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Hudson Taylor on self-denial


This is part of a longer paper on the spirituality of Hudson Taylor which I just posted.

If the only qualification for being a mystic was self-denial, Taylor would have qualified! Taylor often wrote about self-denial, “The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will.” (Union) Self-denial was the way the disciple could show his love for Christ and his high value of the Cross. (Separation) Steed quotes Taylor as saying, “Is anything of value in Christ’s service which costs little?” (Man 282) Whenever personal, family, church or even mission interests came above those of Christ, Taylor identified this thinking as “earthly or sensual, if not devilish.” (Psalm) Taylor did not inflict self-punishment on himself (as some of the extreme mystics might have done) but self-denial did bring joy to Taylor, “My experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave away, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.” (Retrospect)

For Taylor, self-denial was necessary for the disciple if the missionary task was to be accomplished. Without self-denial, the lost would likely be neglected.

How sadly possible it is to take delight in conferences and conventions, to feast on all the good things that are brought before us, and yet to be unprepared to go out from them to self-denying efforts to rescue the perishing; to delight in the rest of faith while forgetful to fight the good fight of faith; to dwell upon the cleansing and the purity effected by faith, but to have little thought for the poor souls struggling in the mire of sin. (Cross)

China could only be won by men and women willing to sacrifice all. (Man 211) Taylor was not afraid to communicate to prospective missionaries about the necessity of self-denial to be a CIM missionary. “If you want hard work, and little appreciation of it; value God’s approbation more than you fear man’s disapprobation, if need be, to seal your testimony with your blood . . .” (Ibid. 260) For Taylor, self-denial was an essential element in his own spirituality, believing that it would bring glory to God. “May GOD work in us, and we work out in daily life, not self-assertion but self-denial – not ease and honor seeking and right-maintaining, but right-abandoning and cross-taking – and this for the glory of His own holy Name.” (Cross)

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