
Than active, passive, perfect righteousness.
Yet here is all, yea, more than its demand,
All render’d to it by a divine hand.
Mankind is bound law-service still to pay,
Yea, angel-kind is also bound t’ obey.
It may by human and angelic blaze
Have honour, but in finite partial ways.
Thus doth the Husband by his Father’s will
Both for and in his bride the law fulfill:
For her, as ’tis a covenant; and then
In her, as ’tis a rule of life to men.
First all law-debt he most completely pays;
Then of law-duties all the charge defrays.
Does first assume her guilt, and loose her chains;
And then with living water wash her stains:
Her fund restore, and then her form repair,
And make his filthy bride a beauty fair;
His perfect righteousness most freely grant,
And then his holy image deep implant;
Into her heart his precious seed indrop,
Which, in his time, will yield a glorious crop.
But by alternate turns his plant he brings
Through robbing winters and repairing springs.
Hence, pining oft, they suffer sad decays,
By dint of shady nights and stormy days.
But blest with sap, and influence from above
They live and grow anew in faith and love;
Until transplanted to the higher soil,
Where furies tread no more, nor foxes spoil.
This book available for purchase here.

To read online click here. 

White Horse Inn blog discusses here.


Anonymous said...

hi all the best to you all - matt

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