What did Charles Haddon Spurgeon think of Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, and why does it matter? In Spurgeon’s magazine The Sword and the Trowel he describes Taylor.
“Mr. Taylor is not a man of commanding presence or of striking modes of speech. He is not in outward appearance an individual who would be selected from among others as the leader of a gigantic enterprise; in fact he is lame in gait, and little in stature; but the Lord sees not as man sees, his glance reaches to the heart. In his spiritual manhood Mr. Taylor is of noble proportions: his spirit is quiet and meek, yet strong and intense; there is not an atom of self-assertion about him, but a firm confidence in God and in the call which he has himself received to carry the gospel to China. He is hampered by no doubts as to the inspiration of the Scriptures, or of the truth of Christianity, or the ultimate conquest of China for the Lord Jesus; his faith is that of a child-man, too conscious of consecration to the living God, and too certain of his presence and help to turn aside to answer the useless quibbles of the hour. Affectionate in manner, and gentle in tone, our brother has nevertheless about him a firmness which achieves its purpose without noise. Simple as a child in his spirit, he pursues his design with prudent perseverance and determination; he provokes no hostility, but he almost unconsciously arouses hearty sympathy, though he is evidently independent of it, and would go on with his great work even if no one countenanced him in it.”
What can we gain from Spurgeon’s description of Hudson Taylor?
*Encouragement. Taylor didn’t “look” like a leader but his heart belonged to God. You might be “lame in gait, and little in stature” and not in appearance one who would ordinarily be selected for leadership, but God can use you.
*Inspiration to pursue a manhood of “noble proportions.” For Spurgeon that meant a “quiet and and meek” spirit “yet strong and intense.” Hudson Taylor was humble and not self-asserting. He had a “firm confidence in God and in the call which he has himself received to carry the gospel to China.” He was a man of conviction. He believed in the inspiration of the Scriptures and the truth of the Christian faith. Humility, strength, intensity, faith, and conviction about his message and calling were the characteristics of real and noble manhood embraced by Taylor.
*Focus: Taylor was consecrated, certain, and focused. Taylor was “too conscious of consecration to the living God, and too certain of his presence and help to turn aside to answer the useless quibbles of the hour.” Taylor’s life was a marked contrast to how some moderns approach social media, for example. Don’t lose your focus on consecration to God by twiddling time away on Twitter trying to answer the “useless quibbles of the hour.”
*Affection and gentleness wedded to firmness. Taylor was biblically tough and tender. He was firm in his convictions, strong in his stand for truth, committed to his calling, and yet affectionate and gentle towards all. He joyfully did his duty without noise–no attempt to draw attention to himself.
*Courage: Hudson Taylor was faithful to his calling and duties irregardless the consequences. Spurgeon said that Taylor “would go on with his great work even if no one countenanced him in it.” Taylor was a man utterly dependent on and confident in God and his purposes. He did not need anyone’s approval nor did he fear anyone’s outrage. Such made him courageous.
Ray Rhodes, Jr. is author of Yours, till Heaven; the Untold Love Story of Charles and Susie Spurgeon and Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon both from Moody Publishers. He is presently working on a biography of Charles Spurgeon for B&H Academic You can visit Ray on the web, order signed copies of his books, and schedule him to speak for your next event by visiting www.rayrhodesjr.com.