All those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2: 18-19
The strength of the Puritan character and life lay in their practice of prayer and meditation. They recorded God’s intimate dealings with their souls, not to publish their works but to test their spiritual growth. The poem below is one such recording from a largely forgotten repertoire of meditations and aspirations that testify to the richness of Christian thought in the 16th and 17th century.
Ponder the rich, deep words in the prayer below, which is an intimate exercise of communion with our sovereign and eternal God, as well as a beautifully poignant illustration of the silent night in Bethlehem when all that heaven could give us was granted in the birth of Jesus. Like Mary hold these things and ponder them in your heart.
The Gift of Gifts
O SOURCE OF ALL GOOD,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders;
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.
Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.
Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely part
he united them in indissoluble unity, the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
when I am undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In Him thou has given me so much that heaven can give no more.
The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions