« ElőzőTovább »
SPECIMEN OF FULLER'S PROSE.
and quaint conceits. Besides the works already mentioned, Fuller wrote The History of the Holy War, The Holy and the Profane States, A Pisgah View of Palestine, and very many Essays, Tracts, and Sermons.
(FROM "THE HOLY STATE.”) Tell me, ye naturalists, who sounded the first march and retreat to the tide, “ Hither shalt thou come, and no further ?" Why doth not the water recover his right over the earth, being higher in nature? Whence came the salt, and who first boiled it, which made so much brine ? When the winds are not only wild in a storm, but even stark mad in an hurricane, who is it that restores them again to their wits, and brings them asleep in a calm ? Who made the mighty whales, which swim in a sea of water, and have a sea of oil swimming in them? Who first taught the water to imitate the creatures on land, so that the sea is the stable of horse-fishes, the stall of kine-fishes, the sty of hog-fishes, the kennel of dog-fishes, and in all things the sea the ape of the land ? Whence grows the ambergris in the sea ? which is not so hard to find where it is as to know what it is. Was not God the first ship-wright ? and have not all vessels on the water descended from the loins (or ribs rather) of Noah's ark? or else, who durst be so bold, with a few crooked boards nailed together, a stick standing upright, and a rag tied to it, to adventure into the ocean? What loadstone first touched the loadstone ? or how first fell it in love with the North, rather affecting that cold climate than the pleasant East, or fruitful South or West? How comes that stone to know more than men, and find the way to the land in a mist? In most of these, men take sanctuary at occulta qualitas (some hidden quality), and complain that the room is dark, when their eyes are blind. Indeed, they are God's wonders; and that seaman the greatest wonder of all for his blockishness, who, seeing them daily, neither takes notice of them, admires at thein, nor is thankful for thein,
THERE is no reason why the picturesque and the fanciful should be excluded from the oratory of the pulpit. As Christianity is emphatically the religion of man, and imparts to every element of his nature at once its highest culture and its noblest consecration, so there is no faculty or power within him which does not admit of being devoted to its service. Within its sacred and truly catholic pale, the poet, the philosopher, the logician, the man of sentiment and the man of abstract thought have each his place. Even the greatest of the apostles would be “all things to all men, if by any means he might save some.” It was on this principle that Jeremy Taylor devoted the stores of his rich and brilliant fancy to the service of the Cross-lending all the charms of beauty to set forth the sanctity of truth. He strove to teach as did that gentle Saviour whose minister he was; and therefore the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, the dashing sea, the roaring wind, the weeping sky, and a thousand other strong and lovely things scattered around him in the world, supplied him with lessons, whose dear familiar beauty charmed his hearers, and still charms his readers into rapt attention. This 66
poet among preachers,” the son of a poor but well-descended surgeon-barber, was born at Cambridge in 1613. Having received his elementary education at the Grammar-school of his native town, he, when not yet fourteen, entered Caius College as a sizar,—the humblest class of students. When he had studied at Cambridge for some years, he went to London ; and there, by his
A SCHOOLMASTER IN WALES.
handsome face and still finer style of preaching, he attracted the notice of the great Archbishop Laud, who was then in the full blaze of power. Under the patronage of so noted a man the advancement of Taylor was rapid. Laud earnestly wished to establish him at Oxford ; and in 1636 secured for him a fellowship in All Souls College. In the following year he became, through Juxon, Bishop of London, the rector of Uppingham in Rutlandshire ; and to that quiet parsonage, two years later, he brought home his first wife, Phoebe Langdale. Three years passed by-years of mingled joy and sorrow; for they made him the father of three sons, but took from him his gentle wife.
Then came the storm of the Civil War; and in the wreck of the throne the fortunes of Jeremy Taylor suffered shipwreck too. His life at this period presents a striking resemblance to the life of Fuller. Like that witty priest, he joined the royal party at Oxford, accompanied the troops to the field in the capacity of chaplain, and took an active share in the hard work of the war. In the battle 'fought at Cardigan he was made prisoner by the Roundheads. His release, however, soon followed ; and, having no longer a home among the rich woodlands of Rutlandshire—for his rectory had been sequestrated by the Parliament-he resolved to cast his lot in the mountain-land of Wales, and calmly wait for better times. There, at Newton-hall in Caermarthenshire, he set up a school in conjunction with two accomplished friends, who like himself had fallen upon evil days. Time slid away ; King Charles was beheaded, and Oliver assumed the purple robe of Protector. Far away from the great centres of learning and distinction, girdled round by the huge Cambrian mountains, the Chrysostom of our English literature lived a peaceful but very busy life. His good friend John Evelyn, and his kind neighbour the Earl of Carbery, stretched out willing hands to help him in his need. His marriage with a lady, who possessed an estate in Caermarthen, relieved him from the wearing toil of the school-room. But if his life grew easier, he certainly did not relax in the work for which he was best fitted.
Ever labouring with his pen, he sent forth from his secluded
BISHOP OF DOWN AND CONNOR.
dwelling-place book after book, enriched with the choicest fancies of a most poetic mind. But even the privacy of his life could not keep him entirely safe; fine and imprisonment fell heavily on him at various times during the ascendency of the Puritans, against whom he spoke and wrote on some occasions very strongly. At last, probably weary of a retirement which did not shield him from his foes, he returned to London in 1657. An invitation from the Earl of Conway induced him, in the following year, to settle in the north of Ireland, where he officiated as lecturer at Lisburn, and also at Portmore, a village on the shores of Lough Neagh. He fixed his residence at the latter place. Here, too, Puritan resentment found him out. An informer gave evidence that the minister of Lisburn had used the sign of the cross in baptism. Arrested with violence, Taylor was hurried in deep mid-winter to answer before the Irish Council for his act. Exposure and anxiety brought on a fever, which did him the good office of softening the sentence of the court.
Soon afterwards visiting London on literary business, he signed the Royalist declaration of April 24, 1660, and in the following month the joy-bells, which rang in the Restoration of the second Charles, sounded a note of preferment to Taylor. The bishopric of Down and Connor, to which was afterwards Aug. added the see of Dromore, rewarded the eloquent 1660 preacher, whose Royalist zeal had never languished. Yet, after all, this mitre was but the badge of an honourable, but not an easy exile, in which Taylor spent his remaining years.
A hard and thankless office it must have been for an English bishop to superintend an Irish diocese at that day. His nation and his faith were both unpopular. Congregations, driven by the terror of strict penal laws, crowded the churches every Sunday to hear a service which many of them could not understand, and which most of them regarded with the strongest dislike. Many of his clergy, also, appointed under the old system of things, looked jealously on the authority of a bishop. Battling with difficulties so many and so great, Taylor must often have sighed after his quiet parsonage at Uppingham, or even after his
STYLE AND WORKS OF JEREMY TAYLOR.
school-room at Newton-hall. But he did his duty nobly in a most difficult position, until an attack of fever cut him off at the early age of fifty-five. His death took place at Lisburn in 1667.
Hallam characterizes the style of Jeremy Taylor's sermons as being far too Asiatic in their abundance of ornament, and too much loaded with flower-garlands of quotation from other, especially classical, writers. Yet the great critic assigns to the great preacher the praise of being “the chief ornament of the English pulpit up to the middle of the seventeenth century,”—an admission which does much to blunt the point of his censure.
Taylor does, undoubtedly, sometimes run riot in sweet metaphors, and lose his way in a maze of illustrations; but, even so, is it not pleasanter and better to wander through a lovely garden, although the flowers are sometimes tangling together in a brilliant chaos and tripping us as we walk, than to plod over dry and sandy wastes, where showers, if they ever fall, seem only to wash the green out of the parched and stunted grass ?
Jeremy Taylor's most popular devotional work is his Holy Living and Holy Dying. Other works of the same class are The Life of Christ and The Golden Grove; of which the latter is a series of meditations named after the seat of Earl Carbery, his neighbour in Wales. These were all written in his Welsh retreat. There, too, he wrote a generous, liberal, and most eloquent plea for toleration in religious matters, entitled The Liberty of Prophesying; * in the dedication of which he refers with pathetic beauty to the violence of the storm which had “ dashed the vessel of the Church all in pieces,” and had cast himself, a shipwrecked man, on the coast of Wales. His last great work, styled Ductor Dubitantium, treats of the guidance of the conscience, and is still considered our great standard English book on casuistry. But Taylor's style is not well suited to make clear a subject so difficult and intricate; nor does the plan, which the author lays down, aid in giving distinctness to his teaching.
* Prophesying is here used in the sense of preaching. Compare its use in certain parts of the New Testament,