Hudson Taylor and the Bible

Hudson Taylor inspired many to work in China. He was not only responsible for widening the impact of the gospel in China, but also had a crucial role in challenging the moribund spirituality of Victorian Christianity and showing how the life of faith essentially issued in a passion for mission. How did he do this? This article shows one of the main ways was the place of the Bible in Taylor’s life and ministry. The study of the interaction between Taylor’s theological views and the resulting spirituality within the practice of mission increases our understanding of the function of the Bible in mission in his day and ours.

Dr Christopher Wigram served for five years with OM Ships and then nineteen years with OMF International in the Philippines and as the UK National Director. In 2008 he was appointed the International Director of the European Christian Mission. Christopher lives in London and is married to Susanne who is a therapist, running her own business. They both serve in various capacities as members of Northwood Hills Evangelical Church. They have three adult children.

Hudson Taylor and the Bible [1]

Mission Round Table 13:2 (May-Aug 2018): 15-21

Xu Yongze, a contemporary church leader, highlights the enduring influence of James Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM).

This is why we are so thankful for the impact that Hudson Taylor made on our country. His example was one of single-minded passion to see God’s kingdom come. Like a mighty soldier he marched into pioneer areas where the name of Jesus Christ had never been uttered before.[2]

Taylor inspired many people to work in China. He was not only responsible for widening the impact of the gospel in China, but he also had a crucial role in challenging the moribund spirituality of Victorian Christianity and showing how the life of faith essentially issued in a passion for mission, especially mission to China.

How did he do this? There are a variety of answers to this question, but as this article shows, one of the main ways was the place of the Bible in Taylor’s life and ministry. Taylor, as a nineteenth-century Protestant missionary, worked with some essential theological presuppositions. He considered that all those without the gospel were “heathen” and in need of salvation through Christ.[3] He had strong convictions about the natural depravity of humanity and the sovereignty of divine grace to meet that need. These convictions brought a sense of urgency in bringing the truth of salvation to as many as possible. It was assumed that the message, since it was appropriate in Britain, was easily adaptable to the minds of others anywhere in the world. These theological convictions, present in Taylor and other men and women of his time, have often been dismissed as unimportant. It has often been assumed that missionaries had little to contribute in the area of theology. However, they were often men and women who were saturated in the Bible, driven by a transcendental reality, and made decisions based on their understanding of the Bible’s message.

The study of the interaction between Taylor’s theological views and the resulting spirituality within the practice of mission increases our understanding of the function of the Bible in mission in his day and ours. It is widely recognised that the CIM departed from previously existing models of mission. Taylor’s example and beliefs shaped the collective spirituality of the CIM which eventually became a template for subsequent expressions of mission in the conservative evangelical tradition. Taylor’s use of the Bible and consequent spirituality was, to some extent, influenced by what preceded him, but he also forged the CIM with a different set of theological and philosophical presuppositions from those that informed earlier British Protestant missions.

Observations about Taylor’s use of Scripture have been gleaned from a variety of sources. These include personal letters, articles written for China’s Millions and the Occasional Papers, as well as scribbled notes of sermons that can be found in the CIM/OMF archives at SOAS. His use of Scripture was that of the activist, and often a part of his fulfilment of other responsibilities, such as writing to CIM members about ways of operation, methods of ministry, or exhortations at conferences of which we only have notes taken by others. As a popular preacher he often mined the same passage time and time again, especially when he was talking about China.

In common with most other English-speaking Protestants of his time, Taylor used the King James Version of the Bible (1611).[4] He was aware that the newer translation of the Revised Version (1881–85), which was slowly gaining acceptance, was a reliable alternative to the King James version, but chose to use the “authorized” text.

Griffith John (1831–1912) noted how Taylor revered the Bible, used it for personal edification, and built his life’s work on its promises.[5] Many of Taylor’s colleagues would have endorsed this view, arguing that Taylor’s distinctiveness issued from a high view of the Bible and the application of its authority to mission.

Taylor’s published work shows him drawing on the Bible for many aspects of his own personal life and for mission. He practised a daily, consecutive reading of the Bible, aiming to absorb its message as an expression of his personal fellowship with Christ. John Stevenson (1844–1914), one of his closest colleagues, described Taylor as “diligent” in his personal study of the Bible. It was not only his source of spiritual strength day and night; “it was the very atmosphere in which he lived,”[6] providing spiritual sustenance firstly for himself and then for those who heard him preach. For Taylor, the Bible was the main source for transformation and specifically connected to inspiring others about mission to China. The chief stimulant for his preaching, teaching, and writing was his use of the Bible for his own edification.

Taylor had been brought up in a household where the Bible was prominent. This did not, in his view, make him a Christian. After his conversion as a teenager in Yorkshire his enthusiasm helped to reinforce his determination to rely on Scripture in a way that others who professed faith seemed unable to do. For Taylor, the Bible was active, meaningful, and worthy of trust and that, “when studied, loved, obeyed and trusted, it never disappoints, never misleads, never fails.”[7] His further reading convinced him of the superiority of the Bible. Taylor believed that in the Bible he found certainties of spiritual truths which operated just as consistently as natural laws, for example, the law of gravity.[8]

Hudson Taylor as a young man

Understanding the Bible was a cumulative process for Taylor. The practice of regular reading affected the inner experience of the reader as well as the outward behaviour. The Bible functioned as more than a mere teaching tool: it also influenced one’s basic disposition.[9] This was important, for Taylor considered that abiding in Christ was achieved by feeding on the written word. This practice increased confidence in God and in the principles by which he worked in the world. Taylor wrote: “we feed upon Christ the incarnate Word through the written Word.”[10] This teaching was a recurring theme. Christ, as the word, was an “all-sufficient Saviour” who met the needs of his people. For Taylor, reading theology without a knowledge of Christ was unprofitable, for the Bible produced those things that Peter describes in 2 Peter 1 as pertaining to life and godliness. These were achieved through a personal knowledge of the Bible which pointed to the sustaining Christ.[11]

The context for Taylor’s view of the Bible

Many nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries like Taylor considered the Bible to be central to life and the key to spiritual authority. Their effectiveness in mission depended on their knowledge of the Bible and their sensitivity and skill in applying its message to effect transformation amongst non-Christian peoples and stimulating a constituency to support them in their work. Taylor drew on the creedal affirmations established in the Reformation that placed the Bible in the centre.[12] It was a document that justified itself and was not dependent on external evidence to prove it. For Taylor the words of Scripture were the very words of God and any difficulties in understanding were a challenge to the reader to depend on the Holy Spirit to bring enlightenment.

Taylor’s approach to the Bible drew upon those forces that had formed evangelicalism to date. The spiritual and cultural influences on Taylor illustrate the tangled web of movements and individuals that preceded him. For all of them the Bible was prominent as the basic source for an understanding of mission, but its impact was varied when it came to praxis. Sometimes the Bible was not as prominent in mission as is often assumed. The Reformation re-established the role of the Bible as the final arbiter of religious practice, but it did not immediately stimulate widespread Protestant mission outside the Western world. Little emphasis was given to the more overt mission texts of Scripture. However, by eventually releasing the Bible into the hands of ordinary people, the Reformation created the motivating power necessary for later developments. The orthodox doctrinal emphases of the Reformation needed to be modified by Puritan and Pietistic influences that centred the Christian faith in the personal as well as in the corporate life. The Song of Songs was an important text for illustrating this. The imagery of the book, often treated allegorically, coalesced with the more experiential spirituality of the Puritans as they sought to develop the Calvinistic theme of union with Christ.

Pietism was the bedrock for many of the later revival movements. It contributed to a paradigm shift in understanding the way the Christian life should be lived, by focusing on the plain text of Scripture with the literal sense given prominence. When orthodox theological approaches failed to provide what lay-believers needed to sustain their spiritual life, they sought succour in the Bible. This authentic Christian experience which highlighted practice and assurance of salvation was not viewed as opposed to doctrine. Instead it was seen as the proper outworking of doctrine. In their re-readings of Scripture, the Pietists reinterpreted theology in a personal and intense way that not only widened their understanding of Christ but also inspired groups like the Moravian Brethren under Zinzendorf to attempt mission outside of Europe. In teaching that a direct, unmediated experience of God was possible, the Pietists played a vital role in the emergence of personal evangelism and the development of Protestant mission world-wide. Their teaching emphasised the new birth, close fellowship among bands of true believers, and a practical outworking of faith and sanctification. It illustrated the ability of biblical truth to promote holy living and devotion to Christ. These continental influences for spiritual renewal led to significant developments in the spiritual formation of men like John Wesley and in the awakenings in North America. Eventually these revivals produced many church groupings that emphasised personal spiritual power based on a return to biblical faith and piety—an emphasis that Taylor continued to forge in his ministry.

The authority of the Bible               

Taylor’s views on Scripture need to be set against the background of the nineteenth century, in which a greater diversity of theological ideas began to affect the Christian community.[13] Those expressing new views often maintained that in leaving behind traditional teaching they had been freed from a prison of ignorance and unbelief. There was undoubtedly a shift underway and much of it had to do with the inspiration and authority of the Bible. On the one hand, there was growing scepticism about basic Christian belief, and on the other hand, enormous energy continued to be devoted to the areas of Christian co-operation, social reform, evangelism, and world mission.

Taylor claimed to base everything on the Bible and eschewed the new developments in theology. He used the Bible as a “burden and a cry” to highlight the spiritual need of the Chinese and the need for workers.[14] Taylor was always clear that his belief in the inspiration of Scripture was foundational, not only for what he taught, but also for the working of the CIM. He often stated that the very existence of the work of the CIM confirmed the reliability of the promises found in Scripture and he invited people with similar views on the inspiration of Scripture to join him.[15]

Taylor, his wife, four children, and sixteen missionaries sailed for China on the Lammermuir in 1866.

Thirty-one years after the sailing of the Lammermuir, Taylor recounted some of the founding principles of the CIM, which he often did when gathering CIM members together. The second principle, which is important for our subject, was that God has spoken to his people. According to Taylor, “the Bible, the whole Bible, is the very word of the living God; that ‘all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable,’ that through it the man of God may be completely furnished for any and every good work.”[16] For Taylor, the Bible was the “Book of certainties” and he had no need for external evidence to prove its inspiration.[17] Taylor saw a huge gulf between the Bible and the works of men, writing: “the science of yesterday is worthless today; but history and the discoveries of our own times only confirm the reliability of these ancient sacred records.”[18]

Taylor saw the verbal and plenary inspiration of Scripture as depending on the very words used and sometimes even on the accidence of the word. An illustration of the first can be seen in Jesus’ arguments for the resurrection when he noted that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. The word “God,” wrote Taylor, “indicates the relationship of a living God with a living people.”[19] An illustration of the second is when Paul argued that Christ is the seed of David (Galatians 3:16) and of the importance of the singular “seed” over against the plural “seeds.” Taylor used these examples to urge that Christians should build on each word and even on its mood and tense.[20] For Taylor the words of Scripture were the very words of God. Thus, he argued that Proverbs 24:11–12 was addressed to the readers, making them responsible before the judgement seat of Christ.

In writing about his first visit to North America in 1886, Taylor observed that the American mission societies did not seem ready to send people out and pondered why they had not seen that the Bible says “go” rather than “be sent.” He remarked: “I believe in verbal inspiration, and that God could have said ‘be sent’ if he had wished it, instead of ‘go’. I hoped I might be able to encourage some to go.”[21]

Taylor’s view of inspiration emphasised the value of the historical books of the Old Testament. He maintained that they were of “special value” for the knowledge of creation and for their use in the New Testament. He saw the ceremonial ordinances in the life of the Old Testament believer as unveiling deep truths to be revealed in the last times. They were beacons and guide-points that helped present-day readers.[22] In writing on Numbers 6:27, Taylor considered the putting of the name of God on the children of Israel as an act that designated them as the people of God. The purpose of God was that God’s character and beauty should be shown among his people in their unchanging relationship to him. Taylor still saw biblical Israel as a distinct people group, maintaining a witness in the world despite its unfaithfulness, but the responsibility of bearing witness to God had now passed to the church. He commented on the importance of naming in the Old Testament, especially the various names of God which were “full of significance.” He took the opportunity to castigate as “ignorant” those contemporary scholars who supposed that the various names for God meant that different authors were responsible for each name. They had failed to see “the beautiful appropriateness of the various names of God as they are used in different connections.”[23]

Thus, the Bible must be a priority for Christians above other Christian literature and even sermons. In Taylor’s mind there was an inextricable link between strong belief in the verbal inspiration of the Bible and obedience to what it said.[24] The text of Scripture was paramount for Taylor; the problem was that it was often read in a disjointed manner, as a matter of duty, rather than as a part of worship. He called for the reader to invoke the Spirit of truth for help with understanding.[25] Taylor used the Old Testament leader Ezra as an example of a man who determined to know the law of the Lord that he might obey it and teach it to others. This became a model for others to follow.[26] Nevertheless, what was taught in the Old Testament was more fully developed in the New Testament. The blessings of the old covenant were for a season, whereas the blessings of the new covenant were permanent and fully developed. Taylor cited the atonement, the Nazarite vow of separation in Numbers 6, and the gift of the Holy Spirit as examples of this.[27]

Actual spiritual experience was vital for Taylor. He argued that conversion made a radical difference to one’s attitude to the Bible. The unregenerate person was unable to profit from it, even though he might appreciate it. He was unable fully to understand the word, for it appeared to be the “imaginations of men.” Conversion provided the illumination which enabled a feeding on the word during reading,[28] and a recognition of the Bible as the words of God and not of man. Taylor maintained that the Bible became a natural part of the life of the Christian and that in every part he could find testimony to the work of Christ whilst also gaining some understanding on the past and the future.[29] Growth in understanding the inspiration of the Bible gave confidence for the reader to found his life upon it and thus, in turn, to experience a deeper peace and to give more fruitful service.[30] Taylor considered that the best evidence for faith was Christians who imitated their master. This obedience was itself proof of inspiration.[31] Taylor was impressed by the example of the apostle Paul, describing the records about him as “remarkable.”[32] Here was an outworking of the kenosis of Christ. Paul, in his missionary career, emptied himself of advantages of birth, of position, and of education in spiritual barter to know Christ and Taylor urged such a pattern upon his readers. This informed Taylor’s aim in his teaching. “We have not come together to discover fresh truths, to get new experiences, but to remember the way in which Peter, Paul and all the apostles were made stronger, the way in which all believers of every age have achieved wonders; we want a fresh look at Christ.”[33]

Taylor’s motivation for mission in China was drawn from his particular understanding of the Bible. The parlous spiritual state of China could only be resolved by applying the teaching of the Bible. He maintained this mind set, consistently reminding his workers of the essential reasons for their work in China: “You are not sent to preach death and sin and judgement, but life and holiness and salvation—not to be a witness against the people, but to be a witness for God—to preach the good news—Christ himself. You have to win the people’s esteem and confidence and love.”[34] Though CIM missionaries were involved in helping opium addicts, relieving famine, and showing concern for other social needs, the priority was always the preaching of the gospel. Taylor was perplexed that many were more responsive to human needs than in doing the “one work” for which Christ has left his church on earth.[35] Although it was “Christ-like” to minister to temporal needs, Taylor emphasised the eternal needs of the soul and the famine of the bread of life.[36] Nevertheless, it should be noted that Taylor warned against a spiritualising of the texts concerning the poor in the Old Testament, which he thought was a common misreading among Protestants.[37] He cited the example of Christ in attending to the poor and needy during his earthly ministry. Such ministry reflects the character of God.

Hudson Taylor in 1893

Taylor did not speculate over the Bible, that is to say that he was aware but uninterested in pursuing contemporary developments in theological thinking. His views on the inspiration of Scripture gave him a negative attitude to any critical approach to the Bible which might impede his aims for the work in China. Instead, his efforts were channelled into a spiritual formation based on specific readings of biblical texts as illustrated by his use of The Song of Songs in his book Union and Communion. In common with many Victorians he used allegory and typology to interpret Old Testament texts. This gave him opportunities to find “types” of Christ in the Old Testament and exemplifies how Christological considerations dominated his reading of the Old Testament in the light of the mission texts of the New Testament. He believed in presenting the needs of the world to the church in the context of the direct appeals of Christ in the Scriptures. For Taylor the life and death of Christ was the best reason for the centrality of mission in the New Testament.

Taylor’s usual approach to biblical interpretation was to search for the spiritual meaning of a particular text. He often left the historical or “reasonable” explanation behind in order to seek for the spiritual experience that lay behind the text. Knowledge of the truth could come from personal experience which was then imposed upon the interpretation of Scripture. This emphasis on applying texts directly to himself and his focus on the spiritual meaning was one example of the elevation of experience over reason. He was able to read from the text those things that explained his own spiritual experience, repeatedly drawing on his pivotal spiritual experience of 1869 and other faith experiences.[38]

Taylor believed a sharpened form of missionary spirituality was essential for missionary work. Taylor drew from the Bible a spirituality which included devotion, meditation, prayer, and a lifestyle that had mission at its centre. Taylor’s “theological biography” emphasised praxis and the use of the Bible in active ministry. This meant that Jesus’ example in the incarnation in joining with humans to meet their basic needs was a template reproducible by the missionary. Taylor rejected intellectual approaches, emphasised the preaching of the crucified Christ, and honoured self-denying service amongst the Chinese. He was prepared to demonstrate theological flexibility over some doctrinal issues if the overall strategy for China remained fixed.[39] The common pursuit of holiness and mission were unchallenged priorities but they were the inherited assumptions of a theological approach that formed missiological parameters for Taylor’s ministry.

It is clear that Taylor’s devotional use of the Bible inspired many towards personal involvement in mission, and fidelity to the Bible vied with pragmatic considerations in Taylor’s actual practice of mission. Taylor’s aim in his preaching and teaching was to stimulate the heart and the soul of the potential missionary rather than nailing down the intricacies of mission policy or methods of work. The latter followed in due time but could never become the main focus of his exhortations to the Christian public. He was facilitating the work of many individuals rather than those of a corporate body. It was those who were motivated in such a way who became members of faith missions. As a new movement they arose alongside existing denominational missions and did not replace them. Taylor himself acknowledged his debt to the “old missions”, as he called them, but the faith missions were another expression of mission with entirely differing aims, practices, and theological emphases.

Concluding thoughts on Taylor’s approach to the Bible

Three critical observations of Taylor’s use of the Bible are important for a judicious assessment of the development of the CIM. Firstly, he failed to gather the strands of his teaching into a comprehensive theology of mission. Taylor’s hermeneutic gave priority to the immediate and individual application of isolated verses to meet contemporary situations or perceived spiritual needs. It was an approach incapable of supplying an overall framework of theological principles that would guide and control policy. His teaching and advice to those within the CIM concerning the practice of mission were based more on personal observation and experience, some of it forged in his years with the Chinese Evangelisation Society (CES).[40] Within the CIM, there were no significant challenges to the dominant position of the Bible for questions of theological principles of mission to be considered. The development of critical theology was beginning to pose a challenge but, for the majority of those involved in the CIM, the overriding priority of the task predominated over biblical reflection. This meant that Taylor’s hermeneutic used Scripture as a justification for policies driven by mostly pragmatic considerations. He did not make the determination of the authorial intent of Scripture a priority, although his Christological centre and his belief in the inspiration of Scripture provided some check on an arbitrary use of the Bible.

Secondly, the highlighting of mission and personal holiness rooted in the practices of prayer and Bible study did not necessarily equip the CIM missionaries and supporters to meet the intellectual challenges to the Christian faith. It was this emphasis that accounts for the criticisms of Taylor for having diminished theological concerns in mission. Even a key theme in his teaching—for example, the kenotic example of Christ—was seen as a product of an activist rather than a reflective biblical method for evangelism.[41]

Thirdly, Taylor’s use of the Bible illustrates that, despite the theological turmoil of the Victorian era and the significant cultural developments, not all Christian leaders felt it necessary to re-think their theology in response to the challenges posed by evolutionary science and the growth of higher criticism. Taylor was a notable example of those who sidestepped these challenges by cultivating a piety that attempted to preserve the emphases that had ebbed and flowed from the Reformation. He placed the authority of the Bible in the spiritual realm entirely outside the sphere of rational and historical argumentation. This was both Taylor’s strength and his weakness. His biblical spirituality provided an enduring template for international evangelical mission in the twentieth century, but it would also expose evangelicalism to a profound intellectual crisis in due course. By separating spirituality from definite theological reflection, the CIM missionaries enhanced a form of spiritual formation in their converts that lacked the tools required to advance a biblical response in the face of intense opposition to a conservative approach to Scripture.

Those attracted by Taylor’s message of consecration and self-denial and who had experienced the power of the holiness movements in their own lives found the “unworldliness” of the CIM attractive. However, this emphasis should not obscure the fact that theology was also important to them. The above motivations were seen as eminently biblical as were the practices of mission that issued from them. This is an important observation, for the activism and the focus of men like Taylor made sure that an experiential understanding of the Bible was exported around the world at a time when more critical ideas were surfacing in the West. In its example of the transfer of a “simple faith” from one culture to another it later became one of the sources from which a fundamentalist theology developed in many Chinese settings.[42] Taylor’s involvement with the Niagara Bible conferences in North America was important for bringing mission into this particular fold. The CIM acted as an important instrument for the defence and propagation of conservative theology in China. The missionaries had neither the time, the academic training, nor the inclination to pursue the insights of biblical criticism in the light of the perceived spiritual needs of the “heathen”. This had far-reaching consequences, shaping Chinese Christian spiritual life in the early twentieth century and laying a template that is still influential.[43]

For Taylor, the primary function of the Bible was to provide a basis for personal spirituality which was the pre-requisite for any involvement in mission. Taylor’s, often negative, personal experiences as a missionary with the CES formed his thinking as to the praxis of mission and his personal faith experiences gave him the theological foundation for his actions. His disciplined approach to the Bible and his enthusiasm for seeing it put into practice overrode all other theological influences in contemporary thought. Faith in God and trust in his provision executed by abiding in Christ took priority over using the Bible as a source for any particular mission practice within the CIM.

Painting of Hudson Taylor by Alice Bush

[1] This article is an edited and reorganised chapter from Chris Wigram, The Bible and Mission in Faith

   Perspective: J. Hudson Taylor and the Early China Inland Mission (Utrecht, NL: Boekencentrum, 2007).

[2] Xu Yongze, in Paul Hattaway, Back to Jerusalem (Carlisle: Piquant, 2003), 7.

[3] The word ‘heathen’ may be considered a pejorative today, but there was common usage of the term among people in colonial times. Taylor’s concern to bring ‘the heathen from darkness to light’ was a basic assumption for many involved in the modern missionary movement in the nineteenth century. This was not only confined to Protestantism. Taylor’s theological beliefs about the destiny of those without Christ were not his only motivation for mission. From the beginning, Taylor noted the great mental power of the Chinese and predicted an influential future around the world especially through the diaspora—the Chinese were observed to be earnest, industrious, laborious, and frugal. See China’s Millions (December 1878): 170–172.

[4] A .J. Broomhall, Survivor’s Pact (Sevenoaks: OMF and Hodder & Stoughton, 1984), 430, note 17.

[5] Griffith John, “In Memoriam: Rev. J. Hudson Taylor,” The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal 36, no. 8 (August 1905): 392, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[6] John Stevenson, “An ‘Appreciation’ by Rev. J. W. Stevenson,” China’s Millions (September 1905): 118, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[7] J. H. Taylor, “Unfailing Springs,” China’s Millions (November 1902): 146, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[8] J. H. Taylor, China’s Millions, preface to 1887 bound edition, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[9] J. H. Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – II,” China’s Millions (May 1890): 55, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[10] J. H. Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – III,” China’s Millions (June 1890): 69, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[11] Stanley Smith, “Report of a Conference at T’ai-yuan fu,” China’s Millions (December 1886): 162, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[12] Andrew Walls, “The American Dimension in the Missionary Movement,” in Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicals and Foreign Missions, 18801980,ed. Joel Carpenter and Wilbert Shenk (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 17.

[13] Laura-Jane Carson, “The Nineteenth Century Disappearance of God: Perceptions of God in Hardy and Hopkins” (PhD thesis, Queen’s University of Belfast, 2000), 2.

[14] Marshall Broomhall, ed., Hudson Taylor’s Legacy; A Series of Meditations (London: CIM, 1931), 13.

[15] J. H. Taylor, “Meetings in the Conference Hall, Mildmay Park,” China’s Millions (July/August 1887): 92, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[16] J. H. Taylor, “Rock-foundations,” China’s Millions (July 1897): 85, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[17] Taylor, China’s Millions, preface to 1887 bound edition.

[18] Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – II,” 55.

[19] J. H. Taylor, “God’s Guardian Care,” China’s Millions (February 1884): 14, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[20] Taylor, “God’s Guardian Care,” 14.

[21] Howard and Geraldine Taylor, God’s Man in China (Chicago: Moody, 1965), 295.

[22] J. H. Taylor, CIM Archives, CIM/JHT Box 10, Sermon notes on Genesis 48:15–16.

[23] J. H. Taylor, “Separation, Blessing, and Service: Thoughts on Numbers VI, VII,” China’s Millions, British ed. (December 1893): 155, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[24] Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – II,” 55.

[25] J. H. Taylor, CIM Archives, CIM/JHT Box 7, Volume 9.

[26] Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – II,” 56.

[27] Taylor, “Separation, Blessing, and Service,” 15.

[28] Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – II,” 55.

[29] Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – II,” 55.

[30] Taylor, “Blessed Prosperity: Meditations on the First Psalm – II,” 56.

[31] Taylor, “Unfailing Springs,” 146.

[32] J. H. Taylor, “Apostolic Example,” China’s Millions (June 1885): 63, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[33] Smith, “Report of a Conference,” 162.

[34] A. J. Broomhall, Refiner’s Fire (Sevenoaks: OMF and Hodder & Stoughton, 1985), 258.

[35] J. H. Taylor, “The Results of Coming to the King,” China’s Millions (August 1889): 116, (accessed 25 June 2018).

[36] Taylor, “The Results,” 116.

[37] Broomhall, Hudson Taylor’s Legacy, 33.

[38] Taylor wrote about his pivotal spiritual experience of 1869 in the November 1902 edition of China’s Millions. There had been a period of deep spiritual struggle accompanied by feelings of unworthiness despite prayer, fasting, and meditation on the Bible. It was while reading John 4 that what had seemed interesting ancient history became for the first time “a present message” to his soul and he asked and received the Living Water by faith in God’s promise, not based on any feeling. He shared how this was followed by new spiritual power in his Bible readings and a sense of the Spirit’s help amidst personal sorrows and innumerable perplexities of running the early CIM. See Taylor, “Unfailing Springs,” 146.

[39] Taylor did not entertain strong ecclesiological convictions. In Ningbo he fed new converts into the Presbyterian and CMS (Church Missionary Society) churches. What was most important for Taylor was not so much the church they joined but the expression of conversion and faith. The early CIM did not even register the denominational background of its members although Taylor knew that all of the leading Protestant denominations were involved with him. Taylor resisted tight definition of the working of the CIM and church government was one area in which he defied precision. He responded to criticism of the mission concerning church order and practice and denied that the CIM favoured one specific view of baptism. He knew how contentious issues like baptism could become. Taylor believed that many joined the CIM because of liberty in this area of doctrine. Taylor wrote: ‘Though a Baptist myself, as the head of a pan-denominational mission I have for 20 years refused to correspond or have personal intercourse with any member of the mission, in the matter of giving instruction on this point’.

[40] The Chinese Evangelisation Society (CES) founded by Karl Gützlaff was a “classical specialized mission” because its aim was not to plant churches but rather to evangelise the whole of China through the spread of literature and to prepare the Chinese to do this ministry. Some of them managed to travel inland. Despite its overall failure, the CES was described by Taylor as exactly representing the plan of operation of the CIM. It launched Taylor and others on their careers in China.

[41] Lauen Pfister, “Re-thinking Mission in China: James Hudson Taylor and Timothy Richard,” Currents in World Christianity, Position Paper, no. 68, University of Cambridge (1998), 32.

[42] Alvyn Austin, “Pilgrims and Strangers: the China Inland Mission in Britain, Canada, the United States and China 1865–1901” (PhD thesis, York University, 1996), 11, 14.

[43] Pfister, “Re-thinking Mission in China,” 3.

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