Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A. B. Taylor. X

A. B. Taylor remained the pastor of Rochdale Road chapel, Manchester, for the rest of his life. As 'Gadsby of Manchester' had been a household name among Strict Baptists, so now 'Taylor of Manchester' was. Under his ministry the attendence increased, and in 1871 when the religious census was taken there were 950 present at the service. A large, impressive-looking man with a solemn manner and splendid voice, he became as much a part of Manchester life as Gadsby had been. Although we have no information on the subject, it is tempting to think that not a few young men preaching in the Rochdale Road pulpit felt that they had Mr. Taylor on their backs!
Unfortunately, while Taylor wrote a fairly detailed account of his life before the call to Manchester, it ends just after the beginning of his ministry, and no biography of him was written at the time of his death. At this late date it is impossible to attempt the task. Letters have been destroyed by the ravages of time, precious memories have gone to the grave, and all we have are a few fragments.
Taylor was a preacher before he was anything else. Many of his sermons were published in 'The Manchester Pulpit', volumes of which are incredibly rare. We have in the Free St. George's Library a few sermons roughly bound by the person who bought them. Taylor alo wrote poetry, and some of it was published in his lifetime. Sermons by A. B. Taylor were also published in the 'Gospel Standard' magazine.
Although he often preached away from Manchester, Taylor was without a dount the PASTOR of the church meeting at Rochdale Road chapel. He took a keen interest in the services themselves and, having been a singer in his early life, maintained a high standard of congregational singing. No organ was allowed in Rochdale Road during his pastorate, and some of the Gospel Standard churches have maintained the tradition of unaccompanied singing to this day.
Taylor's home life was in some respects idyllic. When he first came to Manchester in 1848 he took a cottage called Collyhurst Cottage where he was able to keep a cow. In 1851, however, he bought a small farmhouse called Moss Cottage in Middleton (the picture is of middleton Parish Church). There he was able to keep a little farm. Generations of Strict Baptist Sunday School chiuldren from Manchester had cause to bless God for that cottage and its farm, for every year they were carried out of Manchester and its smoky streets and busy mills to a little farm, where their pastor and his wife entertained them.
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor had twelve children, several of whom died in infancy. Two of his daughters died in adulthood, his eldest daughter died in 1864, followed by her husband. So , at the age of sixty, Taylor had his young orphaned grandchildren placed in his care. on 14th January January 1865 Mrs. Taylor died. No doubt the presence of the grandchildren cheered him in the years that followed
After thirty-eight years in the pastorate at Manchester the end of his earthly service came to Mr. A. B. Taylor in 1887. After a period of decline he preached what proved to be his last sermon on June 26th, speaking for half an hour on the text 'every plant, which My heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.' He was unable to finish the sermon. Very ill, he had to go home.

His death, God willing, shall be our subject next time.



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