Hudson Taylor was born at Barnsley, Yorkshire, on May 21st, 1832. A thoughtful little lad, brought up by serious, devoted Christian parents, he was early accustomed to hearing the great Eternal verities spoken of daily. Salvation and living for God were shown to be most important things of all.
At the age of 5, after hearing about heathen lands, he said: "When I'm a man I shall be a missionary and go to China." At seven years old he was very fond of going to Revival meetings, and his face glowed with joy when souls found peace in the Saviour. Schooldays followed, and a good influence of a godly father and mother surrounded young Hudson continually. But when he was 15, and went as Junior clerk to Frudd's Bank, Barnsley, he found that he had need of a Saviour himself. In spite of his religious upbringing he found that he was sceptical, and inwardly rebellious. The more he tried "to make himself a Christian" the further away he felt from salvation, and indeed, was sure that, for some reason or other, he could not be saved.
He continued in this wretched state for two years, and then, in June, 1849, looking for a book in his father's library and failing to find one to please him, he took a tract from a basket of pamphlets, determining to read the story and put it away when it became "Prosy." But one great statement in that tract laid hold of Hudson Taylor—"The finished work of Christ." "If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?" he asked himself. And then he answered his own question: "There is nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one's knees and accepting this Saviour and His salvation, praise Him for evermore." He knelt down at once, in the old warehouse, whither he had betaken himself and the tract, and thanked God for His great gift.
Unknown to him, his sister Amelia had long prayed for him, and 80 miles away his mother was praying for her boy at that time, and had to turn her prayer to praise, for she knew it was answered. Ever afterwards Hudson Taylor felt "that the promises were very real and that prayer was, in sober matter of fact, transacting business with God."
His whole soul now was filled with the desire to bring others to the Saviour, and he began leaving tracts in the neighbourhood, and speaking as occasion offered, his sister often helping him. But China in her darkness was ever before him. The little boy of 5 meant to go—the lad of 17 yearned to do so, and to this he bent every effort. There was an opening in Hull for him, as assistant in a doctor's surgery, and knowing how valuable all medical knowledge would be, he availed himself of it. The story of his self-discipline while there is very moving. From Hull he went to London, having got into touch with the secretary of the Chinese Evangelisation Society, and under their auspices went through a period of training at the Hospital, at the same time occupying the post of assistant to Mr. Brown, a surgeon.
The sweet consistency of his life led his cousin, Tom Hudson, to accept the Saviour; in one of Mr. Brown's patients, dying of gangrene, a hardened sceptic, he won another trophy for Eternity. Hudson Taylor was brought to death's door through fever contracted in the dissecting room—the infidel surgeon who attended him was much impressed by his patient's confidence in venturing on God. "I would give all the world for a faith like yours," said he; upon which Hudson Taylor told him it was to be obtained without money and without price. They never met again, the doctor dying of a stroke shortly after, but Hudson Taylor "could not but entertain the hope of meeting him in the Better Land."
After many difficulties and much waiting upon God, to know his will, Hudson Taylor sailed for China from Liverpool, on the "Dumfries," Sep. 19th, 1853. She was commanded by Capt. A. Morris, a true Christian, and during the rough and stormy passage (12 days beating up and down the Irish Channel to begin with!) they had much helpful fellowship. On March 1st, 1854, not quite 22 years old, he landed at Shanghai. Mr. and Mrs. Muirhead L.M.S.; Mr. and Mrs. Burdon, C.M.S.; Dr. and Mrs. Lockhart, and others, all living in the settlement made him welcome, and his missionary career had begun. With a heart burning with love for his Saviour, and yearning for the souls of the heathen around, he surmounted one difficulty after another, bearing with gladness the many privations which came his way.
His friendship with Mr. William C. Burns, of the English Presbyterian Mission, did the ardent young missionary untold good. Calm, steadfast, fearless always, Mr. Burns seemed to understand with God-given wisdom the dark tangles and dangerous positions into which they were often plunged when itinerating in the interior. "None of these things move me," was his attitude of mind, because he had had such long experience of his Master's care and power. Mr. Taylor's companionship with this good man was unexpectedly brought to an end, and he himself led to Ningpo, where he was later to found the C.I.M. There he found the greatest earthly treasure a man can find—a wife who was in every way fitted to be his perfect helpmeet, Miss Maria Dyer. They passed through fire and through water on account of cruel opposition to the love they had for each other, but were brought out into a wealthy place, and married on Jan. 20th, 1858. Six weeks later they were at work in Ningpo.
Towards the end of 1859, Mr. Taylor received from Dr. Parker entire charge of the Ningpo Mission Hospital. Dr. Parker had lost his wife and was obliged to take his motherless children to England. The Hospital, formerly supported largely by his own fees from private patients, now had to be managed in the sole dependence on God for funds, and many lessons did the patients there learn of the faithfulness of Hudson Taylor's God. For instance, when supplies were getting low—what would the honourable teacher do when they reached the last bag of rice? Why, months ago that need had been provided for! On the same day in which the cook announced that the last bag was fast disappearing, came a cheque for £50 from Mr. Berger, East Grinstead, a fact joyfully announced by the honourable teacher. "Where is the idol that can do anything like that?" asked one patient of another. "Have they ever delivered us in trouble, or answered after this sort?" "True, true, they are certainly not much use—a great admission. Thus was Hudson Taylor's God exalted.
In 1860 they set sail for England, and between that year and 1866 the C.I.M. was formed. No. 30 Coburn St., Bow, became a busy centre, both for enquirers and candidates for C.I.M., as well as translation of the Scriptures into the Ningpo dialect for printing in Roman, not Chinese, characters. His pamphlet, "China's Needs and Spiritual Claims," brought missionaries and money to the C.I.M., though it was in no wise an appeal for the latter.
In spite of the formidable weapons used by the enemy of souls against this new stronghold of the Gospel, it prospered, and a party of 22 consecrated people sailed in the "Lammermuir," May 26, 1866. The ship arrived at Shanghai nearly a wreck—but no one was missing, and many souls had been saved during the voyage. The assaults of the enemy were still terrific, using as his instruments some of God's own servants in the Mission field. But it is not likely, here, that any true work for God can be free of that opposition. As years went on and Mission stations were placed at strategic points in the interior evil was so stirred up that life was often in imminent danger through the rioting.
In 1870, July 23, Mr. Taylor's beloved wife was called Home, 16 days after the birth of her fifth son, who lived but a week. The other children, in charge of Miss Blatchley, had just reached Mr. and Mrs. Berger's, England. Hudson Taylor dedicated himself afresh to the work which for 12 ½ years he and his wife had shared. In 1872 he was called to take charge of C.I.M. Headquarters, London, on retirement of Mr. and Mrs. Berger, his faithful friends and helpers, but eventually a Council was formed, of which Miss Blatchley was secretary and helper-in-chief till ill-health intervened and her Home-call came.
At that time Mr. Taylor had returned to China, and was settling 70 more missionaries in the interior. The Women's Work was making great progress. Mr. Taylor's second wife, Miss Faulding, who had worked in China for years, took the lead in this, and the wisdom of the first Mrs. Taylor in desiring her husband to marry again was wonderfully displayed. But these two, each living for the work, endured long separations—he in England, she in China, and vice versa. The millions of perishing souls in China called them, and their true happiness lay in winning these for the Saviour.
"Satan is simply raging," he wrote to her in Feb., 1889. "He sees his kingdom attacked over all the land, and the conflict is awful." Nevertheless there were conversions everywhere, and native teachers and churches increased. During the Boxer riots he and his wife were at Davos, he at death's door almost. The worst news had to be kept from him as far as possible. Mrs. Taylor, though they did not know it, was dying of cancer, and passed away in July, 1904.
Mr. Taylor now 73 years of age, paid his last visit to China in company with his son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor. On every hand he received loving greetings and tender care from all, and took some meetings, but the frail body, worn out with labours for those millions, could not bear it. On June 3rd, 1905, suddenly, quietly, peacefully, his spirit took its flight to that Land where all is joy. He looked into the face of that Lord whom he had served so long and faithfully, and he was "satisfied."
From Twelve Mighty Missionaries by E. E. Enock. London: Pickering & Inglis, [1936?].
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