Jeremy Taylor (1613–1667)
A practical excerpt from the classic English treatise on the Christian theory and discipline of Ars Moriendi (“the art of dying”).
HE that would die well must always look for death, every day knocking at the gates of the grave; and then the gates of the grave shall never prevail against him to do him mischief. This was the advice of all the wise and good men of the world, who, especially in the days and periods of their joy and festival egressions, chose to throw some ashes into their chalices, some sober remembrances of their fatal period. Such was the black shirt of Saladin; the tombstone presented to the Emperor of Constantinople on his coronation-day…
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It is very remarkable, that God who giveth plenteously to all creatures(…) hath scattered the firmament with stars (…) yet in the distribution of our time, seems to be straight-handed, and gives it to us, not as nature gives us rivers, enough to drown us, but drop by drop, minute after minute, so that we never can have two minutes together, but He takes away one when He gives us another. This should teach us to value our time, since God so values it.