Monday, March 23, 2009

"Hymn to God My God, in My Sickness"

In a previous post I introduced T. David Gordon's new book Why Johnny Can't Preach. In the last chapter "Teaching Johnny to Preach," he suggests that pastors (and everyone for that matter) should read verse in order to help develop better sensibilities of life. In making this point, Gordon references the 1940 Stone Lectures given at Princeton Seminary by Charles Grosvenor Osgood (later published as Poetry as a Means of Grace). In a footnote on page 100, Gordon quotes Osgood:
Vigor and grace beget vigor and grace. . . . A man in daily contact with say Johnson or Dante, or whoever his chosen seer may be, with their vigor, their wit, their imagery, their deep sense of the world's tragedy, their struggle to turn it to account in terms of beauty or truth or behavior, will inevitably catch from them something of their sense, their feeling, their intellectual and spiritual thrust, which is bound to assert itself in the quality of his own expression and his ministrations.
So today I took his recommendation and spent some time at a local bookstore reading some verse.

Here is an excerpt from "Hymn to God My God, in My Sickness" by John Donne:
... I joy, that in these straits, I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What Shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection. . . .

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ's cross, and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
Look Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapped receive me Lord,
By these his thorns give me his other crown;
And as to others' souls I preached thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own,
Therefore that he may raise the Lord throws down.
What a beautiful presentation and application of the gospel.

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