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Excerpts from 'Devotional Classics' edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) Introduction to the Author Born and educated in Cambridge, England, Jeremy Taylor soon became famous for his scholarly abilities. He was ordained in 1633 and later became the chaplain of Charles I. This relationship led to his subsequent imprisonment by the Parliamentarians in 1645. He moved to Ireland in 1658 and after the Restoration, was consecrated bishop of Down and Connor. He was a vivid , illustrative and prolific writer. He wrote the first English narrative of Jesus' s life as well as many devotional and scholarly books. He is best known for his Holy Living and Holy Dying, two practical books that guide the reader into a deeper life of sacrifice and humility by drawing on classical as well as Christian writers. The following selection reveals Taylors extensive insight into human behavior. He sees with great clarity our inner struggles for recognition and the many strategies we use to get it. His Rules may sound foreign or offensive to some modern readers who are more at ease with the language of self esteem but Taylors understanding of the importance of humility is a much needed word for us today. Excerpts from 'The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living' 1. A Realistic Opinion of Yourself The grace of humility is exercised in the following rules. First, do not think better of yourself because of any outward circumstance that happens to you. Remember that you are merely human and that you have nothing in yourself that merits worth except your right choices. Second, humility does not consist in criticizing yourself, or wearing ragged cloths or walking around submissively wherever you go. Humility consists in a realistic opinion of yourself, namely, that you are an unworthy person. Believe this about yourself with the same certainty you believe that you are hungry when you have gone without food. 2. Do Good Things in Secret Third, when you hold this opinion of yourself be content that others think the same of you. If you realize that you are not wise, do be angry when someone agrees! If you truly hold this opinion of yourself then you should desire that others hold it of you as well. Fourth, nurture a love to do good things in secret, concealed from the eyes of others and therefore not highly esteemed because of them. Be content to go without praise, never being troubled when someone has slighted or undervalued you. remember no one can undervalue you if you know you are unworthy. Once you know that no amount of contempt from another will be able to hurt you. 3. Never Be Ashamed Fifth, never be ashamed of your birth or your parents you occupation or the lowly status of any of them. When there is occasion to speak about them to others, do not be shy, but speak readily with an indifference to how others may regard you. Sixth, never say anything directly or indirectly that will provoke praise or elicit compliments from others. Do not let your praise be the intended end of what you say or do. If it happens that someone speaks well of you in the midst of a conversation, you are not to stop the conversation. Only remember this: do not let praise of yourself be the design of your conversations. 4. Reflect It Back To God Seventh, when you do receive praise for something you have said or done, take it indifferently and return it to God. Reflect it back to God, the giver of the gift, the blesser of the action. Always give thanks for making you an instrument of His glory for the benefit of others. Eighth, make a good name for yourself by being a person of virtue and humility. It is a benefit for others who hear of you to hear good things about you. As a model they can use your humility to their advantage. 5. The Waters of Vanity Ninth, do not take pride in any praise given to you. rejoice in God who gives gifts others can see in you, but let it be mixed with a holy respect so that this good does not turn into evil. If praise comes, put it to work by letting it serve other ends than yourself. Tenth, do not ask others your faults with the intent or purpose being to have others tell you of your good qualities. Some will speak lowly of themselves just to make others give an account of their goodness. They are merely fishing for compliments and yet, it is they who end up swallowing the hook until by drinking the waters of vanity, they swell up and burst. 6. The Devil's Whispers Eleventh, when you are slighted by someone or feel undervalued, do not harbor any secret anger, supposing that you actually deserved praise and that they overlooked your value, or that they neglected to praise you because of their own envy. Twelfth, do not entertain any of the devil's whispers of pride. Some spend their time dreaming of greatness, envisioning theaters full of people applauding them, imagining themselves giving engaging speeches, fantasizing having great wealth. All of this is nothing but the fumes of pride, exposing their heart's true wishes. 7. The Desire to Disparage Thirteenth, take an active part in the praising of others, entertaining their good with delight. In no way should you give in to the desire to disparage them or lessen their praise or make any objection. You should never think that hearing the good report of another in any way lessens your worth. Fourteenth, be content when you see or hear that others are doing well in their jobs and with their income even when you are not. In the same way be content when another's work is approved and yours is rejected. 8. Focus on the Strengths Fifteenth, never compare yourself with others unless it is to advance your impression of them and lower your impression of yourself. Paul encouraged us to think more highly of others than we do ourselves. Thus it is of benefit to focus on the strength of those around us in order that our weaknesses be more clearly revealed to us. The truly humble person will not only look admirable at the strengths of others, but will also look with great forgiveness upon the weaknesses of others. 9. Virtue Scorns a Lie for Its Cover Sixteenth, do not try to constantly excuse all of your mistakes. If you have made a mistake, or oversight, confess it plainly, for virtue scorns a lie for its cover. Learn to bear criticism patiently, knowing the harsh words of an enemy can be a great motivator than the kind words of a friend. Seventeenth, give God thanks for every weakness, fault and imperfection you have. Accept it as a favor of God, and instrument to resist pride and nurse humility. remember, if God has chosen to shrink your swelling pride, He has made it that much easier for you to enter in through the narrow way! 10. What Is Most Important to God Eighteenth, do not expose others' weaknesses in order to make them feel less able than you. Neither should you think on your superior skill with delight or use it to set yourself above another person. Nineteenth, remember that what is most important to God is that we submit ourselves and all we have to Him. This requires that we be willing to endure whatever His will brings us, to be content in whatever state we are in, and to be ready for ever change. 11. Increased by Exercise Humility begins as a gift from God but it is increased as a habit we develop. That is, humility is increased by exercising it. Taken all together these rules and good helps and instruments for the establishing and increasing of the grace of humility and the decreasing of pride. 12. An Exercise for Increasing the Grace of Humility Confess your sins often to God and don't think of them as scattered offenses in the course of a long life; a burst of anger there, an act of impatience there. Instead, unite them into one continuous representation of your life. Remember that person may seem rather good if his faults are scattered over large distances throughout his lifetime. But if places next to one another, he will see his worthlessness before God and seek God's face. Read: Luke 14:7-11 Reflection 1. Humility, Taylor writes, begins with a realistic assessment of ourselves, namely, that we are unworthy. How does this contrast with the modern emphasis on having high self esteem? 2. Some people spend their time dreaming of greatness, says Taylor. How have your dreams of greatness been a hindrance in your spiritual life? 3. Taylor encourages us not to be ashamed of our birth, economic position or vocation. In what ways have you been made to feel ashamed concerning these areas? 4. Look over the whole list of Taylor's rules. Which of them comes easiest for you? Which is the hardest? 5. In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus tells a parable to a group of people because He noticed how they chose places of honor for themselves. In what ways does this parable coincide with Taylor's teaching on humility? 6. Nurture a love to do good things in secret, says Taylor. This week let your acts of kindness go unnoticed. Simply do them for the sake of others, not for the praise you would receive. 7. Avoid manipulating conversations so as to receive praise or compliments from others this week. Also, when you receive praise, reflect it back to God.

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