Two blogs ago I went through Anne Locke’s sonnets, and translated them. Not going to do that again: this is Elizabethan English, and a meditation on Psalm 51. To make it easier, I’m attaching the verse from a modern, accurate translation.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;Psalm 51:1, NASB
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
This is the first sonnet: there is one for each verse. Read them out loud, remembering that for Locke there was no standard spelling, the letters v, j and w were being experimented with, and she’s writing in early Scots English.
This is the first of Anne Locke’s poems, unedited and unmodified.
Haue mercy, God, for thy great mercies sake.Anne Locke, Confessions of a Penitent Sinner, Sonnet 1.
O God: my God, vnto my shame I say,
Beynge fled from thee, so as I dred to take
Thy name in wretched mouth, and feare to pray
Or aske the mercy that I haue abusde.
But, God of mercy, let me come to thee:
Not for iustice, that iustly am accusde:
Which selfe word Iustice so amaseth me,
That scarce I dare thy mercy sound againe.
But mercie, Lord, yet suffer me to craue.
Mercie is thine: Let me not crye in vaine,
Thy great mercie for my great fault to haue.
Haue mercie, God, pitie my penitence
With greater mercie than my great offence.
Over this week, one of those men of my generation, who by the grace of God returned to God, died. He is mourned by his friends. His meditations, knowing he was about to die, is not about him. It is about God, and how he also was left outside the people, feeling bereft. How living through this implies we are chosen, for we share in his sufferings.
We must ask ourselves what were Christ’s sufferings? The reproach of his people, the betrayal by his children, public humiliation, torture, and death on the cross. certainly. But what was the greatest source of his suffering? The agony that finally caused the human nature in Jesus to cry out ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” I believe Christ’s greatest suffering was the moment when, he who had from eternity past, always enjoyed perfect unity with the Father, for the first, and only time ever, was separated from the presence of God. Hell by definition, is the separation from God’s presence, from the light of his glory,cast into the outer darkness….alone.Patrick Czyzewski, The Winged Hussar
So my friends, in your darkest hour of need, when all seems lost, and you feel God has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to your plight, take heart in knowing that in this time, you are indeed sharing in the sufferings of Christ. You have been counted worthy to do so. It’s in these times that your desire for God is proved true or not. When nothing but God’s presence will comfort you. This is how we know that we belong to Jesus. That there is purpose to our suffering, and that purpose is to glorify God. So the purpose is to learn to endure, persevere, and strengthen your faith. Now it’s time to get on your feet, take up your cross, and approach humbly before God’s throne of grace. There, lay down your life at the feet of our Lord, put your faith and trust in Christ and say, “Father,not my will, but yours be done.” This is saving faith, this is a sacrifice that is pleasing to God.
God willing, in the future perhaps I will have the opportunity to write another article, but if not, then my friends I leave you with these last words.
We are saved not by what we have done. We are saved despite what we have done. God’s mercy is greater than the evil we have done or the hatred we have in him. But accepting this comes with a cost. The world will hate us, and we are not immune from the ailments that afflict a fallen humanity.
Locke knew this. As did the winged hussar, Patrick. May we also know that our God is greater than any circumstance we find ourselves in.