The collect for today, the commemoration of Jeremy Taylor (1613-67), Bishop of Down and Connor, Teacher of the Faith (source):
O holy and loving God,
who dwellest in the human heart
and makest us partakers of the divine nature
in Christ our great high priest:
grant that we,
having in remembrance thy servant Jeremy Taylor,
may put our trust in thy heavenly promises,
and follow a holy life in virtue and true godliness;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Epistle: Romans 14:7-9,10b-12
The Gospel: St. Matthew 24:42-47
Born and educated at Cambridge, Jeremy Taylor was ordained to the Anglican priesthood at the age of 20. His eloquent preaching brought him to the attention of Archbishop William Laud, who enabled him to be elected fellow of All Souls’ College, Oxford. Taylor also became chaplain to the archbishop and to King Charles I.
A chaplain to royalist troops during the Civil War, Taylor was captured and imprisoned three times by Cromwell’s men. After the Restoration in 1660, Charles II appointed him Bishop of Down and Connor, Northern Ireland.
Taylor was a prolific writer of theological and devotional works. Among his many books are The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living (1650) and The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying (1651), generally known as Holy Living and Holy Dying.
A prayer of Jeremy Taylor:
O almighty and eternal God, there is no number of thy days or of thy mercies: thou hast sent us into this world to serve thee, and to live according to thy laws; but we by our sins have provoked thee to wrath, and we have planted thorns and sorrows round about our dwellings: and our life is but a span long, and yet very tedious, because of the calamities that enclose us on every side; the days of our pilgrimage are few and evil; we have frail and sickly bodies, violent and distempered passions, long designs and but a short stay, weak understandings and strong enemies, abused fancies, perverse wills, O dear God, look upon us in mercy and pity: let not our weaknesses make us to sin against thee, nor our fear cause us to betray our duty, nor our former follies provoke thy eternal anger, nor the calamities of this world vex us into tediousness of spirit and impatience: but let thy Holy Spirit lead us through this valley of misery with safety and peace, with holiness and religion, with spiritual comforts and joy in the Holy Ghost; that when we have served thee in our generations, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a holy conscience; in the communion of the catholic church; in the confidence of a certain faith; and the comforts of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; and perfect charity with thee our God, and all the world; that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, may be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source: “Prayers at the Visitation of the Sick”, Holy Dying, cited in Give Us Grace: An Anthology of Anglican Prayer, compiled by Christopher L. Webber (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 2004), p. 83.
Artwork: Frontispiece to Jeremy Taylor, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, 1651, British Museum.