“I saw,” Mr. Taylor says, “that in answer to prayer the workers needed would certainly be given, and their support secured, because asked for in the precious name of Jesus, which is worthy; but there a trembling unbelief crept in.
“ ‘Suppose that workers are given,’ I asked myself doubtfully, ‘and that they succeed in reaching inland China: what then? Trials will come, and conflicts such as they have never dreamed of at home. Their faith may fail, and they may even be tempted to reproach one for having brought them into such a plight. Have I strength and ability to cope with such difficulties as these?’ And the answer, of course, was always ‘No!’
“It was just a bringing in of self through unbelief, the devil getting one to feel that while faith and prayer might lead one into the dilemma, one would be left to get out of it as best one might. And I failed to see that the Power that gave the labourers would be quite sufficient also to sustain them, under any circumstances, no matter how trying.
“Meanwhile the awful realisation was burned into my very soul that, a million a month, in China the heathen were dying without God. ‘If you would pray for preachers,’ came the dread conviction, ‘they might have a chance of hearing the glorious gospel; but still they pass away without it, simply because you have not faith to claim for them heralds of the Cross.’ ”
Week after week the conflict went on, until the strain became so intense that sleep almost forsook him, and it seemed as if reason itself must fail. Rest was impossible by day or night. The thought of China’s millions was always before his mind, and of what the gospel might bring them of blessing if only they could come in contact with it. And yet he could not yield and accept the position and responsibility that would have ended all the strife.
“How inconsistent unbelief always is!” Mr. Taylor continues. “I had no doubt that if I prayed for fellow-workers they would be given me. I had no doubt that in answer to prayer the means for our going forth would also be supplied, and that doors would be opened in unreached parts of the Empire. But I had not then learned to trust God fully for keeping power and grace for myself, so that it was not to be wondered at that I found a difficulty in trusting Him to keep any others who might be led to go out with me.
“Yet what was I to do? The feeling of blood-guiltiness became more and more intense. Simply because I refused to ask for them, the labourers did not come forward, did not go out to China; and every day tens of thousands in that vast land were living and dying with no knowledge of the way of salvation.”
The burden upon his mind began to tell upon Mr. Taylor’s health, and he went down to Brighton, at the invitation of a friend, to take a rest at the sea.
When Sunday morning came, hundreds of happy church-goers thronged the streets, but Mr. Taylor could only think of the need of the vast land to which his life was given.
“More than a thousand souls in China,” he thought, “will be swept into eternity while the people of God, with so many privileges, are gathered here in the morning services to-day!”
The incubus of heathendom was upon him, and was almost more than his soul could bear. In great distress of mind, he left the quiet house and went down to the forsaken beach. It was a lovely summer morning; the tide was out; and far away upon the silent sands he met the crisis of his life, alone with God.
At first there was no light, and the conflict was intense. The only ray of comfort he could obtain was from the strange reflection: “Well, if God, in answer to prayer, does give a band of men for inland China, and they go and reach those distant regions, and they should all die of starvation even, they will all go straight to heaven; and if only one heathen soul is saved, it would be well worth while!” But the thought was agony, for still he could not see that God, if He gave the labourers, would be sure to keep them, even in inland China.
All at once the thought came, “Why burdened thus? If you are obeying God, all the responsibility must rest with Him, and not with you.”
What an unspeakable relief!
“Very well,” was the immediate, glad reply; “Thou, Lord, shalt be responsible for them, and for me too!” And the burden, from that moment, was all gone.
Then and there Mr. Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God for His service, and lifted up his heart in prayer for fellow-labourers—two for each of the inland provinces, and two for Mongolia. His Bible was in his hand, and there, upon the margin of the precious volume, he recorded the momentous transaction that had taken place between his soul and God. Few and simple are the words he uses; but, oh, how full of meaning!—
“Prayed for twenty-four willing skilful labourers at Brighton, June 25th, 1865.”
“How restfully I turned away when this was done! The conflict was all ended. Peace and gladness filled my soul. I felt like flying up the steep hill to the house. And how I did sleep that night! My dear wife thought that Brighton had done wonders for me; and so it had.”
Andrew Murray, The Key to the Missionary Problem (London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1902), 106–109.