JAMES BRAINERD TAYLOR
Leaving the experience and testimony of well-known and historic characters, we turn to
that of a more youthful disciple. Of him Dr. Gordon says: “James Brainerd Taylor had been converted at the age of fifteen. Six years later he experienced a remarkable blessing from the Spirit. All his subsequent papers refer to this date as the most important era in his Christian life.” The following is part of Mr. Taylor’s account of this remarkable experience:
“It was on the 23d of April, 1822, when I was on a visit to Haddam in Connecticut. The
time and place will never, no, never, be forgotten. I recur to it at this moment with thankful remembrance. For a long time my desire had been that the Lord would visit me and fill me with the Holy Ghost. My cry to him was, Seal my soul forever thine. I lifted up my heart in prayer that the blessing might descend. I felt that I needed something that I did not possess. There was a void within that must be filled or I could not be happy. My earnest desire was then, as it had been ever since I had professed religion, six years before, that all love of the world might be destroyed, all selfishness extirpated, pride banished, unbelief removed, all idols dethroned, everything hostile to holiness and opposed to the divine will crucified, that holiness to the Lord might be engraved on my heart and evermore characterize my conversation. My mind was led to reflect on what would probably be my future situation. It recurred to me, I am to be hereafter a minister of the gospel. But how shall I be able to preach in my present state of mind? I cannot — never, no, never, shall I be able to do it with pleasure without great overturnings in my soul. I felt that I needed that for which I was then, and for a longtime had been, hungering and thirsting. I desired it, not for my benefit only, but for that of the Church and the world.
“At this very juncture I was most delightfully conscious of giving up all to God. I was
enabled in my heart to say: ‘Here, Lord, take me; take my whole soul and seal me thine — thine now and thine forever. If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’ Then there ensued such emotions as I never before experienced. All was calm and tranquil, and a heaven of love pervaded my whole soul. I had a witness of God’s love to me and of mine to him. Shortly after I was dissolved in tears of love and gratituide to our blessed Lord, The name of Jesus was precious to me, “’twas music in my ear.” He came as King, and took full possession of my heart; and I was enabled to say: ‘I am
crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ Let him, as King of kings and Lord of lords, reign in me, reign without a rival forever.”
On the above record of experience Dr. Gordon makes the following comment:
“The invariable accompaniment of such visitations of the Spirit we find throughout the
subsequent history of this young man. His communion with God was of the most elevating and transforming character. It seemed literally as though it were Christ for him to live. For wherever he went he exhibited the Lord Jesus so conspicuously in his example, in his words, and in his persuasions, that men could not resist the power with which he lived and spoke. Dying at the age of twenty-eight, his labors had nevertheless been such a blessing to his generation, that many servants of God, living till threescore and ten, might be glad to leave behind them such a record. His college and seminary vacations were spent in evangelistic labors, and during these seasons he toiled like an apostle. Night and day with tears he warned men. Publicly and from house to house he exhorted and entreated and prayed. And wherever he went revivals seemed to break forth as though he carried some resistless divine influence in his person, and hundreds in a town would be converted during a single visit. His own soul meanwhile lived in the most exultant fellowship with the Father and the Son. He makes the same record that Edwards does, that the one memorable season of divine visitation was followed by many others, in which the tides of heavenly love and delight filled and flooded the soul. The joy of the first baptisin and its accompanying power remained unto the end.”
This remarkable experience and testimony most strikingly support the theory of this book —
that the sanctifying baptism of the Spirit ordinarily comes after converston, is instantaneous, is certified to the consciousness, and abides with its subject. This young man was certainly the subject of a baptism which clearly involved the “ecstatic,” “ethical,” and “charismatic fullness of the Spirit, all three of which were permanent or abiding. We would most heartily commend the experience and example of this devout young Presbyterian to the close study and conscientious imitation of all theological students and young preachers of the gospel. May they catch his spirit and walk in his footsteps!
Source: “Scriptural Sanctification” by John R. Brooks
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HOW THEY ENTERED CANAAN (A Collection of Holiness Experience Accounts) Compiled by Duane V. Maxey
Vol. I — Named Accounts