The Rev. Canon Laura Howell
Trinity Church, Bethlehem
Although he lead an exciting and eventful life, we cherish Jeremy Taylor more for the wonderful spiritual books he wrote than for his life in the outside world. He was nicknamed “the Shakespeare of Divines”.
He was born in 1613 in Cambridge, where he was educated, ordained, and served as Fellow to two colleges. Although he was chaplain to Archbishop Laud and King Charles I, the struggles between the Puritans and Royalists lead to his imprisonment 3 times. Eventually in 1645, he was exiled to act as chaplain for a family in Wales. Upon the restoration, Taylor’s fortunes turned and in 1661 he was appointed Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore in Northern Ireland. He worked to restore the use of the Book of Common Prayer to the Church of Ireland, and ended up as Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin.
Taylor’s best known works are Holy Living and Holy Dying. They have influenced people for centuries and are still moving today. In his blog *Fiat Lux*, the Rector of St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville VA quotes from *Holy Living*:
Let everything you see represent to your spirit the presence, the excellency, and the power of God; and let your conversation with the creatures lead you unto the Creator; for so shall your actions be done more frequently, with an actual eye to God’s presence, by your often seeing him in the glass of the creation.
In the face of the sun you may see God’s beauty; in the fire you may feel his heat warming; in the water, his gentleness to refresh you: he it is that comforts your spirit when you have taken cordials; it is the dew of heaven that makes your field give you bread; and the breasts of God are the bottles that minister drink to your necessities.
Truly wisdom for the journey.
O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, like your servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.