Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A.B. Taylor. I.

It will have been noticed by our readers (assuming the Marcus Dods series didn't get rid of all of them) that we have tended to refer particularly to Scottish Presbyterianism. Those who know the true identity of the editor know that he is no Presbyterian! But the field of Scottish Church History is dominated by Presbyterianism. However there are notable exceptions. Congregationalists and Baptists both have honourable Scottish histories. Scotland has not only had many great preachers who ministered chiefly within its borders, but also she has given great preachers to England. One of them was Alexander Barrie Taylor.
Born on October 18th, 1804 (so today is the 202nd anniversary of his birth), in the village of Craig Hall near Pittendynie, about three miles from the city of Perth, A. B. Taylor (as he is normally called) was born into a poor but pious family connected to the Secession Church. His parents taught him to repeat the 23rd Psalm and the last three verses of Matthew 11 before he could read. Born and brought up in the country, he had a fairly happy childhood. His parents tried to bring him up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
At the age of six he was sent away to a school kept by a Mr. Dick. Mr. Dick had trained for the Secession ministry but, due to some sin on his part, he had been barred from it. Looking back on his childhood Taylor reflected, "Perhaps the Seceders of those days saw too clearly, 'Be ye clean who bear the vessels of the Lord.'"
For six years, until the age of twelve, Taylor remained with Mr. Dick. Then disaster struck the Taylor family. The Corn Laws caused an increase in the price of bread, and the sort of smallholding that the Taylors owned became uneconomical. Only tenants, the family were evicted.
Like many such familes, the Taylors went from the countryside to the city, seeking employment in factories. In the case of the Taylors they went to Perth, just a few miles from their own home, and a fairly small city. A. B. Taylor became a worker in the calico industry. By the time he was eighteen he was apprenticed as an engraver. It was a good company, and the appentices were taught free of charge on week evenings by a schoolmaster employed by the company.
But in 1824 disaster struck. The company for which he worked went out of business A. B. Taylor, like many a young man, went to the rapidly expanding industrial city of Glasgow to seek employment. As an engraver, a skilled craftsman with a skill that was much in demand, he got a situation.
The Taylors were members of the Methven United Secession Church, and their pastor was Rev. Mr. Jamieson, an honest Christian man. In the 1820s much of the true religion in Presbyterian Scotland was to be found in the United Secession Church. But Alexander Barrie Taylor had none of it. A careless, carnal sinner, he went to Glasgow accompanied by the prayers of his family and pastor.

Next time, God willing, we shall see what Taylor found in Glasgow.



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