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Honoured and Dear Sir, your most affectionate and obliged friend and servant, JER. TAYLOR.
Mr. Evelyn to Dr. Jeremy Taylor, to come and Christen his son George.
SIR, I heartily acknowledge the divine mercies to me, both in this, and many other instances of his goodness to me; but for no earthly concernment, more than for what he has conveyed me by your charity and ministration towards my better and eternal interest; and for which I wish that any new gradations of duty to God, or acknowledgments to you from me, may in the least proportions second my great obligations, and which you continue to reinforce by new and indelible favours, which I know myself to be so much the more unworthy of, as I am infinitely short of the least perfection, that you ascribe to me; and because you best know how much a truth that is, I have not reason to look upon that part of your letter but as upon your emanations, which like the beams of the sun upon dark and opaque bodies, make them shine indeed faintly and by reflection. Every one knows whence they are derived, and where is their native fountain. And since this is all the tribute, which such dim lights repay, I must never hope to oblige you; but what I am able, that will I do.-Sir, I had forgotten to tell you, and it did indeed extremely trouble me, that you are to expect my coach to wait on you presently after dinner; that you are not to expose yourself to the casualty of the tides in repairing to do so christian an office for
Sir, yr. &c.
Says Court, 9 June, 1657.
Answer from Dr. Jeremy Taylor.
HONOURED AND DEAR SIR,-Your messenger prevented mine but an hour. But I am much pleased by the repetition of the divine favour to you in like instances; that God hath given you another testimony of his love to your person, and care of your family. It is an engagement to you, of new degrees of duty, which you cannot but superadd to the former, because the principle is genuine and prolifick; and all the emanations of grace are universal and alike. Sir, your kind letter hath so abundantly rewarded and crowned my innocent endeavours in my descriptions of friendship, that I
perceive there is a friendship beyond what I have fancied, and a real material worthiness, beyond the heights of the most perfect ideas. And I know now where to make my book perfect, and, by an appendix, to outdo the first essay; for when any thing shall be observed to be wanting to my character, I can tell them where to see the substance more beauteous than the picture, and by sending the readers of my book to be spectators of your life and worthiness, they shall see what I would fain have taught them, by what you really are. Sir, I shall by the grace of God, wait on you to-morrow, and do the office you require; and shall hope, that your little one may receive blessings according to the heartiness of the prayers, which I shall, then and after, make for him. That then, also, I shall wait upon your worthy brothers, I see it is a design both of your kindness and of the divine providence.
Sir, I am your affectionate and most obliged friend and servant, JER. TAYLOR.
June 9, 1657.
A Letter of condolence from Dr. Jeremy Taylor to Mr.
DEAR SIR,-If dividing and sharing griefs were like the cutting of rivers, I dare say to you, you would find your stream much abated; for I account myself to have a great cause for sorrow, not only in the diminution of your joys and hopes, but in the loss of that pretty person, that strangely hopeful boy. I cannot tell you all my own sorrows, without adding to yours; and the causes of my real sadness in your loss are so just and reasonable, that I can no otherwise comfort you, but by telling you, that you have very great cause to mourn; so certain it is, that grief does propagate as fire does. You have enkindled my funeral torch, and by joining mine to yours, I do but increase the flame. But, sir, I cannot choose but I must hold another and a brighter flame to you. It is already burning in your breast; and if I can but remove the dark side of the lanthorn, you have enough within you to warm yourself, and to shine to others. Remember, sir, your two boys are two bright stars; and their innocence is secured, and you shall never hear evil of them again. Their state is safe, and heaven is given them upon
very easy terms,-nothing but to be born and die. It will cost you more trouble to get where they are; and among other things, one of the hardnesses will be, that you must overcome even this just and reasonable grief; and indeed, though the grief hath but too reasonable a cause, yet it is much more reasonable, that you should master it. For besides, that they are no losers, but you are the person that complains, do but consider what you would have suffered for their interest. You have suffered them to go from you to be great princes in a strange country; and if you can be content to suffer your own inconvenience for their interest, you command your worthiest love, and the question of mourning is at an end. But you have said and done well, when you look upon it as a rod of God; and he, that so smites here, will spare hereafter; and if you, by patience and submission, imprint the discipline upon your own flesh, you kill the cause, and make the effect very tolerable; because it is in some sense chosen, and therefore in no sense unsufferable. Sir, if you do not look at it, time will snatch your honour from you, and reproach you for not effecting that by christian philosophy, which time of itself will do alone. And if you consider, that of the bravest men in the world, we have the seldomest stories of their children, and that the apostles had none, and thousands of the worthiest persons, who sound most in story, died childless, you will find it is a rare act of Providence so to impose upon worthy men a necessity of perpetuating their names by. worthy actions and discourses, governments and reasonings. If the breach is never repaired, it is because God does not see fit it should be; and if you will be of his mind, it will be much the better. But, sir, if you will pardon my zeal and passion for your comfort, I will readily confess, that you have no need of any discourse from me to comfort you. Sir, you have now an opportunity of serving God by passive graces; strive to be an example and a comfort to your lady; and by your wise counsel and solace, stand in the breaches of your own family, and make it appear, that you are more to her than ten sons. I purpose by the assistance of Almighty God, to wait on you in the course of the next week, that I may be a witness of your christian courage and bravery; and that I may see, that God never displeases you, as long as your hopes and confidence in heaven are maintained. Sir,
I shall pray for all that you can want, that is, some degrees of comfort, and a present mind; and shall always do you honour, and would fain also do you service, if it were in the power, as it is in the affection of, dear sir,
Your most affectionate, and obliged friend and servant, JER. TAYLOR.
[This spiritual and eloquent writer, who was archbishop of Glasgow in the time of Charles II. was also, for several years, Principal of the University of Edinburgh. His most anxious desire was to infuse a spirit of piety among the students, and to make their studies a help to their virtue. The following is extracted from one of the addresses he was accustomed to deliver to the graduates, on presenting them with their degrees. We know not whether students of modern days could relish the disparaging terms, in which he speaks of the glory and honours of Commencement-day.]
'Were I allowed to speak freely what I sincerely think of most of the affairs of human life, even of those which are accounted of the highest importance, and transacted with the greatest bustle, I should be apt to say, that a great noise is made about trifles. As to this little farce of yours, it is now very near a conclusion, and you are upon the point of applying to the spectators for their applause. But if you should take this amiss, as a little unseasonable upon the present occasion, and an insult upon your solemnities, I hope you will the more easily forgive me, as I place in the same rank with this philosophical convention of yours, the most famous councils and general assemblies of princes and great men; and say of their golden crowns, as well of your crowns of laurel, "that they are things of no value, and not worth the purchasing " Even the triumphal, inaugural, and nuptial processions of the greatest kings, and generals of armies, with whatever pomp and magnificence, as well as art, they may be set off, are, after all, so far true representatious of their false, painted, and tinsel happiness, that while we look at them, they fly away; and in a very short time, they are followed by their funeral processions, which are triumphs of death over those, who have, themselves triumphed in their lives. The scenes are shifted, the actors also disappear; and in the same manner, the greatest shows of this vain world pass away. Let us, that we may lop off the luxurious
branches of our vines, take a nearer view of this object, and remember, that what we now call a laurel crown, will soon be followed by cypress wreaths. It will also be proper to consider how many, that, in their time, were employed as we are now, have long ago acted their parts, and are consigned to a long oblivion ; as also what numbers of the rising generation are, as it were, pushing us forward to the same land of forgetfulness; who, while they are hurrying us away, are at the same time hastening thither themselves. All that we see, all that we do, all that we are, are but mere dreams; and if we are not sensible of this truth, it is because we are still asleep.
'What is it, pray, to which with the most ardent wishes, you have been aspiring throughout the course of these four last years? Have you a cap and a title, and nothing at all more? I would have you receive them, indeed, as honorary marks and badges of that erudition and knowledge, with which your minds have been stored. But whatever attainments in learning you have reached, I would have you reflect, how inconsiderable they are, and how little they differ from nothing; nay, if what we know is compared with what we know not, it will be found even less than nothing. "He is the wisest man," says Plato, "who knows himself to be ill qualified for the attainment of wisdom."
'Should you, young gentlemen, be ready to entertain bright hopes with regard to your future fortunes, I would gladly moderate them a little with this wholesome advice. Lean not upon a broken reed; nor let any one, who values his peace, his real dignity and satisfaction, give himself up to hopes, that are uncertain, frail, and deceitful. Almost all mankind are constantly catching at something more than they possess, and torment themselves in vain ; nor is our rest to be found among these enjoyments of the world, where all things are covered with a deluge of vanity, as with a flood of fluctuating restless waters; and the soul flying about, looking in vain for a place, on which it may set its foot, most unhappily loses its time, its labour and itself at last; like "the birds in the days of the flood, which having long sought for land, till their strength was quite exhausted, fell down at last, and perished in the waters."
'Oh! how greatly preferable to these bushes and briars, and thorns, are the delightful fields of the Gospel, wherein