Jeremy Taylor on the Eucharist  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) lived during one of the most crucial periods in Anglican history.  Educated at Oxford, he enjoyed the patronage of Archbishop Laud, who gave him a fellowship at All Souls College as well as an appointment as royal chaplain.  As can be imagined, these royalist ties did him little good when Cromwell came to power, and after several stints in jail he spent most of the years of the Protectorate in semi-seclusion, as tutor to the children of a Welsh nobleman.  He took advantage of this time to produce most of his theological writings, which assure him a place within the pantheon of the "Caroline Divines".  His fortunes took an upswing with the restoration of Charles II, who named him bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore in Ireland, as well as chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin.  Neither of these positions was a sinecure, since the college was in very poor shape and a number of his clergy had presbyterian sympathies, lacked episcopal ordination, and saw no reason why they should seek it from him. 

Taylor's output was voluminous and he wrote on a wide range of topics.  For his feastday I choose some of his thoughts on the Eucharist, taken from his 1653 book The Great Exemplar.  It can be found in the very useful Anglican Eucharistic Theology website.  Note references to "partaking in the Divine nature", analogous to the Eastern Christian concept of theosis.

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[Christ's] power is manifest, in making the symbols to be the  the instruments of conveying himself to the spirit of the receiver:  he nourishes the soul with bread, and heals the body with a sacrament; he makes the body spiritual, by his graces there ministered, and makes the spirit to be united to his body, by a participation of the Divine nature.  In the sacrament, that body which is reigning in heaven is exposed upon the table of blessing; and his body, which was broken for us, is now broke again, and yet remains impassible.  Every consecrated portion of bread and wine does exhibit Christ entirely to the faithful receiver; and yet Christ remains one, while he is wholly ministered in ten thousand portions...God hath instituted the rite in visible symbols to make the secret grace as presential and discernable as it might; that by an instrument of sense, our spirits might be accomodated,as with an exterior object, to produce an internal act...Our wisest Master hath appointed bread and wine, that we may be corporally united to him; that as the symbols, becoming nutriment, are turned into the substance of our bodies; so Christ, being the food of our souls, should assimilate us, making us partakers of the Divine nature.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 13, 2012 at Monday, August 13, 2012 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

'so Christ, being the food of our souls, should assimilate us, making us partakers of the Divine nature'

So, by regular partaking of the Eucharist, we participate in deification (or theosis). I like how that reads...I'm a big believer in the Real Presence and have been fascinated by the concept of theosis of late. Good quote, sir.

August 13, 2012 at 5:17 PM
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December 24, 2012 at 10:03 PM

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