Friday, March 23, 2012

God could not stay from redeeming us . . . Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), a priest of the Church of England and a chaplain to King Charles I, is well known for his devotional books, Holy Living and Holy Dying. 

Following the martyrdom of the King, he was imprisoned a number of times. Eventually, he was allowed to live quietly in Wales, where he became the private chaplain of the Earl of Carbery. At the Restoration, he was made Bishop of Down and Connor in Ireland and became vice-chancellor of the University of Dublin. 

In addition to his well-known devotional books, he wrote many other works, among them a revision of church services, including an order for Holy Communion, compiled for his community’s use when the Book of Common Prayer was banned during the Commonwealth. It draws heavily on both Eastern and early Latin liturgies, getting behind medieval emphases, and shows us what they thought was happening in the Eucharist. (Go HERE for one of Taylor's personal communion prayers.)  

This passage from Sermon XXVII: The Miracle Of The Divine Mercy (Part III), typifies Taylor's style, and is a fitting reflection for a Friday in Lent. 

GOD pardoned us before we sinned; and when he foresaw our sin, even mine and yours, he sent his son to die for us; our pardon was wrought and effected by Christ’s death, above sixteen hundred years ago; and for the sins of to-morrow, and the infirmities of the next day, Christ is already dead, already risen from the dead, and does now make intercession and atonement. 

And this is not only a favour to us who were born in the due time of the gospel, but to all mankind since Adam: for God, who is infinitely patient in his justice, was not at all patient in his mercy; he forbears to strike and punish us, but he would not forbear to provide cure for us and remedy. 

For, as if God could not stay from redeeming us, he promised the Redeemer to Adam in the beginning of the world’s sin; and Christ was the lamb slain from the beginning of the world; and the covenant of the gospel, though it was not made with man, yet it was from the beginning performed by God as to his part, as to the ministration of pardon; the seed of the woman was set up against the dragon as soon as ever the tempter had won his first battle: and though God laid his hand, and drew a veil of types and secrecy before the manifestation of his mercies; yet he did the work of redemption, and saved us by the covenant of faith, and the righteousness of believing, and the mercies of repentance, the graces of pardon, and the blood of the slain lamb, even from the fall of Adam to this very day, and will do till Christ’s second coming.


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