Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Puritans on Christmas? "Infinity and Finity Conjoined?"

In America, the celebration of Christmas did not become broadly popular until the nineteenth century. In the seventeenth century, Colonial New Englanders banned it. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston. Anyone apprehended celebrating Christmas was fined five shillings.

In the eighteenth century, congress often ignored Christmas. They sat in legislative session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas was too British! Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

But during the seventeenth century, Anne Bradstreet (America's first English poet) and Edward Taylor (a New England minister and poet sometimes referred to as "America's George Herbert") poetically pointed to the glory of the Incarnation. The following is one of Taylor's many beautiful "Meditations."

"What Love is This"

What Love is this of thine, that Cannot be
In thine Infinity, O Lord, Confined,
Unless it in thy very Person see,
Infinity, and Finity Conjoined?
What hath thy Godhead, as not satisfied,
Married our Manhood, making it its Bride?

Oh, Matchless Love! filling Heaven to the brim!
O're running it: all running o're beside
This World! Nay Overflowing Hell; wherein
For thine Elect, there rose a mighty Tide!
That there our Veins might through thy Person bleed,
To quench those flames, that else would on us feed.

Oh! that thy Love might overflow my Heart!
To fire the same with Love: for Love I would.
But oh! my straightened Breast! my Lifeless Spark!
My Fireless Flame! What Chilly Love, and Cold?
In measure small! In Manner Chilly! See.
Lord blow the Coal: Thy Love inflame in me.

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