Taylor, Jeremy (DNB00)
TAYLOR, JEREMY, D.D. (1613–1667), bishop of Down and Connor, and administrator of Dromore, third son of Nathaniel Taylor, barber, by his wife Mary (Dean), was born at Cambridge, and baptised in Trinity Church on 15 Aug. 1613. He was a descendant, direct or collateral, of Rowland Taylor [q. v.] the martyr, but the exact line of descent has never been proved. His father and grandfather (Edmond, d. 1607) were churchwardens of Trinity parish. He was probably born at a house known as the Black Bear, opposite Trinity Church; the traditional birthplace is the Wrestlers' Inn in Petty Cury, parish of St. Andrew-the-Great, to which his father removed after 1621. Taylor affirms that he was ‘solely grounded in grammar and mathematics’ by his father. On 18 Aug. 1626 he was admitted a sizar at Gonville and Caius College; his tutor was Thomas Bachcroft, afterwards master of the college. The admission book describes him as ‘anno ætatis suæ 15,’ and states that he had been a pupil at the newly founded Perse grammar school under Thomas Lovering ‘per decennium.’ Neither statement can be exact. It has been suggested that he was baptised a year after his birth; if so, his elder brother Nathaniel (baptised 8 Dec. 1611) was also baptised late. The Perse school [see Perse, Stephen] had not been open ten years; Lovering's name occurs as master in 1619. Taylor matriculated on 17 March 1627, was elected a scholar on the Perse foundation at Michaelmas 1628, graduated B.A. 1630–1, and was elected a Perse fellow about Michaelmas 1633. He took orders before he was twenty-one, and proceeded M.A. in 1633–4.
Visiting London, he did duty three or four times for Thomas Risden, his former chamber-fellow, then divinity lecturer at St. Paul's. His preaching at once attracted the notice of Laud, who sent him to Oxford, where he was admitted M.A. from University College on 20 Oct. 1635. As visitor of All Souls', Laud wrote (23 Oct.) to the warden and fellows, recommending Taylor to a vacant fellowship. Sheldon, the warden, objected on statutable grounds, and, though a majority of the fellows was ready to comply, there was no election. Taylor, however, was admitted probationary fellow on 5 Nov., was presented by Laud (to whom the right had lapsed) on 21 Nov., and admitted perpetual fellow on 14 Jan. 1636. He vacated his Cambridge fellowship at Lady-day, 1636. Laud made him his chaplain, and he was shortly afterwards appointed chaplain in ordinary to Charles I. At Oxford he had high repute as a casuistical preacher; he studied books rather than men; it was said of him, he ‘slights too much many times the arguments of those he discourses with’ (Des Maizeaux, Chillingworth, 1725, p. 50). On 23 March 1638 he was instituted to the rectory of Uppingham, Rutland. Juxon gave him the living, and he at once went into residence; the previous rector, Edward Martin, D.D. [q. v.], had been non-resident, and the cure had been served by Peter Hausted [q. v.], the dramatist.
On 5 Nov. 1638 Taylor preached his ‘gunpowder treason’ sermon in St. Mary's, Oxford. He welcomed the opportunity, inasmuch as his intimacy with Christopher Davenport [q. v.], the Franciscan, had raised suspicions of a leaning to Rome on his part. The sermon, dedicated to Laud, is a sustained indictment of recusancy as treasonable; the penal legislation of Elizabeth is upheld as not merely just, but mild; and the seal of confession is treated as a mere pretence for treason. Wood intimates that the sermon, as printed, owed something to additions by the vice-chancellor; nor is this inconsistent with the language of the dedication. Davenport told Wood ‘several times’ that Taylor had ‘expressed some sorrow for those things he had said against them;’ this may well be, but Taylor's own emphatic disclaimer disposes of the fancy that he at any time had ‘inclinations to go over to Rome.’ The Uppingham registers testify to his assiduous care for the concerns of his parish; his pulpit, and a paten used by him, still remain. His Uppingham entries cease after the summer of 1642; his biographers have supposed that he then, as king's chaplain, proceeded to Oxford with the royal forces. On 1 Nov. 1642 he was admitted D.D. at Oxford by royal mandate. But in 1643 he was instituted to the rectory of Overstone, Northamptonshire (Foster). His living of Uppingham was not sequestered till the beginning of May 1644 (Mercurius Aulicus, 6 May 1644), and his connection with the royal army probably began in that year. He was taken prisoner in the defeat of Colonel Charles Gerard before Cardigan Castle on 4 Feb. 1644–5, but was not long detained (for a vague ‘tradition’ of his retirement to Maidley Hall, near Tamworth, see Gentleman's Magazine, 1783 i. 144, 1792 i. 109).
From 1645 may probably be dated Taylor's connection with William Nicholson (1591–1672) [q. v.] and William Wyatt [q. v.] as conductors of a school, in preparation for the universities, at Newton Hall (Collegium Newtoniense) in the parish of Llanfihangel-Aberbythych, Carmarthenshire. While thus engaged he lived with his family at Golden Grove in the same parish, the seat of Richard Vaughan, second earl of Carbery [q. v.], who paid him a salary as his chaplain. Some of his best work, including the ‘Liberty of Prophesying,’ the ‘Holy Living,’ and ‘Holy Dying,’ was done at Golden Grove, a name preserved in the title of his rich manual of devotional prose and verse. It would seem that the business of publication brought him frequently to London. He appears to have been in London in the last days of Charles I, who gave him his watch (described by Bonney, and now, with Taylor's seal, in the possession of Colonel Jeremy Marsh, R.E., London), and ‘a few pearls and rubies’ from the ebony case of his bible (Hughes's date for this, August 1647, is evidently too early). Mr. J. J. Roberts, of New York, who claims to have inherited these gems, says they are ‘two diamonds and a ruby, set in a ring, bearing the date of 1649’ (Letter of 6 July 1897). Taylor is said also to have suggested the title of ‘Eikon Basilike’ (Hollingworth).
In 1653 Taylor was in London; the date of his letter thence to Langsdale, his brother-in-law, on ‘Novemb: 24, 1653’ (Sloane MS. 4274, No. 125) has been misread 1643. On 15 April 1654 Evelyn heard him preach in London; at the end of that year he was for a short time a prisoner at Chepstow. Evelyn heard him again in London on 14 March 1655; from May to October of that year he was again a prisoner at Chepstow; on 17 Nov. he writes from Mandinam, parish of Llangadock, Carmarthenshire, his second wife's estate. In 1656–8 there are glimpses of him in Evelyn's ‘Diary:’ meeting Boyle and Wilkins at Sayes Court; obtaining orders for ‘a young Frenchman’ from an Irish bishop; and baptising Evelyn's fourth son. His own letter of 22 Feb. 1656–7 (Sloane MS. 4274, No. 127) refers to the death, apparently in Wales, of his ‘two sweet hopeful boys,’ and of his intention to bring his remaining son to London ‘before Easter;’ it is probable that from that date he severed his connection with Wales. The loss of his sons affected him deeply; nor did he ever completely regain the tranquil serenity of spirit which had carried him through his former troubles, and is reflected in the rich literary products of his retirement, unsurpassed for nobility of tone as well as for the marvellous and varied beauty of the pictorial vesture of his thought. His ‘Ductor Dubitantium,’ though finally recast at Portmore, was shown to Evelyn, as already ‘fitted for the presse,’ on 25 March 1657. The ‘moral demonstration’ of Christianity in this work was called forth by his intercourse at this period with Edward Herbert, first lord Herbert of Cherbury [q. v.]
In July and August 1657 Taylor was drawn into a controversial correspondence with Henry Jeanes [q. v.] Jeanes, a keen and eager disputant, undertook to show that Taylor had tripped in his argument on original sin; Taylor rather fenced with the objection, which evidently annoyed him. As Taylor had as yet no connection with Ireland, it is singular that Jeanes, in declining to accept Taylor's position as free from unsoundness, says he shall ‘never think that you sit upon a chair made of Irish timber, that cannot endure a venomous spider to hang his web thereon.’ In publishing the correspondence he bears remarkable testimony to Taylor's ‘admirable wit, great parts, quick and elegant pen, his abilites [sic] in criticall learning, and his profound skil in antiquity.’
From March 1657 to June 1658 Taylor officiated in London to a small congregation of episcopalians; Evelyn mentions his celebration of the eucharist on 7 March 1658. Overtures were made to him, through Evelyn, by Edward Conway, second viscount Conway, to accept a weekly stipendiary lectureship at Lisburn, co. Antrim. He at first (14 May 1658) declined it; the stipend was ‘inconsiderable’ and the position ‘arbitrary,’ for the triers might ‘overthrow it,’ or the vicar forbid it, or the subscribers fall off. Conway persisted in his application, and in June 1658 Taylor removed to Portmore in the parish of Ballinderry, eight miles from Lisburn. Cromwell furnished him with ‘a pass and a protection for himself and his family under his sign manual and privy signet’ (Rawdon Papers, p. 189). His residence was near Conway's splendid mansion at Portmore; he had also a study (‘amœnissimus recessus’) on Sallagh Island in Portmore Lough (Lough Beg). A somewhat uncertain tradition affirms that he often officiated in the old parish church of Ballinderry, of which the ruins still stand in the marshes west of Portmore Lough; the rebuilding of this church on another site is ascribed to him, but incorrectly, for the date of the new erection is 1668.
Patrick Adair [q. v.], a hostile witness, bears testimony to Taylor's ‘courteous carriage’ in his new situation. His anticipations of the insecurity of his position were realised in less than a year. At the end of May or beginning of June 1659 articles were exhibited against him by ‘a presbyterian and a madman’ (anabaptist?); the former was Tandy, apparently a government official. The main charge was using the sign of the cross in baptism. The commissioners in Dublin issued orders (11 Aug.) directing Lieutenant-colonel Bryan Smyth, governor of Carrickfergus, to send Taylor up to them for examination. The minutes of council contain no record of his appearance. On 5 Oct. he was in his study at Portmore, putting the finishing touch to his ‘Ductor Dubitantium.’ His letter (10 Feb. 1660) tells Evelyn that, some time after 2 Dec., he ‘had beene, in the worst of our winter weather, sent for to Dublin by our late anabaptist commissioners’ (they were ousted on 13 Dec. 1659) and had suffered in his health.
In April 1660 Taylor repaired to London. He signed the royalist ‘declaration’ of 24 April, and dedicated to Charles II his ‘Ductor Dubitantium,’ now put to press, and issued in June. His promotion to the episcopate naturally followed on the restoration of the hierarchy; among the ranks of the deprived clergy there was no more illustrious name. But the preferment assigned to him was not for his peace. Considering the temper of the times, it was an ill-judged step to set him over a diocese where his experience of the contentions of parties must have left some soreness of personal feeling. His strenuous endeavour to cope with the difficulties of the problem embittered his life and shortened his days. The see of Down and Connor was held by Henry Leslie [q. v.], now eighty years of age, one of the few bishops who had maintained a connection with his diocese throughout the troubles, and who, in a sermon printed in 1660 and prefaced by Taylor, claimed to be, ‘maugre all anti-christian opposition, bishop of Down and Connor.’ Leslie was designed for Meath, perhaps as early as 1656, if he be the person mentioned by Evelyn on 7 May of that year as ‘bishop of Meath’ (the see had been vacant since 1650). But he was not translated till 18 Jan. 1661; Taylor was appointed his successor by patent of 19 Jan. The long delay is insufficiently accounted for by Mant's suggestion of the ‘want of a new great seal.’ Meanwhile, by warrant of the privy council of 6 Aug. 1660, under the royal signet, Taylor was nominated to Down and Connor. Before the formalities were completed he was actively engaged in settling the affairs of the diocese. He was in Dublin on 3 Oct. 1660 acting as ‘procancellarius’ of Trinity College, though not sworn in till the following year. Shortly afterwards we find him in Down, having his abode at the residence of Arthur Hill [q. v.] at Hillsborough. The rectory of Uppingham was not filled till 1661.
The presbyterian settlers in the north of Ireland, of Scottish birth or descent, true to the monarchical terms of their solemn covenant, had synodically protested against the trial and execution of Charles I, in the unmeasured language which earned them Milton's derision as ‘blockish presbyters of Claneboye.’ Refusing the ‘engagement,’ their ministers were replaced for the most part under the Cromwellian rule by independents of various types. They had heartily promoted the Irish ‘general convention’ of February 1660, the harbinger of the Restoration; and from the convention they had received what was deemed in existing circumstances ‘a legal right to the tithe’ (Adair, p. 235). Returning to Down, Taylor found them in possession, animated by a sense of grievances akin to his own, and persuaded that they were claiming no more than their due. In his dealings with the presbyterian gentry Taylor showed great judgment; his eloquence, his hospitality, his urbanity won them to the episcopal cause. His treatment of the ministers exhibited neither tact nor forbearance; and he greatly underrated their hold upon the robust middle classes, both in town and country. On 19 Dec. 1660 he writes to Ormonde, signing ‘Jer. Dunensis Elect.’ (a wrong style, the election of Irish bishops was abolished by Elizabeth); he had invited the presbyterian ministers to a ‘friendly conference,’ but they would ‘speak with no bishop.’ Their leaders in fact were laying their case before the privy council in Dublin. Taylor further complains that a committee of ‘Scotch spiders’ had examined his publications to find ‘poison,’ meaning probably Arminianism. He tells Ormonde he would rather ‘be a poor curate in a village church than a bishop over such intolerable persons;’ adding, ‘I will petition your excellency to give me some parsonage in Munster, that I may end my days in peace.’
On 27 Jan. 1661 Taylor was consecrated in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, with eleven other prelates. The whole Irish hierarchy seems to have been present; but Henry Jones, D.D. [q. v.], who had drawn blood with Cromwell's army in his republican days, was not permitted to join in the imposition of hands. Taylor preached the consecration sermon, containing an able patristic argument for the divine authority of the episcopal office. In February he was sworn of the Irish privy council; he returned to Hillsborough before 17 Feb. (Rawdon Papers, p. 125). Writing to Ormonde on 28 March, he describes himself as ‘perpetually contending with the worst of the Scotch ministers,’ and asks to be translated to Meath, likely soon to fall vacant; in a postscript he suggests the arrangement afterwards carried out in regard to Dromore, a diocese consisting chiefly of the south-western part of co. Down. Henry Leslie died on 7 April; on 30 April Taylor was nominated for Dromore by warrant under the privy seal, specifying his ‘virtue, wisdom, and industry’ as grounds for the additional preferment; Meath was given (25 May) to Henry Jones; Robert Leslie was translated from Dromore to Raphoe on 20 June; and on 21 June Taylor was appointed by patent ‘administrator’ of Dromore diocese. On the ruins of the cathedral he built the present structure, consecrated 1661 (Ewart). Meanwhile he had preached (8 May) at the opening of the Irish parliament. His sermon on civil authority treats ‘the biggest part of dissenters’ as ‘criminally disobedient,’ maintains that ‘he that obeys his superior can never be a heretic in the estimate of law and he can never be a schismatic in the point of conscience,’ affirms that ‘for a private spirit to oppose the public is a disorder greater than is in hell itself;’ yet pleads strongly for justice, ‘the simplest thing in the world,’ due ‘alike to Jew and Christian, Lutheran and Calvinist,’ and ‘the way to win them.’ The date of his first visitation, held at Lisburn, is not known. Reid thinks it was in April 1661. Adair, who gives an account of it, dates it by the funeral of Dame Mary Clotworthy, mother of Sir John Clotworthy, first lord Massereene [q. v.], which took place some time between 5 Dec. 1660 and 5 March 1661 (funeral entry in the office of arms, Dublin Castle). Fruitless negotiations were opened with Taylor by the presbyterian leaders prior to the visitation. He declined to regard them as ‘a body;’ they refused to recognise episcopal jurisdiction. Only two of them attended the visitation; thirty-six churches were at once declared vacant, the incumbents not having episcopal ordination. The Irish Act of Uniformity to this effect did not come into force till (29 Sept. 1667) after Taylor's death; the seventy-first of the Irish articles of 1615, which had never been repealed (Mant), left the point undetermined. A ‘declaration’ ordering conformity, but not specifying ordination, was adopted by the Irish parliament on 15 and 16 May 1661. John Bramhall [q. v.], the primate, whose measures were taken later, won over ‘such as were learned and sober’ by devising a form of letters in which, expressly leaving open the validity of former orders, he claimed only to supply anything previously wanting and ‘required by the canons of the Anglican church.’ Taylor's policy confirmed the presbyterians in rebellion against his authority; intending the reverse, he did more than any man to establish the loyal presbyterians of the north of Ireland as a separate ecclesiastical body.
Of Taylor there is a curious glimpse in Glanvil's ‘Saducismus Triumphatus’ (1681, ii. 276 sq.). In October 1662 he investigated at Dromore the account given by Francis Taverner of the apparition of James Haddock, who died in 1657, ‘was satisfied that the apparition was true and real,’ and gave Taverner six questions to be put ‘next time the spirit appeared.’ The questions were put, but unanswered, ‘the spirit’ vanishing ‘with a most melodius harmony.’ Early next year Taylor's neatherd at Portmore, David Hunter, was visited by an apparition. Both stories are recorded by the bishop's secretary, Thomas Alcock. And it is noteworthy that, in his funeral sermon for Bramhall (16 July 1663), Taylor refers to various stories of return from the grave, not as proofs of the fact, but as illustrations of the credibility of the idea.
Taylor's dedication to Ormonde of his treatise on ‘Confirmation’ in 1663 touches the topics of church decay and impoverishment; the religion of the country was ‘parted into formidable sects,’ and he was disheartened by the ill-success of his efforts. At the request of the hierarchy, he published in 1664 his ‘Dissuasive from Popery,’ one of the most interesting of his writings, furnishing a picture of the old religion drawn from the life, but exhibiting the writer as powerless to reach the people with his message, or persuade them ‘to come to our churches.’ Their ‘use of the Irish tongue’ he deprecates, and would have them ‘learn English,’ that they may ‘understand and live.’ On 24 May 1664 he writes to Archbishop Sheldon, pathetically pleading for translation to an English bishopric, on the ground of health and danger to life. York was the only English see then vacant; it was filled by the translation of Bishop Richard Sterne [q. v.], but nothing was done for Taylor. He suffered from ague, due doubtless to the marshy neighbourhood of his residences at Portmore. Conway wished him to try the powers of Valentine Greatrakes [q. v.] He removed from Magheralin, near Dromore (where he farmed forty acres), to a house in Castle Street, Lisburn. In 1666 he offered Henry Dodwell the elder [q. v.] a dispensation from taking orders while retaining his fellowship at Trinity College, Dublin.
On 24 July 1667 Taylor visited a fever patient at Lisburn, and was himself seized with fever on 3 Aug. He died at Lisburn on 13 Aug. 1667, his last words being ‘Bury me at Dromore.’ His funeral sermon was preached (21 Aug.) by George Rust [q. v.], whom he had invited to Ireland in 1661. He was buried in a vault in the then chancel of Dromore Cathedral; it is now in the body of the church, the building having been enlarged in 1866 by an apse. Rust was buried (1670) in the same vault. Heber relates, on the authority of William Todd Jones (d. at Rostrevor on 14 Feb. 1818, aged 63), a descendant, that ‘about a century afterwards’ the bones of Taylor and Rust were removed to make room for the coffin of another bishop, but were replaced by Bishop Thomas Percy (1729–1811) [q. v.] Mant shows that this unsupported story is incredible in both its parts. There is no monument to Taylor at Dromore; the leaden coffin, inscribed ‘J. T.,’ was seen in 1820; the existing episcopal chair was given (13 Oct. 1894) in memory of him. At Lisburn Cathedral a mural monument was erected in 1827 by the bishop and clergy of Down and Connor, with an inscription by Mant. There are original portraits of Taylor at All Souls' and at Trinity College, Dublin. Engravings are very numerous. Heber remarks on the number of different portraits prefixed by Taylor to his works. Of these the most interesting and animated is a small full-length figure, wearing a hat, introduced into a two-page engraving by Pierre Lombart [q. v.], prefixed to the ‘Holy Dying’ (1651). He was over middle height, very handsome in youth, with a fresh colour, his voice singularly musical. Of music he had a practical knowledge.
In his ‘Discourse of Friendship’ (1657), Taylor says, ‘I believe some wives have been the best friends in the world.’ It is remarkable that in his letters, often full of family affection, he never mentions his wives, except to record the burial of the first. On 27 May 1639 he married, at Uppingham, Phœbe, daughter of Gervase Landisdale or Langsdale, a gentleman of Holborn; her brother, Edward Langsdale, M.D., of Gainsborough, afterwards of Leeds (b. 24 Nov. 1619, buried 7 Jan. 1683–4), was Taylor's pupil at Cambridge in 1633; she died in 1651 (before 1 April). By her he had William, buried at Uppingham on 28 May 1642; two sons who died of small-pox in the winter of 1656–7; Charles, buried at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on 2 Aug. 1667; Phœbe, died unmarried; and Mary, married Francis Marsh [q. v.] By 1655 he had married his second wife, Joanna Bridges, said to be a natural daughter of Charles I (Heber makes this a bar to Taylor's preferment in England); by her he had Edward, buried at Lisburn on 10 March 1660–1; and Joanna (on whom her mother's estate at Mandinam was settled) married Edward Harrison of Magheralin, a member of the Irish bar and M.P. for Lisburn (W. T. Jones was her descendant). Tradition affirms that Mrs. Taylor survived her husband, and was buried in his vault at Dromore (the parish register begins in 1784). At Dromore Cathedral is a massive silver chalice with cover and paten of Dublin make, all inscribed ‘Deo Dedit humillima Domini Ancilla D. Ioanna Taylor;’ the date mark appears to be 1679.
Rust assigns to Taylor ‘the good humour of a gentleman, the eloquence of an orator, the fancy of a poet, the acuteness of a schoolman, the profoundness of a philosopher, the wisdom of a chancellor, the sagacity of a prophet, the reason of an angel, and the piety of a saint.’ Arnold writes (November 1836), ‘I admire Taylor's genius, but yet how little was he capable of handling worthily any great question!’ As a thinker he must be estimated by his ‘Liberty of Prophesying,’ better described by its first title, ‘Theologia Eclectica;’ important, not as being the first or the fullest statement of the principles of toleration, but as the most fruitful in its effects upon the English mind. The breadth of the treatise is more apparent than real. Its range is narrowed by the fact that the common profession of Christianity is assumed throughout. In matters of Christian religion, ‘reason is the judge;’ all other authorities can but present evidence, of which reason must determine the force. On questions of speculative opinion there is room for variety of judgment, nor can any man be certain that his judgment is better than another's; ‘probability is our guide,’ amounting at most to a reasonable confidence. Hence it is wrong to molest any for erroneous judgment; no one who ‘lives a good life’ is a heretic. While the perplexities of Christian opinion are discussed with an engaging frankness, the net result is a purely legal settlement. It is concluded (§ xvii.) that the laws of the ‘governors of the church’ must be paramount; but ‘personal dispensations’ may be granted, consistently with ‘the public good.’ This was excellent as a plea for elbow-room under a puritan régime, and we may admire the wary skill with which Taylor contrived to define his position without making a case for the presbyterian establishment. But it is vain to seek in his treatise a justification of his subsequent hope to anglicise the religions of Ireland. Warwick says that Charles I did not like the ‘Liberty of Prophesying’ (Memoires, 1701, p. 301). Michael Lort, D.D. [q. v.], in a letter to Bishop Percy (Nichols, Illustrations, vii. 464), tells the tale that Taylor sent over Lewis, his chaplain, to buy up all the copies he could find, which were burned at Dromore, after a day of fasting and prayer. If the story is true, Taylor's later advance in sacramental doctrine may have dissatisfied him with the curiously impartial section (xviii.) in which he argues for and against infant baptism, and ends with the dictum that ‘there is much more truth than evidence on our side.’
Next to the ‘Liberty of Prophesying,’ the most famous of Taylor's works were the ‘Rule and Exercises of Holy Living’ (1650, 12mo) and the ‘Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying’ (1651, 12mo). The former reached a fourteenth edition in 1686, and has been many times reissued since, both in England and in America. The ‘Holy Dying’ has proved even more popular. A twenty-first edition was issued in 1710, and frequent editions have appeared during the present century, no less than seven having been issued by Pickering. These two books, with Taylor's ‘Worthy Communicant,’ ‘may be said to offer a complete summary of the duties, and specimen of the devotions, of a Christian’ (Heber).
It is generally admitted that the literary genius of Taylor is seen at its best in his sermons. A passage in a sermon by South (30 April 1668) is evidently aimed at the pulpit style of Taylor, whose ‘starched similitudes’ he caricatures. But while Taylor's imagination travels far and wide, takes daring flights, and again treads homely ground, he employs his gift in real elucidation of his point; and by the vividness of his own conceptions redeems from commonplace the preacher's most obvious themes. Apart from the play of fancy, the singular neatness of his workmanship gives beauty to his writing. The appalling length of his periods is very much a matter of punctuation. His style is not involved; few writers have been better artists in clear and striking sentences. It is true that he is wanting in some of the higher qualities of eloquence. He arrests and delights rather than moves his reader, for he is not himself carried away. In the midst of splendours he never rises into passion, and bounds his meaning with even cautious care. In his piety there is little fervour, but all his writings give the deep impression of a chastened and consecrated spirit of devotion. ‘His attempts at verse,’ says his editor, Dr. Grosart, ‘are eloquence, not poetry.’ Two or three of his pieces have been adapted for use as hymns; one is included in Lord Selborne's ‘Book of Praise’ (1863). His position as a contributor to ‘a more rational theology’ is well estimated in Hunt's ‘Religious Thought in England’ (1870, i. 334 sq.; see also Tulloch, Rational Theology, 1872, i. 344 sq.).
The following is a list of original editions of Taylor's works: 1. ‘A Sermon … Vpon the Anniversary of the Gunpowder-Treason,’ Oxford, 1638, 4to. 2. ‘Of the Sacred Order and Offices of Episcopacy,’ Oxford, 1642, 4to. 3. ‘A Discourse concerning Prayer Ex tempore,’ 1646, 4to (anon.). 4. ‘Θεολογία Ἐκλεκτικὴ. A Discourse of the Liberty of Prophesying,’ 1646, 4to. 5. ‘An Apology for … Liturgie,’ 1649, 4to (includes No. 3). 6. ‘The Great Exemplar … History of … Jesus Christ,’ 1649, 4to. 7. ‘Funeral Sermon … Frances, Countesse of Carbery,’ 1650, 4to. 8. ‘The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living,’ 1650, 12mo. 9. ‘The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying,’ 1651, 8vo (two issues with different title-pages same year). 10. ‘A Discourse of Baptisme,’ 1652, 4to. 11. ‘A Short Catechisme,’ 1652, 12mo (anon.). 12. ‘Two Discourses … 1. Of Baptisme. 2. Of Prayer,’ 1653, 4to. 13. ‘Eniautos. … Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year,’ 3 pts. 1653–5, fol.; 3rd edit. enlarged (including No. 29), 1667–8, fol. 14. ‘The Real Presence … proved, against … Transubstantiation,’ 1654, 8vo. 15. ‘Unum Necessarium,’ 1655, 8vo; the part on original sin is enlarged and defended in ‘Deus Justificatus,’ 1656, 12mo. 16. ‘The Golden Grove,’ 1655, 8vo; enlarged, with title ‘A Choice Manual,’ 1677, 12mo. 17. ‘A Discourse of Auxiliary Beauty,’ 1656, 8vo (anon.); 2nd edit. 1662, 8vo (by J. T., D.D.; ascribed to Taylor by Kennett; includes a defence of face-painting; the phrase on title, ‘artificial handsomeness,’ is also in ‘Ductor Dubit.’ ii. 3, 6). 18. ‘A Discourse of … Friendship,’ 1657, 12mo; 2nd edit. with title, ‘The Measures … of Friendship,’ 1657, 12mo. 19. ‘Σύμβολον Ἠθικο-Πολεμικόν … Polemical and Moral Discourses,’ 1657, fol.; enlarged as ‘Σύμβολον Θεολογικόν,’ 1673–1674, fol. 20. ‘Letter’ in John Stearne's ‘Thanatologia,’ Dublin, 1659, 8vo. 21. ‘The Worthy Communicant,’ 1660, 8vo. 22. ‘Ductor Dubitantium,’ 1660, fol. 23. ‘Certaine Letters … concerning … Originall Sin,’ in ‘A Second Part of the Mixture of Scholasticall Divinity,’ Oxford, 1660, 4to, by Henry Jeanes. 24. ‘Letter’ (on prayer) prefixed to Henry Leslie's ‘Discourse,’ 1660, 4to. 25. ‘A Sermon … at the Consecration,’ Dublin, 1661, 4to. 26. ‘Rules and Advices to the Clergy of … Down and Connor,’ Dublin 1661, 12mo. 27. ‘A Sermond … at the Opening of the Parliament of Ireland,’ 1661, 4to. 28. ‘Ἑβδομὰς Ἐμβολιμαῖος’ 1661–3, 4to (a supplement to No. 14; includes No. 27). 29. ‘Via Intelligentiæ … Sermom (sic) to the University of Dublin,’ 1662, 4to. 30. ‘A Sermon … Funeral of John … Archbishop of Armagh,’ 1663, 4to (with memoir of Bramhall; three editions same year). 31. ‘A Dissuasive from Popery,’ 1664, 4to (three editions same year). 32. ‘Christ's Yoke an Easy Yoke,’ 1675, 8vo (two sermons). Posthumous was 33. ‘On the Reverence due to the Altar. Now first printed from the original manuscript,’ Oxford, 1848, 4to (edited by John Barrow). The sermon at Breda (1649; reprinted 1660), ascribed to Taylor in the British Museum Catalogue, is by Henry Leslie.
Taylor's ‘Whole Works’ were edited by Reginald Heber [q. v.] in 1822 (15 vols. 8vo); revised and improved issue, by Charles Page Eden [q. v.] in 1847–52, 10 vols. 8vo. The ‘Works,’ edited by Thomas Smart Hughes [q. v.], 1831, 5 vols. 12mo, consist of the sermons and the ‘Holy Living and Dying.’ ‘The Poems and Verse Translations’ were edited by Dr. A. B. Grosart, 1870, 8vo (Fuller Worthies' Library). Selections are very numerous; vol. ix. of Wesley's ‘Christian Library’ consists of extracts from Taylor. Many of his pieces have been translated into various languages; several into Welsh.
[The best Life of Jeremy Taylor is that by Heber (1822) as revised by Eden (1854), to which some corrections are supplied in Gent. Mag. April 1855, p. 376; yet this does not entirely supersede the lives by Bonney (1815) and Hughes (1831). Willmott's Biography (1847) has its value; there are still obscure points; a careful collection of Taylor's letters is needed. Monographs are by Canon Henson (1902) and Edmund Gosse (in Men of Letters ser.), 1904. See also Rust's Funeral Sermon, 1668 (Wheeldon's Life, 1793, is little more than a reprint of this); Lloyd's Memoires, 1668, pp. 702 sq.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 781; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, ii. 49; Carte's Life of Ormonde, 1736, vol. ii.; Ware's Works, ed. Harris, 1764, vol. i.; Granger's Biographical Hist. of England, 1779, iii. 254; Evelyn's Memoirs, 1818, vol. i.; Rawdon Papers, ed. Berwick, 1819, pp. 187 sq.; Hamper's Life of Dugdale, 1827, p. 250; Mant's Hist. of the Church of Ireland, 1840, i. 599 sq.; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hibernicæ, 1845–78; Adair's True Narrative, ed. Killen, 1866, pp. 244 sq.; Reid's Hist. Presb. Church in Ireland, ed. Killen, 1867, ii. 239 sq.; Hill's Montgomery Manuscripts, 1869, i. 239 sq.; Classon Porter's Bishop Taylor at Portmore, in Northern Whig, 24 Nov. 1884; Ewart's Handbook to Diocese of Down (1886), pp. 113, 118; Venn's Admissions to Gonville and Caius College, 1887; Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology, 1891, p. 1118; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; May's Dissertation, 1892; Olden's Church of Ireland, 1892, pp. 361 sq.; Scott's Bishop Jeremy Taylor at his Visitation, in Irish Church News, September 1894; Ulster Journal of Archæology, October 1896 pp. 13 sq., January 1897 p. 105, July 1897 p. 277; Sloane MS. 4274, Nos. 125, 127, 130; Cole's manuscript Athenæ Cantabr.; information from C. S. Kenny, LL.D., Cambridge; the Rev. R. P. Lightfoot, Uppingham; the Ulster king-of-arms; the Rev. W. A. Hayes, Dromore; and the late Right Rev. Bishop Reeves of Down, Connor, and Dromore; the parish records of Overstone begin in 1671; Taylor's diocesan registers are not extent.]