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Life of Hudson Taylor




He told me of a river bright
That flows from Him to me,
That I might be, for His delight,
A fair and fruitful tree.
WHEN Mr. Taylor was caught away from the heart of China — passing in
one painless moment to the presence of the Lord he loved — a feeling
almost of suspense held many hearts. What will become of the Mission
now? was the unspoken question. Hudson Taylor was a man of such
unusual faith! It was all right while he lived and prayed. But now? The
thought was natural, but years have only proved that though the father
and long-loved leader of the work passed on, the God in whom was all his
confidence remains.
The lines at the head of this chapter were dear to Mr. Taylor, and express
the essence of his spiritual secret.
It is very simple (he wrote) but has He not planted us by the river of
living water that we may be, for His delight, fair and fruitful to His
God was first in Hudson Taylor’s life — not the work, not the needs of
China or of the Mission, not his own experiences. He knew that the
promise was true, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee
the desires of thine heart.” And is the promise less true for us today? Let
the experience of one of the leaders of the Mission stand for the many.
The work is always increasing (Miss Soltau wrote), and were it not for the
consciousness of Christ as my life, hour by hour, I could not go on. But
He is teaching me glorious lessons of His sufficiency, and each day I am
carried forward with no feeling of strain or fear of collapse.
Streams flowing still — how true it has been in the experience of the
enlarged and ever-growing Mission! The main facts as to the developments
of the last thirty years are given in an appendix, and wonderful facts they
are. But here we would only refer — as we turn from the past to the
present — to the practical side of Mr. Taylor’s spiritual life. He knew
that the thought expressed by one deeply versed in the things of God is
true: “God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we
overcome.” 22 To him, the secret of overcoming lay in daily, hourly
fellowship with God; and this, he found, could only be maintained by
secret prayer and feeding upon the Word through which He reveals
Himself to the waiting soul.
It was not easy for Mr. Taylor, in his changeful life, to make time for
prayer and Bible study, but he knew that it was vital. Well do the writers
remember traveling with him month after month in northern China, by cart
and wheelbarrow, with the poorest of inns at night. Often, with only one
large room for coolies and travelers alike, they would screen off a corner
for their father and another for themselves, with curtains of some sort; and
then, after sleep at last had brought a measure of quiet, they would hear a
match struck and see the flicker of candlelight which told that Mr. Taylor,
however weary, was poring over the little Bible in two volumes always at
hand. From two to four A.M. was the time he usually gave to prayer; the
time when he could be most sure of being undisturbed to wait upon God.
That flicker of candlelight has meant more to them than all they have read
or heard on secret prayer; it meant reality, not preaching but practice.
The hardest part of a missionary career, Mr. Taylor found, is to maintain
regular, prayerful Bible study. “Satan will always find you something to
do,” he would say, “when you ought to be occupied about that, if it is
only arranging a window blind.”
Fully would he have endorsed the weighty words:
Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to
be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the
assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time
to read His Word as in His presence, that from it you may know what He
asks of you and what He promises you. Let the Word create around you,
create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy heavenly light, in which your
soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life. 23
It was just because he did this that Hudson Taylor’s life was full of joy
and power, by the grace of God. When over seventy years of age he
paused, Bible in hand, as he crossed the sitting-room in Lausanne, and said
to one of his children: “I have just finished reading the Bible through,
today, for the fortieth time in forty years.” And he not only read it, he
lived it.
Hudson Taylor stopped at no sacrifice in following Christ. “Cross-loving
men are needed,” he wrote in the midst of his labors in China, and if he
could speak to us today would it not be to call us to that highest of all
ambitions: “that I may know him (the One we, too, supremely love), and
the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings.” Can we
not hear again the tones of his quiet voice as he says:
There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world. An
easy, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing
involves cross-bearing. There are not two Christs — an easy-going one for
easy-going Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers.
There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in Him, and thus to bear
much fruit?
WHEN Mr. Hudson Taylor laid down the leadership of the Mission in
1900, five years before his Home-call, the China Inland Mission numbered
750 missionaries. Today (1932) its membership is 1,285. The income
while Mr. Taylor was directing the work and sustaining it with his prayers
ran into millions of dollars, unasked save of God — no less than four
million dollars. The total income since 1900 has been almost twenty
million dollars, unasked save of God. And there has been and is no debt.
Seven hundred Chinese workers were connected with the Mission, rich
answer to Mr. Taylor’s prayers, and the converts baptized from the
commencement numbered thirteen thousand. Today there are between
three and four thousand Chinese workers connected with the C. I. M., and
the baptisms since 1900 alone number a hundred thousand. “Not unto us,
O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.”
Mr. Taylor was unique in his relation to the work, of which he was
founder as well as Director: no one in this sense could take his place. Yet,
in the leader God raised up to follow him, a gift no less unique has been
given. Bearing responsibilities greatly increased since 1900, Mr. D. E.
Hoste has been sustained in a prayer-life which is the benediction of the
Mission, while under his guidance, through years of storm and stress, the
work has gone steadily on from strength to strength.
True, there have been times of overwhelming trial and apparent setback.
When the revolution broke out and China, almost overnight, became a
republic, a reign of terror prevailed in certain districts and the Mission was
again called to add to its martyr roll. In the city of Sian, once capital of the
empire, Mrs. Beckman and six children of missionary families were
murdered by a lawless mob, also Mr. Vatne who was trying to protect
them. Not a few missionaries were obliged to leave their stations for places
of greater safety; others, who held on, were enabled to protect many of the
terrified people round them, women especially, who fled to the missionary
homes for refuge. Precious opportunities were afforded in those days for
living as well as preaching the Gospel, and the friendly feeling toward
missionaries in the interior was very marked.
With the spread of lawlessness and cruel banditry, as well as the organized
agitation among students, missionaries and Chinese Christians alike have
had to face great and increasing dangers. But the amazing thing has really
been that changes so stupendous could take place without more bloodshed
and upheaval. Swept away from all the old moorings, reaching out with
passionate desire for better things, China in her helplessness has fallen
among thieves. The desperate counsels of Communism and Bolshevism
have prevailed in many places, to the unspeakable aggravation of existing
evils, and latterly the relentless aggressions of neighboring powers have
added to the distresses of the situation.
“When brothers fall out,” the old Chinese proverb has it, “then strangers
are apt to take advantage of them”; again, “to complete a thing, a hundred
years is not sufficient; to destroy, one day is more than enough.”
Yet in the midst of it all, the protecting hand of God has been over the
work, so that advance has been steady in connection with the evangelistic
program of the Inland Mission. The fact that the work is evangelistic
rather than institutional accounts for much of the friendliness of the
people and their readiness to listen to the consolations of the Gospel.
Never have there been such opportunities as there are today for the sale of
Christian literature and the witness of loving hearts to the saving power of
Christ. “The healing of His seamless dress” is the healing that China needs,
and many are the wounded hearts turning to Him for life and hope amid
conditions of despair.
That such an hour is no time for retrenchment in the missionary enterprise
must be manifest to all who look to God, who “look up,” rather than at
circumstances. This it is that has called the China Inland Mission, of
recent years, out from a policy of waiting, into a glorious advance along
the lines of Mr. Taylor’s latest and greatest vision. With regard to the
fresh realization that came to him of the Lord’s plain meaning in His
definite commission, “Preach the gospel to every creature,” Mr. Taylor
had written:
This work will not be done without crucifixion, without consecration
which is prepared at any cost to carry out the Master’s command. But
given that, I believe in my inmost soul that it will be done.
If ever in my life I was conscious of being led of God, it was in the writing
and publication of those papers (To Every Creature).
Living seed, though it fall into the ground and die, will yet bring forth fruit.
Mr. Taylor had long gone to his reward when a second baptism of
suffering was permitted, five years ago, in the overwhelming distress of
1927. More than six hundred members of the Mission were obliged to
evacuate their stations in that tragic year, when Western Governments,
alarmed at a new and fierce outbreak of antiforeign agitation, ordered their
nationals to withdraw from the interior.
This was inspired by propagandists from Moscow (as Dr. Robert H.
Glover, 24 now the North American Director of the Mission, writes) who
incited the Chinese soldiery and student body to acts of violence,
particularly directed against missionaries and other foreigners.... And so
the large majority of missionaries all over China were forced to leave their
stations, their beloved converts and the work of years, and make their way
to the coast. Thus, almost before they were aware of it, several hundred
C.I.M. missionaries, among others, found themselves out of inland China,
with the door closed behind them.
To provide for these refugees in the overcrowded settlements imposed a
heavy burden on the funds of the Mission. Fourteen houses had to be
rented in Shanghai alone, and furnished in some sort, and all the traveling
expenses had to be met out of straitened resources. For many supporters
of the Mission at home, seeing that the work was for the time being largely
at a standstill, found other channels for their missionary giving, and had
the China Inland Mission been depending on its donors rather than on the
living God the outcome might have been very far from what it was. But
“God is equal to all emergencies,” as Mr. Taylor loved to remind himself
and others, and His dealings with the C.I.M. in the financial crisis of 1927
constitute one of the most marvelous answers to prayer that the Mission
has ever known.
The following are the facts. The income of the Mission fell off in that one
year not by thousands but by tens of thousands of dollars. With largely
increased demands upon its resources, and with strict adherence to its
principles of making no appeal for financial help and of never going into
debt, how was the situation to be met — with an income diminished by no
less than $114,000?
Yes, “God is equal to all emergencies”; and that year He was pleased to
work in an unexpected way. Money transmitted to China from the home
countries has to be changed into silver currency at a rate which is always
fluctuating. But that year the fluctuation, strange to say, seemed steadily
in favor of the Mission funds. More and more silver was purchasable with
the money remitted from home, and by the close of the year it was found
that while $114,000 less had been sent to China than in the previous year,
the Mission had profited on exchange as much as $115,000! Thus all needs
were met, and that year of special trial became one of overflowing praise.
And as to the matter of the closed door, Dr. Glover continues:
It was indeed a sad hour... and the outlook from the human point of view
was dark enough. Would the door of missionary opportunity ever reopen?
The question was variously answered... (by the skeptical, the
worldly-wise, and the discouraged). But there were missionaries — and
those of the C.I.M. happily among the number — whose anointed eye
saw the situation in a very different light.
That the blow came directly from Satan, and with intent to ruin the work
of missions, they doubted not. But did the Word anywhere teach that
God’s servants were ever to accept defeat at the hands of Satan?
Assuredly not. Had Satan at any time succeeded through persecution in
destroying the cause of Christ? Far from it.... Paul, the great missionary,
testified that the persecutions which befell him had “fallen out rather unto
the progress of the gospel,” and he followed on to exhort his fellow
workers to be “in nothing terrified by your adversaries.” Nothing in the
New Testament missionary record is more impressive than the way
opposition and persecution from the enemy were repeatedly made by God
the very means of advancing the missionary enterprise. Every such assault
of the adversary today, therefore, should become the occasion of a forward
movement issuing in fresh expansion and enlarged results.
Now that is just the way the China Inland Mission was led to regard the
adverse situation with which it was confronted.... Was missionary work in
China at an end? How could it possibly be, with Christ’s Great
Commission unprovoked, and the task of giving the Gospel to China’s
millions still so very far from completed? At whatever cost, the work
must go on. And so the Mission went upon its face before God in fervent
prayer for the reopening of the door and for clear guidance as to its future
Those were days of deep heart-searching, Dr. Glover goes on to testify, as
well as of earnest prayer. And it was then, right in the midst of the trial,
that God gave vision and conviction for a great advance. For it was then
that, on the basis of a comprehensive survey of the whole C.I.M. field, the
leaders of the Mission felt clearly led to appeal to God and His people for,
not one hundred, but two hundred additional workers for a forward
movement of a strongly evangelistic character.
Hardly could the constituency of the Mission at home have been more
rejoiced and impressed than when this appeal was received. It was
recognized to be of God, the outcome of much prayer, and at once new life
began to be felt in all parts of the work. The two years in which the new
missionaries were expected, not only asked for, passed quickly (1929-31),
and though faith was tried in various ways, not least by strong counter
attacks of the adversary in China, the story has been one of profound
encouragement and blessing.
Not only did 1931 witness the outgoing of the last parties of the Two
Hundred — ninety-one of whom were from North America — but the
provision made for their reception in China was no less remarkable. The
headquarters of the Mission in Shanghai, which had long been inadequate
for the needs of the work, were replaced during that year by the much
larger, more suitable premises God has provided without the cost of a
single cent to the Mission. An opportunity came, in answer to much
prayer, to sell the old premises for sixty-five times their original cost. They
had been the gift of a member of the Mission now with the Lord, who
after more than forty years was thus enabled to provide the new
headquarters for the growing work just when they were so urgently
needed.25 And the new buildings were ready in time to receive the
splendid parties of last fall, when over a hundred new workers arrived in
China for the China Inland Mission in the brief period of one month.
Much more was included in that wonderful provision than the wisest
leaders in the Mission could foresee. For when, early in the present year,
the wholly unexpected attack was made upon Shanghai by Japanese
forces, much of the fighting centered in and around the very district
(Hongkew) in which the former headquarters of the China Inland Mission
had been located. Just in time had the guiding hand of God led to the
change which moved the Mission premises three miles farther back into
the International Settlement, to a position of greater safety. Who but He
could have foreseen and provided in this wonderful way to meet a
situation so unexpected and acutely distressing?
Yes, He is caring still for the needs of His own work. Little wonder that
the China Inland Mission stands foursquare on the old truths upon which
it was founded; little wonder that it commemorates with thankfulness the
centenary this year, 1932, of the birth of its father in God, the leader
whose faith and obedience brought it into being. Thank God, there is not
one of its twelve hundred and eighty-five missionaries who cannot and
does not joyfully reiterate, today, the conviction of its founder:
The living God still lives, and the living Word is a living Word, and we
may depend upon it. We may hang upon any word God ever spoke or
caused by His Holy Spirit to be written.
Oh, make but trial of His love;
Experience will decide
How blest are they, and they alone,
Who in His truth confide.
Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make but His service your delight,
Your wants shall be His care.
“We have been thrilled by the answer to the prayers of the Lord’s people for
two hundred new missionaries for this land, and are now praying and urging
friends to pray for five hundred Spirit-filled Chinese workers to take part in
the Forward Movement.
‘Send thou, O Lord, to every place
Swift messengers before Thy face,
The heralds of Thy wondrous grace,
Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.
Send men whose eyes have seen the King,
Men in whose ears His sweet words ring,
Send such Thy lost ones home to bring:
Send them where Thou wilt come —
To bring good news to souls in sin,
The bruised and broken hearts to win,
In every place to bring them in,
Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.
Gird each one with the Spirit’s sword,
The sword of Thine own deathless Word,
And make them conquerors, conquering Lord,
Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.
Raise up, O Lord the Holy Ghost,
From this broad land a mighty host,
Their war cry — We will seek the lost,
Where Thou, O Christ, wilt come!’”
The past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demands for doing
great things for God. The church that is dependent on its past history for
its miracles of power and grace is a fallen church......
The greatest benefactor this age could have is the man who will bring the
teachers and the church back to prayer.
E. M. BOUNDS, in Power through Prayer.


1832, May 21. James Hudson Taylor born in Barnsley,
Yorkshire, England.
1849, June. Conversion, followed by call to life service.
1850, May. Beginning medical studies in Hull as assistant to
Dr. Robert Hardey.
1853, September 19. Sailed for China, as an agent of the Chinese
Evangelization Society.
1850-1864. The Taiping Rebellion.
1854, March 1. Hudson Taylor landed in Shanghai.
1854-1855. Ten evangelistic journeys.
1855, Oct.-Nov. First home “inland”: six weeks on the island of
1855-1856. Seven months with the Rev. William C. Burns.
1856, October. Settlement at Ningpo.
1857, June. Resignation from the Chinese Evangelization
1858, January 20. Marriage to Miss Maria J. Dyer.
1859, September. Undertook charge of Dr. Parker’s hospital,
1860, Summer. Return to England on first furlough.
1860-1865. Hidden years.
1865, June 25. Surrender at Brighton, and prayer for
twenty-four fellow workers for inland China.
1866, May 26. Sailed with the first party of the China Inland
Mission, on the “Lammermuir” — a four
months’ journey.
1866, December. Settlement of the Lammermuir Party in
1867, August 23. Death of little Gracie.
1868, August 22. The Yangchow Riot.
1869, September 4. Entered into The Exchanged Life: — ”God has
made me a new man!”
1870, June 21. The Tientsin Massacre.
1870, July 23. Death of Mrs. Hudson Taylor (ne’e Dyer).
1872, March. Retirement of Mr. W. Berger.
1872, August 6. Formation of the London Council of the China
Inland Mission.
1872, October 9. Return to China with Mrs. Taylor (ne’e
1874, January 27. Recorded prayer for pioneer missionaries for
the nine unevangelized provinces.
1874, June. Opening, with Mr. Judd, the western branch of
the Mission in Wuchang.
1874, July 26. Death of Miss Emily Blatchley.
1874-1875, Winter. The Lowest Ebb: Mr. Taylor laid aside in
England, paralyzed.
1875, January. Appeal for prayer for eighteen pioneers for the
nine unevangelized provinces.
1876, September 13. Signing of the Chefoo Convention.
1876-1878. Widespread evangelistic journeys throughout
inland China.
1878, Autumn. Mrs. Hudson Taylor leads the advance of
women missionaries to the far interior.
1879, Autumn. Mrs. George Nicoll and Mrs. G. W. Clarke
pioneer the way for women’s work in western
1881, May. Death of Mrs. George King, at Hanchung.
1881, November. The appeal for The Seventy (Wuchang).
1885, February 5. Going out of The Cambridge Party.
1886, Nov.13-26. First meeting of the China Council, and appeal
for The Hundred (Anking).
1887, December. Visit to England of Mr. Henry W. Frost,
inviting Mr. Taylor to the United States.
1888, Summer. Mr. Taylor’s first visit to North America.
1889, October. The widest outlook of his life: To Every
1889, November. First visits to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
1890, August. First visit to Australia.
1900, May. Beginning of the “Boxer” out break.
1900, August. Mr. D. E. Hoste appointed as Acting General
1902, November. Mr. Taylor resigned Directorate to Mr. D. E.
1904, July 30. Mrs. Hudson Taylor’s death in Switzerland.
1905, February. Mr. Taylor’s return to China on last visit.
1905, June 3. Home-call, from Hunan.