Two Natures Met: George Herbert and the Incarnation

By Jeannie Sargent Judge | Go to book overview

5

Salvation The Servant Served

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

—(I Corinthians 2: 9)

To see, to hear, and to feel these “things prepared” is the end to which each seventeenth-century Christian aspired. Speaking of the knowledge inherent in this end, Karl Rahner, a twentieth-century Jesuit theologian, claims that it represents the “difference between the pilgrim state...in which knowledge of God remains obscure” (230) and the blessed state in which the soul knows the “direct presence of God afforded by what we call the beatific vision, ” which “can only be sustained in the loving surrender to the enduring mystery” (238). This knowledge, together with this surrender, is one of the concepts of salvation that challenges Herbert's imagination: as he says in “The Glance, ” “What wonders shall we feel, when we shall see / Thy full-eyed love!” Herbert's primary consideration in his poetic apprehension of salvation is not man's experience of heaven but his approach to it; and his treatment of man's pilgrimage to heaven accords with the Protestant tenet that salvation comes through faith alone. During the Reformation, this concept of salvation was at the center of the controversy between adherents of the old ways and proponents of reform. Although the medieval church subscribed, at least in its theology, to the idea that man was too corrupt to engender his own salvation—therefore God had sacrificed his own Son to effect man's salvation—it encouraged good works by

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Two Natures Met: George Herbert and the Incarnation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in the Humanities Literature-politics-society *
  • Two Natures Met - George Herbert and the Incarnation *
  • Table of Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • 1 - The Incarnation Two Natures Met to Be Thy Cure *
  • 2 - The Passion the Way and End of Tears *
  • 3 - Easter Sweetness in a Bitter Bowl *
  • 4 - The Legacy of the Sacraments *
  • 5 - Salvation the Servant Served *
  • Notes *
  • Works Cited *
  • Index of Herbert's Poems *
  • General Index *
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