Saturday, January 4, 2014

Daily Old Testament: Isaiah 52:13-15 and New Testament Inspired Words of James Nayler - Nayler Sonnet 1

Isaiah 52:13-15 – He who will be sent, God’s servant “will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights” (52:13).

The people looked on him and were appalled. Written in the past tense, it passes into the ears of Christians as a prophecy of what WILL come:

“[S]o will the crowds be astonished at him, and kings stand speechless before him; for they shall see something never told and witness something never heard before” (52:15).

New Testament Inspired:
I want to continue having some New Testament-inspired part of my daily blog through the last days of it. While I was a Friend for about ten years before returning to the Catholic Church, and knew the story of James Nayler’s entry into Bristol, England in 1656, I never had run across the famous “deathbed words” he spoke in 1660, some two hours before he passed away. And, I had never any knowledge of the absolutely amazing sonnets that Kenneth Boulding (1910-1993) wrote using these words as his foundation. They blew me away when I first read them in 2012. I think everyone in the world should read them, so I will include one each day. But first the words themselves:

Beautiful Quaker Words: James Nayler’s Deathbed Testimony

There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thought to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it; nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world's joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places of the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life.

Thou wast with me when I fled from the face of mine enemies: then didst Thou warn me in the night: Thou carriedst me in Thy power into the hiding-place Thou hadst prepared for me: there Thou coveredst me with Thy Hand that in time Thou mightst bring me forth a rock before all the world. When I was weak Thou stayedst me with Thy Hand, that in Thy time Thou mightst present me to the world in Thy strength in which I stand, and cannot be moved. Praise the Lord, O my soul. Let this be written for those that come after. Praise the Lord.

And now the amazing Sonnets by Kenneth Boulding, a very illustrious Friend himself, sonnets that were inspired by Nayler’s words:

1. There is a spirit which I feel

Can I, imprisoned, body-bounded, touch
The starry robe of God, and from my soul,
My tiny Part, reach forth to his great Whole,
And spread my Little to the infinite Much,
When Truth forever slips from out my clutch,
And what I take indeed, I do but dole
In cupfuls from a rimless ocean-bowl
That holds a million million million such?
And yet, some Thing that moves among the stars,
And holds the cosmos in a web of law,
Moves too in me: a hunger, a quick thaw
Of soul that liquefies the ancient bars,
As I, a member of creation, sing
The burning oneness binding everything.

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