The Puritan Epic Poetess: Why Christians Should Read Lucy Hutchinson's Order and Disorder.

This article aims to persuade you to read a three hundred year old epic poem, written by a marginalised upper-class Englishwoman.

Order and Disorder was published in 1679 in five 'cantos' or sections expanding on the text of Genesis 1-3.[1] It displays a treatment of the biblical text that is meditative, instructive, unashamedly Christian, and as this article's title states, epic. Its author was a fiercely intellectual Puritan and republican who lived through the tumultuous years of the English Civil War, the short-lived English Republic and the subsequent Restoration of the monarchy. This was the era of the later Puritans such as Richard Baxter, who formed an interdenominational pastors' association while catechising the town of Kidderminster; of John Bunyan, who penned The Pilgrim's Progress from the Bedford jail; and of John Owen, whose writings on practical divinity influenced the Evangelical movement which was to begin in the 1730's.

Lucy Hutchinson (1620-81) was the daughter of Sir Allen Aspley, Lieutenant of the Tower of London. Her brother – also called Allen – was a staunch Royalist and colonel in the Civil War. In 1638 she married John Hutchinson (1615-1664) with whom she had nine children. John was a politician in the House of Commons, a colonel for the parliamentary forces in the Civil War and one of the signatories to the king's execution warrant. Together they lived at Owthorpe Hall, Nottinghamshire. Both were ardent Puritans, dedicated to the study of scripture and committed to the ideal of a "godly republic" in England. A pair of portraits depicting the couple show Mr Hutchinson in armour, and Mrs Hutchinson with a laurel wreath (a symbol of poetic achievement). For the goal of this "godly republic", both "her pen and his sword had worked in concert."[2] At the time Order and Disorder was published, the monarchy had been restored for nearly two decades, John Hutchinson had died in prison some fifteen years earlier, and republicanism was a fomenting but fading underground movement.

Lucy Hutchinson herself has been chiefly remembered for her writings. She wrote a biography of her late husband John Hutchinson, and a treatise on Christian doctrine for her daughter. She translated several Latin works into English, including the Roman philosopher Lucretius' de Rerum Natura, John Calvin's Institutes and one of John Owen's few Latin works – with the ambiguous Greek title Theologoumena Pantodapa, which was influential in her Order and Disorder.[3] Her poetry included twenty-four short elegies (mourning her husband's death), and the biblical epic Order and Disorder.[4]

Woman writers were increasingly common in the public sphere of the seventeenth century. Authors such as Aemilia Lanier, Rachel Speght, Aphra Behn, Margaret Cavendish and Katherine Philips actively contributed to a variety of subjects. Their offerings to literature spanned poetry, fiction, theatre, philosophy, translation, tracts and science. They made their opinions known on social issues, including gender roles, and their works display them as women of education and intelligence.

Lucy Hutchinson as a female writer was hardly unique.[5] The restrictions she faced as an author came not on account of her gender, but her politics. While women such as those listed above freely published under their own name, Hutchinson did not. The difference lay in their politics, and to a degree, their faith. These women were vocal royalists, while Hutchinson was a republican, and the wife of a regicide at that. Additionally, Hutchinson's serious Christian faith distanced her from the licentiousness of Charles II's court. When Order and Disorder was published, it was published anonymously, privately circulated, and limited to the first five cantos. Her republican views were hinted at in these first sections to her poem (they are much more explicit in the later parts which were not published at all), and given her political background she would not risk courting investigation of her writings in the politically tense climate of Restoration England.[6]

In this essay I offer three good reasons that Order and Disorder is valuable today: It guides us to experience Scripture meditatively; it demonstrates how we can read Scripture theologically; and it suggests how we might preach Scripture fruitfully. In practice, these reasons do blur into one another and cannot be kept totally distinct, since many passages provide combinations of these things and often in different ways. But by teasing these out we may hopefully gain an appreciation how Hutchinson's epic can benefit Christian readers.

1. Guiding us to Experience Scripture meditatively.

Intense study of the Bible was an ordinary part of everyday life for Hutchinson. Prayer and meditation were an important part of this, and the beginning of the poem claims that these were the grounds for the imaginative poetry that followed (I.1-3, 21-37). Poetry by nature evokes feelings about its subjects, and Hutchinson's meditations illustrate appropriate emotional responses to its content matter.

1a. Wonder at the Created World

Much of cantos I and II bring the reader to dwell on the beauty of the created order as each successive day of creation is completed. Like certain sections of OT poetry, (e.g. Job 37-38; Psalm 104), these sections of Order and Disorder have us stop and consider the variety and splendour of creation. It makes the reader see that it is wondrous, and that it was and still is "very good". Although these cantos cover only Genesis 1:1-25, they span 727 lines, filling out different aspects of creation that are explicit in the biblical text or implicitly part of it, at least in Hutchinson's understanding. This expansion displays to the reader the order and beauty and divine purpose in all that is made.

This order and beauty leads to admiration for the Maker:

My ravisht soul, a pious ardour fires,
To sing those mistick wonders it admires,
Contemplating the Rise of every thing
That, with Times birth, flow'd from th' eternal spring" (I.1-4). 

It also prepares the backdrop against which human sin is to be seen, which is introduced at I.10-11 ("... But Mankind / Alone rebels against his Makers will") and dominates the latter part of the poem.

The value of these sections is that they connect the reader to the subject matter by making us take the time to dwell on the subject. For example, the words from Genesis 1:20-22 that state that God spoke all kinds of birds into existence are developed into 71 lines (II.252-323), illustrating the sheer variety of avian habitats, songs and habits, and highlighting the wisdom and piety that can be learned from them. Connecting in this way helps us to settle into the subject and catch the author's frame of mind; in this case that of ardent wonderment inciting praise to the Creator.

1b. Horror at Wilful Unbelief

Another example impresses upon the reader the sinfulness of sin. At IV.203-212, Hutchinson comments on the internal processes leading to Eve's decision to take the forbidden fruit. The development of this passage following its first line is striking. First, the image of Eve "quickly caught in the soul hunter's net" (IV.203) presents to us a victim, evoking pity and perhaps even fear. Immediately following this, however, is a significant shift in tone. It continues by saying that Eve:

Believ’d that death was only a vain threat,
Her unbelief quenching religious dread
Infectious counsel in her bosome bred,
Dissatisfaction with her present state
And fond ambition of a godlike height.
Who now applies herself to its pursuit,
With longing eyes looks on the lovely fruit,
First nicely plucks, then eats with full delight,
And gratifies her murderous appetite (IV.204-12).

These subsequent lines build up a much more negative portrayal of Eve's decision. Here she is not simply tricked innocently into her decision, but is stirred by impious thoughts and feelings before resolving to satisfy them. Notice how the simple action of sin is expanded into motivations. It is not merely the deed that is the problem; the internal motivations are what prompt the act, and it is these that Hutchinson creates to paint for the reader an indicting picture of the sinfulness of sin. Unbelief and disordered desire lead Eve to disregard God and justify her own course of action in lieu of proper obedience. This sobering presentation quells any initial feelings of pity for Eve and perhaps even evokes introspective feelings of guilt on the part of the reader, knowing that they too have been moved to sin by the same motivations.

The sinfulness of sin was a popular theme among the Puritans. This may not have been an endearing characteristic, but Hutchinson's meditations at least show us why sin is a subject of sufficient gravity to mean it must be taken seriously.

1c. Hope for Better Things.

In some places Hutchinson's meditative manner of reading scripture fosters the Christian virtue of hope. Christian hope is founded on the promises God has made and looks ahead to the good things that will be given at their appointed time.

In the OT God's rest on the seventh day of creation (Gen. 2:2-3) became the basis for the Sabbath day rest regulation (Ex. 20:8-11). A Christianised version of this practice, of spending the "Christian Sabbath" or the Lord's Day as the day of rest and worship, was taken very seriously by many Puritans. Hutchinson uses this as an occasion to promote Sunday church gatherings as a uniquely human privilege and enjoyment (III.580-611). This "rest", she says, is a gift to be enjoyed and one which is really a token of better, future things: "Yet is this rest but a far distant view / Of that celestial life which we pursue" (III.612-13). The joy to be had by Sabbath worship is designed to foster hope for a greater joy to be had in eternity – the ultimate "Sabbath rest". To her, failure to enjoy Sabbath rest and worship indicates an unhealthy soul, for it is too strong and substantial for a feeble Christian faith (III.616-23).

What might be taken from this diagnosis? Some no doubt would see her words as too stringent and even spiritually elitist. But her position is theologically consistent with her doctrine of humanity: humans were not simply made by God, but also for him. We only find our fullest satisfaction in him (cf. I.179-90; III.31-36). Music and feasting are earthly delights that she uses to describe the Sabbath properly enjoyed, which is itself a "far distant view" of the hope of the Christian life. That Sabbath is presented as something that should provoke Christian readers to more earnestly desire the promised better things.

The idea of spiritually sick or feeble souls is picked up again later in the poem, but this time is given more explicit grounds for hope. In God's giving of animal skins to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21), Hutchinson sees promise of the future righteousness of Christ that will be provided for his people (V.267-89). Promise is likened to "fortifying cordial" (i.e. medicine) for a sick patient. This promise is what sustains the soon-to-be-exiled Adam and Eve: "Their feeble souls rich promises upheld, / And their deliverance was in types reveal'd" (V.287-88). The promises enable them to look past their present woes toward the good that God ultimately has in store for them. In other words, the promises foster hope, and hope fosters enduring faith.[7]

Hutchinson's practice gives us a guide in finding further grounds for hope in the less expected biblical texts. By taking the leads of this poem we can unearth grounds for hope- and faith-building encouragements as we ourselves reflect on scripture.

Spending time in the Bible and in prayer as Hutchinson evidently has will help us consider subjects with an appropriate frame of mind. This is the value of meditations of scripture. Order and Disorder shows us ways we can read, reflect and respond to the Bible.

2. Demonstrating How to Interpret Scripture Theologically.

Order and Disorder is also valuable for its demonstration of a practise known as "theological interpretation of scripture". This aims to consider the texts of scripture, theology and theological traditions in light of each other. It also explore the way this has been done, in the past, particularly before the rise of critical biblical studies. Hutchinson's poem is a demonstration of this practice. She shows the reader Genesis 1-3 being understood in light of her convictions on topics such as God, creation, providence, humanity, sin and salvation.

2a. In the Beginning (the Triune) God Created...

In I.83-120 we see the event of creation considered in light of the triune nature of God. Each individual Member of the Trinity plays a different role in the acts of the Triune God:

Herein is the Father the Principal,
Whose sacred counsels are the' Original
Of every Act; produced by the Son,
By' the Spirit wrought up to perfection. (I.107-10)

In this arrangement, the Father decrees, the Son enacts and the Spirit "perfects" or completes. Such a schema can be seen in NT theology of redemption,[8] and is here applied to creation. The creation is said to be "by the Fathers wise decree" (I.111), made by the "Eternal Word . . . Not as the instrument, but joynt actor, who / Joy'd to fulfill the counsels which he knew" (I.114-16), while the Spirit is credited with the role of arranging all parts "In such harmonious and wise order set, / As universal Beauty did compleat" (I.119-20). This demonstrates an understanding of the straightforward idea that "God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1) that is explicitly Christian. Such a presentation draws out the role of the Son and the Spirit that can be pieced together from texts such as those Hutchinson herself gives in the margins here,[9] and is in keeping with historic Trinitarian doctrine. Order and Disorder shows us how we can understand creation in terms of trinitarian thought.

2b. On Being Human

Another example of this theological interpretation of Scripture considers the matter of what it means to be human. In III.1-134, Hutchinson works from Gen. 1:26-27 to develop a portrait of the creation of the first man.[10] Like her elaboration of creation in light of Trinitarian doctrine, the development of the making of man is guided by other scriptures and her theological heritage, as well as by certain features of the Genesis text and her observations of the nature of human beings, in both their physical features and non-physical faculties.

In this extended section, the poem frequently pauses to simply admire humanity. Examples of this include III.77-8, where the eyes " days radiant Star, / In the clear heaven of a bright face are", and III.112-14, "A thick set grove of soft and shining hair / Adorns the head, and shews like crowning rays, / While th'airs soft breath among the loose curls plays."

But further than this we can see contours of Hutchinson's anthropology. Doctrine is extracted from the details of the high picture of humanity that we see developed within Genesis 1, and is supplemented by what can be gathered from elsewhere in the Bible and from theological traditions about humanity. This section begins with a stately pause of deliberation as God announces his next creation and its role as divine image bearers and rulers of the world (III.1-12), which can be taken from cues given within Genesis 1 itself as well from Eph. 4:24 and Psalm 8, which are supplied within the margins. Following this the reader finds two chief reasons describing what makes humanity higher than the animals. The first is our possession of a soul, endowing us with an extra-sensory element to our existence (III.13-24).[11] The second is found in the desirous nature of human beings, since we are earthly creatures yet made with a distinctive connection to God:

Whose life is but a progress of desire,
Which still enjoy'd, doth something else require,
Unsatisfied with all it hath pursued
Until it rest in God, the Soveraign Good." (III.33-36, cf. I.179-90)

Humanity was made for God, and unlike the animals it cannot be both true to itself and fully satisfied in earthly things. Hutchinson takes other cues for this from physical aspects of the human person: we have heads designed to look up rather than primarily at the ground like animals, we alone walk upright on two legs, and we alone have the use of hands by which we can (metaphorically?) receive God's blessings (III.45-6, 49-52).[12]

Hutchinson's stately doctrine of humanity is interrupted by warnings in several places. We are informed that eyes and ears are the portals by which temptations enter (III.81-85), that our two rows of teeth are set to guard the tongue (III.99-102), and that pride must be avoided by looking to our feet and considering the ground from which our eponymous archetype Adam came,[13] and to which we must all return (III.124-134).

Hutchinson's treatment of Genesis 1:27-28 develops this verse out into a theological presentation of what it means to be human. Humanity holds a noble but delicate position of high honour. Order and Disorder III.1-134 presents an anthropology that builds on the elevated picture already given in Genesis 1 but also warns against self destruction, before it arrives at the prohibition of Genesis 2:16-17.

Some may take issue with points of Hutchinson's theology – such as the particularities of her Trinitarian dogma, or the immortality or distinctness of the human soul, but this is beside the point here. The point is that her manner of theological interpretation is guarded and guided by the great Christian minds of the past in the form of the heritage of Christian thought which is a trusted and treasured inheritance. It is also guided by other scriptures, as the margin references testify. Thus she demonstrates how scripture can be interpreted and expounded theologically, and not only in light of grammatical-historical considerations.

3. Suggesting How to Preach Scripture Fruitfully

A final reason why Christians – especially those who teach – should read Lucy Hutchinson's Order and Disorder is that her treatment of Scripture suggests how our preaching can be made more fruitful. Three suggestions arise. They are not new, but they are nonetheless helpful: seeing the gospel in OT texts; drawing instruction from non-imperative scripture; and valuing imagination in preaching scripture.

3a. Using the Old Testament as Christian Scripture

Christians by conviction believe that the OT must be read not simply according to its historical circumstances, but also "proleptically" as fulfilled in Jesus – anticipating in the text something that has not happened yet. Christians commonly do expect the OT should function in this way.[14]

Lucy Hutchinson picks up elements of Genesis 1-3 that are not as often considered in this way and shows us how they foreshadow the gospel. One prominent example is seen in the creation of Eve (III.467-502).[15] Here, having been introduced to sleeping Adam (cf. Gen. 2:21-22), we are directed to look far into the future to see the second Adam, from whose "bleeding side / God form'd the Gospel Church, his mystique Bride" (III.467-8), and thus seeing in the creation of Eve from Adam's side the creation of the church – the metaphorical bride – from the bleeding side of Christ – the metaphorical bridegroom. What follows this are some reflections on the manner in which Jesus' sufferings convey life, the spousal love he has for his people, the benefits gained by union with him and the unashamed "nakedness" in which we may stand before Jesus. Scripture references in the margins abound, and invite further reflection on the gospel-significance of Adam and Eve's pre-fall bliss.

3b. Acquiring Instruction in Christian Faith and Living

Order and Disorder is also valuable to Christian readers and preachers because it suggests ways in which the OT instructs us who live under the New Covenant. Hutchinson aims to tutor her readers, often addressing them and herself as a collective 'we' who must learn proper faith and practice from what we see in the text of Genesis.

Lessons can be often more "mundane" than spiritual, concerned more with the everyday conduct of men and women as spouses and parents and employees. This is important for preachers to remember – while it might be easy for any given preacher to emphasize either everyday instruction or spiritual instruction (hopefully not neither!), Order and Disorder gives us examples of both.

When considering the delay in God's punishment on the errant Adam and Eve, Hutchinson sees invitation to seek God's mercy, and instruction to wait as long as it takes to receive that clemency which is available nowhere else (IV.341-44). She holds that such an experience of knowing God's frown without his smile is important, so that we "know the excellence, / and taste the pleasantness of pardoning grace, / that we may it with fuller joy embrace" (IV.358-60). She explains the purpose in this is that "God at first reveals not all his grace, / that men more ardently may seek his face" (IV.365-66), and encourages readers to remember that "As still the Sun's the same behind the clouds, / Such is God's love, which his kind anger shrouds" (IV.369-70). Instructions such as these provide direction to preachers and pastors and all believers in guiding distressed seekers of God toward him.

When we come to the curses brought upon the serpent and Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:14-19), we discover instructions of a more domestic nature. Hutchinson first draws out their significance (V.57-192) before considering instruction that can be taken from them (V.193-258). From the curse on the serpent,

Our first injunction is to hate and flee
The flatteries of our first grand enemy;
To have no friendship with his cursed race,
The int'rest of the opposite seed t' embrace" (V.213-16).[16]

From the curse upon Eve (V.221-36), she draws encouragement for mothers to have children despite the various pains that attend motherhood, and that wives should love their husbands, serving them out of desire instead of duty.[17] When she comes to instruct from Adam's curse (V.237-258), she asks men to make sure they work for their bread, and not to live off others' work in the manner of drones (male bees), and directs our attention in the margins to 1Th. 4:11-12 and 2Th. 3:12. She also draws the suggestion that "bread should recompense our industry" (V.242), perhaps as a veiled hint that employers should give fair pay. Later, in an imaginary discussion between Adam and Eve on the outside of Eden,[18] she provides instruction and motivation to husbands and wives to find mutual care and support in each other rather than berating each other or allowing their spouse to deal with life's struggles as if alone (V.579-596).

Order and Disorder provides suggestions for ways we can draw instruction from scripture, where it is not already explicit, and reminds us to search for both 'everyday' and 'spiritual' imperatives for those we teach.

3c. Developing the Poetic Imagination for Preaching

Lastly, Hutchinson's epic encourages us to use our imagination when preaching. She does not endorse fanciful flights of unrestrained imagination,[19] but demonstrates how we can remain grounded in the text of scripture and also meditatively stimulate a pastorally fertile yet scripturally faithful Christian imagination. Examples permeate Order and Disorder. The creation of the stars called to Hutchinson's mind the star over Bethlehem (II.200-01). The creation of birds prompted several lessons in character and piety (II.294-319). In a discourse on angels (I.247-296) she marshals a host of biblical texts which both resourced and constrained her angelology.

A more sustained example of this is found in Eve's speech lamenting her guilt and shame at her role in their expulsion from Eden. As Eve considers the varying ills she now experiences, Hutchinson uses Eve's eyes as a rhetorical tool to both 'look around' at these ills while also providing an anchor point that retains our attention on Eve herself. As you read the following passage, notice how Eve's eyes look up, down, around, before, behind and lastly, upon Adam:

Whereever I my eyes, or thoughts convert,
Each object adds new tortures to my heart.
If I look up, I dread heavens threatning frown,
Thorns prick my eyes, when shame hath cast them down,
Dangers I see, looking on either hand,
Before me all in fighting posture stand.
If I cast back my sorrow-drowned eyes,
I see our ne’re to be recover’d Paradise,
The flaming Sword which doth us thence exclude,
By sad remorse and ugly guilt pursued.
If I on thee a private glance reflect,
Confusion doth my shameful eyes deject,
Seeing the man I love by me betray’d,
By me, who for his mutual help was made,
Who to preserve thy life ought to have died,
And I have kill’d thee by my foolish pride (V.421-37).

This excerpt from Order and Disorder shows us a way we can vary the angles by which we consider an idea, as we work out how to present it fruitfully to a congregation.[20] Preaching like this helps preachers to remain interesting. Unifying threads such as Eve's eyes in this passage help to keep an audience's attention fixed on a central idea while we shift the perspectives from which the idea is presented.[21]

Order and Disorder carries much value for preaching. It demonstrates ways that Old Covenant texts can be instructive for New Covenant faith, as well as for the more 'mundane' aspects of everyday life. The imaginative treatment of many aspects of Genesis 1-3 also supply us with numerous examples of how exposition (in whatever form) can present biblical material in a manner more creative and arresting than mere explanation is able to be.

Concluding Thoughts:

J. I. Packer was one of the most influential evangelical theologians of the mid-twentieth century, and he has done much to popularise the Puritans in his lifetime. It has been said of him that his love for them was not due to a love for old things but to a "burning conviction that there was gold in the Puritan hills."[22]

Lucy Hutchinson's Order and Disorder is certainly valuable, but she is much less known than many of her contemporaries, and her epic is harder "ore" to extract gold from. Poetry by nature is more difficult than ordinary prose writing. It requires flexibility in its sentence arrangement so that it can choose its emphasis and (if applicable) maintain its rhyming sequence. Poetry also utilizes a wider vocabulary than many people are used to, to express what it wants to in the way that it needs to. Yet poetry is valuable because it helps us to imagine and feel more about a subject than prose is often able to. Through her poetry, Hutchinson teaches us theology and scriptural interpretation, and these not only as subjects to understand, but also to feel and to be moved by and instructed in. If we are going to take from her poem the gold that can be mined from this Puritan hill, we need to get at it through the medium of poetry.[23]

By using poetry, Hutchinson's reflections on the first chapters of Genesis draw out the theological and practical implications, and lead us toward an appropriate emotional response. They also provide considerations for Christian preaching. Admittedly these are not things invented by her, nor were they lost to Christianity after her death! But her epic does provide a stirring reminder of them, and demonstrates valuable methods of presenting scriptural concepts that could be useful for Christians today. In light of these things I commend Lucy Hutchinson's Order and Disorder to Christian readership.

Chris Northcott is the Youth Pastor at Lincoln Road Bible Chapel. He holds a BMin and MTh from Laidlaw College, and also a Grad Dip in Arts and Secondary Teaching. 

[1] A further fifteen cantos were also written, continuing through Genesis 4-32. However, these were preserved only in manuscript form until published in 2001 in David Norbrook's edition. This essay will be limited to the first five cantos covering Genesis 1-3, which work out to be about sixty printed pages and are available online at

[2] Norbrook, "Order and Disorder: The Poem and its Contexts" in Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), xv. Norbrook's introduction can be found online at

[3] A modern English edition has published this with the title Biblical Theology.

[4] In style, it poetic verse is comprised of rhyming pairs of ten syllable lines. Numerous biblical texts also appear in the margins. For further details on Hutchinson's life and writings, see Norbrook, "The Poem and its Contexts", xii-xxi.

[5] For discussion on gender issues in Hutchinson and her epic, see Norbrook, "The Poem and its Contexts", xiii-xv, xliii-lii.

[6] For discussion on the political undertones of Order and Disorder, and the scripture glosses in the margins, see Norbrook, "The Poem and its Contexts", xxvi, xxxv-xliii.

[7] Hutchinson's meditations elsewhere finds promises within the words of Genesis 1-3 (e.g. I.119-30; I.312-30; V.243-58).

[8] E.g. Gal. 4:4-6; Eph. 1:3-14;1Pet. 1:2.

[9] "Jn. 1:3; Heb. 1:2; Jn. 5:19 &c.; Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13."

[10] Here she seems to understand Gen. 1:26f in light of Gen. 2:8. By having Adam created alone first rather than both 'male and female', her poem is able to save for later the special introduction she gives to Eve starting at III.229.

[11] There are similarities between the presentation of man here and in Calvin's Institutes I.XV, which she is known to have studied in 1667-68. Further statements on human nature are made elsewhere in Order and Disorder, e.g. V.467-470.

[12] We must remember that the knowledge of the animal kingdom was not as extensive in seventeenth century England as is common today.

[13] The name Adam comes from the Hebrew word for 'ground/dust' (ădāmāh) and is also translated 'Man'.

[14] We see this treatment of OT texts frequently in the NT, such as in Matthew's interpretation of the 'virgin will be with child sign of Isaiah 7:14 (Matt. 1:23), Paul's understanding of the 'water from the rock' narrative (1Cor. 10:1-4) and the typologies that the book of Hebrews finds in the Levitical priesthood.

[15] Other examples include the animal skins of Gen. 3:21 as foreshadowing atoning sacrifice (V.267-280), the 'promised seed' of Gen. 3:15 as the first proleptic hint of the gospel, from which Hutchinson draws out the suggestive contours of what would come from this seed (V.64-78).

[16] In the margins to these lines are the following verse references: "1Jn. 5:3; Prov. 1:10 &c; Eph. 5:11; 1Tim. 6:12". These help us to understand what Hutchinson had in mind in this 'first injunction'.

[17] Hutchinson presents a surprisingly bleak view of marriage and motherhood for women (V.127-180), and spends more time here than on Adam's curse (V.181-192). Given her elegies and her biography of her husband, her thoughts on marriage (even if not her motherhood) do not seem to be a reflection on her own experience. Further discussion on Hutchinson as a woman writer in her time can be found in Norbrook, "The Poem and its Contexts", xliii-li.

[18] In V.399-400 Hutchinson writes "Methinks I hear sad Eve in some dark Vale, / Her woeful state, with such sad 'plaints, bewail," which initiates the remainder of canto V. This final section has no biblical mandate but may have been inspired by John Milton's similar (and dissimilar) treatment of Adam and Eve's dialogue outside the garden in his epic poem Paradise Lost, which covers the same subject material and was published only twelve years before Hutchinson's epic. In any case, this section allows Hutchinson the poetic freedom to reflect on Adam and Eve's possible response to their turn of affair and present a touching conversation between the fallen couple.

[19] A la Milton's Paradise Lost? Hutchinson refuses to speculate on matters God has not revealed – cf. I.42; I.287-290; III.153-58; IV.43-48; IV.300-305.

[20] For another sustained example, consider IV.237-44 which visualises the horror of the entry of sin using different categories, describing the experience in terms of motion, sight, temperature, energy, defeat and emotion.

[21] This holds true for short passages like V.419-37 as well as for more sustained discourses.

[22] Alister E. McGrath, "The Great Tradition: J. I. Packer on Engaging with the Past to Enrich the Present", in J. I. Packer and the Evangelical Future: The Impact of his Life and Thought, ed. Timothy George (Baker Academic, 2009), 24.

[23] To help readers who are unfamiliar with poetry, the following pointers may be helpful to understand the verse of Order and Disorder and read it with benefit. First, because many words are not spelled in the way that we are used to today, sometimes they must be sounded out to be identified. Second, pay attention to the punctuation. Sentences don't necessarily stop or pause at the end of the line. Hold a train of thought from one line to the next, noting developments in thought until you come to a full stop or at least a semi-colon. Third, if the word order makes things difficult to understand, find the verb. From there, look for the subject and object. This will help you identify the main idea that everything else is built around. Often one verb controls several lines. Fourth, remember that Hutchinson's poetry rhymes, but also remember that she spoke with a different English accent to most modern English speakers. Sometimes words will need to be pronounced quite differently in order to maintain the rhyme. Fifth, use a dictionary to find the meaning of puzzling or obscure words. It will pay dividends. The English of this poem used words that we do not use today, but can be found in modern dictionaries. You will need to do this to find out why her (amusingly Anglo-Saxon!) depiction of Adam in III.42 is in fact not describing him as green skinned when she uses the word 'lawn'!