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Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington

If the Lord would show thee but this one thing, -- that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper language, and Scripture language; and that to say "you," is improper, and arose from pride, and nourisheth pride, and so is of the world, and not of the Father; and thou should bow thy spirit to him in this one thing, thou little thinkest what a work it would make within thee, and how strongly the spirit of darkness would fight against thy subjection thereto. The Lord lead thee as he seeth good, and give thee faithfully to follow; for else, if the Lord should lead in any thing, and thou not follow in that thing, his Spirit would be grieved and vexed thereby, and thy heart in danger of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

What is the Lord giving thee faithfully to follow?

The grey claims that the reader thinks little of the significance of stressing 'thee' and 'thou' over 'you'. So I'd guess that the Lord is giving 'thee' this caution? If I'm right, why is there no direct object in the bolded? I recognise grammatical differences in the 1600s, but still want to learn.

  • '... that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper language, and Scripture language; and that to say "you," is improper' seems to imply that the Bible was written originally in some older form of English. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 29 '15 at 22:44
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    I'd just substitute 'grant that you may faithfully follow' for 'give thee faithfully to follow'. It's stressing grace rather than human endeavour. The whole predestination / free will tension is just that; if you stress one side, the other side will usually need balancing stress – but if you focus on both truths at once, you go cross-eyed. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 29 '15 at 22:55
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    Showing my ignorance: can someone please explain why thee is not the object? As in, The Lord is (telling/commanding/causing) you to follow faithfully. – andy256 Jan 30 '15 at 0:23
  • @andy256 Was your question above answered? Did you want to question anew about it? Or ought I? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 25 '15 at 22:55
  • @andy Thee is the indirect object of give whose direct object is to follow. The question, however, was why to follow did not have an object here—the object of to give was implicitly acknowledged and ignored. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 26 '15 at 0:18
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The Lord ... give thee faithfully to follow

  1. Give here, the uninflected 'plain' form, is the form traditional grammar called the subjunctive, employed in this case to express a prayer or earnest desire. It is, as user 'MT_Head' says, equivalent to Modern English May the Lord give. The same construction is employed in the usual translation of the Ave Maria:

    Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord be with you.

  2. The idiom give someone to VERB means “grant someone the power to VERB” or “cause someone to VERB”. It is not so common as it once was, and even in the 17th and 18th centuries it was usually used with VERBs of experiencing (hear, see, know) and not verbs of action. Outside of religious contexts it is most often found today with the verb understand, usually in the passive:

    Attendance is not voluntary, of course, if it is required by the employer. It is not voluntary in fact if the employee is given to understand or led to believe that his present working conditions or the continuance of his employment would be adversely affected by non-attendance. 29 C.F.R. § 785.28.

    In effect, the Direct Object of give is the infinitive clause; the infinitive clause is what is given to the Indirect Object.

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Linguistically, the direct object of give is the infinitive clause, with thee as the subject, and faithfully modifying to follow:

thee faithfully to follow

This statement is steeped in the theology of John Calvin. Born as a Puritan, Isaac Penington was influenced by John Calvin's teaching. The fourth principle of the Calvinist acronym, TULIP applies to this series of phrases:

The Lord lead thee as he seeth good, and give thee faithfully to follow; for else, if the Lord should lead in any thing, and thou not follow in that thing, his Spirit would be grieved and vexed thereby, and thy heart in danger of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Irresistible Grace:

When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that "it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy"; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.

Pennington is praying that God will give his disciples both the internal and the external call.

  • The prayer: [May] The Lord

for

  • External call: lead thee as he seeth good

and

  • Internal call: give thee faithfully to follow

with

  • Explanation: for else, if the Lord should lead in any thing, and thou not follow in that thing, his Spirit would be grieved and vexed thereby, and thy heart in danger of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Those not steeped in Calvinist theology find it curious that God should have to fulfill his responsibility as well as ours. As Edwin Ashworth suggested, the phrase faithfully to follow could be replaced conceptually by the word grace:

The Lord lead thee as he seeth good, and give thee grace (the faithfully following type)...

It may be particularly perplexing that God should be vexed at our failure to follow, if he refused to give the internal call, but that is the intellectual foundation of Isaac Penington's statement.

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    Er, please enlighten me: apart from the first sentence, the rest of the treatise answers the question ... how? – andy256 Jan 30 '15 at 0:18
  • We have a peculiar phrasing in the dialect of 17th century Calvinism. – ScotM Jan 30 '15 at 0:24
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    It seems to be the same as any other 17th century English, so I think the treatise is out of place on this site. – andy256 Jan 30 '15 at 0:29
  • If the Lord is giving "an internal call", then perhaps that could be made clearer, since that is what the question is actually asking about. – Andrew Leach Jan 30 '15 at 7:33
  • I'd really like to see how the religious context justifies leaving out the direct object. Substituting alternate phrasings to make the direct object unnecessary does not really do that. For example, if you mean that the implied direct object is "grace", please state that explicitly. – Brian Hitchcock Jan 31 '15 at 13:27
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"humility", I suppose, judging from my guess at the sense: May the Lord give thee humility to follow, i.e. It is hoped that by the grace of God you will have been granted sufficient humility that will allow you to obey all commands and wishes of Him (even the slightest).

(I see that this is very similar to the answer given by MT_Head.)

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The word "may" has been elided from the beginning of the sentence, which was fairly common usage at the time. The full sentence (of which you're excerpting the second clause) should be read as a prayer:

"May the Lord lead thee as he seeth good, and give thee faithfully to follow..."

More elision here: "give thee faithfully to follow" means "give thee (the strength/ability) to follow faithfully."

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    This is mostly right, except that may was never there to be elided; this is a last gasp of the old subjunctive. – StoneyB Jan 29 '15 at 23:12
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That line is not indicating that the Lord is giving something to you/"thee", it's an imperative meaning "devote yourself to following [the Lord's instruction] faithfully." It might have been a little more clear if he had said "give thyself faithfully to follow" instead.

You can see that this is the intended meaning by looking at the parallel construction in the next clause:

for else, if the Lord should lead in any thing, and thou not follow in that thing

This has the same pattern, "the Lord leads, you should follow".

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