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NEW EVANGEMCA1L MAGAZINE,
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. DAN .TAYLOR.
[Concluded from page S7.]
Having already furnished our readers with some account of Mr. Taylor's personal history to the period of his removal to the metropolis, and of the steps which led to that event, we now resume the narrative, which must, however," in a great measure, be restricted to a review of his writings: and of these, our limits will permit us to notice only a few of the more important productions of his pen. We have before us, a list of his publications, extending to thirty seven distinct articles, several of which have been reprinted, and one in particular, viz. "A Catechism, or Instructions for Children and Youth, in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity," has gone through nine editions. His "Compendious View of the nature and importance of Christian Baptism," has also gone through seven editions. In our opinion, they are both of them very useful tracts and well merit the extensive circulation which they have met with. It can scarcely be necessary, however, for us to remark, that a large proportion of our author's pieces are small tracts, such as, Single Sermons occasioned by the death of a friend, or some signal event in Providence of which it was thought expedient to attempt an improvement; and fugitive pieces excited by local controversy. Vol. III.
Several of his productions are nevertheless considerably elaborated, and ought not to be over* looked in a Memoir of their author. We"formerly remarked (p. 33.) that there have been few controversies in our days, among the dissenters, in which we cannot trace the pen of Mr. Dan Taylor, and it may be worth while, before we proceed further, to particularise some of these. Thus for instance, before he removed from Yorkshire, he published a Shilling pamphlet, entitled " The Scriptural account of the way of Salvation,"—in refutation of a Sermon, by the Rev. W. Graham, M. A. entitled "Repentance the only condition of final acceptance," Not long after his settlement in London, he published "An Essay on Christian Baptism, in which the meaning of the original word, the customs of the Jews, and the sentiments of the ancient Fathers respecting that ordinance are impartially considered—with two Letters to Dr. Addington on the subject and mode of Baptism." This pamphlet was evidently occasioned by one then recently published by Dr. Addington under the title of "The Christian Minister's reasons for baptizing infants"—a piece which was also ably answered by the late Dr. Samuel Stennett of Little Wild Street. In the controversy
on Free Communion, Mr. Taylor
and enlarged them, and published them under the title of "The Reality and Efficacy of Divine Grace, with the certain success of Christ's sufferings, on behalf of all who are finally saved: Considered in a Series of Letters to the Rev. Andrew Fuller, containing Remarks upon the Observations of the Rev. Dan Taylor, on Mr. Fuller's Reply to Philanthropos." By Agnostos. Our author terminated this protracted controversy by a small piece under the title of " The Friendly Conelusion occasioned by the Letters of Agnostos to the Rev. Andrew Fuller, respecting the extent of our Saviour's Death, and other subjects connected with that doctrine, In four Letters to a friend."
This controversy led the disputants to discuss the chief points which are at issue between the General and the Particular Baptists; and though to enter upon a Review of it in this place would oblige us to extend the article to an inconvenient length, yet, considering it was the most important controversy in which Mr. Taylor was ever engaged, we cannot in justice to his memory dismiss it without subjoining a few remarks upon it which we remember to have met with from the pen of a cotemporary writer.
"It must be acknowledged, says the writer referred to, that, contrary to the spirit of most controversialists, who seek to widen the breach rather than to heal it, there was a disposition on both sides to approximate, and to sink the minor differences between them. Mr. Taylor had no wish to controvert the doctrine of election, of divine decrees, or of final perseverance, nor even to deny the speciality of design in the death of Christ, with respect to those who are finally saved; provided his opponent would admit that provision was , made for all, and that no insuper1 able impediment arising fr°m mt^ impotence should be placed in the way of man's salvation. Mr. Fuller on his part was also willing to concede the universality of the death of Christ, the general indirect influences of the Holy Spirit, and regeneration by the word; provided his opponent would admit of divine agency, and that the difference made in the state of a sinner by his conversion is to be ascribed to free and effectual grace. This reciprocal disposition is highly amiable; and discovers, not an undervaluation, but a just discrimination of the comparative importance of Christian principles. Among the temperate and well informed, who are fully aware of the difficulties attending each hypothesis, there can scarcely be a moment's hesitation in admitting, that the points in which these two good men were agreed are of infinitely higher moment than those in which they differ, whatever be their supposed magnitude; and that upon either system, the foundation of human hope remains unshaken. Nor is there any thing in the contrariety of views enter
tained on these subjects, which ought to obstruct the most cordial affection and harmony among real Christians."*
Besides the controversies to which we have already adverted, there were others in which the subject of this Memoir took a. part. At the time when the Universal restoration scheme was the object of general discussion, he preached and published a Sermon on the Eternity of future punishment, which drew forth a Reply from Mr. Winchester; but Mr. Taylor defended his former pamphlet in " Six Letters to the Rev. G. B." by whom he appears to have been stimulated to the undertaking. "You have thought it proper" says Mr. T. to his friend, in his first letter, "strongly to express your wishes, that I would write a reply to Mr. Winchester, and to ask ' Why won't you V On this occasion I am not unwilling to open my mind, and to speak freely. I have not much leisure, and my disinclination to controversy is very great. My heart is too ready to grow barren without the dry
* Morris's Memoirs of Mr. Andrevo Fuller, p. 239. On this quotation, though agreeing in much that it contains, we are tempted to offer a remark or two. We willingly admit that there is a difficulty in reconciling the doctrine of particular redemption with the universal calls and invitations of the Gospel—the speciality of design in the death of Christ with the duty of every sinner who hears the gospel to believe it. But the difficulty is not greater than to comprehend how Three distinct personal substances can be one God. The truth is, that though both these things are undeniably taught in scripture, the Spirit of inspiration has not condescended to solve the difficulty in either instance; and to reject the doctrines on that account, is highly presumptuous and criminal. To us it has always appeared that there are two, and only two, points respecting this controversy which are worth contending for. The first regards the character of God—" Is He sovereign in dispensing the blessings of his grace to the fallen race of Adam ?"—for, a Deity divested of sovereignty, is the greatest absurdity conceivable by the human mind! The other point is, " Do those who are saved, owe their salvation solely to the death of Christ, as its meritorious and procuring cause?" Let these two points be unequivocally admitted in the affirmative and the rest appears to us to be a strife of words. If Christ died alike for all the human race, as many in our days contend, it must then unavoidably follow, either that all mankind will be saved, or that those who inherit eternal life must owe their salvation to something else than Christ's death. Yet the scriptures deny both these positions; for while, on the one hand, they affirm that the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment," Matt. ixv. 46, they assert with equal confidence that "Christ gives to his sheep, for whom he died, eternal life, and that they shall never perish," Johns. 15, 28. See also Rom. viii. 32—34. We remember that the founder of Methodism in this country, at one period of his life, appeared to hate the doctrine of divine Sovereignty most cordially. "Hecould sooner be a Turk oran Infidel, than he could believe God was capable of giving grace to one and not to another!!" We hope the Arminians of the present day, itnd especially the General Baptists, have very different views of the subject, Editor.
work of disputation, even when employed on the most important subjects in the most practical manner. Besides, Mr. W.'s Remarks on my Discourse concerning the Eternity of future Punishment, to speak in the softest language, appeared to me of such a cast, as not to require a reply. On these accounts, when I had read his remarks, I laid them aside, not designing ever to give them a second perusal." Having, however, yielded " to the judgment of others, whom he considered much wiser than himself," he commences the task with the following very just observation, which we quote with pleasure from the beginning of the second Letter. "It is certainly very proper to consider the importance of any subject on which our thoughts are employed. That all subjects are not of equal importance will, I think, on all hands be allowed. It is the part of a wise man to consider this; and to proportion his attention, as nearly as may be, to the weight of the subject to which he attends; he will otherwise be in danger of collecting mere pebbles, and neglecting pearls; or in,the language of inspiration, he may be unhappy enough > to "sow the wind and reap the whirlwind." p. 9. The whole of these Letters are written with urbanity and candour, nor can the praise of perspicuity and cogent reasoning be denied them. We had occasion, in a preced ing page, (See p. 17) to mention an Ordination Charge delivered by Mr. Taylor to one of his brethren in the ministry, (Mr. John Deacon of Leicester) and spoke of it, as we still think it only deserved, as being one of the very best we had ever read. This Charge was considerably amplified after it was delivered from the pulpit; and in its published state may be regarded rather as a Dissertation on the duties of the Christian ministry than a Sermon. It extends to up
wards of eighty pages, every one of which is replete with the most important admonitions, and persua. sive exhortations to the proper dis-. charge of the high office with which the young minister bad been invested. If this Memoir should fall under the inspection of any ministers of the word, by whom that admirable Charge has not yet been perused, we beg leave, with all becoming deference, most earnestly to recommend it to their attention; for if they have taken up the sacred vocation on scriptural grounds, and are animated by the laudable wish of discharging the various duties of the office with credit to themselves, the edification of others, and the glory of their great master in heaven, we venture to affirm, that 'tis impossible they can read it without profit. Towards the close of the same year (1786) in which the preceding Charge was delivered, Mr. Taylor was again called upon to assist at the ordination of the Rev. George Birley, at St. Ives. On this occasion also he was appointed to deliver the Pastoral Charge, which he did from Rom. i. 0. "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing, I make mention of you always in my prayers." This Charge was also printed, together with a Sermon delivered to the people by Mr. Robinson, of Cambridge, and though not so elaborate a production as the one we have above mentioned, it nevertheless clearly indicates the same masterly hand in the composition. We venture to lay before our readers an extract from near the close of it, as a specimen of the ability and Stirling good sense which pervade the whole. Having remarked that if the Christian minister would serve God as the great apostle did, he must have his spirit continually engaged in the work, Mr. Taylor thus proceeds— "It is true respecting the mil"8''