Thursday, December 30, 2010

From Israel, Happy New Year 2011 . . . from USA, uncommon New Year 1824 with James Brainerd Taylor

From Jerusalem, Israel, Happy New Year from Uncommon Christian Ministries.

May your 2011 be filled with the joy and peace that only the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Lord Jesus Christ, can give.

As a means of inspiration and encouragement to use this annual time for healthy self-examination--spiritual and otherwise--below are excerpts from the personal writings of James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829). The "uncommon Christian" American evangelist wrote in his journal on December 31, 1823:

Looking at my record made one year ago this evening, I find my testimony to the Lord's goodness the year just then ending, and an invocation for the continuance not only, but for an increase of his favor and love, during the succeeding year. My prayer has been heard. Great and glorious things have been done for my soul, in secret with my God; and of all men I am under the strongest bonds of gratitude, of love, and of praise to him in return.

Why may I not expect greater things the coming year? "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more to the perfect day" [Proverbs 4:18].
Lord God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, whose I am, thine would I be. To thee, through the beloved [the Lord Jesus Christ], I renewedly and solemnly engage my love and obedience. O keep me--save me from all evil [Matthew 6:13]--and bless me abundantly, more than I can ask or think [Ephesian 3:20]; all things are possible with thee [Philippians 4:13].

And in his journal on January 1, 1824, the cousin of the famed missionary David Brainerd (1718-1747) wrote the following "short but expressive notice" while a first-year student at Princeton University:

The Lord has indeed given me a happy beginning of a new year. At evening devotion, had a blessing so rich and full that there seemed a want of room to receive it. Carry on, carry on thy glorious work, O my God, and make me more like Jesus.

For further reflection, here is part of Taylor's annual New Year's letter (1824) to his family in Middle Haddam, Connecticut. The letter is "full of affection, filial and fraternal" and is "strongly expressive of gratitude and piety towards the Giver of every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17).

Reviewing the past year, many things which awaken pleasing reflections rise to my recollection. No period of my life has been marked with clearer indications of the Lord's goodness to his unworthy servant. . . .

As to religious enjoyment, no year has witnessed such displays of divine love. And I may humbly and joyfully say, I have grown in grace [2 Peter 3:18]. My trials have been few, and have all worked for good [Romans 8:28]; my temptations many, but in heaven's armor I have overcome [Ephesians 6:13]. . . .

To look forward a year! It is a precious--an invaluable--period of time. Thus, more than we do,  the ransomed of the Lord, and the spirits of the lost view it. O that we may be wise, to make the most of the year that is before us! What new plans, then, for doing good can we devise [Galatians 6:10]? Or how can we improve those already adopted? Why should we not strive, as individuals, to make our influence to be felt all over the earth [Acts 1:8]? The Lord help us to labor faithfully. And this we should do, not merely from a sense of duty, as obligatory upon all, but as binding upon each, and that too now, as we know not but, ere the close of 1824, we may be summoned hence. Has not heaven something for us to do; something to make known for the good of mankind through us? Let us pray over this interrogatory until we are satisfied.

What is before us as a family, and as individuals, we know not; but to Him who hath brought us hitherto, all is plain [Psalm 139:16]. Concerning this we should not be anxious [Philippians 4:6-7]; for, "shall not the Judge of all the earth do right" [Genesis 18:25]?

As for myself, I feel that the seeds of mortality have taken deep root within me, and I am frequently reminded of my latter end. But does this alarm me? No; for every evidence of the approach of the messenger, death, I have cause to rejoice, rather than to be terrified. It is a sweet exercise to pass the valley, in imagination, and look beyond, upon the pearly gates. Faith enters within the city, and walks the golden streets [Revelation 21:21].

"O glorious hour! O blest abode!
I shall be near, and like my God!"

Excerpts taken from:
John Holt Rice and Benjamin Holt Rice, Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, Second Edition (New York: American Tract Society, 1833), 178-82. Memoir viewable online via Google Books. Click here to read. 

Also, click here to read the memoir's sequel/companion volume A New Tribute to the Memory of James Brainerd Taylor (1838) by James' younger brother Fitch W. Taylor.

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