Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ecclesiastes 11:3

Ecclesiastes 11:3 - ...if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.

Just as the tree, cut down, that fell
Northward or southward, there it lies;
So man departs to heaven or hell,
Fixed in the state in which he dies.

-- Isaac Watts, 1720


amity said...

I find this a bit confusing. Can someone explain it to me?

amity said...

I ask this because, as we agreed Charles Wesley seems to have had a Calvinist streak, I have sometimes thought Watts had a streak of Arminianism. Am I reading too much into this?

R. L. Vaughn said...

I'd say you're probably reading too much into it if you see Arminianism in Watts. As I understand it, he was a Calvinistic Independent. He would have believed, unlike most Primitive Baptists, that repentance and faith would be granted to the elect in this life. Assuming that, he would expect that one who departed in a state of unrepentance was not among the elect. This would also be an answer to those who believe in some opportunity for repentance and faith after death. Now I'm partly guessing based on what I do know about Watts. If someone else is up on his theology, please fill us in.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I had never seen the context of this verse until today. Your question made me decide to look and see if there was more to it. The stanza is stanza 6 of 6 in Watts' "Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language, for the use of Children with some Additional Composures" -- Song 10 Solemn Thoughts of God and Death.

There is a God that reigns above,
Lord of the heav'ns, and earth, and seas:
I fear his wrath, I ask his love,
And with my lips I sing his praise.

There is a law which he has writ,
To teach us all what we must do:
My soul, to his commands submit,
For they are holy, just, and true.

There is a gospel of rich grace,
Whence sinners all their comforts draw:
Lord, I repent, and seek thy face,
For I have often broke thy law.

There is an hour when I must die,
Nor do I know how soon 'twill come;
A thousand children, young as I,
Are call'd by death to hear their doom.

Let me improve the hours I have,
Before the day of grace is fled:
There's no repentance in the grave,
Nor pardons offer'd to the dead.

Just as the tree, cut down, that fell
To north or southward, there it lies;
So man departs to heav'n or hell,
Fix'd in the state wherein he dies.

Divine and Moral Songs for Children

amity said...

hmm.. Well yes Watts was an independent Calvinist, I have always heard, but if that poem doesn't sound just a wee tad Arminian then I just don't know. I like it though.

At any rate, do yo have a cheap source for original texts by 18th century author? All the books recommended to me so far cost pretty dear.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I don't know of an inexpensive source for hymn texts of 18th century authors. I have several different older hymn books that I picked up on e-bay for not too much -- Thomas' Hymn Book, the Psalmist by Smith & Stowe. One source for a lot of hymns is Gadsby's hymn book. I think new copies can be had for about $15 to $20 (not sure how pounds translate to dollars). It is full of Joseph Hart's hymns.

I use the internet as much as possible for the "cost" factor.

amity said...

You sure do find the best websites.