Taylor, John

, a learned dissenting teacher, was born near Lancaster in 1694, and educated at Whitehaven. He settled first at Kirksteadin Lincolnshire, where he preached to a very small congregation, and '.aught a grammar school for the support of his family, near twenty years; but in 1733, his merit in this obscure situation being known, he was unanimously chosen by a presbyterian congregation at Norwich, where he preached many years, and avowed his sentiments to be hostile to the Trinitarian doctrine. From this city he was, in <757, invited to Warrington in Lancashire, to superintend an academy formed there; being judged the fittest person to give this new institution a proper dignity and reputation in the world. With this invitation, which was warmly and importunately enforced, he complied; but some differences about precedency and authority, as well as some disputes about the principles of morals, soon involved, and almost endangered, the very being of the academy, and subjected him to such treatment as he often said, “would shorten his days:” and so it proved. He had a very good constitution, which he had preserved by temperance, but it was now undermined by a | complication of disorders. “The last time I saw him,” says Dr. Harwood, “he bitterly lamented his unhappy situation, and his being rendered (all proper authority, as a tutor, being taken from him) utterly incapable of being any longer useful, said his life was not any object of desire to him, when his public usefulness was no more; and repeated with great emotion some celebrated lines to this purpose out of Sophocles.

He died March 5, 1761, having gone to bed as well as usual the night before, only complaining a little of a pressure on his stomach. Of his writings, the first he published was “A prefatory Discourse to a Narrative of Mr. Joseph Rawson’s Case;” who was excluded from communion with the congregational church at Nottingham, for asserting the unity and supremacy of God the Father. In 1740, “The Scripture doctrine of Original Sin,” in which that doctrine is denied. This has gone through three editions. In 1745, “A Paraphrase on the Romans” republished by bishop Watson in his “Tracts,” and recommended by Dr. Bentham in his “Reflections on the study of Divinity;” and the same year, “A Scripture Catechism with Proofs.” In 1750, “A Collection of Tunes in various Airs, with a Scheme for supporting the spirit and practice of Psalmody in congregations.” In 1751, “The Importance of Children; or, Motives to the good Education of Children.” In 1753, “The Scripture Doctrine of Atonement.” In 1754, his great work, the labour of his whole life, “An Hebrew English Concordance,” in 2 vols. folio, which will remain a lasting monument of his indefatigable industry and critical skill. The same year, “The Lord’s Supper explained upon Scripture principles.” In 1755, “The Covenant of Grace in defence of infant baptism.” In 1757, “A Charge delivered at the ordination of Mr. Smithson.” In 1756, “A Sermon,” preached at the opening of the new chapel in Norwich. In 1759, “An Examination of Dr. Hutcheson’s Scheme of Morality.” His last performance, in 1760, was “A Sketch of Moral Philosophy;” which he drew up for the use of his own pupils, and as introductory to “Wollaston’s Religion of Nature.

From his first settling at Warrington as tutor, he spent all his leisure hours in reviewing his “Concordance,” collating passages in an alphabetical order, and correcting the English translation. He had made a considerable advance in this useful work, when death seized him. Dr. Taylor | somposed, and fairly transcribed, a number of discourses On moral, critical, and practical subjects, sufficient to make four volumes in 8vo, which he designed for the press, and intended to be published after his death: and accordingly his “Scheme of Scripture Divinity” was afterwards published by his son. Dr. Taylor deviated very early from the orthodox system, at first adopting the sentiments of Dr. Clarke on the subject of the Trinity, but became at last a Socinian, which Dr. Clarke was not. Gilbert Wakefield gives a singular character of Dr. Taylor: “The reader,” says Wakefield, “who is acquainted with the writings of this very learned, liberal, and rational divine, cannot fail to be impressed with sentiments highly favourable to the gentleness and forbearance of their author: for even the meekness of Christianity itself is exhibited in his prefaces and occasional addresses to the reader. But he was, in reality, a very peevish and angry disputant in conversation, and dictatorial even to intolerance. So imperfect a judgment may be formed of the mildness or asperity of any author from the correspondent quality of his writings.” But an authority, equally valid with that of Mr. Wakefield, praises Dr. Taylor’s “agreeable deportment in society, free from pedantry and superciliousness, and marked by kindness and affability;” yet Mr. Wakefield’s character of him is a curious document, as affording a perfect contrast to his own. 1

1 Hanvood’s Funeral Sermon for Dr. Taylor. Wakefield’s Memoirs.