Transcribed by Victor Taylor - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bible Christian Magazine 1841-42
Memoir of John Taylor of Prince Edward's Island, North America
"Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord"
Vol. VI. Third Series
That Bible religion is calculated to give true consolation and lasting pleasure to its possessors, in every stage of life, and a glorious hope in death; has been abundantly proved in all ages of the Christian church. Experimental religion, the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, producing love to God, and love to all mankind; obedience to God's laws, a love to his holy word and ordinances, a zeal to promote the honour and glory of God, and a yearning pity for those who are living in sin, all these are manifested in the conduct of all who embrace the religion of the Gospel of Christ; and that such was the experience of our departed brother, I am ready to affirm, without any scruple.
John Taylor, the subject of these remarks, was born in the parish of Holsworthy, County of Devon; his parents belonged to the Church of England, into which he was initiated by Baptism, but it would appear that his parents were strangers to experimental religion; as he was not restrained in youth, from the vices that prevailed in that part of the country where he lived, such as cock-fighting, wrestling, revelling and the like; and that he imbibed a strong attachment to those vices in youth, and even pursued them with avidity, for some years after he was married, can be proved by some of his acquaintances who still survive him. In those dark days religion was supposed to consist in going, on Sundays, to the parish church, when the formal ceremony of reading prayers was performed, and perhaps a dry sermon or lecture on outward morality was read; but man's depravity, the deceitfulness of the human heart, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the great danger of living and dying in sin, and the absolute necessity of repentance, faith in the all-atoning blood of Christ, an experimental knowledge of pardon, holiness of heart, and an entire conformity in heart and life to the example of Christ, were very seldom spoken of, and still less frequently enforced, as an essential preparation for the kingdom of heaven.
Our departed friend lived, for many years, in sin and rebellion against God, without God and without hope in the world, until about the year 1827, when it pleased the Lord to convince him of his state, under the ministry of the Bible Christians, who, at that time, had established preaching in the parish; though at first, he imbibed a strong prejudice against them, and it was some time before he was prevailed on to hear for himself. At length his son John who was brought to the knowledge of the truth, two or three months previous to this time, sought an opportunity to converse with his father, and exhort him to forsake sin, especially the odious sins of swearing and revelling, and pointing out the danger to which he exposed himself; his son, all the while standing without the door, for his father had threatened to kill him for turning Methodist. This exasperated him much, and his son left him, but calling again, at another time, as he was going to a meeting, he prevailed upon his father to go and hear for himself; the word came home with power to his heart; he was deeply convinced of his state as a sinner; he felt that he must repent and reform, for he stood exposed to the wrath of God; he saw the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and became a sincere penitent. He went mourning, in the bitterness of his soul for several weeks, and refused to be comforted, till Christ was formed in him the hope of glory. In this season of sorrow, he accompanied his son to the class-meeting of which he afterwards became a worthy member, and was a constant attendant; he also availed himself of every opportunity offered him of attending all the ordinances of the Lord's house; in the use of the means of grace he was enabled to realize the presence of God, and was led, by faith, to venture on the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. Thus his burdened soul was set at liberty by the victorious love of Christ, and he was made so unspeakably happy in the God of his salvation that he could not eat his morsel alone, but began to exhort all around to turn to the Lord. With the heart he had believed unto righteousness, and with the mouth he made confession unto salvation; his soul seemed all on fire to declare what the Lord had done for him. He soon began to labour in public, for the Lord, and was shortly after introduced to the Local preachers' Meeting: at first he was reluctant to have his name put on the plan, from a sense of his unworthiness and inability to engage in so great an undertaking: his name however soon appeared on the plan, and he continued to fill the office of a Local Preacher with that of a class-leader, promptly, zealously, faithfully and it may be added, successfully, until he emigrated with his family to Prince Edwards Island. When he arrived in this Island, he did not find a people like his old friends at home, with whom he could "take sweet counsel and walk in company to the house of God; no, but strangers to him, and strangers to God, no christian society that could sympathize with him, nor have any kindred feeling towards him; for what communion hath light with darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial? There was a christian church, so called, in that part of the Island, where he went to reside, but their views and sentiments were not congenial to the feelings of our departed brother.
The religion which makes its possessors holy and happy, was that which he desired to see established. He was not like those who are contented with the form of godliness, he contended for the power of religion: not finding a society with whom he could conscientiously unite, he did not act like many emigrants who fall into a state of apathy and indifference towards God, and the salvation of their souls, and so bury their talent; brother Taylor began to blow the Gospel trumpet, and to preach repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; he collected a congregation at Mill River Settlement to which he and his son attended on Sundays, and after he went to reside in the above settlement, he frequently preached in his own house, when many appeared to be affected under the word, and some were brought to the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sin, and the meetings were still continued in the house. When F. Metherall, the first Bible Christian Missionary came to the Island; societies were formed, a local Preachers' Plan made out, and brother Taylor's name was again enrolled among the Preachers, and it was no more erased from the plan, until his happy spirit left the church militant to join the church triumphant. Soon after I came to the Island, I found our departed friend at his own residence, where our acquaintance began. I felt a strong attachment to him for the piety that he possessed, the simplicity of his mind, the love that he manifested towards the souls of his fellow men travelling to another world, and his zeal in the cause of God, and the more I became acquainted with him the stronger was my attachment to him. He was always ready to take any appointment that might be given him, and never complained of being appointed too often: his discourses were weighty and generally accompanied with a divine influence, although they were not systematically arranged: he felt the power of the Gospel upon his own soul, and those who heard him were frequently softened and quickened under his preaching; the language of the poet was applicable to him,
"With cries, entreaties, tears to save,
To snatch them from the gaping grave."
He was a man of remarkably strong constitution, for many years; and until the last two years of his life he scarcely manifested any perception of constitutional debility. He was a hard working man and had a large family depending on him for support, and after he came to this Island he wrought very hard until the last two years of his life; when he was reduced to a great degree of weakness by the disease that terminated his life. He was first taken with a pleurisy, and for want of proper medical application, he grew worse until it terminated in a dropsy which put a period to his life. He suffered much in his affliction, but he bore it with Christian resignation, and often said "the will of the Lord be done, I have no will of my own." His family that needed his superintendence caused him some anxiety of mind. I conversed with him several times in his affliction, and he seemed to profess a well grounded hope of everlasting life; he was delivered from the fears if death, and could say, "O death where is thy sting!"
The last Sabbath but one before he died, my appointment was to preach in his house, but he was so ill the meeting was held in his son's house. I was with him before and after meeting; most who were present thought he would soon expire; he seemed to be gasping for breath, and perspiring extremely. Sometimes he sat up in bed assisted by some of the family, and sometimes he lay: he was perfectly sensible, but could say but little; I asked him if he felt Christ precious, to which he answered, "O yes, all is well." I believe I shall never forget his very expressive looks; they seemed to indicate what he wanted to say. I sat up with some of the family till after midnight, when he appeared to take a turn for the better, and then I retired to rest. The next day I saw him again, he appeared a little better, and spoke quite cheerfully of his confidence in God through Christ; his mind appeared to be calmly stayed on God; his family now began to entertain a hope of his recovery, but it was short; we prayed, and felt a sense of the presence of God; I again commended him to God, and then left. He lived nearly a fortnight after, but I saw him no more, till I saw his lifeless clay on the day of the funeral; when a settled calmness and serenity marked his visage, that seemed to say, "the inhabitant that once lodged here, is gone to a better country." He said to his wife, a little before he died, "I am going home," and then commended her to God. His earthly remains were interred in the English burial ground, New London, close to his sister, Mrs. Painter, who did a few years ago. I endeavoured to make some remarks on the solemn subject, before his remains were taken from the house; a solemn sense of the presence of God was felt, may it produce a lasting effect upon all that heard. Thus lived, and died, this humble and faithful servant of God, leaving behind a bereaved widow, and fifteen children to lament their loss; he was much respected by those who knew him in this Island, and he is much lamented by our little society, among whom he piously, faithfully and usefully laboured.
I was well acquainted with Brother Taylor, and I believe him to be worthy of all the encomium that Brother James has bestowed on him. The first time I saw him was in the month of June 1832, and although he had no personal knowledge of me, yet having heard of my arrival on this Island, he appeared to be confident who I was, as soon as he saw me; before I had told him my name or profession. He appeared to be filled with joy, love, and gratitude to God, for sending me, unworthy as I was, to visit them in this comparative wilderness. He at all times entertained the messengers of salvation with great pleasure, and took much delight in conversing with them about the things of God, and I believe nothing gave him so much satisfaction, as did the prosperity of the Redeemers kingdom. I visited him several times during his illness, and found him delivered from all fears and doubts, possessing an unshaken confidence in the merits of Christ, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. As a man, he was strictly honest, as a neighbour, he was peaceable and generous; as a husband, he was kind and affectionate; as a Father, he was watchful and prayerful over his children, and greatly desired their spiritual and temporal welfare; as a christian, he was humble and zealous; as a preacher, he was faithful and useful; and I believe I may venture to say "let me die the death of the Righteous, and let my last end be like Brother Taylor's."