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Taylor, Jeremy

Taylor, Jeremy

The Anglican bishop and writer Jeremy Taylor (16131667), one of the key exemplars of pastoral care and a gifted writer, was born and educated in Cambridge, England. He was ranked by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge as the equal of Shakespeare and Milton. Taylor was probably ordained in 1633, the year in which he took his master's degree; he became a fellow of Gonville and Caius College and, two years later, a fellow at All Souls in Oxford. Shortly after being appointed the rector of Uppingham in 1638, he became the chaplain to the king of England on Laud's nomination; Laud also seems to have retained him as his own chaplain.

Taylor joined the Royalist army as chaplain when civil war broke out in 1642, and he was briefly imprisoned twice. In 1645 he became private chaplain to Lord Carbery at his Golden Grove estate. There, Taylor produced his greatest works, including A Discourse of the Liberty of Prophesying (1647), a call for Christian toleration that probably alienated Charles I; The Golden Grove (1655), a collection of daily prayers; and the Unum Necessarium (1655), a work on sin and repentance. His two famous books of devotion, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living (1650) and The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying (1651), were intended to act as guides for those not served by local Anglican clergy because of the ejection of priests during the interregnum. At the Restoration in 1660, Taylor published his comprehensive manual of moral theology, the Ductor Dubitantium. That same year he was appointed bishop of Down and Connor; in 1661 he was appointed bishop of Dromore, in Ireland; and later vice-chancellor of Trinity College, in Dublin.

Although he seemed conventional in his relations with the royal and Episcopal authorities, Taylor aroused controversy because of his defense of Christian toleration and his allegedly Pelagian views on original sin and justification, both of which were attacked by the Scottish Presbyterian Samuel Rutherford. Holy Dying was written in the circumstances of the death of his wife, Phoebe, but was directed at a general audience as a self-help manual: "The first entire Body of Directions for sick and dying People, that I remember to have been publish'd in the Church of England." The importance of the text was not only in the quality of its prose but in the serenity of its ecumenical verdict: "Let it be enough that we secure our Interest of Heaven," Taylor wrote, "for every good Man hopes to be saved as he is a Christian, and not as he is a Lutheran, or of another Division." Taylor advocated daily self-examination by the Christian to avoid divine judgment, and especially the "extremely sad" condition of many "Strangers and Enemies to Christ." Thus, he concluded, "He that would die holily and happily, must in this World love Tears, Humility, Solitude, and Repentance" (Taylor, 2:1:3).

See also: Christian Death Rites, History of; Good Death, The; Moment of Death

Bibliography

Askew, Reginald. Muskets and Altars: Jeremy Taylor and the Last of the Anglicans. London: Mowbray, 1997.

Hughes, H. Trevor. The Piety of Jeremy Taylor. London: Macmillan, 1960.

Taylor, Jeremy. The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying. N.p., 1811.

RICHARD BONNEY

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Taylor, Jeremy

Jeremy Taylor, 1613–67, English bishop and theological and devotional writer. He was distinguished as a preacher and as the author of some of the most noted religious works in English. After completing his studies at Cambridge and taking (1633) holy orders, he was nominated (1635) by Archbishop Laud to a fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford. He became chaplain to Laud and rector (1638) of Uppingham, Rutlandshire, but as a chaplain-in-ordinary to Charles I, Taylor left his country church to serve the king at the outbreak (1642) of the civil war. After a royalist defeat (1645) before Cardigan Castle, in Wales, he was briefly imprisoned. In 1645 he became principal of a school in Caermarthenshire, Wales, and served as private chaplain to the 2d earl of Carbery, at whose home, Golden Grove, Taylor wrote some of his most distinguished works. His period of greatest literary production was between 1646 and 1660. The Liberty of Prophesying (1647) was a noteworthy call for toleration. His Great Exemplar … the Life and Death of Jesus Christ (1649) was followed by other books of devotion—Holy Living (1650), Holy Dying (1651), The Golden Grove (1655), and The Worthy Communicant (1660). His learned Ductor Dubitantium; or, The Rule of Conscience (1660) was dedicated to Charles II. After the Restoration (1660) he was given the bishopric of Down and Connor, in Ireland, and appointed vice-chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin. At Dromore, which was added to his see, Taylor built (1661) the church in which he is buried. His tenure (1660–67) as bishop was a period of turbulent dispute with the Presbyterian ministers who refused to acknowledge episcopal jurisdiction. Taylor has been called the Shakespeare and the Spenser of the pulpit. A number of his sermons were published; many critics consider that in them his mastery of fine metaphor and his poetic imagination are best revealed. Taylor's Whole Works (ed. with an admirable biography by Reginald Heber, 15 vol., 1822) was edited and revised by C. P. Eden (10 vol., 1847–52). The Golden Grove, with selected passages from Taylor's sermons and writings, was edited in 1930 by Logan Pearsall Smith and contains a bibliography of Taylor's works by Robert Gathorne-Hardy.

See biographies by E. Gosse (1904, repr. 1968) and C. J. Stranks (1952); studies by H. T. Hughes (1960) and F. L. Huntley (1970).

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Taylor, Jeremy

Taylor, Jeremy (1613–67). Bishop of Down and Connor. Born in Cambridge, and educated at Gonville and Caius College, he was successively fellow of All Souls, Oxford (1635), rector of Uppingham (1638), and chaplain to Charles I. After joining the royalist army he was captured (1645), but after release lived in Carmarthenshire as chaplain to Lord Carberry where he wrote Liberty of Prophesying and the devotional works Holy Living and Holy Dying. After a spell in London ministering to episcopalians (1653–8) and as lecturer at Lisburn (Ireland) (1658), he became bishop of Down and Connor (1661). The presbyterians there would ‘talk with no bishop’ and Taylor ejected 36 ministers. His severity ensured the establishment of presbyterians as a separate ecclesiastical community. His plea to Sheldon for a move to England (1664) was unheeded and he died at Lisburn.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Taylor, Jeremy

Taylor, Jeremy (1613–67). Anglican bishop and writer, ‘the Shakespeare of the divines’ (Emerson). He was chaplain to Charles I, and rector of Uppingham (1638–42). When the king's cause failed, he used his exile in Carmarthenshire to write his plea for toleration, The Liberty of Prophesying (1647), his influential devotional works, The Life of Christ (1649), Holy Living (1650), Holy Dying (1651), Unum Necessarium (1655), and various sermons. He was appointed bishop of Down and Connor in 1660. He regarded his Ductor Dubitantium, a comprehensive study of moral theology, as his most important work.

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