Hudson Taylor’s
Spiritual Secret


Dr. & Mrs. Howard

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

A Secret?

Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret…what was it? How did he maintain such peace, and even joy, in the face of his many trials and losses? I’m going to “spill the beans” and tell you right now –but don’t let that keep you from reading this classic. (Believe me, this review just scratches the surface of a super great read.)

Taylor’s secret was all about his ongoing relationship with Christ. Let’s let the authors tell you themselves, from their very first chapter:

“What was the secret, we may well ask, of such a life? Hudson Taylor had many secrets, for he was always going on with God, yet they were but one — the simple, profound secret of drawing for every need, temporal or spiritual, upon ‘the fathoms wealth of Christ.’ To find out how he did this, and to make our own his simple, practical attitude toward spiritual things, would solve our problems and ease our burdens, so that we too might become all the God would make us. We want, we need, we may have Hudson Taylor’s secret and his success, for we have Hudson Taylor’s Bible and his God.”

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, p 14.

The story of Hudson Taylor’s transformation from an amazingly-dedicated-valiant man of God to an amazingly-dedicated-valiant, peaceful man of God is the happy theme of the book featured today.

The Authors

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, was written by Howard Taylor (one of Taylor’s sons) and Geraldine Taylor, Howard’s wife.

Howard was just three years old when his father founded the China Inland Mission, and followed in his father’s footsteps by earning his medical doctoral degree and engaging in medical missions. Geraldine, whom he met in China, was a missionary in her own right, dedicating her entire life to the missionary effort.

The authors write an honest, well-documented account of their father’s life, concentrating on Hudson’s faith and dedication, while also sharing the break-through which finally brought this man of God the peace his soul craved.

In His Words

Taylor had struggled for years to overcome his sinful nature. His desire, as leader of this mission, was to be Christ-like. He struggled to maintain his composure, and offer the kindness and understanding that Christ would offer to those around him. Taylor wasn’t very successful. At last, the day came when everything changed, and finally, his struggle was over. Taylor’s mind was at peace, and his heart buoyant with joy, at last.

How did he attain this peace? How could he enjoy a calming joy, amid crushing loss? (Taylor lost to death his first wife, three of his little children, and then eventually his second wife, as well. He was “sidelined” from ill health, endured years at sea, many painful partings from his family, and the trials of countless violent riots, as well as murders and imprisonments of co-workers in the vital mission he began. Whew!)

It turns out that he got the thing wrong. he had been struggling really hard to be more like Christ. But that was upside down. Rather, it was never about him. It was all Christ.

Hudson needed to yield to the life of Christ, already alive within him. Christ was abiding within. He lives within believers. Hudson had only to cease striving and to rejoice in God, already at work within.

Here is just a brief account of Hudson’s breakthrough, written in his own words, penned to his sister in one of his many letters to his twin, living in England.

“‘Oh, my dear Sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with the risen and exalted Saviour, to be a member of Christ!…The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings.

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this;

for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient…No fear that His resources will prove unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.'”

Taylor, pp 162, 163.

That is an extraordinary thing to say, is it not? To be no longer anxious about anything? As Taylor had already dedicated his own will and life in service to the King, he had only to understand the power that was already his. Christ dwelling in him; Christ doing the work.

Reminds one of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. One can’t help but think that Hudson Taylor was well on his way to living out this passage:

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:8-11

China Inland Mission

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, though it lays out the “secret” plainly in chapter 14, is really all about the remarkable life of Hudson Taylor, and the founding of the China Inland Mission.

The book lays out the calling of Taylor, his faith journey while in England to prepare himself for the rigors ahead, (super cool stuff there!) and the story of the mission itself. We understand his family life, his heartaches, his relationship with his good friend Charles Mueller, plus much more.

For example, when God directed Taylor (often referred to as the “father of modern missions”) to China as a missionary, only a few port cities had been reached. When Taylor arrived, he found little that inspired him. European dress was clearly a distraction to the people, so soon Taylor was delivering the gospel in full Chinese dress, including growing his hair into the fashion of the day. This was unheard of at the time, and countering older established mission advice, Taylor forged ahead with his own convictions.

Going ever deeper into the interior was Taylor’s goal, and for his entire life, he worked tirelessly to make that happen. We learn how “China Inland Missions” was borne, and where it is at today. The book includes a map of China, as well as an appeal to prayer for China and other efforts toward world evangelism.

Today, China Inland Missions is known as Overseas Missionary Fellowship, or OMF. For how that came about, read the book.

Jesus, I am Resting…

In this book we learn that one of Hudson Taylor’s favorite songs was an old hymn you may know. (Enjoy it today here.)

The secret of his own strength was not far to seek. Whenever work permitted, Mr. Taylor was in the habit of turning to a little harmonium for refreshment, playing and singing many a favorite hymn, but always coming back to–

‘Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.’

One of the eighteen evangelists, Mr. George Nichil, was with him on one occasion when some letters were handed in to his office, bringing news of serious rioting in two of the older stations of the Mission. Thinking Mr. Taylor might wish to be alone, the younger man was about to withdraw when, to his surprise, someone began to whistle. It was the soft refrain of the same well-loved hymn:

‘Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art…’

Turning back, Mr. Nichol could not but help exclaiming, ‘How can you whistle, when our friends are in so much danger?’

‘Would you have me anxious and troubled?’ was the quiet reply. ‘That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on to the Lord.'”

…he had learned that, for him, only one life was possible -just that blessed life or resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances, while He dealt with the difficulties, inward and outward, great and small.”

Taylor, pp 208-209.

Not-So Secret

Like the book points out, to those of us who have Hudson Taylor’s God and Hudson Taylor’s Bible, we can learn the secret, as well. His secret is not so secret, after all.

However, do we have those other ingredients that Taylor had in abundance — a longing for holiness, a surrendered life, and a vibrant faith? The book seems to assume a certain sold-out-to-God-alone view of the Christian life. Perhaps that is because it was first written in 1932, nearly 100 years ago now. Were Christians of that era different from Christians of today? I don’t know. I suppose that there are sold-out believers and marginal believers of every age and time. May this book inspire us toward a faith like Taylor’s, and a joy like his, as well.

May we, too, be able to say, right along with him,

“‘It doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is,’ he used to say. ‘It only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord — then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.'”

Taylor, p 152.

The book is still in print, having undergone many updates through the years. I found a good deal here, at Moody Publishers. Enjoy!