From The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living (1650).
“Love is the greatest thing that God can give us; for he himself is love; and it is the greatest thing we can give to God; for it will also give ourselves and carry with it all that is ours. The apostle calls it the band of perfection; it is the old, and it is the new, and it is the great commandment, and it is all the commandments; for it is the fulfilling of the law.
For as the love to sin makes a man sin against all his own reason, and all the discourses of wisdom, and all the advices of his friends, and without temptation, and without opportunity, so does the love of God; it makes a man chaste without the laborious arts of fasting and exterior disciplines, temperate in the midst of feasts, and is active enough to choose it without any intermedial appetites, and reaches at glory through the very heart of grace without any other arms but those of love.
It is a grace that loves God for himself, and our neighbors for God. The consideration of God’s goodness and bounty, the experience of those profitable and excellent emanations from him, may be, and most commonly are, the first motive of our love; but when we are once entered, and have tasted the goodness of God, we love the spring for its own excellency, passing from passion to reason, from thanking to adoring, from sense to spirit, from considering ourselves to an union with God: and this is the image and little representation of heaven; it is beatitude in picture, or rather the infancy and beginnings of glory…
The Acts of Love to God are,
- Love does all things which may please the beloved person; it performs all his commandments: and this is one of the greatest instances and arguments of our love that God requires of us – this is love, That we keep his commandments. Love is obedient.
- It does all the intimations and secret significations of his pleasure whom we love…This gives a greatness and singularity to it. The first is the least, and less than it cannot do our duty; but without this second, we cannot come to perfection…
- Love gives away all things, that so he may advance the interest of the beloved person: it relieves all that he would have relieved and spends itself in such real significations as it is enabled withal. He never loved God that will quit anything of his religion to save his money. Love is always liberal and communicative.
- It suffers all things that are imposed by its beloved, or that can happen for his sake, or that intervene in his service, cheerfully, sweetly, willingly expecting that God should turn them into good, and instruments of felicity. “Charity hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (I Cor. 13:7). Love is patient and content with anything, so it be together with its beloved.
- Love is also impatient of anything that may displease the beloved person, hating all sin as the enemy of its friend; for love contracts all the same relations, and marries the same friendships and the same hatreds; and all affection to a sin is perfectly inconsistent with the love of God. Love is not divided between God and God’s enemy: we must love God with all our heart; that is, give him a whole and undivided affection, having love for nothing else but such things which he allows, and which he commands or loves himself.
- Love endeavors for ever to be present, to converse with, to enjoy, to be united with its object; loves to be talking of him, reciting his praises, telling his stories, repeating his words, imitating his gestures, transcribing his copy in everything; and every degree of love; and it can endure anything but the displeasure and the absence of its beloved. For we are not to use God and religion as men use perfumes, with which they are delighted when they have them, but can very well be without them. True charity is restless till it enjoys God in such instances in which it wants him; it is like hunger and thirst, it must be fed, or it cannot be answered: and nothing can supply the presence, or make recompense for the absence of God, or of the effects of his favor and the light of his countenance.
- True love in all accidents looks upon the beloved person, and observes his countenance, and how he approves or disapproves, and accordingly looks sad or cheerful. He that loves God is not displeased at those accidents which God chooses, nor murmurs at those changes which he makes in his family, nor envies at those gifts he bestows; but chooses as he likes; and is ruled by his judgment, and is perfectly of his persuasion, loving to learn where God is the teacher, and being content to be ignorant or silent where he is not pleased to open himself.
- Love is curious of little things, of circumstances and measures, and little accidents, not allowing to itself any infirmity which it strives not to master, aiming at what it cannot yet reach, desiring to be of an angelical purity, and of a perfect innocence, and a seraphical fervor, and fears every image of offence; is as much afflicted at an idle word as some at an act of adultery, and will not allow to itself so much anger as will disturb a child, nor endure the impurity of a dream. And this is the curiosity and niceness of divine love: this is the fear of God and is the daughter and production of Love.”
Jeremy Taylor was an Anglican cleric, the author of the twin devotional manuals, The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living and Holy Dying. Classed among the Caroline Divines, he was famed in his time as a preacher and moral theologian, Taylor served as chaplain to King Charles I, and after the Restoration, became Bishop of Down and Connor in Ireland. He is commemorated on August 13 on the liturgical calendars of many Anglican churches.