The Literary Remains Of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Edited By Henry Nelson Coleridge
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Ib. s. xcii. p. 365.

Now here dear Jeremy Taylor begins to be himself again; for with all his astonishing complexity, yet versatile agility, of powers, he was too good and of too catholic a spirit to be a good polemic. Hence he so continually is now breaking, now varying, the thread of the argument: and hence he is so again and again forgetting that he is reasoning against an antagonist, and falls into conversation with him as a friend,—I might almost say, into the literary chit-chat and un with holding frankness of a rich genius whose sands are seed-pearl. Of his controversies, those against Popery are the most powerful, because there he had subtleties and obscure reading to contend against; and his wit, acuteness, and omnifarious learning found stuff to work on. Those on Original Sin are the most eloquent.

But in all alike it is the digressions, overgrowths, parenthetic 'obiter et in transitu' sentences, and, above all, his anthropological reflections and experiences—(for example, the inimitable account of a religious dispute, from the first collision to the spark, and from the spark to the world in flames, in his 'Dissuasive from Popery'),—these are the costly gems which glitter, loosely set, on the chain armour of his polemic Pegasus, that expands his wings chiefly to fly off from the field of battle, the stroke of whose hoof the very rock cannot resist, but beneath the stroke of which the opening rock sends forth a Hippocrene. The work in which all his powers are confluent, in which deep, yet gentle, the full stream of his genius winds onward, and still forming peninsulas in its winding course—distinct parts that are only not each a perfect whole—or in less figurative style—(yet what language that does not partake of poetic eloquence can convey the characteristics of a poet and an orator?)—the work which I read with most admiration, but likewise with most apprehension and regret, is the 'Liberty of Prophesying'.

If indeed, like some Thessalian drug, or the strong herb of Anticyra,

... that helps and harms, Which life and death have sealed with counter charms—

it could be administered by special prescription, it might do good service as a narcotic for zealotry, or a solvent for bigotry.

The substance of the preceding tract may be comprised as follows:

1. During the period immediately following our Lord's Ascension, or the so called Apostolic age, all the gifts of the Spirit, and of course the gift of prayer, as graces bestowed, not merely or principally for the benefit of the Apostles and their contemporaries, but likewise and eminently for the advantage of all after-ages, and as means of establishing the foundations of Christianity, differed in kind, degree, mode, and object, from those ordinary graces promised to all true believers of all times; and possessed a character of extraordinary partaking of the nature of miracles, to which no believer under the present and regular dispensations of the Spirit can make pretence without folly and presumption.

2. Yet it is certain that even the first miraculous gifts and graces bestowed on the Apostles themselves supervened on, but did not supersede, their natural faculties and acquired knowledge, nor enable them to dispense with the ordinary means and instruments of cultivating the one, and applying the other, by study, reading, past experience, and whatever else Providence has appointed for all men as the conditions and efficients of moral and intellectual progression. The capabilities of deliberating, selecting, and aptly disposing of our thoughts and works are God's good gifts to man, which the superadded graces of the Spirit, vouchsafed to Christians, work on and with, call forth and perfect. Therefore deliberation, selection, and method become duties, inasmuch as they are the bases and recipients of the Spirit, even as the polished crystal is of the light.

But if the Prophets and Apostles did not (as Taylor demonstrates that they did not) find in miraculous aids any such infusions of light as precluded or rendered superfluous the exertion of their natural faculties and personal attainments, then 'a fortiori' not the possessors or legatees of the ordinary graces bequeathed by Christ to his Church as the usufructuary property of all its members; and he who wilfully lays aside all premeditation, selection, and ordonnance, that he may enter unprepared on the highest and most awful function of the soul,—that of public prayer,—is guilty of no less indecency and irreverence than if, having to present a petition as the representative of a community before the throne, he purposely put off his seemly garments in order to enter into the presence of the monarch naked or in rags: and expects no less an absurdity than to become a passive 'automaton', in which the Holy Spirit is to play the ventriloquist.

3. If, then, each congregation is to receive a prepared form of prayer from its head or minister, why not rather from the collective wisdom of the Church represented in the assembled heads and spiritual Fathers?

4. This is admitted by implication by the Westminster Assembly. But they are not contented with the existing form, and therefore substitute for it a Directory as the fruits of their meditations and counsels. The whole question, then, is now reduced to the comparative merits and fitness of the Directory and the book of Common Prayer; and how complete the victory of the latter, how glaring the defects, how many the deficiencies, of the former, Jeremy Taylor evinces unanswerably.

Such is the substance of this Tract. What the author proposed to prove he has satisfactorily proved.

The faults of the work are:

1. The intermixture of weak and strong arguments, and the frequent interruption of the stream of his logic by doubtful, trifling, and impolitic interruptions; arguments resting in premisses denied by the antagonists, and yet taken for granted; in short, appendages that cumber, accessions that subtract, and confirmations that weaken:—

2. That he commences with a proper division of the subject into two distinct branches, that is, extempore prayer as opposed to set forms, and, The Directory, as prescribing a form opposed to the existing Liturgy; but that in the sequel he blends and confuses and intermingles one with the other, and presses most and most frequently on the first point, which a vast majority of the party he is opposing had disowned and reprobated no less than himself, and which, though easiest to confute, scarcely required confutation.


Epistle Dedicatory, p. cccciii.

And first I answer, that whatsoever is against the foundation of faith is out of the limits of my question, and does not pretend to compliance or toleration.

But as all truths hang together, what error is there which may not be proved to be against the foundation of faith? An inquisitor might make the same code of toleration, and in the next moment light the faggots around a man who had denied the infallibility of Pope and Council.

Ib. p. ccccxxix.

Indeed if by a heresy we mean that which is against an article of creed, and breaks part of the covenant made between God and man by the mediation of Jesus Christ, I grant it to be a very grievous crime, a calling God's veracity into question, &c.

How can he be said to question God's veracity, whose belief is that God never declared it,—who perhaps disbelieves it, because he thinks it opposite to God's honor? For example:—Original sin, in the literal sense of the article, was held by both Papists and Protestants (with exception of the Socinians) as the fundamental article of Christianity; and yet our Jeremy Taylor himself attacked and reprobated it. Why? because he thought it dishonored God. Why may not another man believe the same of the Incarnation, and affirm that it is equal to a circle assuming the essence of a square, and yet remaining a circle? But so it is; we spoil our cause, because we dare not plead it 'in toto'; and a half truth serves for a proof of the opposite falsehood. Jeremy Taylor dared not carry his argument into all its consequences.


S. i. p. 443.

Of the nature of faith, and that its duty is completed in believing the articles of the Apostle's creed.

This section is for the most part as beautifully written as it was charitably conceived; yet how vain the attempt! Jeremy Taylor ought to have denied that Christian faith is at all intellectual primarily, but only probably; as, 'coecteris paribus', it is probable that a man with a pure heart will believe an intelligent Creator. But the faith resides in the predisposing purity of heart, that is, in the obedience of the will to the uncorrupted conscience. For take Taylor's instances; and I ask whether the words or the sense be meant? Surely the latter.

Well then, I understand, and so did the dear Bishop, by these texts the doctrine of a Redeemer, who by his agonies of death actually altered the relations of the spirits of all men to their Maker, redeemed them from sin and death eternal, and brought life and immortality into the world.

But the Socinian uses the same texts; and means only that a good and gifted teacher of pure morality died a martyr to his opinions, and by his resurrection proved the possibility of all men rising from the dead. He did nothing;—he only taught and afforded evidence. Can two more diverse opinions be conceived? God here; mere man there. Here a redeemer from guilt and corruption, and a satisfaction for offended holiness; there a mere declarer that God imputed no guilt wherever, with or without Christ, the person had repented of it.

What could Jeremy Taylor say for the necessity of his sense (which is mine) but what might be said for the necessity of the Nicene Creed? And then as to Rom. x. 9, how can the text mean any thing, unless we know what St. Paul implied in the words 'the Lord Jesus'. From other parts of his writings we know that he meant by the word 'Lord' his divinity or at least essential superhumanity. But the Socinian will not allow this; or, allowing it, denies St. Paul's authority in matters of speculative faith. As well then might I say, it is sufficient for you to believe and repeat the words 'forte miles reddens'; and though one of you mean by it "Perhaps I may be balloted for the militia," and the other understands it to mean, that "Reading is forty miles from London," you are still co-symbolists and believers! While a third person may say, I believe, but do not comprehend, the words; that is, I believe that the person who first used them meant something that is true,—what I do not know; that is, I believe his veracity.

O! had this work been published when Charles I, Archbishop Laud, whose chaplain Taylor was, and the other Star Chamber inquisitors, were sentencing Prynne, Bastwick, Leighton, and others, to punishments that have left a brand-mark on the Church of England, the sophistry might have been forgiven for the sake of the motive, which would then have been unquestionable. Or if Jeremy Taylor had not in effect retracted after the Restoration;—if he had not, as soon as the Church had gained its power, most basely disclaimed and disavowed the principle of toleration, and apologized for the publication by declaring it to have been a 'ruse de guerre', currying pardon for his past liberalism by charging, and most probably slandering, himself with the guilt of falsehood, treachery, and hypocrisy, his character as a man would at least have been stainless. Alas, alas, most dearly do I love Jeremy Taylor; most religiously do I venerate his memory! But this is too foul a blotch of leprosy to be forgiven. He who pardons such an act in such a man partakes of its guilt.

Ib. s. vii. p. 346-7.

In the pursuance of this great truth, the Apostles, or the holy men, their contemporaries and disciples, composed a creed to be a rule of faith to all Christians; as appears in Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Austin, Ruffinus, and divers others; which creed, unless it had contained all the entire object of faith, and the foundation of religion, &c.

Jeremy Taylor does not appear to have been a critical scholar. His reading had been oceanic; but he read rather to bring out the growths of his own fertile and teeming mind than to inform himself respecting the products of those of other men. Hence his reliance on the broad assertions of the Fathers; yet it is strange that he should have been ignorant that the Apostles' Creed was growing piecemeal for several centuries.

Ib. p. 447.

All catechumens in the Latin Church coming to baptism were interrogated concerning their faith, and gave satisfaction on the recitation of this Creed.

I very much doubt this, and rather believe that our present Apostles' Creed was no more than the first instruction of the catechumens prior to baptism; and (as I conclude from Eusebius) that at baptism they professed a more mysterious faith;—the one being the milk, the other the strong meat. Where is the proof that Tertullian was speaking of this Creed? Eusebius speaks in as high terms of the 'Symbolum Fidei', and, defending himself against charges of heresy, says, "Did I not at my baptism, in the 'Symbolum Fidei', declare my belief in Christ as God and the co-eternal Word?" The true Creed it was impiety to write down; but such was never the case with the present or initiating Creed. Strange, too, that Jeremy Taylor, who has in this very work written so divinely of tradition, should assume as a certainty that this Creed was in a proper sense Apostolic. Is then the Creed of greater authority than the inspired Scriptures? And can words in the Creed be more express than those of St. Paul to the Colossians, speaking of Christ as the creative mind of his Father, before all worlds, 'begotten before all things created?'

Ib. s. x. p. 449.

This paragraph is indeed a complexion, as Taylor might call it, of sophisms. Thus;—unbelief from want of information or capacity, though with the disposition of faith, is confounded with disbelief. The question is not, whether it may not be safe for a man to believe simply that Christ is his Saviour, but whether it be safe for a man to disbelieve the article in any sense which supposes an essential supra-humanity in Christ,—any sense that would not have been equally applicable to John, had God chosen to raise him instead of his cousin?

Ib. s. xi. p. 450.

Neither are we obliged to make these Articles more particular and minute than the Creed. For since the Apostles, and indeed our blessed Lord himself, promised heaven to them who believed him to be the Christ that was to come into the world, and that he who believes in him should be partaker of the resurrection and life eternal, he will be as good as his word. Yet because this article was very general, and a complexion rather than a single proposition, the Apostles and others our Fathers in Christ did make it more explicit: and though they have said no more than what lay entire and ready formed in the bosom of the great Article, yet they made their extracts to great purpose and absolute sufficiency; and therefore there needs no more deductions or remoter consequences from the first great Article than the Creed of the Apostles.

Most true; but still the question returns, what was meant by the phrase 'the' Christ? Contraries cannot both be true. 'The Christ' could not be both mere man and incarnate God. One or the other must believe falsely on this great key-stone of all the intellectual faith in Christianity. For so it is; alter it, and everything alters; as is proved in Trinitarianism and Socinianism. No two religions can be more different;—I know of no two equally so.

Ib. s. xii. p. 451.

The Church hath power to intend our faith, but not to extend it; to make our belief more evident, but not more large and comprehensive.

This and the preceding pages are scarcely honest. For Jeremy Taylor begins with admitting that the Creed might have been composed by others. He has no proof of that most absurd fable of the twelve Apostles clubbing to make it; yet here all he says assumes its inspiration as a certain fact.

Ib. p. 454.

But for the present there is no insecurity in ending there where the Apostles ended, in building where they built, in resting where they left us, unless the same infallibility which they had had still continued, which I think I shall hereafter make evident it did not.

What a tangle of contradictions Taylor thrusts himself into by the attempt to support a true system, a full third of which he was afraid to mention, and another third was by the same fear induced to deny—at least to take for granted the contrary: for example, the absolute plenary inspiration and infallibility of the Apostles and Evangelists; and yet that their whole function, as far as the consciences of their followers were concerned, was to repeat the two or three sentences, that 'Jesus was Christ' (so says one of the Evangelists), 'the Christ of God' (so says another), 'the Christ the Son of the living God' (so says a third), that he rose from the dead, and for the remission of sins, to as many as believed and professed that he was the Christ or the Lord, and died and rose for the remission of sins. Surely no miraculous communication of God's infallibility was necessary for this.

But if this infallibility was stamped on all they said and wrote, is it credible that any part should not be equally binding? I declare I can make nothing out of this section, but that it is necessary for men to believe the Apostles' Creed; but what they believe by it is of no consequence. For instance; what if I chose to understand by the word 'dead' a state of trance or suspended animation;—language furnishing plenty of analogies—dead in a swoon—dead drunk—and so on;—should I still be a Christian?

'Born of the Virgin Mary.' What if, as Priestley and others, I interpreted it as if we should say, 'the former Miss Vincent was his mother.' I need not say that I disagree with Taylor's premisses only because they are not broad enough, and with his aim and principal conclusion only because it does not go far enough. I would have the law grounded wholly in the present life, religion only on the life to come. Religion is debased by temporal motives, and law rendered the drudge of prejudice and passion by pretending to spiritual aims. But putting this aside, and judging of this work solely as a chain of reasoning, I seem to find one leading error in it; namely, that Taylor takes the condition of a first admission into the Church of Christ for the fullness of faith which was to be gradually there acquired. The simple acknowledgment, that they accepted Christ as their Lord and King was the first lisping of the infant believer at which the doors were opened, and he began the process of growth in the faith.

Ib. s. ii. p. 457.

The great heresy that troubled them was the doctrine of the necessity of keeping the law of Moses, the necessity of circumcision, against which doctrine they were therefore zealous, because it was a direct overthrow to the very end and excellency of Christ's coming.

The Jewish converts were still bound to the rite of circumcision, not indeed as under the Law, or by the covenant of works, but as the descendants of Abraham, and by that especial covenant which St. Paul rightly contends was a covenant of grace and faith. But the heresy consisted wholly in the attempt to impose this obligation on the Gentile converts, in the infatuation of some of the Galatians, who, having no pretension to be descendants of Abraham, could, as the Apostle urges, only adopt the rite as binding themselves under the law of works, and thereby apostatizing from the covenant of faith by free grace. And this was the decision of the Apostolic Council at Jerusalem. Acts' xv. Rhenferd, in his Treatise on the Ebionites and other pretended heretics in Palestine, so grossly and so ignorantly calumniated by Epiphanius, has written excellently well on this subject. Jeremy Taylor is mistaken throughout.

Ib. s. iv. p. 459.

And so it was in this great question of circumcision.

It is really wonderful that a man like Bishop Taylor could have read the New Testament, and have entertained a doubt as to the decided opinion of all the Apostles, that every born Jew was bound to be circumcised. Opinion? The very doubt never suggested itself. When something like this opinion was slanderously attributed to Paul, observe the almost ostentatious practical contradiction of the calumny which was adopted by him at the request and by the advice of the other Apostles. ('Acts', xxi. 21-26.) The rite of circumcision, I say, was binding on all the descendants of Abraham through Isaac for all time even to the end of the world; but the whole law of Moses was binding on the Jewish Christians till the heaven and the earth—that is, the Jewish priesthood and the state—had passed away in the destruction of the temple and city; and the Apostles observed every tittle of the Law.

Ib. s. vi. p. 460.

The heresy of the Nicolaitans.

Heresy is not a proper term for a plainly anti-Christian sect. Nicolaitans is the literal Greek translation of Balaamites; destroyers of the people. 'Rev'. ii. 14, 15.

Ib. s. viii. p. 461.

For heresy is not an error of the understanding, but an error of the will.

Most excellent. To this Taylor should have adhered, and to its converse. Faith is not an accuracy of logic, but a rectitude of heart.

Ib. p. 462.

It was the heresy of the Gnostics, that it was no matter how men lived, so they did but believe aright.

I regard the extinction of all the writings of the Gnostics among the heaviest losses of Ecclesiastical literature. We have only the account of their inveterate enemies. Individual madmen there have been in all ages, but I do not believe that any sect of Gnostics ever held this opinion in the sense here supposed.


And, indeed, if we remember that St. Paul reckons heresy amongst the works of the flesh, and ranks it with all manner of practical impieties, we shall easily perceive that if a man mingles not a vice with his opinion,—if he be innocent in his life, though deceived in his doctrine,—his error is his misery not his crime; it makes him an argument of weakness and an object of pity, but not a person sealed up to ruin and reprobation.

O admirable! How could Taylor, after this, preach and publish his Sermon in defence of persecution, at least against toleration!

Ib. s. xxii. p. 479.

Ebion, Manes.

No such man as Ebion ever, as I can see, existed; [3] and Manes is rather a doubtful 'ens'.

Ib. s. xxxi. p. 487.

But I shall observe this, that although the Nicene Fathers in that case, at that time, and in that conjuncture of circumstances, did well, &c.

What Bull and Waterland have urged in defence of the Nicene Fathers is (like every thing else from such men) most worthy of all attention. They contend that no other term but [Greek: homoousia] could secure the Christian faith against both the two contrary errors, Tritheism with subversion of the unity of the Godhead on the one hand, and creature-worship on the other. For, to use Waterland's mode of argument, [4] either Eusebius of Nicomedia with the four other dissenters at Nice were right or wrong in their assertion, that Christ could not be of the [Greek: ousia] of the self-originated First by derivation, as a son from a father:—if they were right, they either must have discovered some third distinct and intelligible form of origination in addition to 'begotten' and 'created', or they had not and could not. Now the latter was notoriously the fact. Therefore to deny the [Greek: homoousia] was implicitly to deny the generation of the second Person, and thus to assert his creation. But if he was a creature, he could not be adorable without idolatry. Nor did the chain of inevitable consequences stop here. His characteristic functions of Redeemer, Mediator, King, and final Judge, must all cease to be attributable to Christ; and the conclusion is, that between the Homoousian scheme and mere Psilanthropism there is no intelligible 'medium'. If this, then, be not a fundamental article of faith, what can be?

To this reasoning I really can discern no fair reply within the sphere of conceptual logic, if it can be made evident that the term [Greek: homoousios] is really capable of achieving the end here set forth. One objection to the term is, that it was not translatable into the language of the Western Church. Consubstantial is not the translation: 'substantia' answers to [Greek: hypostasis], not to [Greek: ousia]; and hence, when [Greek: hypostasis] was used by the Nicene Fathers in distinction from [Greek: ousia], the Latin Church was obliged to render it by some other word, and thus introduced that most unhappy and improper term 'persona'. Would you know my own inward judgment on this question, it is this: first, that this pregnant idea, the root and form of all ideas, is not within the sphere of conceptual logic,—that is, of the understanding,—and is therefore of necessity inexpressible; for no idea can be adequately represented in words:—secondly, that I agree with Bull and Waterland against Bishop Taylor, that there was need of a public and solemn decision on this point:—but, lastly, that I am more than doubtful respecting the fitness or expediency of the term [Greek: homoousios], and hold that the decision ought to have been negative. For at first all parties agreed in the positive point, namely, that Christ was the Son of God, and that the Son of God was truly God, "or very God of very God." All that was necessary to be added was, that the only begotten Son of God was not created nor begotten in time. More than this might be possible, and subject of insight; but it was not determinable by words, and was therefore to be left among the rewards of the Spirit to the pure in heart in inward vision and silent contemplation.

Ib. s. xl. p. 495.

All that is necessary to give a full and satistory import to this excellent paragraph, and to secure it from all inconvenient consequences, is to understand the distinction between the objective and general revelation, by which the whole Church is walled around and kept together ('principium totalitatis et cohaesionis'), and the subjective revelation, the light from the life ('John' i. 4.), by which the individual believers, each according to the grace given, grow in faith. For the former, the Apostles' Creed, in its present form, is more than enough; for the latter, it might be truly said in the words of the fourth Gospel, that all the books which the world could contain would not suffice to set forth explicitly that mystery in which all treasures of knowledge are hidden, 'reconduntur'.

From the Apostles' Creed, nevertheless, if regarded in the former point of view, several clauses must be struck out, not as false, but as not necessary. "I believe that Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, rose from the dead on the third day; and I receive him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, who died for the remission of the sins of as many as believe in the Father through him, in whom we have the promise of life everlasting." This is the sufficient creed. More than this belongs to the Catechism, and then to the study of the Scriptures.

Ib. s. vi. p. 506.

So did the ancient Papias understand Christ's millenary reign upon earth, and so depressed the hopes of Christianity and their desires to the longing and expectation of temporal pleasures and satisfactions. And he was followed by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Lactantius, and indeed, the whole Church generally, till St. Austin and St. Jerome's time, who, first of any whose works are extant, did reprove the error.

Bishop Taylor is, I think, mistaken in two points; first, that the Catholic Millenaries looked forward to carnal pleasures in the kingdom of Christ;—for even the Jewish Rabbis of any note represented the 'Millenium' as the preparative and transitional state to perfect spiritualization:—second, that the doctrine of Christ's reign upon earth rested wholly or principally on the twentieth chapter of the Revelations, which actually, in my judgment, opposes it.

I more than suspect that Austin's and Jerome's strongest ground for rejecting the second coming of our Lord in his kingly character, was, that they were tired of waiting for it. How can we otherwise interpret the third and fourth clauses of the Lord's Prayer, or, perhaps, the [Greek: en toi kairoi toutoi], 'in hoc seculo', (x. 30) of St. Mark? If the first three Gospels, joined with the unbroken faith and tradition of the Church for nearly three centuries, can decide the question, the Millenarians have the best of the argument.

Vol. viii. s. ix. p. 22.

One thing only I observe (and we shall find it true in most writings, whose authority is urged in questions of theology), that the authority of the tradition is not it which moves the assent, but the nature of the thing; and because such a canon is delivered, they do not therefore believe the sanction or proposition so delivered, but disbelieve the tradition if they do not like the matter, and so do not judge of the matter by the tradition, but of the tradition by the matter.

This just and acute remark is, in fact, no less applicable to Scripture in all doctrinal points, and if infidelity is not to overspread England as well as France, the same criterion (that is, the internal evidence) must be extended to all points, to the narratives no less than to the precept. The written words must be tried by the Word from the beginning, in which is life, and that life the light of men. Reduce it to the noetic pentad, or universal form of contemplation, except where all the terms are absolute, and consequently there is no 'punctum indifferens, —in divinis tetras, in omnibus aliis pentas,' and the form stands thus. [5]

Ib. s. iii. p. 36.

So that it cannot make it divine and necessary to be heartily believed. It may make it lawful, not make it true; that is, it may possibly, by such means, become a law, but not a truth.

This is a sophism which so evident a truth did not need. Apply the reasoning to an act of Parliament previously to the royal sanction. Will it hold good to say, if it was law after the sanction, it was law before? The assertion of the Papal theologians is, that the divine providence may possibly permit even the majority of a legally convened Council to err; but by force of a divine promise cannot permit both a majority and the Pope to err on the same point. The flaw in this is, that the Romish divines rely on a conditional promise unconditionally. To Taylor's next argument the Romish respondent would say, that an exception, grounded on a specific evident necessity, does not invalidate the rule in the absence of any equally evident necessity.

Taylor's argument is a [Greek: metabasis eis allo genos]. It is not the truth, but the sign or mark, by which the Church at large may know that it is truth, which is here provided for; that is, not the truth simply, but the obligation of receiving it as such. Ten thousand may apprehend the latter, only ten of whom might be capable of determining the former.

Ib. 5.

So that now (that we may apply this) there are seven general Councils, which by the Church of Rome are condemned of error ... The council of Ariminum, consisting of six hundred Bishops.

It is the mark of a faction that it never hesitates to sacrifice a greater good common to them and to their opponents to a lesser advantage obtained over those opponents. Never was there a stranger instance of imprudence, at least, than the act of the Athanasian party in condemning so roundly the great Council of Ariminum as heretical, and for little more than the charitable wish of the many hundred Bishops there assembled to avoid a word that had set all Christendom by the ears. They declared that [Greek: ho agennaetos pataer, kai ho achronos gennaetos uhios, kai to pneuma ekporeuomenon] were substantially (hypostatikos) distinct, but nevertheless, one God; and though there might be some incautious phrases used by them, the good Bishops declared that if their decree was indeed Arian, or introduced aught to the derogation of the Son's absolute divinity, it was against their knowledge and intention, and that they renounced it.

Ib. s. x. p. 46.

Gratian says, that the Council means by a concubine a wife married 'sine dote et solennitate'; but this is daubing with untempered mortar.

Here I think Taylor wrong and Gratian right; for not a hundred years ago the very same decree was passed by the Lutheran clergy in Prussia, determining that left-hand marriages were to be discouraged, but did not exclude from communion. These marriages were invented for the sake of poor nobles: they could have but that one wife, and the children followed the rank and title of the mother, not of the father.

Ib. s. vii. p. 56.

Thirdly; for 'pasce oves', there is little in that allegation besides the boldness of the objectors.

I have ever thought that the derivation of the Papal monarchy from the thrice repeated command, 'pasce oves', the most brazen of all the Pope's bulls. It was because Peter had given too good proof that he was more disposed to draw the sword for Christ than to perform the humble duties of a shepherd, that our Lord here strongly, though tenderly, reminds him of his besetting temptation. The words are most manifestly a reproof and a warning, not a commission. In like manner the very letter of the famous paronomastic text proves that Peter's confession, not Peter himself, was the rock. His name was, perhaps, not so much stone as stoner; not so much rock as rockman; and Jesus hearing this unexpected confession of his mysterious Sonship (for this is one of the very few cases in which the internal evidence decides for the superior fidelity of the first Gospel), and recognizing in it an immediate revelation from heaven, exclaims, "Well, art thou the man of the rock; 'and upon this rock will I build my church,'" not on this man. Add too, that the law revealed to Moses and the confession of the divine attributes, are named the rock, both in the Pentateuch and in the Psalms.

Mark has simply, 'Thou art the Christ'; Luke, 'The Christ of God'; [6] but that Jesus was the Messiah had long been known by the Apostles, at all events conjectured. Had not John so declared him at the baptism? Besides, it was included among the opinions concerning our Lord which led to his question, the aim of which was not simply as to the Messiahship, but that the Messiah, instead of a mere descendant of David, destined to reestablish and possess David's throne, was the Jehovah himself, 'the Son of the living God; God manifested in the flesh'. 1 'Tim'. iii. 16.

Ib. s. viii. p. 62.

And yet again, another degree of uncertainty is, to whom the Bishops of Rome do succeed. For St. Paul was as much Bishop of Rome as St. Peter was; there he presided, there he preached, and he it was that was the doctor of the uncircumcision and of the Gentiles, St. Peter of the circumcision and of the Jews only; and therefore the converted Jews at Rome might with better reason claim the privilege of St. Peter, than the Romans and the Churches in her communion, who do not derive from Jewish parents.

I wonder that Taylor should have introduced so very strong an argument merely 'obiter'. If St. Peter ever was at Rome, it must have been for the Jewish converts or convertendi exclusively, and on what do the earliest Fathers rest the fact of Peter's being at Rome? Do they appeal to any document? No; but to their own arbitrary and most improbable interpretation of the word Babylon in St. Peter's first epistle. [7] I am too deeply impressed with the general difficulty arising out of the strange eclipse of all historic documents, of all particular events, from the arrival of St. Paul at Rome as related by St. Luke and the time when Justin Martyr begins to shed a scanty light, to press any particular instance of it. Yet, if Peter really did arrive at Rome, and was among those destroyed by Nero, it is strange that the Bishop and Church of Rome should have preserved no record of the particulars.

Ib. s. xv. p. 71.

But what shall we think of that decretal of Gregory the Third, who wrote to Boniface his legate in Germany, 'quod illi, quorum uxores infirmitate aliqua morbida debitum reddere noluerunt, aliis poterant nubere.'

Supposing the 'noluerunt' to mean 'nequeunt', or at least any state of mind and feeling that does not exclude moral attachment, I, as a Protestant, abominate this decree of Gregory III; for I place the moral, social, and spiritual helps and comforts as the proper and essential ends of Christian marriage, and regard the begetting of children as a contingent consequence. But on the contrary tenet of the Romish Church, I do not see how Gregory could consistently decree otherwise.

Ib. s. iii. p. 82.

Nor that Origen taught the pains of hell not to have an eternal duration.

And yet there can be no doubt that Taylor himself held with Origen on this point. But, 'non licebat dogmatizare oppositum, quia determinatum fuerat.'

Ib. p. 84.

And except it be in the Apostles' Creed and articles of such nature, there is nothing which may with any color be called a consent, much less tradition universal.

It may be well to remember, whenever Taylor speaks of the Apostles' Creed, that Pearson's work on that Creed was not then published. Nothing is more suspicious than copies of creeds in the early Fathers; it was so notoriously the custom of the transcribers to make them square with those in use in their own time.

Ib. s. iv.

Such as makes no invasion upon their great reputation, which I desire should be preserved as sacred as it ought.

The vision of the mitre dawned on Taylor; and his recollection of Laud came to the assistance of the Fathers; of many of whom in his heart Taylor, I think, entertained a very mean opinion. How could such a man do otherwise? I could forgive them their nonsense and even their economical falsehoods; but their insatiable appetite for making heresies, and thus occasioning the neglect or destruction of so many valuable works, Origen's for instance, this I cannot forgive or forget.

Ib. s. i. p. 88.

Of the incompetency of the Church, in its diffusive capacity, to be judge of controversies; and the impertinency of that pretence of the Spirit.

Now here begin my serious differences with Jeremy Taylor, which may be characterized in one sentence; ideas 'versus' conceptions and images. I contend that the Church in the Christian sense is an idea;—not therefore a chimera, or a fancy, but a real being and a most powerful reality. Suppose the present state of science in this country, with this only difference that the Royal and other scientific societies were not founded: might I not speak of a scientific public, and its influence on the community at large? Or should I be talking of a chimera, a shadow, or a non-entity? Or when we speak with honest pride of the public spirit of this country as the power which supported the nation through the gigantic conflict with France, do we speak of nothing, because we cannot say,—"It is in this place or in that catalogue of names?" At the same time I most readily admit that no rule can be grounded formally on the supposed assent of this ideal Church, the members of which are recorded only in the book of life at any one moment. In Taylor's use and application of the term, Church, the visible Christendom, and in reply to the Romish divines, his arguments are irrefragable.

Ib. s. ii. p. 93,

So that if they read, study, pray, search records, and use all the means of art and industry in the pursuit of truth, it is not with a resolution to follow that which shall seem truth to them, but to confirm what before they did believe.

Alas, if Protestant and Papist were named by individuals answering or not answering to this description, what a vast accession would not the Pope's muster-roll receive! In the instance of the Council of Trent, the iniquity of the Emperor and the Kings of France and Spain consisted in their knowledge that the assembly at Trent had no pretence to be a general Council, that is, a body representative of the Catholic or even of the Latin Church. It may be, and in fact it is, very questionable whether any Council, however large and fairly chosen, is not an absurdity except under the universal faith that the Holy Ghost miraculously dictates all the decrees: and this is irrational, where the same superseding Spirit does not afford evidence of its presence by producing unanimity. I know nothing, if I may so say, more ludicrous than the supposition of the Holy Ghost contenting himself with a majority, in questions respecting faith, or decrees binding men to inward belief, which again binds a Christian to outward profession. Matters of discipline and ceremony, having peace and temporal order for their objects, are proper enough for a Council; but these do not need any miraculous interference. Still if any Council is admitted in matters of doctrine, those who have appealed to it must abide by the determination of the majority, however they might prefer the opinion of the minority, just as in acts of Parliament.

Ib. s. xi. p. 98.

Of some causes of error in the exercise of reason, which are inculpate in themselves.

It is a lamentable misuse of the term, reason,—thus to call by that name the mere faculty of guessing and babbling. The making reason a faculty, instead of a light, and using the term as a mere synonyme of the understanding, and the consequent ignorance of the true nature of ideas, and that none but ideas are objects of faith—are the grounds of all Jeremy Taylor's important errors.


But men may understand what they please, especially when they are to expound oracles.

If this sentence had occurred in Hume or Voltaire!

Ib. s. iii. p. 103.

And then if ever truth be afflicted, she shall also be destroyed.

Here and in many other passages of his other works Jeremy Taylor very unfairly states this argument of the anti-prelatic party. It was not that the Church of England was afflicted (the Puritans themselves had been much more afflicted by the prelates); but that having appealed to the decision of the sword, the cause was determined against it. But in fact it is false that the Puritans ever did argue as Taylor represents them. Laud and his confederates had begun by incarcerating, scourging, and inhumanly mutilating their fellow Christians for not acceding to their fancies, and proceeded to goad and drive the King to levy or at least maintain war against his Parliament: and the Parliamentary party very naturally cited their defeat and the overthrow of the prelacy as a judgment on their blood-thirstiness, not as a proof of their error in questions of theology.

Ib. s. iv. p. 105.

All that I shall say, &c. 'ad finem'.

An admirable paragraph. Taylor is never more himself, never appears greater, or wiser, than when he enters on this topic, namely, the many and various causes beside truth which occasion men to hold an opinion for truth.

Ib. s. vii. p. 111.

Of such men as these it was said by St. Austin: 'Caeteram turbam non intelligendi vivacitas, sed credendi simplicitas tutissimam facit.'

Such charity is indeed notable policy: salvation made easy for the benefit of obedient dupes.

Ib. s. ii. p. 119.

I deny not but certain and known idolatry, or any other sort of practical impiety with its principiant doctrine, may be punished corporally, because it is no other but matter of fact.

In the Jewish theocracy, I admit; because the fact of idolatry was a crime, namely, 'crimen laesae majestatis', an overt act subversive of the fundamental law of the state, and breaking asunder the 'vinculum et copulam unitatis et cohaesionis'. But in making the position general, Taylor commits the 'sophisma omissi essentialis'; he omits the essential of the predicate, namely, criminal;—not its being a fact rendering it punishable, but its being a criminal fact.

Ib. s. iii.

Oh that this great and good man, who saw and has expressed so large a portion of the truth,—(if by the Creed I might understand the true Apostles', that is, the Baptismal Creed, free from the additions of the first five centuries, I might indeed say the whole truth),—had but brought it back to the great original end and purpose of historical Christianity, and of the Church visible, as its exponent, not as a 'hortus siccus' of past revelations,—but an ever enlarging inclosed 'area' of the opportunity of individual conversion to, and reception of, the spirit of truth! Then, instead of using this one truth to inspire a despair of all truth, a reckless scepticism within, and a boundless compliance without, he would have directed the believer to seek for light where there was a certainty of finding it, as far as it was profitable for him, that is, as far as it actually was light for him. The visible Church would be a walled Academy, a pleasure garden, in which the intrants having presented their 'symbolum portae', or admission-contract, walk at large, each seeking private audience of the invisible teacher,—alone now, now in groups,—meditating or conversing,—gladly listening to some elder disciple, through whom (as ascertained by his intelligibility to me) I feel that the common Master is speaking to me,—or lovingly communing with a class-fellow, who, I have discovered, has received the same lesson from the inward teaching with myself,—while the only public concerns in which all, as a common weal, exercised control and vigilance over each, are order, peace, mutual courtesy and reverence, kindness, charity, love, and the fealty and devotion of all and each to the common Master and Benefactor!

Ib. s. viii. p. 124.

It is characteristic of the man and the age, Taylor's high-strained reverential epithets to the names of the Fathers, and as rare and naked mention of Luther, Melancthon, Calvin—the least of whom was not inferior to St. Augustin, and worth a brigade of the Cyprians, Firmilians, and the like. And observe, always 'Saint' Cyprian!

Ib. s. xii. p. 128-9.

Gibbon's enumeration of the causes, not miraculous, of the spread of Christianity during the first three centuries is far from complete. This, however, is not the greatest defect of this celebrated chapter. The proportions of importance are not truly assigned; nay, the most effective causes are only not omitted—mentioned, indeed, but 'quasi in transitu', not developed or distinctly brought out: for example, the zealous despotism of the Caesars, with the consequent exclusion of men of all ranks from the great interests of the public weal, otherwise than as servile instruments; in short, the direct contrary of that state and character of men's minds, feelings, hopes and fancies, which elections, Parliaments, Parliamentary reports, and newspapers produce in England; and this extinction of patriotism aided by the melting down of states and nations in the one vast yet heterogeneous Empire;—the number and variety of the parts acting only to make each insignificant in its own eyes, and yet sufficient to preclude all living interest in the peculiar institutions and religious forms of Rome; which beginning in a petty district, had, no less than the Greek republics, its mythology and [Greek: thraeskeia] intimately connected with localities and local events. The mere habit of staring or laughing at nine religions must necessarily end in laughing at the tenth, that is, the religion of the man's own birth-place. The first of these causes, that is, the detachment of all love and hope from the things of the visible world, and from temporal objects not merely selfish, must have produced in thousands a tendency to, and a craving after, an internal religion, while the latter occasioned an absolute necessity of a mundane as opposed to a national or local religion. I am far from denying or doubting the influence of the excellence of the Christian faith in the propagation of the Christian Church or the power of its evidences; but still I am persuaded that the necessity of some religion, and the untenable nature and obsolete superannuated character of all the others, occasioned the conversion of the largest though not the worthiest part of the new-made Christians. Here, though exploded in physics, we have recourse to the 'horror vacui' as an efficient cause. This view of the subject can offend or startle those only who, in their passion for wonderment, virtually exclude the agency of Providence from any share in the realizing of its own benignant scheme; as if the disposition of events by which the whole world of human history, from north and south, east and west, directed their march to one central point, the establishment of Christendom, were not the most stupendous of miracles! It is a yet sadder consideration, that the same men who can find God's presence and agency only in sensuous miracles, wholly misconceive the characteristic purpose and proper objects of historic Christianity and of the outward and visible Church, of which historic Christianity is the ground and the indispensable condition; but this is a subject delicate and dangerous, at all events requiring a less scanty space than the margins of these honestly printed pages.

Ib. s. iv. p. 133.

The death of Ananias and Sapphira, and the blindness of Elymas the sorcerer, amount not to this, for they were miraculous inflictions.

One great difficulty respecting, not the historic truth (of which there can be no rational doubt), but the miraculous nature, of the sudden deaths of Ananias and Sapphira is derived from the measure which gave occasion to it, namely, the sale of their property by the new converts of Palestine, in order to establish that community of goods, which, according to a Rabbinical tradition, existed before the Deluge, and was to be restored by the children of Seth (one of the names which the Jewish Christians assumed) before the coming of the Son of Man. Now this was a very gross and carnal, not to say fanatical, misunderstanding of our Lord's words, and had the effect of reducing the Churches of the Circumcision to beggary, and of making them an unnecessary burthen on the new Churches in Greece and elsewhere. See Rhenferd as to this.

The fact of Elymas, however, concludes the miraculous nature of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, which, taken of themselves, would indeed have always been supposed, but could scarcely have been proved, the result of a miraculous or superhuman power. There are for me, I confess, great difficulties in this incident, especially when it is compared with our Lord's reply to the Apostles' proposal of calling down fire from heaven. 'The Son of Man is not come to destroy', &c. At all events it is a subject that demands and deserves deep consideration.

Ib. s. i. p. 141.

The religion of Jesus Christ is 'the form of sound doctrine and wholesome words', which is set down in Scripture indefinitely, actually conveyed to us by plain places, and separated as for the question of necessary or not necessary by the Symbol of the Apostles.

I cannot refrain from again expressing my surprise at the frequency and the undoubting positiveness of this assertion in so great a scholar, so profound a Patrician, as Jeremy Taylor was. He appears 'bona fide' to have believed the absurd fable of this Creed having been a pic-nic to which each of the twelve Apostles contributed his 'symbolum'. Had Jeremy Taylor taken it for granted so completely and at so early an age, that he read without attending to the various passages in the Fathers and ecclesiastical historians, which shew the gradual formation of this Creed? It is certainly possible, and I see no other solution of the problem.

Ib. s. ix. p. 153.

'Judge not, that ye be not judged'. The dread of these words is, I fear, more influential on my spirit than either the duty of charity or my sense of Taylor's high merits, in enabling me to struggle against the strong inclination to pass the sentence of dishonesty on the reasoning in this paragraph. Had I met the passage in Richard Baxter or in Bishop Hall, it would have made no such unfavourable impression. But Taylor was so acute a logician, and had made himself so completely master of the subject, that it is hard to conceive him blind to sophistry so glaring. I am myself friendly to Infant Baptism, but for that reason feel more impatience of any unfairness in its defenders.

Ib. Ad. iii. and xiii. p. 178.

But then, that God is not as much before hand with Christian as with Jewish infants is a thing which can never be believed by them who understand that in the Gospel God opened all his treasures of mercies, and unsealed the fountain itself; whereas, before, he poured forth only rivulets of mercy and comfort.

This is mere sophistry; and I doubt whether Taylor himself believed it a sufficient reply to his own argument. There is no doubt that the primary purpose of Circumcision was to peculiarize the Jews by an indelible visible sign; and it was as necessary that Jewish infants should be known to be Jews as Jewish men. Then humanity and mere safety determined that the bloody rite should be performed in earliest infancy, as soon as the babe might be supposed to have gotten over the fever of his birth. This is clear; for women had no correspondent rite, but the same result was obtained by the various severe laws concerning their marriage with aliens and other actions.

Ib. p. 180.

And as those persons who could not be circumcised (I mean the females), yet were baptized, as is notorious in the Jews' books and story.

Yes, but by no command of God, but only their own fancies.

Ib. Ad. iv. p. 181.

'Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein': receive it as a little child receives it, that is, with innocence, and without any let or hinderance.

Is it not evident that Christ here converted negatives into positives? As a babe is without malice negatively, so you must be positively and by actuation, that is, full of love and meekness; as the babe is unresisting, so must you be docile, and so on.

Ib. Ad. v.

And yet, notwithstanding this terrible paragraph, Taylor believed that infants were not a whit the worse off for not being baptized. Strange contradiction! They are born in sin, and Baptism is the only way of deliverance; and yet it is not. For the infant is 'de se' of the kingdom of heaven. Christ blessed them, not in order to make them so, but because they already were so. So that this argument seems more than all others demonstrative for the Anabaptist, and to prove that Baptism derives all its force if it be celestial magic, or all its meaning if it be only a sacrament and symbol, from the presumption of actual sin in the person baptized.

Ib. Ad. xv. p. 186.

And he that hath without difference commanded that all nations should be baptized, hath without difference commanded all sorts of persons.

Even so our Lord commanded all men to repent, did he therefore include babes of a month old? [8] Yes, when they became capable of repentance. And even so babes are included in the general command of Baptism, that is, as soon as they are baptizable. But Baptism supposed both repentance and a promise; babes are not capable of either, and therefore not of Baptism. For the physical element was surely only the sign and seal of a promise by a counter promise and covenant. The rite of Circumcision is wholly inapplicable; for there a covenant was between Abraham and God, not between God and the infant. "Do so and so to all your male children, and I will favor them. Mark them before the world as a peculiar and separate race, and I will then consider them as my chosen people." But Baptism is personal, and the baptized a subject not an object; not a thing, but a person; that is, having reason, or actually and not merely potentially. Besides, Jeremy Taylor was too sound a student of Erasmus and Grotius not to know the danger of screwing up St. Paul's accommodations of Jewish rites, meant doubtless as inducements of rhetoric and innocent compliances with innocent and invincible prejudices, into articles of faith. The conclusions are always true; but all the arguments are not and were never intended to be reducible into syllogisms demonstrative.

Ib. Ad. xviii. p. 191.

But let us hear the answer. First, it is said, that Baptism and the Spirit signify the same thing; for by water is meant the effect of the Spirit.

By the 'effect,' the Anabaptist clearly means the 'causa causans', the 'act of the Spirit.' As well might Taylor say that a thought is not thinking, because it is the effect of thinking. Had Taylor been right, the water to be an apt sign ought to have been dirty water; for that would be the 'res effecta'. But it is pure water, therefore 'res agens'.

Ib. p. 192.

For it is certain and evident, that regeneration or new birth is here enjoined to all as of absolute and indispensable necessity.

Yet Taylor himself has denied it over and over again in his tracts on Original Sin; and how is it in harmony with the words of Christ—'Of such are the kingdom of heaven'? Are we not regenerated back to a state of spiritual infancy? Yet for such Anti-paedobaptists as hold the dogma of original guilt it is doubtless a fair argument; but Taylor ought not to have used it as certain and evident in itself, and not merely 'ad hominem et per accidens'. As making a bow is in England the understood conventional mark or visible language of reverence, so in the East was Baptism the understood outward and visible mark of conversion and initiation. So much for the visible act: then for the particular meaning affixed to it by Christ. This was [Greek: metanoia], an adoption of a new principle of action and consequent reform of conduct; a cleansing, but especially a cleansing away of the carnal film from the mind's eye. Hence the primitive Church called baptism [Greek: phos], light, and the Eucharist [Greek: zoae], life. Baptism, therefore, was properly the sign, the 'precursor', or rather the first act, the 'initium', of that regeneration of which the whole spiritual life of a Christian is the complete process; the Eucharist indicating the means, namely, the continued assimilation of and to the Divine Humanity. Hence the Eucharist was called the continuation of the Incarnation.


And yet it does not follow that they should all be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. But it is meant only that that glorious effect should be to them a sign of Christ's eminency above him; they should see from him a Baptism greater than that of John.

This is exactly of a piece with that gloss of the Socinians in evasion of St. Paul's words concerning Christ's emptying himself of the form of God, and becoming a servant, which all the world of Christians had interpreted of the Incarnation. But no! it only referred to the miracle of his transfiguration!

... 'credat Judaeus Apella! Non ego'.

St. John could not mean this, unless he denied the distinct personality of the Holy Ghost. For it was the Holy Ghost that then descended 'as the substitute of Christ; nor does St. Luke even hint that it was understood to be a Baptism, even if we suppose the 'tongues of fire' to be anything visual, and not as we say, Victory sate on his helmet like an eagle. The spirit of eloquence descended into them like a tongue of fire, and that they spoke different languages is, I conceive, no where said; but only that being rustic Galileans they yet spake a dialect intelligible to all the Jews from the most different provinces. For it is clear they were all Jews, and, as Jews, had doubtless a 'lingua communis' which all understood when spoken, though persons of education only could speak it. Even so a German boor understands, but yet cannot talk in, High German, that is, the language of his Bible and Hymn-book. So it is with the Scotch of Aberdeen with regard to pure English. In short Taylor's arguments press on the Anabaptists, only as far as the Anabaptists baptize at all; they are in fact attacks on Baptism; and it would only follow from them that the Baptist is more rational than the Paedobaptist, but that the Quaker is more consistent than either. To pull off your hat is in Europe a mark of respect. What, if a parent in his last will should command his children and posterity to pull off their hats to their superiors,—and in course of time these children or descendants emigrated to China, or some place, where the same ceremony either meant nothing, or an insult. Should we not laugh at them if they did not interpret the words into, Pay reverence to your superiors. Even so Baptism was the Jewish custom, and natural to those countries; but with us it would be a more significant rite if applied as penance for excess of zeal and acts of bigotry, especially as sprinkling.

Ib. p. 196.

But farther yet I demand, can infants receive Christ in the Eucharist?

Surely the wafer and the tea-spoonful of wine might be swallowed by an infant, as well as water be sprinkled upon him. But if the former is not the Eucharist because without faith and repentance, so cannot the latter, it would seem, be Baptism. For they are declared equal adjuncts of both Sacraments. The argument therefore is a mere 'petitio principii sub lite'.

Ib. Ad. ix. p. 197.

The promise of the Holy Ghost is made to all, to us and to our children: and if the Holy Ghost belongs to them, then Baptism belongs to them also.

If this be not rank enthusiasm I know not what is. The Spirit is promised to them, first, as protection and providence, and as internal operation when those faculties are developed, in and by which the Spirit co-operates. Can Taylor shew an instance in Scripture in which the Holy Spirit is said to operate simply, and without the co-operation of the subject?

Ib. Ad. xix. p. 199.

And when the boys in the street sang Hosanna to the Son of David, our blessed Lord said that if they had held their peace, the stones of the street would have cried out Hosanna.

By the same argument I could defend the sprinkling of mules and asses with holy water, as is done yearly at Rome on St. Antony's day, I believe. For they are capable of health and sickness, of restiveness and of good temper, and these are all emanations from their Creator. Besides in the great form of Baptism the words are not [Greek: en onomati], but [Greek: eis to onoma], and many learned men have shewn that they may mean 'into the power or influence' of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. But spiritual influences suppose capability in act of receiving them; and we must either pretend to believe that the soul of the babe, that is, his consciousness, is acted on without his consciousness, or that the instrumental cause is antecedent by years to its effect, which would be a conjunction disjunctive with a vengeance. Again, Baptism is nothing except as followed by the Spirit; but it is irrational to say, that the Spirit acts on the mere potentialities of an infant. For wherein is the Spirit, as used in Scripture in appropriation to Christians, different from God's universal providence and goodness, but that the latter like the sun may shine on the wicked and on the good, on the passive and on those who by exercise increase its effect; whereas the former always implies a co-operant subject, that is, a developed reason. When God gave his Spirit miraculously to the young child, Daniel, he at the same time miraculously hastened the development of his understanding.

Ib. Ad. xxviii. p. 205.

But we see also that although Christ required faith of them who came to be healed, yet when any were brought, or came in behalf of others, he only required faith of them who came, and their faith did benefit to others....

But this instance is so certain a reproof of this objection of theirs, which is their principal, which is their all, that it is a wonder to me they should not all be convinced at the reading and observing of it.

So far from certainty, I find no strength at all in this reproof. Doubtless Christ at a believer's request might heal his child's or his servant's bodily sickness; for this was an act of power, requiring only an object. But is it any where said, that at a believer's request he gave the Spirit and the graces of faith to an unbeliever without any mental act, or moral co-operation of the latter? This would have been a proof indeed; but Taylor's instance is a mere 'ad aliud'.

Ib. Ad. xxxi. p. 207.

And although there are some effects of the Holy Spirit which require natural capacities to be their foundation; yet those are the [Greek: energaemata] or powers of working: but the [Greek: charismata], and the inheritance and the title to the promises require nothing on our part, but that we can receive them.

The Bishop flutters about and about, but never fairly answers the question, What does Baptism do? The Baptist says it attests forgiveness of sins, as the reward of faith and repentance. This is intelligible; but as to the [Greek: charismata]—the children of believers, if so taught and educated, are surely entitled to the promises; and what analogy is there in this to any one act of power and gift of powers mentioned as [Greek: charismata], when the word is really used in contradistinction from [Greek: energaemata] Baptism is spoken of many times by St. Paul properly as well as metaphorically, and in the former sense it is never described as a [Greek: charisma] on a passive recipient, while in the latter sense it always respects an [Greek: energaema] of the Spirit of God, and a [Greek: synergaema] in the spirit of the recipient. All that Taylor can make out is, that Baptism effects a potentiality in a potentiality, or a chalking of chalk to make white white.

Ib. p. 210.

And if it be questioned by wise men whether the want of it do not occasion their eternal loss, and it is not questioned whether Baptism does them any hurt or no, then certainly to baptize them is the surer way without all peradventure.

Now this is the strongest argument of all against Infant Baptism, and that which alone weighed at one time with me, namely, that it supposes and most certainly encourages a belief concerning God, the most blasphemous and intolerable; and no human wit can express this more forcibly and affectingly than Taylor himself has done in his Letter to a Lady on Original Sin. It is too plain to be denied that the belief of the strict necessity of Infant Baptism, and the absolute universality of the practice did not commence till the dogma of original guilt had begun to despotize in the Church: while that remained uncertain and sporadic, Infant Baptism was so too; some did it, many did not. But as soon as Original Sin in the sense of actual guilt became the popular creed, then all did it. [9]

Ib. s. xvi. p. 224.

And although they have done violence to all philosophy and the reason of man, and undone and cancelled the principles of two or three sciences, to bring in this article; yet they have a divine revelation, whose literal and grammatical sense, if that sense were intended, would warrant them to do violence to all the sciences in the circle. And indeed that Transubstantiation is openly and violently against natural reason is no argument to make them disbelieve it, who believe the mystery of the Trinity in all those niceties of explication which are in the School (and which now-a-days pass for the doctrine of the Church), with as much violence to the principles of natural and supernatural philosophy as can be imagined to be in the point of Transubstantiation.

This is one of the many passages in Taylor's works which lead me to think that his private opinions were favorable to Socinianism. Observe, to the views of Socinus, not to modern Unitarianism, as taught by Priestley and Belsham. And doubtless Socinianism would much more easily bear a doubt, whether the difference between it and the orthodox faith was not more in words than in the things meant, than the Arian hypothesis. A mere conceptualist, at least, might plausibly ask whether either party, the Athanasian or the Socinian, had a sufficiently distinct conception of what the one meant by the hypostatical union of the Divine Logos with the man Jesus; or the other of his plenary, total, perpetual, and continuous inspiration, to have any well-grounded assurance, that they do not mean the same thing.

Moreover, no one knew better than Jeremy Taylor that this apparent soar of the hooded falcon, faith, to the very empyrean of bibliolatry amounted in fact to a truism of which the following syllogism is a fair illustration. All stones are men: all men think: 'ergo', all stones think. The 'major' is taken for granted, the minor no one denies; and then the conclusion is good logic, though a very foolish untruth. Or, if an oval were demonstrated by Euclid to be a circle, it would be a circle; and if it were a demonstrable circle, it would be a circle, though the strait lines drawable from the centre to the circumference are unequal. If we were quite certain that an omniscient Being, incapable of deceiving, or being deceived, had assured us that 5 X 5 = 6 X 3, and that the two sides of a certain triangle were together less than the third, then we should be warranted in setting at nought the science of arithmetic and geometry. On another occasion, as when it was the good Bishop's object to expose the impudent assertions of the Romish Church since the eleventh century, he would have been the first to have replied by a counter syllogism.

If we are quite certain that any writing pretending to divine origin contains gross contradictions to demonstrable truths 'in eodem genere', or commands that outrage the clearest principles of right and wrong; then we may be equally certain that the pretence is a blasphemous falsehood, inasmuch as the compatibility of a document with the conclusions of self-evident reason, and with the laws of conscience, is a condition 'a priori' of any evidence adequate to the proof of its having been revealed by God.

This principle is clearly laid down both by Moses and by St. Paul. If a man pretended to be a prophet, he was to predict some definite event that should take place at some definite time, at no unreasonable distance: and if it were not fulfilled, he was to be punished as an impostor. But if he accompanied his prophecy with any doctrine subversive of the exclusive Deity and adorability of the one God of heaven and earth, or any seduction to a breach of God's commandments, he was to be put to death at once, all other proof of his guilt and imposture being superfluous. [10] So St. Paul. If any man preach another Gospel, though he should work all miracles, though he had the appearance and evinced the superhuman powers of an angel from heaven—he was at once, in contempt of all imaginable sensuous miracles, to be holden accursed. [11]

Ib. s. xviii. p. 225.

And now for any danger to men's persons for suffering such a doctrine, this I shall say, that if they who do it are not formally guilty of idolatry, there is no danger that they whom they persuade to it, should be guilty ... When they believe it to be no idolatry, then their so believing it is sufficient security from that crime, which hath so great a tincture and residency in the will, that from thence only it hath its being criminal.

Will not this argument justify all idolaters? For surely they believe themselves worshippers either of the Supreme Being under a permitted form, or of some son of God (as Apollo) to whom he has delegated such and such powers. If this be the case, there is no such crime as idolatry: yet the second commandment expressly makes the worshipping of God in or before a visual image of him not only idolatry, but the most hateful species of it. Now do they not worship God in the visible form of bread, and prostrate themselves before pictures of the Trinity? Are we so mad as to suppose that the pious heathens thought the statue of Jupiter, Jove himself? No; and yet these heathens were idolaters. But there was no such being as Jupiter. No! Was there no King of Kings and Lord of Lords; and does the name Jove instead of Jehovah (perhaps the same word too) make the difference? Were Marcus Antoninus and Epictetus idolaters?


1. The first great divines among the Reformers, Luther, Calvin, and their compeers and successors, had thrown the darkness of storms on an awful fact of human nature, which in itself had only the darkness of negations. What was certain, but incomprehensible, they rendered contradictory and absurd by a vain attempt at explication. It was a fundamental fact, and of course could not be comprehended; for to comprehend, and thence to explain, is the same as to perceive, and thence to point out, a something before the given fact, and Standing to it in the relation of cause to effect. Thus they perverted original sin into hereditary guilt, and made God act in the spirit of the cruellest laws of jealous governments towards their enemies, upon the principle of treason in the blood. This was brought in to explain their own explanation of God's ways, and then too often God's alleged way in this case was adduced to justify the cruel state law of treason in the blood.

2. In process of time, good men and of active minds were shocked at this; but, instead of passing back to the incomprehensible fact, with a vault over the unhappy idol forged for its comprehension, they identified the two in name; and while in truth their arguments applied only to a false theory, they rejected the fact for the sake of the mis-solution, and fell into far worse errors. For the mistaken theorist had built upon a foundation, though but a superstructure of chaff and straw; but the opponents built on nothing. Aghast at the superstructure, these latter ran away from that which is the sole foundation of all human religion.

3. Then came the persecutions of the Arminians in Holland; then the struggle in England against the Arminian Laud and all his party—terrible persecutors in their turn of the Calvinists and systematic divines; then the Civil War and the persecutions of the Church by the Puritans in their turn; and just in this state of heated feelings did Taylor write these Works, which contain dogmas subversive of true Christian faith, namely, his 'Unum Necessarium', or Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, which reduces the cross of Christ to nothing, especially in the seventh chapter of the same, and the after defences of it in his Letters on Original Sin to a Lady, and to the Bishop of Rochester; and the Liberty of Prophesying, which, putting toleration on a false ground, has left no ground at all for right or wrong in matters of Christian faith.

In the marginal notes, which I have written in these several treatises on Repentance, I appear to myself to have demonstrated that Taylor's system has no one advantage over the Lutheran in respect of God's attributes; that it is 'bona fide' Pelagianism (though he denies it; for let him define that grace which Pelagius would not accept, because incompatible with free will and merit, and profess his belief in it thus defined, and every one of his arguments against absolute decrees tell against himself); and lastly, that its inevitable logical consequences are Socinianism and 'quae sequuntur'. In Tillotson the face of Arminianism looked out fuller, and Christianity is represented as a mere arbitrary contrivance of God, yet one without reason. Let not the surpassing eloquence of Taylor dazzle you, nor his scholastic retiary versatility of logic illaqueate your good sense. Above all do not dwell too much on the apparent absurdity or horror of the dogma he opposes, but examine what he puts in its place, and receive candidly the few hints which I have admarginated for your assistance, being in the love of truth and of Christ,

Your Brother.

I have omitted one remark, probably from over fullness of intention to have inserted it.

1. The good man and eloquent expresses his conjectural belief that, if Adam had not fallen, Christ would still have been necessary, though not perhaps by Incarnation. Now, in the first place, this is only a play thought of himself, and Scotus, and perhaps two or three others in the Schools; no article of faith or of general presumption; consequently it has little serious effect even on the guessers themselves. In the next place, if it were granted, yet it would be a necessity wholly 'ex parte Dei', not at all 'ex parte Hominis':—for what does it amount to but this—that God having destined a creature for two states, the earthly rational, and the heavenly spiritual, and having chosen to give him, in the first instance, faculties sufficient only for the first state, must afterwards superinduce those sufficient for the second state, or else God would at once and the same time destine and not destine. This therefore is a mere fancy, a theory, but not a binding religion; no covenant.

2. But the Incarnation, even after the fall of Adam, he clearly makes to be specifically of no necessity. It was only not to take away peevishly the estate of grace from the poor innocent children, because of the father,—according to the good Bishop, a poor ignorant, who before he ate the apple of knowledge did not know what right and wrong was; and Christ's Incarnation would have been no more necessary then than it was before, according to Taylor's belief. Here again the Incarnation is wholly a contrivance 'ex parte Dei', and no way resulting from any default of man.

3. Consequently Taylor neither saw nor admitted any 'a priori' necessity of the Incarnation from the nature of man, and which, being felt by man in his own nature, is itself the greatest of proofs for the admission of it, and the strongest pre-disposing cause of the admission of all proof positive. Not having this, he was to seek 'ab extra' for proofs in facts, in historical evidence in the world of sense. The same causes produce the same effects. Hence Grotius, Taylor, and Baxter (then, as appears in his Life, in a state of uneasy doubt), were the first three writers of evidences of the Christian religion, such as have been since followed up by hundreds,—nine-tenths of them Socinians or Semi-Socinians, and which, taking head and tail, I call the Grotio-Paleyan way.

4. Hence the good man was ever craving for some morsel out of the almsbasket of all external events, in order to prove to himself his own immortality; and, with grief and shame I tell it, became evidence and authority in Irish stories of ghosts, and apparitions, and witches. Let those who are astonished refer to Glanville on Witches, and they will be more astonished still. The fact now stated at once explains and justifies my anxiety in detecting the errors of this great and excellent genius at their fountain head,—the question of Original Sin: for how important must that error be which ended in bringing Bishop Jeremy Taylor forward as an examiner, judge, and witness in an Irish apparition case!

Ib. s. xxxviii. p. 278.

Although God exacts not an impossible law under eternal and insufferable pains, yet he imposes great holiness in unlimited and indefinite measures, with a design to give excellent proportions of reward answerable to the greatness of our endeavour. Hell is not the end of them that fail in the greatest measures of perfection; but great degrees of heaven shall be their portion who do all that they can always, and offend in the fewest instances.

It is not to be denied that one if not more of the parables appears to sanction this, but the same parables would by consequence seem to favour a state of Purgatory. From John, Paul, and the philosophy of the doctrine, I should gather a different faith, and find a sanction for this too in one of the parables, namely, that of the labourer at the eleventh hour. Heaven, bliss, union with God through Christ, do not seem to me comparative terms, or conceptions susceptible of degree. But it is a difficult question. The first Fathers of the Reformation, and the early Fathers of the primitive Church, present different systems, and in a very different spirit.

Ib. p. 324-328.

Descriptions of repentance taken from the Holy Scriptures.

This is a beautiful collection of texts. Still the pious but unconverted Jew (a Moses Mendelsohn, for instance), has a right to ask, What then did Christ teach or do, such and of such additional moment as to be rightfully entitled the founder of a new law, instead of being, like Isaiah and others, an enforcer and explainer of the old? If Christianity, or the 'opus operans' of Redemption, was synchronous with the Fall of man, then the same answer must be returned to the passages here given from the Old Testament as to those from the New; namely, that Sanctification is the result of Redemption, not its efficient cause or previous condition. Assuredly [Greek: metanoaesis] and Sanctification differ only as the plant and the growth or growing of the plant. But the words of the Apostle (it will be said) are exhortative and dehortative. Doubtless! and so would be the words of a wise physician addressed to a convalescent. Would this prove that the patient's revalescence had been independent of the medicines given him? The texts are addressed to the free will, and therefore concerning possible objects of free will. No doubt! Should that process, the end and virtue of which is to free the will, destroy the free will? But I cannot make it out to my understanding, how the two are compatible.—Answer; the spirit knows the things of the spirit. Here lies the sole true ground of Latitudinarianism, Arminian, or Socinian; and this is the sole and sufficient confutation; 'spiritualia spiritus cognoscit'. Would you understand with your ears instead of hearing with your understanding? Now, as the ears to the understanding, so is the understanding to the spirit. This Plato knew; and art thou a master in Israel, and knowest it not?

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