|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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Edward Taylor (1642-1729) was a New England Puritan. He was born in Leicestershire and became a school teacher with Puritan sympathies. After the Great Ejection, Taylor left England, studied divinity at Harvard, and eventually became minister of Westfield, Massachusetts.
Taylor was a colleague of Increase Mather and Charles Chauncey, and corresponded with Richard Baxter and other divines in England. He carried on a long-running controversy with Solomon Stoddard over the Lord's Supper, Taylor taking the position later held by Edwards. Donald Stanford says, "Taylor seems to have been endowed with most of those qualities usually connoted by the word puritan. He was learned, grave, severe, stubborn, and stiff-necked. He was very, very pious. But his piety was sincere. It was fed by a long continuous spiritual experience arising, so he felt, from a mystical communion with Christ. The reality and depth of this experience is amply witnessed by his poetry."
A perusal of his poetry shows that Taylor was a thorough going Calvinist. It was his custom to write a poem ("Meditation") before each Lord's Supper. They are wonderful examples of spiritual experience and devotion.
Here is Reformed theology in beautiful dress. The reader who loves
Puritan sermons should welcome a chance to dive into this feast
of Puritan poetry. They have been minimally edited, but do not
be put off by the old spelling or unfamiliar words. Here is great
literature that will repay slow examination, or even better, reading
Meditation 1 (Recommended for a first taste)
I am the Living Bread
I Go to Prepare a Place for You.
Let Him Kiss Me With the Kisse of His Mouth
Our Insufficiency to Praise God Suitably, for His Mercy.
And All Drunk the Same Spirituall Drinke
He Sent a Man Before Them, Even Joseph, Who Was Sold, etc.
God Commends His Love Unto Us, In That While We Were Yet Sinners, Christ Died For Us
The Cup of Blessing Which Wee Bless, is It Not the Comunion of the Body of Christ? etc.
If One Died For All Then Are All Dead
The Joy Of Church Fellowship Rightly Attended
An Address to the Soul Occasioned by a Rain
These poems are taken from "The Poems of Edward Taylor," edited by Donald E. Stanford, U. Of North Carolina Press, 1989. Dr. Stanford gives an well-written introduction to the life of Taylor and makes many informed observations about his theology. This book is highly recommended.
If you enjoy these poems, try The Poems of Michael Wigglesworth
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