A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Taylor, Jeremy

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Taylor, Jeremy (1613-1667). -- Divine, was b. at Camb. His f., though of gentle descent, followed the trade of a barber, andpage 373 Jeremy entered Caius Coll. as a sizar. After his graduation in 1634 he was asked to preach in London, where his eloquence attracted the attention of Laud, who sent him to Oxf., caused him to be elected a Fellow of All Souls Coll., and made him his chaplain. He also became a chaplain to the King, and soon attaining a great reputation as a preacher, was presented to the living of Uppingham. In 1639 he m. his first wife, and in 1643 he was made Rector of Overstone. On the outbreak of the Civil War T. sided with the King, and was present, probably as a chaplain, at the battle fought in 1645 near Cardigan Castle, when he was taken prisoner. He was soon released, but the Royalist cause being practically lost, he decided to remain in Wales, and with two friends started a school at Newtonhall, Caermarthenshire, which had some success. T. also found a friend in Lord Carbery, whose chaplain he became. During the period of 13 years from 1647-60, which were passed in seeming obscurity, he laid the foundations and raised the structure of his splendid literary fame. The Liberty of Prophesying (that is, of preaching), one of the greatest pleas for toleration in the language, was pub. in 1647, The Life of Christ in 1649, Holy Living in 1650, and Holy Dying in 1651. These were followed by various series of sermons, and by The Golden Grove (1655), a manual of devotion which received its title from the name of the seat of his friend Lord Carbery. For some remarks against the existing authorities T. suffered a short imprisonment, and some controversial tracts on Original Sin, Unum Necessarium (the one thing needful), and The Doctrine and Practice of Repentance involved him in a controversy of some warmth in which he was attacked by both High Churchmen and Calvinists. While in Wales T. had entered into a second marriage with a lady of some property which, however, was seriously encroached upon by the exactions of the Parliamentarians. In 1657 he ministered privately to an Episcopalian congregation in London, and in 1658 accompanied Lord Conway to Ireland, and served a cure at Lisburn. Two years later he pub. Ductor Dubitantium, or the Rule of Conscience in all her General Measures, a learned and subtle piece of casuistry which he dedicated to Charles II. The Restoration brought recognition of T.'s unswerving devotion to the Royalist cause; he was made Bishop of Down and Connor, and to this was added the administration of the see of Dromore. In his new position, though, as might have been expected, he showed zeal, diligence, and benevolence, he was not happy. He did not, probably could not, entirely practise his own views of absolute toleration, and found himself in conflict with the Presbyterians, some of whose ministers he had extruded from benefices which they had held, and he longed to escape to a more private and peaceful position. He d. at Lisburn of a fever caught while ministering to a parishioner. T. is one of the great classical writers of England. Learned, original, and impassioned, he had an enthusiasm for religion and charity, and his writings glow with an almost unequalled wealth of illustration and imagery, subtle argument, and fullness of thought. With a character of stainless purity and benevolence, and gracious and gentle manners, he was universally beloved by all who came under the spell of his presencepage 374.