“It is very requisite (needful) that we should understand the state of our own infirmity, the weakness of the flesh, the temptations and diversions of the spirit, that by understanding our present state we may prevent the evils of carelessness and security. Our evils are the imperfections and sorrows inherent in, or appendant (attached) to our bodies, our souls, our spirits.
In our bodies we find weakness, and imperfection, sometimes crookedness, sometimes monstrosity; filthiness, and weariness, infinite numbers of diseases, and an uncertain cure, great pain, and restless night, hunger and thirst, daily necessities, ridiculous gestures, madness from passions, distempers and disorders, great labor to provide meat and drink, and oftentimes a loathing when we have them; if we use them they breed sicknesses, if we use them not, we die; and if we eat like beasts only of one thing, our souls are quickly weary; if we eat a variety, we are sick, and intemperate; and our bodies are inlets to sin, and a stage of temptation. If we cherish them, they undo us; if we do not cherish them, they die: we suffer illusion in our dreams, and absurd fancies when we are waking; our life is soon done, and yet very tedious; it is too long, and too short; darkness and light are both troublesome; and those things which are pleasant, are often unwholesome. Sweet smells make the head ache, and those smells which are medicinal in some diseases, are intolerable to the sense. The pleasures of our body are bigger in expectation, then in the possession; and yet while they are expected, they torment us with the delay, and when they are enjoyed, they are as if they were not, they abuse us with their vanity, and vex us with their volatile and fugitive nature.
We live a precarious life, begging help of every thing, and needing the repairs of every day, and being beholding to beasts and birds, to plants and trees, to dirt and stones, to the very excrements of beasts, and that which dogs and horses throw forth. Our motion is slow and dull, heavy and uneasy; we cannot move but we are quickly tired, and for every days labor, we need a whole night to recruit our lost strengths; we live like a lamp, unless new materials be perpetually poured in, we live no longer than a fly; and unless we be in the shadow of death for six or eight hours every night, we shall be scarce in the shadows of life for the other sixteen. Heat and cold are both our enemies; and yet the one always dwells within, and the other dwells round about us. The chances and contingencies that trouble us are no more to be numbered then the minutes of eternity. The Devil often hurts us, and men hurt each other oftener, and we are perpetually doing mischief to ourselves.
Jeremy Taylor - Photo by Edgar Thissen