ISAAC TAYLOR (1787-1865), English author, son of Isaac Taylor (1759-1829), engraver and author, was born at Lavenham, Suffolk, on the 17th of August 1787. He was trained by his father to be an engraver, but early adopted literature as a profession. From 1824, the year of his marriage, he lived a busy but uneventful life at Stanford Rivers, near Ongar, Essex, where he died on the 28th of June 1865. His attention was drawn to the study of the fathers of the church through reading the works of Sulpicius Severus, which he had picked up at a bookstall. He published a History of the Transmission of Ancient Books to Modern Times (1827), a study in biblical criticism, and some other works, but he attracted little notice until, in 1829, he published anonymously a book bearing upon the religious and political problems of the day, entitled The Natural History of Enthusiasm, which speedily ran through eight or nine editions. Fanaticism (1833), Spiritual Despotism (1835), Saturday Evening (1832), and The Physical Theory of Another Life (1836), all commanded a large circulation. In his Ancient Christianity (1839-46), a series of dissertations in reply to the "Tracts for the Times," Taylor maintained that the Christian church of the 4th century should not be regarded as embodying the doctrine and practice of the apostles because it was then already corrupted by contact with pagan superstition. The book met with great opposition, but Taylor did not follow up the controversy.
Among his other works may be mentioned biographies of Ignatius Loyola (1849) and John Wesley (1851); a volume entitled The Restoration of Belief (1855); and a course of lectures on The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry (1861).
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