CHAPTER 6- HERE AM I ; SEND ME!-JUNE TO CHRISTMAS 1849. AET. I7.

IT was the month of June 1849, when this definite apprehension of the atoning work of Christ changed the whole of life for Hudson Taylor. Henceforward he rejoiced in conscious acceptance with God, not on the ground of anything he could do or be, but simply because of what the Lord Jesus is and has done. " Not I, but Christ," brought freedom, joy and rest. It was the turning-point in his experience, the commencement of a new order of things that little as he realised it at the time meant for him-China.

And now became apparent the unspeakable value of early training such as he had received, and years of steady discipline in a Christian home. He was in a position to make rapid progress. The Bible was no strange book to him, but familiar territory, a land of promise waiting to be possessed. Prayer was no unwonted effort, but the natural outgoing of a heart long accustomed to turn to God. There was much yet to learn, but mercifully there were few habits or memories of evil to erase. The Holy Spirit had, comparatively, a free field in his heart. And at seventeen years of age, all life was yet before him in which to spend and be spent for the Lord he loved.

It is a little difficult at this point to determine the exact order of the spiritual experiences that follow. They were such importance, however, in the light of after-events, that nothing has been omitted, and it will readily be seen how true to life the record is and how encouraging to other far from perfect people.

Very manifest for one thing is the joy that overflowed those summer days, as Hudson Taylor realised himself to be indeed a child of God. He was happy. He found it a glad life, full of heart-rest and satisfaction. For " the Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God." And the sweetness of this fellowship could never be forgotten. It embraced all who were dearest to him on earth. For he found that being right with God put things right with those around him. It restored the happiness of home, made him a better son and more useful assistant to his father, and deepened especially the love that bound him to the dear sister whose prayers for him had been unfailing. Well may we doubt the reality of any blessing that does not make us easier to get on with, sweeter and more loving, especially at home.

Another outcome of the change that had taken place was a longing every true child of God must know, the longing to give all in return for all that has been given. In the spirit of the Hebrew bondman this young heart cried : " I love, I love my Master, I will not go out free." He longed for some work to do for God, some service that might prove his gratitude, some suffering even that might bring him into deeper fellowship with the Lord he loved. A leisure afternoon gave opportunity for prayer, and with this desire filling his heart he went up to his room to be alone with God. And there in a special way the Lord met him.

" Well do I remember that occasion," he wrote long after, " how in the gladness of my heart I poured out my soul before God, and again and again confessing my grateful love to Him who had done everything for me-who had saved me when I had given up all hope and even desire for salvation-I besought Him to give me some work for Him, as an outlet for love and gratitude ; some self-denying service, no matter what it might be, however trying or however trivial ; something with which He would be pleased, and that I might do for Him who had done so much for me. Well do I remember, as in unreserved consecration I put myself, my life, my friends, my all upon the altar,the deep solemnity that came over my soul with the assurance that my offering was accepted. The presence of God became unutterably real and blessed, and I well remember . . . stretching myself on the ground, and lying there before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy. For what service I was accepted I knew not. But a deep consciousness that I was not my own took possession of me, which has never since been effaced."

It was an hour that left its mark on life ; an hour in which the soul began to apprehend " that for which also " it " was apprehended by Christ Jesus." The lad who closed his door that day to be alone with God was a very different being from the lad who rejoined the family-circle some hours later. A purpose and a power possessed him, unknown before. He had given himself to God. His offering had been accepted. And though he knew not for what special service the Lord had need of him, he knew that he was no longer his own, and must be ready for the call whenever it might come.

One result of this definite consecration was that he began to care about the welfare of others. Hitherto he had been concerned chiefly with his own growth in grace ; now he must be about his Master's business, which was the salvation of those around him. He was not deterred by the fact that he could do but little, nor did he excuse himself on the ground of unworthiness. If he could not preach or lead a class as yet, he could at any rate give away tracts and invite people to the House of God. Busy from morning till night in the shop, it was not easy to make time for this work. But he found that by denying himself one of his chief pleasures on Sunday, he could gain a few hours just when people would be most accessible. The enjoyment that had to be forgone was the Sunday evening service to which he had been accustomed from childhood. But much as he loved those helpful seasons, he could no longer be satisfied to feed his own soul continually and do nothing to carry the Bread of Life to the perishing around him. It was " a day of good tidings." He was rejoicing in wealth and blessedness untold. And like the lepers in the Syrian camp, he and his sister Amelia felt as they talked it over, " we do not well to hold our peace."

Instead of attending chapel therefore on Sunday evenings, they went out as soon as tea was over and made their way the poorest parts of the town. In Wilson's Piece behind their own home and Kingston Place toward the race-course, they became familiar figures, passing from door to door with bright faces and kindly words. Tracts were handed to all who would receive them, and the message of salvation simply given as opportunity offered. Even the poorest lodging-houses were not passed over. And though it cost an effort to go down those dark, narrow passages into the crowded kitchens, they were more than rewarded by a sense of His approval whose they were and whom they sought to serve.

But joy in the Lord and in His service was not the only experience as summer passed away. There were also " times of painful deadness of soul and much conflict." The heart that had so gladly accepted the finished work of an all-sufficient Saviour, now knew what it was to be " wearied and disappointed in its struggles with sin." Somehow there seemed a gap between the power of the Lord Jesus to save " to the uttermost " and the needs of everyday life in shop and home. He found himself yielding to temptation, ease-loving, self-indulgent, and often disinclined for private prayer and study of the Word of God. Nothing can have been more real than his consecration ; nothing plainer than the disappointment that followed when he discovered his inability to do and be what he would. It even seemed to make matters worse instead of better. For things that before would not have troubled him were now intolerable. He had given himself to God without reserve, longing to be always and only His. And yet he could not maintain that attitude. Coldness of heart crept in, forgetfulness, indifference. The good he longed to do he did not, and the evil he hated too often had the mastery. He did delight in the law of God after the inward man, but there was that other law bringing him into captivity to sin with all its deadening influences. And he had not yet learned to cry : " Thanks be to God. . . . The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

At such times two courses are open to the perplexed and troubled soul. One is to abandon, the ideal, and gradually sink down to a low-level Christian life in which there is neither joy nor power. The other is just to go on with the Lord, and because of His " exceeding great and precious promises " to claim complete deliverance not from the guilt only, but also from the mastery of sin ; just to go on with the Lord, trusting His strength and faithfulness to pardon, loose and cleanse, to sanctify us wholly, and make our own every blessing promised in the eternal covenant.

Nothing less than this could satisfy Hudson Taylor. Conversion with him had been no easy-going assent of the mind to an abstract creed. No, it was a change deep and real. The cross of Christ had cut him off forever from the old life, and from rest in anything the world could give. Nothing could satisfy him now but genuine holiness, unbroken fellowship with God who was his life, his all. Hence times of spiritual lethargy and indifference were alarming. Deadness of soul was painful beyond endurance. He could not take backsliding easily. Thank God, even the beginnings of backsliding were worse to him than death.

Moreover he recognised that he was saved to serve, and that a work was waiting for which a life of inner victory and power would be essential. He had had his unsatisfactory experiences, and deeply knew how little a man has for others who is not himself walking at liberty within. During his sceptical days he had seen that the only logical position for the Christian is to go all lengths with God. He had then determined to throw off religion altogether, unless it were possible to obtain in actual reality the promises held out to simple faith. There could be no middle course for him. If his life were to be of any use to God or man he must have that " love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned " which is sanctification indeed. This was the only power to make even the most wholehearted consecration practical and enduring.

And this was a gift from above, like the fire that fell in answer to Elijah's prayers ; the supernatural, Divine response to a heart that having laid all upon the altar would not be denied the cleansing, sanctifying power.

It is not to be wondered at that in seeking this promised blessing the Barnsley lad should have times of conflict and defeat. In comparing his experience with that of other men of God one is surprised, rather, that he did not suffer more from the opposition and assault of the devil. For it was nothing less than full deliverance upon which he had set his heart : that was the point-real holiness, and daily victory over sin.

The conflict lasted all through the autumn, apparently, and outward circumstances were not wanting to increase his sense of failure and need. For September brought the first break in the family circle, when Amelia went from home to complete her education, and her place was taken by a lad of his own age who was not a Christian. At Bartonon-Humber their mother's sister, Mrs. Hodson, had an excellent school for girls and received a few resident pupils under her own roof. Her eldest son, John, was apprenticed to his uncle in Barnsley, and it was arranged that the cousins should exchange homes for the time being, without additional expense to either family. To the brother and sister who had never been parted before it was a painful separation, and Amelia was hardly more lonely during those first few weeks in Barton than Hudson was in the old home without her. The cousin who shared his room, though bright and attractive, was no help spiritually, so that with less privacy for prayer and Bible study Hudson had also less fellowship in the things of God. There was more provocation to exuberance of spirits in the presence of such a companion, and more tendency to friction in business hours, especially as the busy season drew on. With all his excellent qualities the father had a somewhat hasty spirit, and as Hudson grew to manhood it was a discipline that called for constant grace. All this combined to make things difficult, until early in December it would seem a crisis was reached.

Outwardly things were much as usual, but inwardly he was almost driven to despair. A terrible deadness of soul had begun to steal over him. Prayer was an effort and the Bible devoid of interest. Christmas was close at hand and business correspondingly pressing. There seemed no time for quiet waiting upon God, even had the desire been present. But it was not. And at times a terrible fear assailed him, that he was drifting he knew not whither and might " fall away from grace," missing the purpose of God for his life now, if not hereafter.

Just how and when he was recalled from this dangerous state does not appear, but there are indications of some providential happenings that could not but be helpful. His attention was arrested, for example, by an article in the November Wesleyan Magazine, setting forth in glowing terms the very experience he needed. It was entitled " The Beauty of Holiness," and quickened again the longing of his heart for victory over self and sin. Then, in the Pitt Street Chapel, {1- Three years before, in 1846, the congregation had migrated from the Chapel on Pinfold Hill to larger premises. The new building on Pitt Street was very near the Methodist Manse in which the Hudsons had lived.) a mission was held that resulted in so real a revival of spiritual blessing that within a few days more than a hundred converts were gathered in. This was encouragement indeed, and Hudson as he sought to lead others into blessing found himself drawing nearer the One for whom his heart longed supremely and through all. And finally a definite promise from the Word of God came home to him with power.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you : and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (2-Ezekiel 36:25-27 )

Sunday morning came, December 2, 1849. He was not able to go out as usual, and was glad rather than otherwise of the cold that gave him time to be quiet and alone. The Lord was consciously with him, and yet things were far from right. He rejoiced as he remembered one after another entering a few days previously into the rest of faith, but mourned his own inability to possess to the full his possessions in Christ. His thoughts turned naturally to the beloved sister far away, and taking up his pen he poured out his heart to her in the following simple, earnest letter.

BARNSLEY, December 2, 1849.

MY DEAR SISTER-" Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ " : " Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world." . . . " The very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."Pray for me, dear Amelia. Thank God, I feel very happy in His love, but I am so unworthy of all His blessings. I so often give way to temptation. I am apt to be frothy and giddy, and I sometimes yield to my teasing disposition. Pray for me, dear Amelia, pray for me. I am seeking entire sanctification. Oh that the Lord would take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh ! Mr. Simmons gave us our tickets last Sunday. The verse is : " Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean" (Ezekiel 36:25 etc.). Oh that I could take hold of the blessed promises of God's Holy Word ! My heart longs for this perfect holiness. I have read a very interesting paper on the beauty of holiness in the Wesleyan Magazine for November. What a happy state it must be !

Oh, for a heart to praise my God!
A heart from sin set free ;
A heart that always feels Thy blood,
So freely shed for me.

A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine ;
Perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine !

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart ;
Come quickly from above ;
Write Thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of Love.

I never can sufficiently praise God for all His mercies to me. He has striven with me times without number, and I have resisted Him. And yet after all, He has pardoned all my sins. The earnest desire of my heart is that He will sanctify me wholly and make me useful in His cause.

When Mr. Greenbury was here, in only four nights the names of more than one hundred persons were taken who had found peace. I went to the prayer-meeting on Wednesday night after shutting up shop. I sat in the free seats as there was no room elsewhere, and asked several to go to the penitent form. One went. He told of it afterwards in the Class Susan attends, and said he had found peace. I was very thankful to hear it. It shows the necessity for doing all the good we can. I went again on Thursday night, after eight o'clock, and got a place on the pulpit stairs. There was no standing room in either pews or aisle. I took down the names of those who found the Lord. On Friday John and I were both there. I got six names and addresses. Mr. Keeling told me to go inside the communion rail to talk to the inquirers better. Oh we had a gracious time of it !

Our cousin John is deeply impressed. He is not far from the Kingdom. I believe he would have gone to Class with me if I had been able to go today. I have been so poorly that I have not been out. But the Lord has been with me. God bless you, my dear sister. I cannot help wishing that instead of a slight cold I had some sickness that would take me to heaven. For though to me to live is Christ, still, to die is gain, eternal gain. I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far, far better... .

We all unite in love to you.-Believe me, your very loving brother, J. H. TAYLOR.

That night upon going to bed he was deeply troubled. His soul was athirst for God, and yet an intense realisation of failure and unworthiness almost overwhelmed him." Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you " is a promise always fulfilled to the sincere and humble spirit, but how often the vision granted calls forth the cry, " Woe is me! for I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean lips." Nor was this all.

Absorbed in his own need the lad was longing for true holiness, the life that is " no longer I, but Christ " in everything. The Lord with wider needs in view was seeking him for this, but not for this only. In His great purposes the time had come when the Gospel could no longer be withheld from the " uttermost parts of the earth." China even must be opened, and its most distant provinces gladdened with tidings of a Saviour's love. There it lay in agelong darkness, its teeming millions-a quarter of the human race-living, dying without God. It was of China the Lord was thinking, may we not say it reverently, as well as of Hudson Taylor. But the lad was not ready yet to hear the call, " Whom shall I send, and who will go for us ? " The work of the convicting Spirit must go deeper ere he could be fully blessed and brought into harmony with the mind of God. Thus his sense of sin and need became more intense as he wrestled for the deliverance without which he could not, dared not go on.

What was it that kept him from the life for which he longed ? What was the secret of his frequent failure and backsliding in heart ? Was there something not fully surrendered, some disobedience or unfaithfulness to light ? Fervently he prayed that God would show him the hindrance whatever it might be, and enable him to put it away. He had come to an end of self, to a place where only God could deliver, where he must have His succour, His enlightenment, His aid. It was a life and death matter. Everything seemed at stake. Like one of old he was constrained to cry, " I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me."

And then, alone upon his knees, a great purpose arose within him. If only God would work on his behalf, would break the power of sin and save him, spirit, soul and body, for time and for eternity, he would renounce all earthly prospects and be utterly at His disposal. He would go anywhere, do anything, suffer whatever His cause might demand, and be wholly given to His will and service. This was the cry of his heart ; nothing held back-if only God would deliver him and keep him from falling.

Instinctively we pause and turn aside from a scene so sacred. The place is holy ground. Of what transpired further we know no more, save for a few lines written when occasion required it in the following year. For he rarely referred to this experience, though all life lived it out.

" Never shall I forget," he wrote, " the feeling that came over me then. Words can never describe it. I felt I was in the presence of God, entering into covenant with the Almighty. I felt as though I wished to withdraw my promise, but could not. Something seemed to say ` Your prayer is answered, your conditions are accepted.' And from that time the conviction never left me that I was called to China."

For distinctly, as if a voice had spoken it, the command was given : " Then go for Me to China." (1- This is stated in his mother's written recollections.)

Silently as the sunrise over a summer sea dawned this new day upon his waiting soul. China ? Yes, China. That was the meaning of his life-past, present, and to come. Away beyond himself, outside the little world of personal experiences, lay the great, waiting world, those for whom no man cared, for whom Christ died. " Then go for Me to China." Your prayer is answered : your conditions are accepted. All you ask and more, far more, shall be given. There shall be deeper knowledge of the Lord ; fellowship in His sufferings, His death, His resurrection ; a life of inner victory and power. " For to this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee ; delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God."

A little slip of paper tells the rest-all, that is, that can be told ; a brief postscript to his letter written that very night, the outpouring of a heart so full that it must overflow.

Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and all that is within me shout His praise ! Glory to God, my dear Amelia. Christ has said " Seek and ye shall find," and praise His name, He has revealed Himself to me in an overflowing manner. He has cleansed me from all sin, from all my idols. He has given me a new heart. Glory, glory, glory to His ever blessed Name ! I cannot write for joy. I open my letter to tell you.

Yes, it was done. From that day onward life was on another plane. The Lord had met him, satisfied his soul, and spoken again the sweet, compelling word " Follow Me." Outwardly it was manifest that a great change had come over him.

" From that hour," the mother wrote, " his mind was made up. His pursuits and studies were all engaged in with reference to this object, and whatever difficulties presented themselves his purpose never wavered."

For inwardly there was a deep subjection to the will of God, resting upon a profound and unalterable sense of what that will was for him. And with this came new purity and power, a steady growth in grace, and fulness of blessing that carried him through all the testing and preparation of the next few years." Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."

That was what made him and kept him, the real beginning of his walk with God as a man set apart.

Previous ChapterTable of ContentsNext Chapter