"Too Quick A Sense Of A Constant Infelicity"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This book and its companion volume, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, are the first manuals of private devotion in English following the Reformation. In them this Anglican bishop explains to his readers the proper way for a pious Christian to live his life and to leave it. In Chapter I of The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying Taylor instructs his readers concerning "A General Preparation Towards a Holy and Blessed Death." He first contemplates the "vanity and shortness of man's life" and the practical consideration which should result from an understanding of them. Following a section devoted to the "rules and spiritual arts . . . to take off the objection of a short life," he contemplates at length "the miseries of man's life." Section five is a practical consideration of the preceding discussion of man's miseries. The "careless merry sinner," Taylor says, has no awareness of the world's miseries; but

. . . if we could from one of the battlements of heaven espy how many men and women at this time lie fainting and dying for want of bread, how many young men are hewn down by the sword of war, how many poor orphans are now weeping over the graves of their father by whose life they were enabled to eat: if we could but hear how many mariners and passengers are at this present in a storm, and shriek out because their keel dashes against a rock, or bulges under them, how many people there are that weep with want, and are mad with oppression, or are desperate by too quick a sense of constant infelicity; in all reason we should be glad to be out of the noise and participation of so many evils. This is a place of sorrows and tears, of great evils and a constant calamity: let us remove from hence, at least in affections and preparation of mind.