Samuel Taylor

The Life And Ministry Of Samuel Taylor

Earthen Vessel 1899:

Pastor Samuel J. Taylor, “Ebenezer,” Ilford.

Dear Brother Banks,—Obeying your request for a sketch of my life, I consider it one more call for Deut. 8:2 to be carried out: “Thou shalt remember all the way the Lord thy God led thee these forty (and two) years in the wilderness,” &c. May the “favour” which is borne unto His people, be borne upon me, and born into me (Psa. 106:4). The forty-two years of my being can be divided into four periods or calls: (1) A natural one in 1856, at Stepney; (2) a spiritual one in 1874, at Bow; (3) a ministerial one in 1890, at Upton; (4) a pastoral one in 1898, at llford—all four links in God’s chain of providence and grace. Briefly, the events of each shall be summarized, as the Lord guides, with Medley’s lines in view:—

“How sovereign, wonderful, and free,

Is all His love to sinful me!

He plucked me as brand from hell,

My Jesus hath done all things well.”

I. My Natural Call into being was given May 14th, 1856. Much frailty and weakness rested upon me from birth, and for some years, yet God placed me in the tender arms of loving parents and other relatives:—a Christian father, who at 35, and when I was five, “left”  my mother for heaven; a praying mother, who at 48, and when I had just reached manhood, was “translated” to glory; a sainted grand-father, Mr. Joseph Matthews, 60 years a schoolmaster, and who died at 93; his two daughters (my aunts, who still survive)—all these encircled my early years with the hedge of care, educational training, religious instruction, and earnest prayer. These ”means” were not valueless; for all the above (except my father) saw the day when I was baptized and added to the Church. My hard-working, struggling, widowed mother was supported by God to keep myeelf and sister, who died two years after mother, resting on the works of Jesus in John 14, which were the last I read to her. My father’s brother (Mr. H. Taylor) and his wife acted kindly to us all, in whose house my sister passed away. At the age of 24 I was fatherless, motherless, sisterless, yet God was with me,” for

“Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never-failing skill,

He treasured up His bright designs

And worked His sovereign will.”

In 1877, when I most needed it, in more ways than one, He opened the heart of a Christian woman and her husband to open their home to me, where I was for years, till I had a home of my own.

II. My Spiritual Call. From boyhood, my mother led me to God’s house; her hand I still feel, and her prayers have not lost their influence. My mother being a member of the General Baptist Church in South Grove, Bow, under the care of Mr. J Harrison, 1 went there to Sunday-school. When nearly 17 I left this one, and went to another at Blackthorn Street, Bow Common, Mr. James R. Cox the diligent and true pastor. I still firmly believe that the wheel of God’s providence so revolved round my life at this time, that at this place the wheel of His grace might roll on towards me there, and carry me forward to His mercy-seat for pardon (see Ezekiel 1). By so much religious surrounding formerly mentioned I was preserved from open sinfulness, yet I thought very sinfully, spoke sinfully, acted sinfully, but did not feel sinful—sin-full—till the light of the Spirit shone into my dark, dead heart. And in this wise (all praise to His power). In a Young Men’s Bible Class, conducted by a godly man, Mr. T. Pratt, now 6,000 miles away, the Holy Ghost convinced me of my sinnership, “made me a sinner,” as Hart has it. Pride and shame of my natural heart strove hard against His power, and I sought to hide my feelings. But, blessed be God, the invincible Spirit prevailed, and His own sword-thrust, which wounded me, “All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6), I still felt the piercing of. As Paul says, “The commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” In this state I inwardly longed for some Philip to come to the desert where I was, and tell me about Him who was “led as a sheep to the slaughter.” And yet this was hid in my breast, and untold. At length, one Sabbath afternoon, my teacher was Spirit- led to suggest, that if any young man was concerned about his soul, and did not care to speak to him publicly, to give him a note. “This is God’s hand,” I said, and did so. On January 21st, 1874, the God-sent Philip and his audience of one met for two hours—for prayer, reading of the Word, guidance, salvation. That night deliverance came. The remaining part of Isaiah 53:6 was applied with revealing and healing power, and a bestowed faith laid hold on the words: “And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” while the sealing sense of a sinner pardoned was given me. The prayers of a Saviour, of a mother, of a teacher now were unitedly fulfilled in the wanderer coming home. As in creation, so in this new creation, “the evening and the morning were the first day;” for, on waking up next morn, Psalm 30:5 entered into me, confirming the work of grace in my soul:—“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” I had joy. I was glad. Jesus loved me, and had forgiven me. Soon, however, I was cast down by Satan’s sharp thrusts at the reality of my change. Day and night, privately and openly, “tears” of distress of soul were my “meat.” But the enemy’s “flood” was met by the Spirit’s “standard,” and driven back. In a city office, at noon, I was compelled to seek for relief from this desolating doubt. On my knees the word lived in my heart:—”And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer: and while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24). I rose, freed in that liberty which only Jesus’ name, blood and righteousness, could procure. After twenty-five years’ pilgrim-experience I mourn that “in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing,” but yet am glad of the writing: “Sin shall not have dominion over you…ye are under grace.” In April following I was baptized, and joined the Church, where I remained till Nov., 1885, as teacher, school secretary, sick visitor, and open air preacher, and where I was married in 1883. Moving from the neighbourhood, we were led to Hope Chapel, Bethnal Green (Mr. Copeland, then pastor), where our cousin was to be baptized. This time and place were God-designed for my mind and heart to be led into the doctrines of grace as held by the Strict Baptists. My wife and I were received on our own testimony into the Church, where we stayed 18 months (I being in the school all the time). In 1887 we removed to Forest Gate, and joined Gurney-road (Mr. Lynn, then pastor), when I left in 1898 (being eight years the school secretary) to become the pastor of Ilford.

“Grace taught my soul to pray,

And made my eyes o’er flow;

’Twas grace which kept me safe this day.

And will not let me go.”

III. My Ministerial Call. From early years I desired to be a minister, and had an esteem for God’s servants. On July 27th, 1890 (nearly five years after I left the General Baptists) I preached for the first time for the Strict Baptists at Ferndale-road, Upton, as a substitute in an emergency, and with a few hours’ notice. How I went and felt other ministers know. The invite was renewed, and yet again, Ponder’s End also seeking me out. In 1895 other doors opened. I now felt my position to be a seriously solemn one. “Was I to remain in the school, or resign and go forth preaching the Word?” Who could decide? “The Lord only shall,” I said. And this is how my prayer was answered. In January, 1896, Mr. J. Gardner (now pastor at Chatham) asked me (as regards a preacher I was a stranger to him) to supply for him at Streatham, Epping, Ilford, &c. l did so, taking this as from the Lord, His servant being a discreet and faithful man of God. He, later on, suggested my joining the London Strict Baptist Ministers’ Association. I went to prayer over this matter. An answer was supplied me in a double way: Guidance as to my course, and the subject for my sermon, if asked to preach a trial sermon. John 6:37 was unmistakeably given me: “All that the Father giveth Me; shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.” On May 5th I preached from this text before the Ministers of this much-needed Association. They accepted my services, because I believe the Lord had accepted me, and sent me. Powerfully before the day, and on the day these texts, amongst others, were laid on my mind:—“Arise, and go and preach the preaching I bid thee”—”My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (the latter named to me by my wife). From this time forward I was engaged nearly every Lord’s-day, so that when June, 1896, arrived, and the election of school officers took place, I had to resign, for the only cause which I prayed twelve months before might be the sole ground of my retiring—my being fully occupied each Lord’s-day in the ministry. Many other evidences, and experiences, and portions of Scripture could I tell of, but let these four evidences be named, why I believe I am called by God to be a minister of the Gospel:—

(1) By many exercises of mind inwrought by the Spirit.

(2) By open doors to preach (not opened by me); thus effectively closing other doors of usefulness.

(3) By the reception of the Word preached by experienced saints of God. 

(4) By many distinct calls through the Word, establishing me in this holy service.

“I venture in Thy name to go,

My hopes alone on Thee rely;

May streams that from Thy river flow,

My heart with joy and strength supply.”

IV. My Pastoral Call. On Feb. 16th, 1896, I preached at Ilford for the first time, from Dent. 8. Occasionally, till May, 1897, as there were opportunities, I supplied there. On the 5th of this month (exactly one year after I was accepted by the Strict Baptist Ministers’ Association), a three months’ invite to preach regularly was given. Much exercise of mind and humbling this caused. Even Gideon’s double sign I required. Passing over many Scriptural answers afforded to my heart-prayer: “Is there any word from the Lord?” this one was confirming, and still remains: “When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear m His glory” (Psa. 102:16). I thankfully replied: “Upon that I can go, Lord, if Thou wilt build up Zion, and Thou have all the glory.” At the end of this period I received a six months’ invite, with a view to the pastorate, beginning Jan., 1898. I felt that I dare not decline, as there were signs of the Lord’s hand amongst His people. On March 24th the pastorate was tendered. Unmistakably the Lord was reviving the cause, the congregation had doubled, the finances very prosperous, and spiritual life and energy quickened. Yet I was in sorrow. I saw no additions to the Church, nor the awakenmg of sinners under my ministry, as a present seal to future work. But I felt unable to leave the people or work, and sought the Master’s face, hand and word for guidance. On April 23rd, at Gurney-road prayer-meeting, this verse was blessed to me:—

“Lead me in all Thy righteous ways,

Nor suffer me to slide;

Make plain Thy path before my face,

My God, be Thou my Guide.”

And on April 25th:—

“His Word a light before me spreads,

By which our path we see,

His love a banner o’er our heads,

From harm preserves us free.”

On April 30th, reading Hawker’s portion for the morning on 1 Sam. 12:24, where he says, “Close the month with this sweet Scripture,” the call to Ilford was so impressively connected, and singularly joined with these two portions:—”Thou hast loosed my bonds;” “Take my blessing that is brought to thee, because God hath dealt graciously with thee,” that I was Divinely compelled to say:—

“Lord, ’tis enough, I ask no more,

These blessings are divine.”

and at once sent off my acceptance of the pastorate, for Jesus’ sake. As a confirmation of my act this word in the evening was given, after the letter was sent:—” See, I have accepted thee in this thing also,” this portion guiding me two years ago when entering more fully into the ministry and now sealing both that and this act as God’s ordering, and for my comfort.

“O let me see the hand of love,

Sealing the Gospel word;

And feel an unction all divine,

Descending from the Lord.”

In closing, I see and feel how my life and its events have been providentially and graciously planned: removals, occupations, education, experiences, sicknesses, trials, joys—all links of the fourfold chain of calls for His purposes to be accomplished. How also, for the last thirteen years, he has given me pastors such as J. Copeland, J. H. Lynn, E. Marsh, that I might profit and become fit for His service.

Since July 3rd, 1898, when my pastorate commenced, the Lord has done greater things for Ilford:—a new chapel; three added to the Church; a school commenced, and the debt half cleared. For the sake of Christ and His Church I feel the weighty charge of Paul to Timothy:—“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). So spiritually aspires. 

Yours fraternally,

Samuel Joseph Taylor

11, Thorpe-road, Odessa-road, Forest Gate, E. 

Samuel Taylor (1856-?) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. In 1898, he was appointed pastor of the church meeting in Ilford.