Jeremy Taylor, Florence Nightingale and Octavia Hill

 

Jeremy Taylor, Florence Nightingale and Octavia Hill

Three commemorations today, the first a seventeenth century bishop whose works include Holy Living and Holy Dying, the latter two, perhaps better known the Church brackets as “social reformers”, very much of an era, Florence Nightingale dying on this day in 1910 and Octavia Hill dying also on 13th August in 1912.

Both women would have agreed with Jeremy Taylor over at least some of the things that he taught.  He believed that we should take great care over our use of time.  By this he did not expect us to be workaholics, but he did consider that religious duties and rest were part of our care of time, but simple idleness is not.  Priorities in choosing and scrutiny in looking back will keep our use of time on the straight and narrow.  Florence Nightingale and Octavia Hill, as individual with a strong sense of social conscience would also agree with Jeremy Taylor over another of his principles of holy living, namely having pure intentions.  “Are we doing what we are doing for the right reasons?” he would ask.  He believed that we should practice the presence of God; concentrating on an awareness of God’s closeness to us.  Although this particular attribute is one that we may link more directly to Taylor’s near contemporary Brother Lawrence, whose work, The Practice of the Presence of God is a collection of teachings on the subject, as Anglicans we are indebted to Jeremy Taylor for his guidance from three and a half centuries ago, which still rings true to the heart of the devout of the Church of England (and Ireland - where he was bishop).

John Mann