J. Hudson Taylor

Pioneer Missionary to China





Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant Missionary who served in China for 51 years and founded the China Inland Mission. As a result of his efforts, over 800 missionaries came to China, 125 schools were established, 18,000 individuals became Christians. 300 mission stations, employing 500 local workers in addition to missionaries from other countries, were established in all of the 18 provinces of China. 


Some Quick Facts

Born: Barnsley, Yorkshire, England on May 22, 1832.

Parents: James Taylor (Pharmacist and Lay Pastor); Amelia Hudson (a Godly wife and mother).

Siblings: Amelia (he was closest to her); ?

Education: Royal College of Surgeons

Spouse(s) and related children:

Maria Jane Dyer Taylor: I believe 8 children. Here are some of them: Gracie (died at the age of 8), Jane (lived one hour), Noel (died after one week). Herbert Hudson, Frederick Howard, Maria Hudson, and Charles Edward all survived her and became CIM missionaries.

Jennie Faulding Taylor: Ernest Hamilton 1875-1948; Amy Hudson 1876-1953. Millie Duncan, a CM orphan, was adopted.

Died: June 3, 1905 (age of 73) in Changsha, Hunan, Qing China


Why Hudson Taylor?

Why learn about Hudson Taylor?

Hudson Taylor's life is remarkable in every way! He grew up in an exemplary home. He was dedicated at the time of his birth to be a missionary to China, though he was not told of this fact until after he went to China. His parents were authentic Christians and encouraged their children to be like them. Hudson found the Lord as a result of the prayers of his mother and sister, and reading a small tract in his father's study. He made himself available to God and eventually distinctly heard the voice of God calling him to China. He prepared for going to China by leading an austere, sober, other-centered, generous, completely dependent, life in London. He was tempted to abandon God's call to missions as a result of a romantic attraction. He crossed the ocean, faced great danger and saw the ship spared in answer to prayer. He entered China at a time when the country was convulsed in a revolution. Lack of funds from his sending society eventually caused him to seek cheaper housing, even though bullets and at least one canon ball hit the walls in the more dangerous location. He braved the dangers of the market place and war to begin witnessing almost immediately. His medical supplies were stolen later stolen but did not give up. He adopted Chinese ways of living and dressing to better reach the people. He was associated with the great revivalist William Chalmers Burns, who encouraged him to embrace suffering. Though discouraged from marrying Maria Dyer, God intervened and he found in her a perfect companion and ministry partner. They both experienced much sickness but never gave up. He believed in early conversions most of the time and God did not disappoint him. Hudson and his wives—he later married Jennie Faulding after Maria passed away—lived apart for the sake of the gospel at times when necessary. He had a deep experience with the Lord and is one of the most spiritual writers you can read. Later he did a fair amount of speaking in various venues. He also wrote many articles. There is much about Hudson Taylor that is highly instructive. On the pages associated with his mission, we will try to not only provide good reading material, but also consider important lessons from his life. You will be blessed. Realize that he wrote much and learned many things. So this page will be a work in progress.—Dan

Why Read the Writings of Hudson Taylor, or Books About Him?

The books about Hudson Taylor are as spiritual as any biographical/mission books that can be found. They are also studded with lessons that can be applied on a practical basis, to saying nothing of being wonderfully encouraging! And, because there mission work was opposed by the people he was trying to reach back then, many of the stories are exciting and will definitely hold your attention. In addition to that, when he is writing about his experiences or writing about his walk with Christ, he uses simple language that is easy to understand. You will discover that what he personally wrote in various publications and what he shared at various conferences, ranks with the deepest spirituality one can find. His own writings are less known, unfortunately, but I hope that will change. Hudson was a real, Bible-believing, completely-trusting, child-like, Christian. You should know more about him and spend time reading what he wrote. Your life will be better as a result.—Dan

His Name

In reading letters of his mother and sister to him, he is referred to a "Hudson." But when his articles were published in China's Millions, they were invariably signed "J. Hudson Taylor." In the books by his daughter, the title only uses "Hudson." As a result I try to give what was apparently the preferred rendering when he was writing, but also use the shorter "Hudson" when discussing him.—Dan


Quotes of Hudson Taylor

On this page you will find quotes of Hudson Taylor paired with appropriate Scripture.


Sermons and Articles of Hudson Taylor

Some of the following resources were published in China's Millions, the journal of Taylor's China Inland Mission
Some of the following resources were published in China's Millions, the journal of Taylor's China Inland Mission



Introduction To Hudson Taylor's Sermons And Articles

You will find one of the largest collections of sermons and talks given by Hudson Taylor ever gathered together in one place. A deeply spiritual Christian whose sermons were greatly appreciated, because of his being busy in mission sermon, few of them were recorded and preserved for future generations. However, careful sleuthing on the internet found some of those that were taken down and published in connection with the conferences where they were given. I am grateful that God allowed me to find and be blessed by these sermons, and I am pleased to make them available to others via the path2prayer.com site.—Dan


The True Christian Life: The Life of Christ Looking Backwards

Hudson shared this quote—someone else's quote—at a Northfield meeting, that encapsulates his strong convictions regarding the desirability of having a child-like relationship to Christ in all areas of life. I have looked for the talk but have never found it: "A very beautiful thought was given us by Professor Charteris at a united communion service at the close of Professor Drummond's series of meetings with the Edinburgh University men. Some seven hundred were present, and the service was very impressive. I wish I could give you the thought of Professor Charteris in his own words; but while I cannot do this, it is so beautiful in itself that you will value it though divested of the beauty of its dress. He remarked that there had been one life on earth in which there was progressive development from the cradle to the Cross, but one only; and that it appeared to him that a true Christian life was the life of Christ looking backwards-way. Beginning with the Cross, we receive cleansing through the precious blood, and regenerative life through faith in Christ Jesus; and then, going on from the Cross backwards to the cradle, there should be a progressive growth of the child-like spirit that will end by leaving us trusting all our weight in the Everlasting Arms as a child reposes in the arms of its mother."

The Missionary's Equipment

"A life yielded to God and controlled by His Spirit.

A restful trust in God for the supply of all needs.

A sympathetic spirit and a willingness to take a lowly place.

Tact in dealing with men, and adaptability toward circumstances.

Zeal in service and steadfastness in discouragement.

Love for communion with God and for the study of His word.

Some experience and blessing in the Lord's work at home.

A healthy body and a vigorous mind." Missionary Review of the World, August, 1909, p. 583

Blessed Prosperity


This is what the article looked like when it originally appeared in China's Millions.
This is what the article looked like when it originally appeared in China's Millions.


"There is a true prosperity which comes from Him and leads towards Him. It is not only consistent with perfect integrity and uncompromising holiness of heart and life, but it cannot be attained without them, and its enjoyment tends to deepen them. This divine prosperity is GOD’S purpose for every believer, in all that he undertakes; in things temporal and in things spiritual, in all the relations and affairs of this life, as well as in all work for CHRIST and for eternity, it is GOD’S will for each child of His that “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Read the rest of his article on true prosperity.)

Blessed Adversity

"Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss. Our LORD did not stop short at Judas, not did He even stop at the great enemy who filled the heart of Judas to do this thing; but He said: “the cup which My FATHER hath given me, shall I not drink it?” How the tendency to resentment and a wrong feeling would be removed, could we take an injury from the hand of a loving FATHER, instead of looking chiefly at the agent through whom it comes to us! It matters not who is the postman—it is with the writer of the letter that we are concerned: it matters not who is the messenger—it is with GOD that His children have to do. We conclude, therefore, that Job was not mistaken, and that we shall not be mistaken if we follow his example, in accepting all GOD’S providential dealings, as from Himself. We may be sure that they will issue in ultimate blessing; because GOD is GOD, and, therefore, “all things work together for good” to them that love Him." (Read the rest of Blessed Adversity at this link)

Hold God's Faithfulness

"how constantly, and alas, how successfully, are such arguments used to prevent whole-hearted trust in God, whole-hearted consecration to God. How many souls will be damned because they will not trust simply and solely to God's saving love and power! How many Christians go mourning, and lose joy, strength, and opportunities of helping others, because they do not hold God's faithfulness! How many estimate difficulties in the light of their own resources, and thus attempt little, and often fail in the little they attempt! All God's giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them." (Read the rest of Hold God's Faithfulness)

"From This Day I Will Bless You"

"Much of the bitter sectarian feeling of bygone days, much of the inadequate result of the teaching and preaching in our own times, is to be traced to the same cause. Some pray to be filled with the Spirit, and are not filled; preach the Gospel, and few are converted; try to build up and edify believers, and much effort is followed by little result. Why? Because of those in the highways and hedges at home who are uncared for; because of the millions abroad who are unsought. God cannot, will not, does not, bless those who are living in disobedience. But only set out in the path of obedience, and at once, before one stone is laid upon another, God is eager, as it were, to pour out His blessing. "From this day will I bless you." (Read the rest of "From This Day I Will Bless You")

Hudson Taylor: God's Guardian Care

In this short article Taylor reminds: "It is cheering to remember that for the sake of HIS own Name, and of HIS own glory, as well as for the sake of HIS great love, the full supply of all our needs is guaranteed by our relationship to HIM as our Shepherd. A lean, scraggy sheep, with torn limbs and tattered fleece, would be small credit to the shepherd's care; but unless we will wander from HIM, and will not remain restfully under HIS protection, there is no fear of such ever being our lot. We may lie down in peace, and sleep in safety, because the Shepherd of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. No lion or bear can ever surprise our ever-watchful Guardian, or overcome our Almighty Deliverer. He has once laid down His life for the sheep; but now He ever liveth to care for them, and to ensure to them all that is needful for this life, and for that which is to come." (Read all of Taylor's God's Guardian Care.)

Abiding in Christ

"Young people whose hearts are stirred about missionary work are apt to say: “Well, you know, I am surrounded by very unfavorable circumstances-surrounded by such a set of college companions; or at home the influences are against me. If I could only go to India or China, I could shine for Jesus.” Why, dear friends, a candle that won't shine in one room is very unlikely to shine in another. If you don't shine at home-if your father and mother, your sister and brother, if the very cat and dog in the house are not the better and happier for your being a Christian, it is a question whether you really are one. It isn't our surroundings and circumstances that are the all-important thing; but how far we are linked-how close is the union between our souls and God. What do we know about Him? What is He to us? This is the all-important question." (Read the rest of Abiding in Christ)

All Sufficiency

"How often, when we have been dissatisfied with the ways of GOD, we ought to have been dissatisfied with our own ways! We did not think, perhaps, that in some matter or other we were not walking uprightly. If not so, however, then the thing we desired was not for our good, and therefore was not given; or the thing we feared was essential to our good, and hence was not withheld. We are often mistaken: GOD, never. “No good thing will He withhold”: shall we be so foolish, so wayward, as after this to desire that which our Father in heaven withholds?" (Read the rest of All Sufficiency)

The Secret of Success

"Have we learned this lesson? Are we willing to learn it? “As the Father hath sent Me into the world, even so I send you." Or, are we going to repeat the oftmade experiment-which always has failed and always must fail-of trying to improve upon God's plan? The poverty and weakness of apostolic missions necessitated reliance on God alone, and issued in wondrous success, and in modern missions it will invariably be found that in proportion to the non-reliance on wealth or education or political power, and in proportion to the self-emptying with which they are carried on, the issues are encouraging." (Read the rest of the Secret of Success)

A Missionary: Outward Renunciation

This article was written by a "missionary," and first appeared in The Christian. However, it apparently so mirrored Mission's values that it was included in China's Millions in . There is good reason for the inclusion! It speaks to a major reason for weakness in the church today. Here is a sample paragraph: ""There must be a real forsaking of all, a coming down from our social heights; a deep, deliberate, practical renunciation of the world with its lust of the eye and pride of life, as well as the coarser lusts of the flesh—its luxuries, its artificial system of living, its artistic and aesthetic pleasures and occupations; an entering upon a life of evident simplicity and self-renunciation; and all by deliberate choice, rejoicing that we have somewhat to surrender for His dear Name’s sake. This is what GOD calls for. This is the price of spiritual power, or rather the door into the gymnasium where GOD trains His athletes." (Read the rest of Self Renunciation.)

Consecration and Blessing

"We must ever bear in mind that we have in God's will, as revealed in the Scripture, an absolute standard of right and wrong; and no ignorance on our part, or want of opportunity on our part, can make the wrong to be right. If a person does that which is contrary to God's revealed will in ignorance, it may not at the time hinder communion; but as soon as it is revealed to him that the thing done is contrary to God's will, it must be confessed, not as a misfortune, but as a sin, and the atoning blood must be upon it before communion can be fully and satisfactorily re-established." (Read the rest of this wonderful sermon on consecrating our all to God and receiving His Blessings as a result!)

Spiritual Science

"When the Lord of Glory came to bring in the highest blessing, and to break the power of the Enthraller, He chose the lowest place as the place best adapted to accomplish His purpose. In like manner we learn from the passage which heads this paper, and from other similar passages, that in order to enrich us, poor bankrupts, He intelligently and cheerfully emptied Himself of all His riches; and this He did, not by distributing them among us, but by leaving them behind - as neither needed nor suited to effect His purpose." (Read Spiritual Sciences)

Spiritual Preparation of the Missionary Volunteer

"Let me tell you I cannot look back on one instance of disappointment where in a right spirit I have followed the direction of God's Word, or one instance of disappointment where I have put my trust on the simple promise of God. I believe we want to get to look upon this Book as our guide and director, to come to it in the same spirit that I would take up one of your railway timetables. When the schedule states the train will leave at a certain hour, I expect it to leave. Now, look upon your Bibles just as you look upon your railroad guide: expect to find the information you need and expect that that information will be reliable, and you will not be disappointed." (Read Spiritual Preparation of the Missionary Volunteer.)

The Missionary's Qualifications

This is one of the BEST articles I have ever read on the necessary qualifications of missionary candidates. Here is one paragraph:

"He should have shown himself useful and ready to help, and that in some measure at least his character should already have influenced and impressed others. But more than this, a missionary should be unselfish, considerate of and attentive to the feelings and needs of others. He should be patient—not apathetic, but able to bear opposition calmly and with long-suffering; he should be persevering also, not easily discouraged. With this is needed power to influence and to lead. I must not omit to mention one most important characteristic of a successful missionary—absence of pride of race; for nothing so much repels those amongst whom we labour, and 'The Lord resisteth the proud.' Power to come down to the level of those he seeks to save, and to become one with them, is most important." (Read all of Hudson's Taylor on the Missionary's Qualifications)

The Exchanged Life

This chapter from Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret describes how Hudson came into a new experience as a result of a quotation shared with him by a fellow missionary.

Taylor was a struggling Christian much of his life. As a teen he pretty much gave up on God. But one afternoon he decided to read a tract that he found in his pastor father's study, figuring that he would read the story and ignore the Bible admonition. But coming upon the words "the finished work of Christ," he saw what he had been missing and became a rejoicing Christian. As you probably know, he eventually went to China and there did a great work for God. However, in spite of his busy service for God he still found himself constantly struggling. Then one day a missionary affiliated with him in China sent him a letter that contained a quote that changed his life. This "Exchanged Life" chapter describes his experience. It is one of the most important chapters in Christian biography on victory. Read it prayerfully and expectantly for a blessing in your own life. (Read the rest of the "Exchanged Life" chapter)

Henry Law's Christ is All

For many years people attributed the quote to Steven Tyng and his book Christ Is All. Being a book hound I went to the trouble to find it and read it. The words were not found there. With the help of Google search and Google Books, I discovered the quote in Henry Law's Christ Is All, which you can read in the next link.

"Reader, would you be holy? There is only one way. All other roads lead down to deeper mire. Christ must come in. All is dark death, except where Jesus lives. All is pure life and loveliness, where Jesus reigns. Draw near and nearer to the Gospel-page. There gaze on Christ, until the soul’s features melt into His likeness. The Gospel heard, and read, and loved, are the bright wings on which the Spirit flies. The Spirit’s presence brings the Savior near. The Savior welcomed, is all Holiness begun. The Savior cherished, is all Holiness advancing. The Savior never absent, is Holiness complete. Holiness complete, is heaven’s full blaze. (Italics added for emphasis)" (Read the rest of the chapter that was so transforming for Hudson Taylor.)

Pressing Forward

“The believer does not need to wait until he sees the reason of God’s afflictive dealings with him ere he is satisfied; he knows that all things work together for good to them that love God; that all God’s dealings are those of a loving Father, who only permits that which for the time being is grievous in order to accomplish results that cannot be achieved in any less painful way. The wise and trustful child of God rejoices in tribulation… Our Heavenly Father delights to trust a trustworthy child with a trial in which he can bring glory to God, and through which he will receive permanent enlargement of heart and blessing for himself and others.” First appeared as one of my blogs on witnessing.—Dan (Read about how Taylor worked in China)

Surrender Brings the Call

"That very day God responded, as he shared after the fact: 'If God would only save me completely, then I would do ANYTHING in His cause He might direct.' Never shall I forget 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.” This is taken from a blog that I wrote.—Dan (Read more about Hudson's surrender.)

The Source of Power

"We are a supernatural people, born again by a supernatural birth, kept by a supernatural power, sustained on supernatural food, taught by a supernatural Teacher, from a supernatural Book. We are led by a supernatural Captain in right paths to assured victories. The risen Saviour, ere He ascended on high, said “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, Go ye therefore “Disciple, baptize, teach all nations. “And, Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world.” And again, “Ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Not many days after this, in answer to united and continued prayer, the Holy Ghost did come upon them and they were all filled. Praise God, He remains with us still. The power given is not a gift from the Holy Ghost. He, Himself, is the Power. To-day He is as truly available and as mighty in power as He was on the day of Pentecost. But has the whole Church ever, since the days before Pentecost, put aside every other work and waited for Him for ten days, that that power might be manifested? Has there not been a source of failure here? We have given too much attention to methods, and to machinery, and to resources, and too little to the Source of Power; the filling with the Holy Ghost. This, I think you will agree with me, is the great weakness, has been the great weakness of our service in the past, and unless remedied will be the great weakness in the future. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. If we are not filled we are living in disobedience and sin, and the cause of our sin is the cause of Israel’s sin of old, is the sin of unbelief." (Read all of this sermon)

Holy Spirit Needed

"Few of us, perhaps, are satisfied with the results of our work, and some may think that if we had more, or more costly machinery we should do better. But oh, I feel that it is divine power we want and not machinery! If the tens or hundreds we now reach daily are not being won to Christ, where would be the gain in machinery that would enable us to reach double the number? Should we not do well, rather, to suspend our present operations and give ourselves to humiliation and prayer for nothing less than to be filled with the Spirit, and made channels through which He shall work with resistless power?"

Harriet Beecher Stowe: How To Live On Christ 

Taylor sent a tract entitle How To Live On Christ by Harriet Beecher Stowe after he experienced the "Exchanged Life." The source for his tract remained a mystery for many years. Several years ago, using the internet tools available today, I was able to locate the words, and found they were in a preface Stowe penned as an Introduction for a biography of a young woman.

"There is such a way of living with, or in Christ, that watchfulness, prayer, devotion, patience, gentleness, meekness, become so many sweet and spontaneous impulses, instead of labored acquisitions, alternately the subjects of hope and of despair; and this is true freedom." (Read Stowe's Introduction and learn where Taylor found the information for the tract)

George Müller: Excerpt of Letter to Hudson Taylor 

"And the point to which as an older brother allow me to draw your attention is this: For the first 3 years that I preached, I saw scarcely any fruit resulting from my labors, but when 4 years, 3 months since it pleased God to bring me into such a state, that I was willing to be content to be only the instrument provided any good was done, and was willing to give to God all the glory if any good was accomplished, it pleased Him to allow me at once to see fruit, yea much fruit resulting from my labours." (Read the excerpt of the letter to Hudson Taylor.)

H. B. Macartney: Taylor's Peace

Regardless of the heavy responsibilities carried by Hudson Taylor, he always seemed to carry himself with much peace. This document communicates the impression that one pastor had in that regard of Taylor.

“'My dear Macartney,' he replied, 'the peace you speak of is in my case more than a delightful privilege, it is a necessity.' He said most emphatically, 'I could not possibly get through the work I have to do without the peace of God ‘which passeth all understanding’ keeping my heart and mind.'” (Read the rest of the article on the peace that characterized Taylor's life.)

Taylor: Ribband of Blue 

"It is our privilege to take our rest and recreation for the purpose of pleasing Him; to lay aside our garments at night neatly (for He is in the room, and watches over us while we sleep), to wash, to dress, to smooth the hair, with His eye in view; and, in short, in all that we are and in all that we do to use the full measure of ability which GOD has given us to the glory of His holy Name? Were we always so to live, how beautiful Christian life would become! how much more worthy a witness we should bear to the world of Him whose witnesses we are!” (Read the entire sermon)

Compassion On the Multitude

This was the opening sermon of a missionary conference held in Shanghai, May 7-20, 1890 that looks at the role complete consecration and order play in successfully bringing the gospel to other places. (Read the rest of this wonderful sermon).

Ruth, A Full Reward and How To Secure It

"May we not say that in every position of life when we are weak in ourselves, our friends, our circumstances, then are we strongest in Him? And when in our great needs, for ourselves or for the souls around us, we lay hold on God and say, “My soul, wait thou ONLY upon God, for my expectation is from Him," what rest and security and certainty come into the waiting soul. And all! when labouring in this spirit how words like those of our heavenly Boaz come home to the heart. “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust." Happy toiler in China! if it is sometimes dark, the shadow is but the shadow of His wing, under which thou art abiding, under which thou art come to trust." (Read the rest of this short devotional on the book of Ruth)


Resources on Prayer

Pray Down the Wind

This story comes from Taylor's first journey to China.

"After a few minutes of earnest intercession, Taylor returned to the deck confident that their prayers had been heard. Finding the first officer, non believer, in charge, he asked him to let down the corners of the mainsail. 'What would be the good of that?' he asked. Hudson told him that four of them had been asking God to send a wind, that it was coming immediately and that there was not a moment to lose, since they were so near the reefs. Looking contemptuously, the officer replied with an oath: “Nonsense! You can’t pray up a wind.” Noticing a few moments later that the topmost sail was beginning to tremble, he said: 'That is only a cat’s-paw-a mere puff of wind.' 'Never mind what you think,' cried Hudson. 'Let down the mainsail quickly.' (Read the entire story.)


Books and Resources

Hudson had a deep experience with the Lord, ventured much for the Lord and was constantly writing about what was going on. As a result we know a great deal about his work, his thoughts about his work, and the spiritual applications about his experiences. There are quite a few biographical books, between his autobiographical Retrospect, the many biographical works of his daughter-in-law, Geraldine Taylor, and the books of his son-in-law, Marshall Broomhall, as well as other excellent biographies—Roger Steer's book, for example, is excellent. In addition there are shorter works that include a few sermons. He also wrote occasional editorials for China's Millions and gave speeches on missions at various places in the world, that would occasionally end up in periodicals. Needless to say, there is plenty to read!

Retrospect (Tiny File)    Retrospect (Larger File)

This is his own autobiography. I have shared stories from this book in many places and people are always blessed. This should be a "must read" for the person seeking to know about Hudson Taylor.

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

This is Hudson Taylor's spiritual biography in the minds of some people. Retrospect shares some of the same information, but the "Secrets" book has more, but still condensed compared to Hudson Taylor in Early Years. This book is also available in Spanish as Secreto Espiritual de Hudson Taylor."

Hudson Taylor in Early Years - Growth of a Soul

This is the longer version of Spiritual Secret. I think you should read it if you can, for it provides much detail about how Hudson Taylor became a deeply spiritual man. You can read the book online as well in pdf form.

Hudson Taylor: The Man Who Believed God - Broomhall

This is a favorite biography by Hudson Taylor's son-in-law.

Hudson Taylor Man of God - Broomhall

Another biography by Broomhall.

Biography of James Hudson Taylor - Mrs. H Taylor 

This biography comes from his daughter-in-law.

Hudson Taylor  The Jubilee Story of the China Inland Mission with Portraits and Map Broomhall


Hudson Taylor in the Early Years - Mrs. H. Taylor 

This is the first of a two volume set by Hudson Taylor's daughter-in-law.

Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission - Growth of a Work of God

This is the sequel to the "Early Years" volume, and picks up where Taylor is making the expansion of the ministry his great objective.


Some Notes on His Life

His Family

Taylor was born of a pharmacist father—called a chemist back then, and Methodist lay pastor. 

His Father James

His father was excellent at his trade, tried to obey whatever the Bible said, and vowed to pay every debt the day it was due. As a Wesleyan Methodist lay pastor, he tried to be consistent in his life and carefully prepared sermons that he dictated to his wife.

In raising his children, he taught them to obey, to do first things first, ease and pleasure were to come second, no one was allowed to be late to a meal or any other engagement, being slow in dressing or in beginning to work was deemed a serious waste of time, and he tried to teach his children to do without. 

Worship was a regular part of each day, being conducted after breakfast and supper. All members were to be present. The passage under consideration was read and then explained in very simple terms so that even the children could understand. He encouraged the family members to to read their Bibles and pray at other times of the day. In addition to corporate worship, each member of the family was to spend at least 30 private moments daily with God.

Having a great interest in missions, he would often talk with others about missions and as well as his family members. Of particular interest was missionary efforts in China. Because he could not personally go to China, he dedicated Hudson as a missionary to China but did not tell Hudson of this dedication until after Hudson had gone to China.

In reading of his father, one is struck with the many similarities between Hudson and his father. His father was an obedient godly man. Hudson strived to be the same after he became a Christian. He was a very serious, "first things first" kind of person, as was Hudson later. He tried to live simply and taught his children to do without. Hudson would do the same later in his mission service. Worship was a regular part of his day, some of which was in private communion. We will see that Hudson had the same kind of ongoing relationship with God. Where he desired to serve God in China but could not, and therefore dedicated Hudson for mission service in China at the time of his birth, Hudson had the same desire and went. Father need to realize the great influence they have on their children.

His Mother Amelia

He mother was a godly woman, who cheerful assister her husband in many ways, including his business, taking down his sermons, having a very active role with the children including listening to them read and recite while she was sewing, encouraging her children to become readers, and strongly inculcating a commitment to always be neat and tidy.

Though she was busy, the children's clothing was always in good shape, her home was always tidy, the main gathering place—the living room—was kept tidy as a result of a shelf that was always kept available to place things in a hurry if the room needed to be quickly picked up. That shelf was always cleared and cleaned at the end of the day. She was also a praying women and a gentle disciplinarian. 

In Hudson' mother we find his later commitment to tidiness—for example Taylor thought that his handwriting would witness to the postman. He also carefully folded his clothes at night because angels would be present.

His Sister Amelia

Hudson was especially close to his sister Amelia who began praying for his conversion three times a day when she was 13. Amelia was in many ways a soul-mate, one with whom he communicated and confided. 

His Early Years

Because of "delicate" health, he only began going to school at the age of 11, and then only attended for two years. 

He obtained a junior clerk's position at a bank in Barnsley when he was 17. At the bank most of his associates were worldly, one of which began making fun of him for his "old fashion" notions and tried to make him a "light-hearted" normal fellow. Hudson tried to remain true to his Christian convictions through this, but over time began struggling and eventually began to abandon his belief in God.

God providentially allowed Hudson to have inflamed eyes due to the gas lights in the bank, which necessitated his resigning from his position and returning to his father's shop.

Taylor was not happy with returning, a fact the his family was aware of. As a result Amelia began praying for him three times each day, and vowed to keep praying until he was converted.

I notice here that God intervened in removing Hudson from the ungodly environment of the bank by causing eye inflammation. William Carey, famed missionary to India and the Father of Modern Missions—he organized the first missionary society to support him, was early prevented from working the fields due to a skin condition that could not tolerate sunlight. Therefore Carey worked as a cobbler—someone who repairs shoes—and began reading about foreign lands and learning foreign languages through the course of his working day. Later when he went to India his skin condition was reversed so that he could be in the sun.

His Conversion

In June of 1849, Hudson, having leisure time, wandered into his father's study and came upon a little tract entitled, "Poor Richard." Taylor decided to read the story and skip the gospel message.

In the course of reading the tract about a man who finds Christ in spite of feeling unworthy, Hudson discovered "the finished work of Christ."  "As he read, the phrase "the finished work of Christ" caught his attention. He asked himself: 'What is finished?' Reared as he had been, the answer came quickly to him: 'A full and perfect atonement and satisfaction for sin; the debt was paid by the Substitute; Christ died for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.' Then flooded in the joyous conviction that if the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, all that was left for him to do was to accept it. That he did and fell on his knees, praising God." Kenneth Scott Latourette, These Sought a Country, p. 64

Unbeknown to him, that same day, his mother who was some 80 miles distant, had decided to pray for Hudson until he was converted. Suddenly she was impressed that her prayer had been answered and she began praising God for His kind answer. Later it was determined that the time of Hudson's conversion and her praising perfectly coincided!

Here we notice a similarity with Augustine, whose mother Monica also prayed for her son and received a blessed answer to her prayers.

He Overcame Early Struggles

As so often happens, Taylor still had his spiritual struggles and was greatly encouraged in December of 1849 in reading an article from the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine of November, 1849, entitled "The Beauty of Holiness." In the article the author admits to similar spiritual struggles. Though initially rejoicing when coming to Christ, the lively emotions of joy had given way to somber feelings and a sense that his spiritual walk was far short of what it should have been. Determining to have a strong spiritual walk with the help of God, he cried to God for knowledge and help. In the process of restoration, God revealed His love anew and he came to believe that God wanted to fulfill all the promises and give him a peace-filled, joyous experience. As he continued seeking after God, he eventually "sank into the arms of his Saviour" and there discovered the peace that he had been so seeking. He spoke of ceasing from placing confidence in himself and putting it entirely in Christ. In reading the article Hudson was greatly encouraged. (You can read the article by downloading a pdf of the "Beauty of Holiness" article.)

His Consecration and Subsequent Call to China

Not long after reading the article on the beauty of holiness, Taylor spent an afternoon in communion with God, during which time, he asked God to give hims some "self-denying service" that he might do in gratitude for what God had done. He speaks of sensing that God had accepted His offer:

"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."

Later, he had the distinct impression that God had called him to serve in China. This impression never left him. He would not know until seven years after going to China that his parents had dedicated him to China at the time of his birth. Notice his description of that experience: "Never shall I forget 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." 

His mother wrote regarding the experience: "From that hour 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."

It would be a very good thing if believers deliberately gave themselves to God for service wherever and for whatever God might call them. 

His Preparation For Mission Service

He Told Others About His Calling

Telling his acquaintances that God had called him for service in China and that God would somehow provide for all his needs, well-meaning friends tried to dissuade him.

He Sought Information

He also sought books to learn Chinese and learn more about China. From a friend who worked for the Bible society he obtained a copy of the book of Luke in Mandarin Chinese. He also sought a copy of Medhurst's volume on China from a pastor. The pastor also tried to discourage him from going, stating, "Ah my boy, as you grow older you will become wiser than that. Such an idea would do very well in the days when Christ Himself was on earth, but not now." Taylor would later write: "I have grown older since then, but not wiser. I am more and more convinced that if we were to take the directions of our Master and the assurance He gave to His first disciples more fully as our guide, we should find them just as suited to our times as to those in which they were originally given."

He Obtained Training

Reading of the value of medical training in mission service, Taylor obtained a position with a physician in Hull.

He Began Strengthening His Physical Body and Other Abilities to Withstand Mission Service.

Hudson began exercising in the open air. He gave up his feather bed and other comforts to prepare for the rough realities of mission service.

He Adopted a Simple Inexpensive Diet

"My experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave away, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become. "

As he adopted a more austere diet, Hudson found he had more to give to the poor. Notice what he writes: "Butter, milk, and other such luxuries I soon ceased to use; and I found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs. In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes; and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave away, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become. Unspeakable joy all the day long, and every day, was my happy experience. GOD, even my GOD, was a living, bright Reality; and all I had to do was joyful service."

He Began Serving In England

He began handing out tracts, teaching Sunday School, and visiting the poor and the sick.

He Began Learning The Language.

He described the process in a letter to Amelia: "The method we pursue is as follows:. "We find a short verse in the English version, and then look out a dozen or more (also in English) that have one word in common with it. We then turn up the first verse in Chinese, and search through all the others for some character in common that seems to stand for the English word. This we write down on a slip of paper as its probable equivalent. Then we look all through the Chinese Gospel for this same character in different connections. It occurs as a rule pretty frequently. And if in every case we find the same word in the English version, we copy the character in ink into our dictionary, adding the meaning in pencil. Afterwards, if further acquaintance shows it to be the true meaning, we ink that over also. At first we made slow progress, but now we can work much faster, as with few exceptions we know all the most common characters. In our dictionary we have four hundred and fifty-three put down as certain, and many others that are not fully proved. About two hundred more we know as certain that we have not copied into the dictionary yet, and many besides that are only probable."

When we study the history of missions, we find that God used many means to bring the gift of languages to various missionaries. Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg began learning Portuguese within six days of arriving in the Danish Colony of Tranquebar since there were so many Portuguese-speaking people there and achieved a working knowledge of the language within two months. To learn Tamil, he convinced a Tamil teacher to operate a school from his home so that he could hear and write the sounds in the sand on his floor. Next he hired a man who knew European languages to translate the words for him. He began translating Tamil into German and vice versa. He had native people read to him to acquire the right pronunciation. He also began preaching in Tamil. Jonathan Goforth, on the other hand, was about to give up in China because he could not master the language. But one day, after praying earnestly with his wife for help, he returned home reporting that God had given him the gift of the Chinese language. The important thing is that the people God used to bring the gospel through, made serious efforts to learn the necessary languages. 

Taylor Informed Himself of Mission Work in China

Hudson became aware of the work of a Dr. Gutzlaff who was working in Hong Kong to develop native missionaries who would take the gospel to their own people. It seemed a wonderful plan and the people in Europe were quite taken by the Doctor. Unfortunately, unbeknown to Gutzlaff, many of the native workers were dishonest and not accurately reporting what was going on. None-the-less, Taylor would credit Gutzlaff as the father of his mission.

He Committed to Paying God's Tithe

While living in Hull, Hudson was able to live comfortably upon the income given. He became convicted, however, to pay tithe—God's ten percent—which would leave him unable to meet his other financial obligations. He struggled for a time, but eventually decided that he had to pay tithe. This necessitated his leaving his comfortable quarters to secure a less expensive one. Because his new lodging was in a relatively poor area, he soon found himself generously helping needy people around him.

He Disposed of Unnecessary Possessions

Coming to appreciate the second coming of Jesus in a greater way, and the privilege of living as one who was waiting for the soon return of Jesus, Hudson began going through his possessions and disposing of those things that were not necessary. Thus portions of his library and extra clothing were given to needy neighbors. He commented on this as follows:

"It has been very helpful to me from time to time through life, as occasion has served, to act again in a similar way; and I have never gone through my house, from basement to attic, with this object in view, without receiving a great accession of spiritual joy and blessing. I believe we are all in danger of accumulating—it may be from thoughtlessness, or from pressure of occupation—things which would be useful to others, while not needed by ourselves, and the retention of which entails loss of blessing. If the whole resources of the Church of GOD were well utilised, how much more might be accomplished! How many poor might be fed and naked clothed, and to how many of those as yet unreached the Gospel might be carried! Let me advise this line of things as a constant habit of mind, and a profitable course to be practically adopted whenever circumstances permit."

He Chose to Be In A Completely Dependent Relationship With God

Though he was working and entitled to his pay, he chose to wait for God to impress his employer to pay him. On one occasion his employer forgot when Hudson had a sore need for the money. This went on for quite some time and caused Hudson to question his calling.

He was also tested in sharing all that he personally had with a poor family. Initially he resisted thinking he could resort to prayer on their behalf, but God brought great conviction upon him that he was to help the family. He did, and where previously his soul had felt heavy, as he returned home his heart had become completely happy. As he put it: "Not only was the poor woman’s life saved, but I realised that my life was saved too! It might have been a wreck—would have been a wreck probably, as a Christian life—had not grace at that time conquered, and the striving of GOD’S SPIRIT been obeyed. I well remember how that night, as I went home to my lodgings, my heart was as light as my pocket. The lonely, deserted streets resounded with a hymn of praise which I could not restrain. When I took my basin of gruel before retiring, I would not have exchanged it for a prince’s feast. I reminded the LORD as I knelt at my bedside of His own Word, that he who giveth to the poor lendeth to the LORD: I asked Him not to let my loan be a long one, or I should have no dinner next day; and with peace within and peace without, I spent a happy, restful night."


He Was Refined


(Forthcoming! Still being written.)

Thank you!

I am thankful for the support and encouragement of OMF International (formerly Overseas Missionary Fellowship and before 1964 the China Inland Mission) to use his materials.