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Jeremy Taylor

Posted 12-19-2010 at 03:13 PM by Steve Bucknell
Updated 02-01-2011 at 04:10 PM by Steve Bucknell
The robin waits as I pour hot water into the birdbath, slowly melting the ice. For most of this day I think there won’t be any quote to continue this book of the winter, then I find this passage in my 1850 W.Pickering copy of Taylor’s Holy Dying, and the phrase “they dwell upon ice” finds a place here.

Holy Dying

Man never hath one day to himself of entire peace from the things of this world; but either something troubles him, or nothing satisfies him, or his very fullness swells him and makes him breathe short upon his bed. Men’s joys are troublesome, and besides that the fear of losing them takes away the present pleasure, and man hath need of another’s felicity to preserve this, they are so wavering and full of trepidation, not only from their inconstant nature, but from their weak foundation; they arise from vanity and they dwell upon ice, and they converse with the wind, and they have the wings of a bird, and are serious but as the resolutions of a child, commenced by chance, and managed by folly, and proceed by inadvertency, and end in vanity and forgetfulness. So that, as Livius Drusus said of himself, he never had any play days or days of quiet when he was a boy, for he was troublesome and busy, a restless and unquiet man; the same may every man observe to be true of himself; he is always restless and uneasy, he dwells upon the waters, and leans upon thorns, and lays his head upon a sharp stone.

From The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying. Jeremy Taylor. (1613 – 1667)

The Snow Sermon.

Like flakes of snow that fall unperceived upon the earth, the seemingly unimportant events of life succeed one another. As the snow gathers together, so are our habits formed. No single flake that is added to the pile produces a sensible change; no single action creates, however it may exhibit, a man's character.

1.1. Love is friendship set on fire.

1.2. Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.

2.1. It is impossible to make people understand their ignorance, for it requires knowledge to perceive it; and, therefore, he that can perceive it hath it not.

3.1. No man is poor who does not think himself so. But if in a full fortune with impatience he desires more, he proclaims his wants and his beggarly condition.

3.2. Avoid idleness, and fill up all the spaces of thy time with severe and useful employment: for lust easily creeps in at those emptinesses where the soul is unemployed and the body is at ease; no easy, healthful, idle person was ever chaste if he could.

3.3 Mistake not. Those pleasures are not pleasures that trouble the quiet and tranquillity of thy life.

4.1. When you lie down with a short prayer, commit yourself into the hands of your Creator; and when you have done so, trust Him with yourself, as you must do when you are dying.

4.2. It is a great art to die well.

From David learn to give thanks in everything. Every furrow in the book of Psalms is sown with seeds of thanksgiving.

Jeremy Taylor.


“Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despairing, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy."

Camille Paglia.

I think Camille and Jeremy would have got on like a forest fire.
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