Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Books read in March 2019

1, The Scottish Church, 1688-1843: The Age of the Moderates by Andrew L. Drummond (Author), James Bulloch  (Author)

Hard going at first as the results of the Glorious Revolution and then the Act of Union affected the church in Scotland. Episcopacy was still very much alive and in the Highlands it was the majority way. Then we have a small secession with the majority divided between Evangelicals and Moderates. Seceders invite Whitfield than reject him and the ensuing revival as he will not sign up to the Presbyterian church order. Here we have more than the title as the historical development of Scotland in thought and industry is described. The authors seem to show their sympathies are with the moderates when substitutionary atonement was questioned and the extent of the atonement. Chalmers is seen as an amazing force, Irvine an eccentric one. Patronage looms large throughout after the lairds' rights were established under Queen Anne. eventually it leads to the Disruption. A fascinating and informative history of Scotland. But I perceive one error. On p 150 it says Calvin applied a credal test to believers and wished to penalise failure by loss of citizenship. If this is so it was only a wish for Calvin, a mere French refugee, was not a citizen of Geneva until his latter years and even then he had no civic power.

2. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller  (Author)

My original review said, 'A very helpful book which I intend to read again slowly and seek to follow its advice. Keller is always first rate. Here he shows himself to be spiritual, learned and erudite. One of the best books on prayer and it references works by Bennett and Matthew Henry which I have found practically useful in prayer. The practical theology of post reformation prayer is most informative. Two things missing - an index and a treatment of the imprecatory prayers as in the Psalms.  I believe there is a mistake on p.24. Surely prayer was eight times a day not seven?'
That was 2018. Now I have reread devotionally, more slowly and have been blessed by Keller again. I would now promote this one of my three favourites on prayer together with Bennett and Matthew Henry volumes, and now Gibson's work on Reformed Liturgy also.

3. The Church in Victorian Scotland, 1843-1874 by Andrew L. Drummond (Author), James Bulloch  (Author)

Like its predecessor volume, this is more than church history for it relates much of the social history of Victorian Scotland. This is post-disruption history by authors from the Church of Scotland. They seem to give as objective history as possible from liberal theologians. They help those who are Calvinists and sympathisers with the free Church, to see ourselves as others see us. Fascinating to learn of liturgical and worship evolution, missions, the impact of science and Biblical criticism. How culture and churches moved from Calvinism is related and moves towards unity.

4. Personal Reminiscences Of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. by W. Williams (Author)

Williams was a student at Spurgeon's College, a baptist minister nearby and a close personal friend. He wrote soon after the death of his friend. Here are anecdotes, aphorisms and sermon notes. Human biographical first hand insights.

5. Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore (Author)

Probably the best modern one volume biography. But the author while dealing fairly with Spurgeon on smoking and drinking, does betray his own prejudices, those of modern Baptists. He and Spurgeon were children go their age. In Spurgeon's day smoking was not seen as unhealthy and teetotalism became the norm. If CHS had lived today he might have had a different attitude after the folly of Prohibition. I learned that teetotalism comes from Wesley's detestation of tea but not alcohol.

6. Lectures to My Students: a Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastor's College : by C. H Spurgeon (Author)

Mine is dated 1893 and the printing shows 37,000 which is a good indication of the popularity of the Prince of Preachers though this was for those going into Christian ministry Spiritual, practical, humorous - all characteristics of this great man and his work.

7. THE NEW PARK STREET PULPIT, containing sermons preached during the year, volume vi, 1860 by C H Spurgeon

My prize Spurgeon possession is this 1861 original. The Victorians must have been blessed with good eyesight for the print is small. One sermon published weekly. Some are Sunday sermons, some midweek.

8.Commenting and Commentaries: Two Lectures Addressed to the Students of the Pastors' College, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Together With a Catalogue of Biblical Commentaries and Expositions by C H. 1834-1892 Spurgeon (Author)

Mine is a Banner of Truth reprint of the 1876 original but now with the added lectures plus a textual index to CHS's sermons which is very useful if you want to know how he expounded a given text. 

9. Pictorial Biography of C. H. Spurgeon by Bob L. Ross (Author)

Mine is hardback. A helpful collection of photographs and also cartoons on Spurgeon. Some biography. Pictures of CHS at various ages, family an d friends. Quite a comprehensive collection.

10. The Gospel of the Kingdom. A Popular Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew by C H. 1834-1892 Spurgeon (Author)

This was the author's last work. He produced it during his final illness, dying before completion. Completed by others from CHS's spoken and written words according to Mys Spurgeon's foreword. It is an exposition rather than a commentary. Biblical blessed thoughts. An appendix of 175 sermons etc by CHS which expound this gospel. Mine is dated 1893 so a Passmore and Alabaster first hardback edition.

11. The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit : sermons preached and revised by C H Spurgeon during the year 1869 by C H Spurgeon (Author)

52 sermons preached in 1869. Mine is a half leather hardback, a private binding of the penny sermons. The first six volumes were New Park Street Pulpit and has minuscule print. In these later years the print is larger and readable. 

12. The Works Of William Cowper, With A Life Of The Author, By The Editor R. Southey by William Cowper  (Author)

I have this in 15 volumes published in 1835 when Southey was poet laureate. Up to volume three is biography and then the letters start. 8 to 14 are the poems, 15 is letters.

13. Commentary on the Book of the prophet Isaiah by Jean Calvin and William Pringle 

I have the hardback 22 volume set by Baker in 1979 reprinting the Calvin Translation Society edition published after 1843. Pringle was the translator. When I reduced by library disposing of most of my commentaries, Calvin had to stay with me. The first commentator to whom one turns.

14. Titus: The Good Life (Good Book Guide) by Tim Chester  (Author)

Not a commentary but gives the context and time of Titus. Very helpful for group Bible study and I found it very good in giving questions for group discussion. The questions are open, not closed.

15. Titus For You: For Reading, For Feeding, For Leading by Tim Chester  (Author)

A practical commentary or the ordinary Christian. Simple, practical and profound. Has some practical open questions suitable for group discussion.

16. The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Calvin's New Testament Commentaries) by John Calvin (Author), David W. Torrance (Author), Thomas Forsyth Torrance (Editor)

Always my first choice of commentator. This translation by T A Small published in 1964 is an improvement on that of the previous century. It uses the Revised Version. 

17.The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara  (Author)

Probably the best historical novel I have read and I have read plenty. My compliment carries extra weight as my prejudice is for things British. I have been to Gettysburg and seen the film too. By 0mparison the film is rubbish for it shows Jackson being there when he was already dead in battle. The author gives both sides reasons for the war and in such a way I had to find out if his origins were from North or South as his writing does not betray his origins. Described as an anti-was novel I think it is only anti-war by virtue of its graphic accounts of destruction, drath and suffering. A conflict between brothers, some from the same families, many who had trained and served the Union together. Some were concerned to have sworn loyalty then rebelled. The problem of intelligence is to the fore. What is the enemy doing? How goes the battle? Commanders were often in the dark.Huge mistakes were made as we see with hindsight. Amazing that  the best loved general should be the loser whose bad judgement lost the war. His Christian faith is well related and the dilemmas of command. If only the English civil war was so well related by a like novel

18. Covenants for Evangelicals: Understanding Biblical Covenants for 21st Century (Covenant Books) by David Legg (Author)

A fresh approach to covenant theology with, it seems to me some original thinking e.g. the controlling covenant concept. I found this challenging. It is a long read and deserves careful study and reflection. The author departs from the traditional reformed understanding of two covenants of salvation, works and grace, contrasting and comparing other Biblical covenants. I thought his dismissal of the covenant of redemption as rather cavalier. But here the author touches on many more related subjects like the sacraments, child rearing, Sunday School and Sabbath as well as the meaning of testament. There is much to learn , ponder and discuss. I was sent a review prior to publication but I trust the author's generosity has not influenced my judgement.

19.Grace in Winter: Rutherford in Verse Lby Faith Cook (Author)

Faith Cook is a gifted Christian author and I have enjoyed and reviewed several of her books. But this one shows her talent is not really for poetry. I love Rutherford's letters but give me them, the originals, not this. The book is though valuable for the biographies given and for some beautiful photographs associated with Rutherford and his correspondents. For Rutherford in verse, read and sing, The Sands of Time are Sinking. That is poetry.

20. Help! I need to know about the problems of adoption by James Taylor  (Author)

The pseudonymous author seems to write from the experience of an adoptive parent of an older child, not a new born baby or a very young child. Some of the problems described are not those of parents adopting the very young. I was taken aback by 'I do not believe that adoption was part of God's original plan for humanity.' Was not Adam God's adopted son? Adoption is a fundamental Biblical concept describing the relationship God makes with us when we sinners are adopted as His son's at our new birth. The author does not trace the Biblical history of adoption in the culture of ancient times. Then a son was adopted for the sake of the father, to give a human heir. Now we adopt for the sake of the child. The author gives four good reasons for adoption but does not mention that in an age of widespread abortion, part of being pro-life is to see that adoption is readily offered to help needy mothers. This reviewer is not an adopted child nor an adoptive parent but I have through pastoral experience seen something of the process of a neglected child being taken into care and happily adopted. I have heard of the struggles of good adoptive parents and also a case where a child was adopted, not for the child's sake but for the parents to have an insurance policy when they became older. Hopefully local authorities now weed out such bad motivation. The booklet is brief and could I think give more on the difficult process of local authority assessment. It does not deal with fostering. Perhaps this series  of helps will produce such a pamphlet in the future. I would definitely recommend this to prospective adoptive parents despite my criticisms of the booklet's shortcomings. They like me may be surprised to learn that there is such a thing as statutory support for adoption including possible financial help.

21. The incomparable Christ: Exploring the wonders of Jesus (Reflections) by Timothy Cross (Author)

Good on who Christ is and what he has done. Heart warming for the Christian to meditate on. Seems to be aimed at ordinary Christians, perhaps those young in the faith. Impeccability seems a strange choice of chapter instead of sinlessness. Two important aspects of Christ's work are omitted, his baptism and sending the Holy Spirit.

22. The Poetical Works of Wordsworth With Photographic Illustrations by Payne Jennings Leather Bound – 1850 by William Wordsworth (Author)

A beautiful volume with almost all his poems but there is but one portrait of the poet by way of photographic illustrations.  There is sadly no index, only a short memoir then a list of contents. Even there it is hard to find a given poem. I searched hard for the two I memorised at primary school, Daffodils and Westminster Bridge.  I found the Ecclesiastical Sketches to be a treasure of Christian history and doctrine from an admirer of the Church of England, admirer of reformers and liberty and also the Covenanters but no fan of the Puritan revolution. One to treasure but the gems are not easy to find.

23. Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke: v. 1 (Calvin's New Testament Commentaries S.) by Jean Calvin  (Author), A.W. Morrison (Translator)

Mine was published in 1972 and reprinted in 1980. It is helpful to be able to contrast and compare the synoptic accounts. This is from the only set of commentaries I kept when I downsized my library. Calvin is the first resource for this preacher.

24.The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen by C Day Lewis (Author)

Amazon shows a cover identical to mine but mine is a 1969 reprint of the 1963 edition. For me Owen is the greatest of war poets. What might he have become if his life had not been snuffed out aged 25 a week before the end of the war that changed the modern world. His subject is 'War, and the pity of War'.  Enough to make one weep. My favourite modern great poet. The greatest anti-war work ever. 

25.Wordsworth and the Lake District: A Guide to the Poems and Their Places by David McCracken  (Author)

A wonderful guide. It makes me want to book a holiday in the Lakes right away. Maps, illustration, poems, biography, places and poems. All there to delight this lover of poetry, history and The Lakes.

26.Masterpieces of Religious Verse by James Dalton Morrison (Author)
Mine is paperback with the pictured Amazon cover, 1978 reprint of 1977 edition by Baker Book House.

2020 masterpieces very well indexed as to subject, first line, title and author. How refreshing to find several indices and not be complaining as to the lack of even one. Speaking on Christ's temptation I found help under that in the subject index and also help under Lent and under temptation. The poems that came up were from well known poets, unknown ones and hymn writers. Most helpful.

27.The Oxford Library of English Poetry - 3 Volume Box Set by John (ed). Wain (Author)

Wain is editor. Beautifully produced set , mine published by Book Club Associates in 1987. Volume one goes from 16th to 17th centuries. Volume two is 18th to 19th and includes a verse of Watts, When I survey, unknown in any hymnbook I have seen. But Burns as English poetry? He wrote in Scots. The last volume bring us up to date. A great set to dip into time after time.

28.Samuel Rutherford by Andrew Thomson  (Author)

I am assuming that this on Amazon is a reprint of the 1889 original by Hodder and Stoughton in my possession. Eight chapters on Rutherford and then fourteen selections form Rutherford's letters and finally all twenty verses of 'The sands of time".Puts Rutherford in his historic context so you learn about the most turbulent period in British history.

29.The Definitive Edition of Rudyard Kipling's Verse by Rudyard Kipling (Author)

Mine is a 1943 edition by Doubleday.Doran and Co, It came from my father in law who bought it in Baltimore Dev 30th 1944 when he was ducked there as a WW2 merchant seaman who had joined our Merchant navy on the day of Pearl harbour. He survived the war never sunk.It has an index of first lines. There is no attempt at a chronology of the poems. I love the poems The Raj as sen by the British Tommy especially. Empire is denigrated today. But Kipling is its poet par excellence. I love him. 

30.The Fireside Book of Humorous Poetry. Edited by William Cole. With the original illustrations by Tenniel and others.

Authors, titles and first links indexed which is a help. Chapters arranged with humorous titles too. For many a smile and laugh. The parodies are great fun.

31. Margaret Thatcher the Downing Street Years

This is one of my most prized possessions. The first edition signed by the great lady herself with her dedication written to me with her best wishes when I was Councillor Graham Weeks. I never met her. My MP asked her to sign it for me. Her own account of her premiership. This was published before the chronologically first volume so there is nothing here of her life before her premiership.

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