Readings for Jeremy Taylor Bishop and Theologian (13 August 1667)
“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14: 7 – 9)
“Jeremy Taylor, one of the most influential of the “Caroline Divines,” was educated at Cambridge and, through the influence of William Laud, became a Fellow of All Souls at Oxford. He was still quite young when he became chaplain to Charles I and, later, during the Civil War, a chaplain in the Royalist army.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 13)
I find Paul’s words very fitting for the life and legacy of Bishop Jeremy Taylor. It really brings out the essence of Holy Living and Holy Dying which he wrote. Jeremy Taylor is also one of my heroes in part because of the way he conducted himself during the take-over of Cromwell and the way Cromwell treated him.
“The successes of Cromwell’s forces brought about Taylor’s imprisonment and, after Cromwell’s victory, Taylor spent several years in forced retirement as chaplain to the family of Lord Carberry in Wales. It was during this time that his most influential works were written, especially Holy Living and Holy Dying (1651).” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 13)
As a bishop Taylor ranks among the greats in my mind. Among my favorite Bishops are Gregory the Great, Augustine of Canterbury, Anselm of Canterbury, William White our first presiding bishop, Rowan Williams former Arch Bishop of Canterbury, our own Presiding Bishop the Most Reverend Michael Curry, our former Diocesan Bishop Clifton Daniels who ordained me and our current Bishop The Right Reverend Robert Stuart Skirving, Bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina. There is no doubt in my mind that all these bishops have done, and are doing, the will of God as was Jeremy Taylor. Taylor never stopped working hard.
“As Bishop, he labored tirelessly to rebuild churches, restore the use of the Prayer Book, and overcome continuing Puritan opposition. As Vice-chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, he took a leading part in reviving the intellectual life of the Church of Ireland. He remained to the end a man of prayer and a pastor.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 13)
The Roman passage above is also read at funerals. We are God’s possession, alive or dead. Dead is not the end. It is the transformation into a new realm. Also at funerals is read in the Proper preface, “For to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended; and when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens.” (BCP p.382) We also learn from Bishop Taylor that it is often in times of deep darkness that our greatest work is done. This is how “Holy Living and Holy Dying” came about.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people. John+