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and preparedness, as thou wouldest to the communion : after several days' respite, that it may appear it is thy reason guides thee, and not thy passion, invite him kindly and courteously into some retired place, and there let it be determined whether his blood or thine shall satisfy the injury.
Oh, thou holy Christian religion! Whence is it that thy children have sucked this inhuman, poisonous blood, these raging, fiery spirits? For if we shall inquire of the heathen, they will say, They have not learned this from us; or of the Mahometans, they will answer, We are not guilty of it. Blessed God! that it should become a most sure settled course for a man to run into danger and disgrace with the world, if he shall dare to perform a commandment of Christ, which is as necessary for him to do, if he have any hopes of attaining heaven, as meat and drink is for the maintaining of life! That ever it should enter into Christian hearts to walk so curiously and exactly contrary unto the ways of God! That whereas he sees himself every day and hour almost contemned and despised by thee, who art his servant, his creature, upon whom he might, without all possible imputation of unrighteousness, pour down all the vials of his wrath and indignation; yet he, notwithstanding, is patient and long-suffering towards thee, hoping that his long-suffering may lead thee to repentance, and beseeching thee daily by his ministers to be reconciled unto him; and yet thou, on the other side, for a distempered, passionate speech, or less, should take upon thee to send thy neighbour's soul, or thine own, or likely both, clogged and oppressed with all your sins unrepented of, (for how can repentance possibly consist with such a resolution ?) before the tribunal-seat of God, to expect your final sentence; utterly depriving yourself of all the blessed means which God has contrived for thy salvation, and putting thyself in such an estate, that it shall not be in God's power almost to do thee any good.
Pardon, I beseech you, my earnestness, almost intemperateness, seeing that it hath proceeded from so just, so warrantable a ground; and since it is in your power to give rules of honour and reputation to the whole kingdom, do not you teach others to be ashamed of this inseparable badge of your religion—charity and forgiving of offences; give men leave to be Christians without danger or dishonour; or, if religion will not work with you, yet let the laws of that state wherein you live, the earnest desires and care of your righteous prince, prevail with you.
[JEREMY Taylor is often called the Spenser of theological literature. In the language of a recent critic, he strongly resembles the author of the Faery Queen, in his prolific fancy and diction, in a certain musical arrangement and sweetness of expression, in prolonged description, and in delicious musings and reveries, suggested by some favourite image or metaphor, on which he dwells with the fondness and enthusiasm of a young poet. In these passages he is also apt to run into excess; epithet is heaped upon epithet, and figure upon figure; all the quaint conceits of his fancy, and the curious stores of his learning, are dragged in till both precision and propriety are sometimes lost. He writes like an orator, and produces his effect by reiterated strokes and multiplied impressions. His picture of the Resurrection, in one of his sermons, is in the highest style of poetry, but generally he deals with the gentle and familiar; and his allusions to natural objects—as trees, birds, and flowers, the rising or setting sun, the charms of youthful innocence and beauty, and the helplessness of infancy and childhood-possess an almost angelic purity of feeling and delicacy of fancy.]
The Progress of Sin. I have seen the little purls of a spring sweat through the bottom of a bank, and intenerate the stubborn pavement, till it hath made it fit for the impression of a child's foot; and it was despised, like the descending pearls of a misty morning, till it had opened its way and made a stream large enough to carry away the ruins of the undermined strand, and to invade the neighbouring gardens : but then the despised drops were grown into an artificial river, and an intolerable mischief. So are the first entrances of sin, stopped with the antidotes of a hearty prayer, and checked into sobriety by the eye of a reverend man, or the counsels of a single sermon; but when such beginnings are neglected, and our religion hath not in it so much philosophy as to think anything evil as long as we can endure it, they grow up to ulcers and pestilentiai evils; they destroy the soul by their abode, who at their first entry might have been killed with the pressure of a little finger.
He that hath passed many stages of a good life, to prevent his being tempted to a single sin, must be very careful that he never entertain his spirit with the remembrances of his past sin, nor amuse it with the fantastic apprehensions of the present. When the Israelites fancied the sapidness and relish of the fleshpots, they longed to taste and to return.
So when a Libyan tiger, drawn from his wild foragings, is shut up and taught to eat civil meat, and suffer the authority of a man, he sits down tamely in his prison, and pays to his keeper fear and reverence for his meat; but if he chance to come again, and taste a draught of warm blood, he presently leaps into his natural cruelty. He scarce abstains from eating those hands that brought him discipline and food. So is the nature of a man made tame and gentle by the grace of God, and reduced to reason, and kept in awe by religion and laws, and by an awful virtue is taught to forget those alluring and sottish relishes of sin; but if he diverts from his path, and snatches handfuls from the wanton vineyards, and remembers the lasciviousness of his unwholesome food that pleased his childish palate, then he grows sick again, and hungry after unwholesome diet, and longs for the apples of Sodom.
The Pannonian bears, when they have clasped a dart in the region of their liver, wheel themselves upon the wound, and with anger and malicious revenge strike the deadly barb deeper, and cannot be quit from that fatal steel, but in flying bear along that which themselves make the instrument of a more hasty death : so is every vicious person struck with a deadly wound, and his own hands force it into the entertainments of the heart; and because it is painful to draw it forth by a sharp and salutary repentance, he still rolls and turns upon his wound, and carries his death in his bowels, where it first entered by choice, and then dwelt by love, and at last shall finish the tragedy by divine judgments and an unalterable decree.
Comforting the Afflicted. Certain it is, that as nothing can better do it, so there is nothing greater, for which God made our tongues, next to reciting his praises, than to minister comfort to a weary soul. And what greater measure can we have, than that we should bring joy to our brother, who with his dreary eyes looks to heaven and round about, and cannot find so much rest as to lay his eyelids close together-than that thy tongue should be tuned with heavenly accents, and make the weary soul to listen for light and ease; and when he perceives that there is such a thing in the world, and in the order of things, as comfort and joy, to begin to break out from the prison of his sorrows at the door of sighs and tears, and by little and little melt into showers and refreshment ? This is glory to thy voice, and employment fit for the brightest angel.
But so have I seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death, and the colder breath of the north ; and then the waters break from their inclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in walls, and dance a while in the air, to tell that there is joy within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer. So is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter; he breaks from the despairs of the grave, and the fetters and chains of sorrow; he blesses God, and he blesses thee, and he feels his life returning; for to be miserable is death,