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FOR OCTOBER, 1822.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. SAMUEL TAYLOR:
BY THE REV. JOHN RILES.
RELIGIOUS BIOGRAPHY, in modern times, is not generally marked by those strong features, which were conspicuous in periods of persecution, or when the Ministers and People of GOD were placed in circumstances of extraordinary danger, and called to prove their sincerity by an invincible firmness, courage, and constancy. A life characterized by various and striking trials, must necessarily furnish to the narrator much matter for useful observation, and to the reader many interesting incidents, to keep his attention awake. But of multitudes of true Christians, nothing can with much advantage or propriety be publicly recorded; nor any other notice taken of them, than that they lived and died, except in the circle of their mourning relations and immediate friends. When there has been nothing out of the common course, either in their conversion to God, their walk among men, or the manner of their departure from life, all that could be said is, that they lived exemplarily, and that there is good reason to believe that they died in peace with God and man. But when a PASTOR is taken from his flock, or a MINISTER removed to his eternal reward, whose praise is in all the churches, it often happens that the feelings of the pious and devout are peculiarly awakened; and their minds may be profitably called to the recollection of a long series of benevolent acts, or to many instances of unwearied patience in striving to win souls to CHRIST, which occurred in the life of the deceased. A Preacher of the Gospel, whose personal piety has corresponded with the truths he has taught, who has "stood a way-mark to heaven," and who has been distinguished by a burning zeal for the spread of scriptural religion, by unremitting attention to the spiritual prosperity of his charge, and by the disinterested sacrifice of every selfish consideration for the good of mankind;--such a man deservedly lives in the memory of all who knew his worth, and his death is an event to which the Apostle's admonition is justly applicable : "Remember them which had the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith VOL. I. Third Series. OCTOBER, 1822. 3 Q
follow, considering the end of their conversation: JESUS Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.”
The late REV. SAMUEL TAYLOR was born near Manchester, May 5, 1768. His parents were attached to the Established Church, to whose public services he usually accompanied them, from his earliest years. His tender mind, by this regular attendance at the house of GOD, became impressed with the solemnities of divine worship, and acquired a reverential regard for the instituted ordinances of the LORD. The admirable Liturgy, which he heard read every Sunday, and in which all the parts of public devotion are so happily united, was well calculated to encourage and promote a spirit of youthful piety. Being full of scriptural phrascology, and accompanied with so large a portion of God's own pure Word, in the Psalms and Lessons for the Day, it may be justly expected to produce a right tone of moral sentiment; because the ALMIGHTY has promised his presence, where his word is read, and it is reasonable to suppose, that the divine influence, thus specially vouchsafed, will originate in the juvenile mind feelings highly favourable to a practical reception of the truth.
Of MR. TAYLOR's saving conversion to GOD, and of his introduction into the Christian Ministry, the following narrative is given, in a short account which he has left of some passages in his own life.
"While young, I providentially became acquainted with a member of the Methodist Society, who clearly explained to me the nature and necessity of experimental religion. I now began to think more seriously on the subject; and to entertain a more favourable opinion of the Methodists, and of the doctrine they taught; yet I chose rather to enjoy the pleasures of the world, than to suffer reproach with the people of God. While following the vain imaginations of my foolish heart, I heard a sermon on those words,' Lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God;' and though I was one of that description, I did not make the application to myself. However, I was soon convinced that reformation of life was absolutely necessary; but concluded that in such a reformation almost the whole of Christianity consisted. But God, who is rich in mercy,' did not suffer me to remain long in that deluded state; he discovered to me the depravity of my heart; and I then saw, and felt, that I had sinned, and come short of the glory of GoD. My mouth was stopped, and my soul humbled before the LORD; yet I was encouraged to believe that 'God is love ;' and I hoped in his mercy.
"Some christian friends, learning the state of my mind, introduced me into a private meeting of the Methodists, to whom I was soon united in affection and in christian fellowship, for which I still bless GOD. But this step did not secure to me the approbation of some of my friends. They supposed that the Methodists would make me melancholy; and tried various methods to alienate my affections from them, but without success. I loved them in preference to any people on the earth, and was determined to live and die with them. I was much encouraged by attending the public means of grace; particularly one LORD'S-day, while hearing a sermon.
The word of GOD was applied with power to my heart, and I began to seek the salvation of my soul with greater earnestness; and while I was engaged in fervent prayer, at the throne of grace, the burden of my sin was removed. I was made fully sensible that I was justified by faith, and had peace with God, through our LORD JESUS CHRIST; by whom I had access by faith into that state of grace, wherein I then stood, and now stand; rejoicing in hope of the glory of GOD. Christian communion, and conversation with pious people, were peculiarly beneficial to me. If I was in trouble, I was generally comforted by those words of DAVID, 'Call upon me in the time of trouble, and I will deliver thee.'
"I began now to feel a tender pity for my fellow-creatures, who were strangers to God and to themselves; which led me sometimes to speak to them in the name of the LORD. I frequently attended the public prayermeetings, where I occasionally gave a word of exhortation. At times, I thought that the LORD designed me for the Public Ministry; but had much reasoning in my mind upon so important a subject. However, I sincerely prayed for direction, that I might know the will of GoD concerning me. This I mentioned to one of the Preachers, who appointed me to preach one Sunday evening. When the time came, I feared greatly; but depending upon the LORD for help, I stood up, read a portion of Scripture, and spoke on it with considerable liberty. This, with the approbation of my christian friends who were present, greatly encouraged me. Several openings now presented themselves; my way appeared plain before me; and I was much comforted in having fruit of my labours.
"Prior to the Bristol Conference in 1790, one of the Preachers spoke to me about my becoming an Itinerant Preacher. He proposed me, in that character, at the Conference; and I was appointed to the Birstal Circuit, with MESSRS. PAWSON and PERCIVAL."
After MR. TAYLOR had finished the year at Birstal, he writes thus: "Now the year is closed, it may not be amiss to make a few reflections. I have been considerably indisposed, but have very seldom neglected my appointments. In the course of the year, I have preached four hundred and thirty sermons. We laboured under considerable difficulties in consequence of the dispute about the Chapel at Dewsbury; and our preaching was not, in all probability, so useful as it otherwise would have been. I have reason to be thankful, that I have made some little improvement in knowledge; and I find that preaching frequently to the same congregations, has been a spur to me in reading and study. After all, I have reason to implore the mercy of GoD, in consideration of my many defects and weaknesses. I desire to adore the Author of all my mercies, particularly for his goodness in calling me to seek his face, and to publish his Gospel. I hope that the residue of my days will afford evidence of a grateful heart, and that I shall be more abundantly useful in the Church of CHRIST."
At the Manchester Conference in 1791, MR. Taylor was appointed for the Birmingham Circuit, to labour with MESSRS. BRADBURN, G. GIBBON, and BARTHOLOMEW. The Circuit was then very extensive; and, among a great number of places which MR. T. visited, was Warwick, where he preached in the open street. There was likely to be much disturbance; mud was thrown plentifully; and he bore away the marks of the popular fury upon his coat. But there was a