Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

invisible world seemed to be unveiled to his view, and his countenance was lighted up with a saintly smile, the charm of which even strangers felt. He never seemed to forget that the great end of preaching is the salvation of souls; and, to effect this, he magnified Christ, laid the sinner in the dust, stripped him of all excuses and pleas of self-righteousness, and strove to induce him there and then to submit to the authority of God, and cast himself into the arms of His mercy. His design in preaching was rather to profit than to please ; and he generally succeeded so far, in fixing the attention of his hearers on their own spiritual state and circumstances, that the disposition to criticise was superseded by feelings of reverence and responsibility. It was scarcely possible to hear him without perceiving that you had to deal with a man who felt what he said, who was in earnest to save himself, and them that heard him.'”—It may be added that to the church his ministrations were peculiarly edifying : for he had a deep acquaintance with human nature, with the manifold temptations and trials of the Christian life, and with the ample provisions which “ the Gospel of the grace of God” supplies for every circumstance and case.—To the last, he was careful in his preparations for the pulpit. But he rested not in these. He was “instant in prayer." For the success of his labours he sought the Lord with unfeigned earnestness, pleading especially for the awakening and conversion of sinners. They who intimately knew him can bear witness to the fervour of his prayers for the prosperity of the work of God; for, while he distrusted all human sufficiency, he did not doubt the power of the Holy Ghost.

In the discharge of all pastoral duties, Mr. Taylor was a signal example of diligence, tenderness, and fidelity. He was indeed “worthy of double honour ;" for he “ruled well,” and took care of the church of God.” Rich and poor, the sick and the healthy, were alike objects of his solicitude. Distance, unfavourable weather, engagements, personal or domestic afflictions, were all disregarded, when he was called to the duties of pastoral visitation. These duties he had practised until they evidently were his delight. He was emphatically a friend to the distressed and bereaved. God had given him “the tongue of the learned, that he should know how to speak a word in season to them that were weary.”—“The facility with which he made himself acquainted with the dwellings and peculiar circumstances of the people of his charge,” says Mr. M'Owan, “and the tenacity with which his memory retained the particulars of their individual cases, were truly astonishing. It was a profitable but most fatiguing exercise to accompany him, through the winding lanes and long streets of a large town, in the prosecution of his work. On some of those occasions, his companions have been led so far beyond the limits of their local knowledge that they followed doubting whetber even he had not lost his way. But they always found it true as the needle to the pole. By the shortest routes he reached the bed of the dying, the habitation of the destitute, or the dwellings of the righteous, by all of whom he was welcomed as an angel of God."

To the young he was always accessible and kind. His affectionate temper was sure to disclose itself to all who acquired a more familiar knowledge of him. He may be said to have supplied no mean illustration of the definition which his favourite Herbert gives of a Pastor,

as the deputy of Christ for the reducing of man to the obedience of God,”-“to do that which Christ did, and after His manner, both for doctrine and life.”

One province of service, in which he was peculiarly successful, may be fitly mentioned here. As it was known that he possessed a sound judgment, and large experience of mankind, his advice was much sought in temporal, as well as in spiritual, matters. It was his practice to inform persons who wished to consult him on such matters, that they might see him almost any forenoon at a certain hour. At that time, he sometimes had quite a levee of persons seeking his counsel. This he always gave with great promptitude, frankness, and kindly affection,--generally to the approval of his friendly applicants, as well as to their security and advantage. And he was eminently a peace-maker.” Anxious to teach men to “ leave off contention before it be meddled with,” he hastened to close any breach which he knew had been made between Christians or friends, before the rush of the waters of strife should render such a closure impossible. His kind offices were often, perhaps generally, rewarded with success ; and his perseverance in such cases was most remarkable and praiseworthy. “ He was a man,” writes the Rev. George Marsden, “ of integrity and uprightness. With him there was no double-dealing. He was firm to principle, and not afraid to maintain what he thought to be right." Everything that was mean or dishonourable he hated ; and he was most exemplarily careful not to “reveal a matter” which had been confided to him.

Mr. Taylor's reading was far more extensive and various than most persons, who knew his active habits, would readily suppose. He was well versed in the best theology; and, next to the One Book which he esteemed more precious than rubies, he was chiefly delighted with the writings of the solid English Divines who flourished in former days. With the spirit of the excellent Richard Baxter he was perfectly at home. - But, in addition to theology, he also read history, biography, science, and poetry, to a very considerable extent. remarkable how many of the most useful modern books he had read before they were generally known. “Though he appeared to be always absorbed in the affairs of his Circuit,” says Mr. M'Owan, “yet his attention to these did not prevent him from adding daily to the stores of his varied knowledge, by means of consecutive reading." Reading was indeed his recreation, as well as his work. When wearied on a Lord’s-day evening, it was his invariable custom to hasten home, and, if too far spent to read himself, to request Mrs. Taylor, or some one else, to read to him. Often, when no other means succeeded in calming that nervous excitement which prevented sleep, he was accustomed to hear a favourite author read until his thoughts were fixed, and he was prepared to sink at length into calm

It was

and refreshing slumbers. And when fatigued with the business of Committees, or worn out with pain, he would throw himself on the sofa, and ask no relief beyond the pleasure of reading a book, or hearing it rend, or joining in some pleasant and instructive conversation. His own mind was well furnished on subjects of general interest; and, although he was not fluent or ready in conversation, his stores of pertinent and useful anecdote, his quiet pleasantry, a kindness more felt than seen, and his evident desire to do good, made his society both pleasing and profitable. In the latter part of his life, his reading appears to have been almost exclusively experimental and devotional.

“Promptitude, simplicity of purpose, and Christian principle," observes Mr. M'Owan, “were leading traits in his character. His principles of action were few and fixed. From these he never swerved ; and, in carrying them out, he was steadfast and selfdenying. He did nothing by halves. Lukewarmness was equally alien from his manner and his constitution. Believing that delays are always dangerous, and that duty cannot be performed too soon, he kept himself continually employed in doing or receiving good. While others were laying their plans for a good work, he executed his branch of the service; and while they were contemplating difficulties, he surmounted them. No weather kept him at home when his duty lay abroad ; and neither his love of peace, nor his dread of conflict, could induce him to negotiate a compromise, when he believed principle to be at stake. He loved to labour, and rather than diminish aught of his wonted tale of duty, he battled, during successive years, with an amount of disease which would have laid most other men prostrate. Though his right hand’ had in a great degree 'forgot its cunning,' through a partial paralysis, yet he persevered in corresponding with his friends, and otherwise employing his pen in his Master's cause, until his growing affliction confined him to his chamber. And not only were his own labours abundant, but be contrived to enlist the talents and agency of all about him in his Saviour's service. He everywhere inculcated that it is a privilege to work for God,—that to do good to others is a means of grace to ourselves,that he who has but one talent is as much bound to employ it, in obedience to his Lord, as he who has ten,—that the most gifted and successful have nothing whereof to glory,—and that the true secret of usefulness is to love those whose benefit we seek, and, in the use of means, to look with self-distrusting care to God, that He may establish the work of our hands, and grant us the desire of our hearts.”

When his duty called him to select agents for subordinate offices in the church," he was as discriminating,” (again to use the language of Mr. M'Owan,)“ as he was kind and condescending. He sought for the combination of sound principle and consistent profession,-moral energy and deep piety,-good common sense and humble painstaking zeal. These qualifications were, in his sight, of great price; and, though unaccompanied with the polish of learning and the gifts of wealth, they procured for their possessor a place in his list of worthies. And, as openings occurred, the parties selected were duly introduced into the departments of active service for which they were best fitted. It was a maxim of his, that, if things connected with the cause of God are left to take their course, that course will be downward. He once said, “If Ministers conclude that the work of God will revive because they have liberty in preaching, though they take but little pains to collect the wounded and recover such as have wandered, they are sure to be disappointed. And if Class-Leaders rely on the good sense and sound principles of their members as effectual guards against backsliding, while they neglect the communion of saints, their classes will certainly decline, and general backsliding will ensue. We must leave nothing,' he added, to the chapter of accidents, nor calculate on any gracious results without diligent labour and earnest prayer.' Mr. Taylor acted upon his own maxims. He embodied in his conduct the sayings of his lips. He did his duty, and was grieved (and sometimes expressed his dissatisfaction) if others did not do theirs.”

To do full justice to the kindliness and generosity of his disposition, would be no easy task. Every one who stepped within his door was made sensible of bis frank and observant courtesy. Occasionally, in public meetings, he strove to accelerate business with some appearance of abruptness; and when time was needlessly invaded, or duty grossly disregarded, he knew how to speak in terms that could not easily be mistaken. But considerate and unfeigned affection reigned in his heart. “ He neither forgot the miseries of our fallen world,” writes Mr. M‘Owan, “nor the claims of the universal church. In the largeness of his heart, he loved man in all his tribes, truth in all its branches, and the kingdom of Christ in all its sections.--As a friend, he was considerate, confiding, disinterested, and constant. His friendship waxed warm, and was fruitful in judicious counsels and kind offices, in proportion as distress deepened and difficulties multiplied around those who were its objects. He was most ingenious in the mode of manifesting his esteem ; for he had the art of making others feel as if he were serving himself while he was obliging them. We have known but few in whom were united, in equal excellence, the social, moral, and intellectual virtues which are connected in the sacred name of FRIEND.”

“It was with no ordinary feelings of respect, esteem, and veneration," writes James Heald, Esq., “that I ever regarded the character and labours of the Rev. Joseph Taylor. His devotedness to his Master's cause from the earliest stages of his history, and untiring zeal in advancing it,—his successful endeavours to press all men and circumstances into its service,—his admirable tact in addressing himself to the variety of persons and events with which he was brought into relations of one kind or another,—the amount of kuowledge which he acquired,-furnish topics of which his whole life was the exposition and manifestation. His practical wisdom was felt by all who had to do with him : it was removed at once from all vain speculation and arrogant assumption, and it led him to estimate both men and things after a true standard.—I shall long dwell with pleasure upon the traces of him which past recollection will supply; and I hope that the profit will keep pace with the pleasure."

To these testimonies shall be added another, from the pen of the Rev. John Rigg, who had known Mr. Taylor for thirty years, and enjoyed the most favourable opportunities of forming a just estimate of his character. It is as follows :“Mr. Taylor was an eminently consistent man.

He always 'walked by the same rule,' and 'minded the same thing. His whole conduct was regulated by right principles, and by a judgment remarkably sound and discriminating. He was one of the most zealous Ministers with whom I have had the honour of being associated. His zeal was not the result of mere constitutional temperament, or of the spirit of proselytism. It was a light that always shone,—a fire that always burned. It was a principle, operating as strongly in the parlour as in the pulpit; in the study as in the public meeting; in the house of mourning, and the sick chamber, as in the house of prayer;-a zeal which carried him, whilst he had strength, with as much regularity to the smallest and most distant places within the range of his Circuit, as to the largest. He acted under the impression that, although another person might do his work, no other person could do his duty. Mr. Taylor was also an eminently kind man. Sometimes, indeed, upon the surface of his conduct, there was an incrustation which felt cold, and a little rough, to the touch of a stranger. But this soon melted away; and, beneath it, he had as warm a heart as ever beat in the breast of man. His kindness expressed itself not merely in words or looks, but in actions. He took the case of the sufferers home with him ; and to the relief of sorrows over which too many would only have wept and sighed, he devoted property, time, and influence. Mr. Taylor was not only a Preacher, but a Pastor. And often have I heard him say, with great emphasis and deep emotion, that nothing but a general and diligent attention to pastoral duties can prevent Methodism from falling far behind other Christian churches in the race of religious usefulness.In practical and sanctified wisdom Mr. Taylor was pre-eminent. There were few men on whose judgment, in delicate and difficult cases, one might more securely rely. He saw with great clearness, and sometimes almost at a glance, what was the best and safest course. Where moral and religious principle was concerned, he was firm as a rock : when it was a question of lawful expediency, he was as flexible as a willow. In endeavouring to accomplish ends which he deemed important, he never had recourse to that petty and not very honest policy which is called 'management,'—a system which is the offspring of cunning, rather than of wisdom. He gained his ends, not by concealment, or Jesuitical mystification; but by manifestation of the truth' which ‘commended' itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.'”

“ Your fathers, where are they?”—From the scenes of earth and

« НазадПродовжити »