Precious Chain of Books #3 - 127 years ago

Influence of Good Books by Rev. W. M. PUNSHON, LL.D.

I thought how an old Puritan doctor wrote a book years and years ago, called "The Bruised Reed," which fell just at the right time into the hands of Richard Baxter, and brought him under the influence of the enlightening power of the Spirit of God; and then Baxter's ministry was like the sun in his strength, and he wrote a book called "The Call to the Unconverted," which continued to speak long after Baxter himself had ceased to speak with human tongue. That "Call to the Unconverted" went preaching on until it got into the hands of Philip Doddridge (prepared by his pious mother's teaching from the Dutch tiles of a mantel-piece with very quaint Scriptural stories); and it was the means of enlightening him to a broader knowledge, and a richer faith, and a deeper experience of the things of God. And then I thought how Doddridge wrote a book called "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul," which, just at a critical period in his history, fell into the hands of William Wilberforce, who wrote a book called "Practical Christianity," which, far down in the sunny Isle of Wight, fired the heart of a clergyman, who has attained, perhaps, in connection with this society, the broadest and widest reputation of all—for who has not heard of Legh Richmond? He wrote the simple annals of a Methodist girl, and published it under the title of "The Dairyman's Daughter''; and I should like to know into how many languages that has been translated, and been made of God a power for the spread of truth. The same book on "Practical Christianity'' went right down into a secluded parish in Scotland, and it found there a young clergyman who was preaching a gospel that he did not know, and it instructed him in the way of God more perfectly, and he came forth a champion valiant for the truth upon the earth, until all Scotland rang with the eloquence of Thomas Chalmers. Look at it!—not a flaw in the chain: Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, Philip Doddridge, William Wilberforce, Legh Richmond, Thomas Chalmers—is not that apostolical succession?

Article from: The Evangelization of the World: A Missionary Band: a Record of Consecration, and an Appeal, by B. Broomhall, (1889)

Precious Chain of Books #2 - 100 years ago

One hundred years ago as found in the Christian Worker's Magazine, June, 1916:

The Precious Chain of Books
That God has greatly used Christian literature is a fact of history. There are six books known as the “Precious Chain of Books," by which thousands and tens of thousands of souls have been converted and the work of these books is going on in the world at this time.

Years ago an old Puritan, Doctor Richard Sibbes, wrote a book called the “Bruised Reed,” which fell just at the right time into the hands of Richard Baxter, and brought him under the enlightening power of the Spirit of God; Baxter's ministry became like the sun in his strength, and he wrote a book called “The Call to the Unconverted,” which continued to speak long after Baxter himself had ceased to speak with human tongue. That “Call to the Unconverted" went on preaching until it fell into the hands of Philip Doddridge, and was the means of bringing him to a deeper experience of the things of God.

Afterward, Doddridge wrote a book called “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul” which, just at a critical period in his history, fell into the hands of William Wilberforce, who wrote a book called “Practical Christianity," which exerted a powerful influence on the higher classes of Englishmen.

Far down in the Isle of Wight, “Practical Christianity" fired the heart of a clergyman, who has attained, in connection with the tract societies, perhaps the widest reputation of all—for who has not heard of Legh Richmond? He wrote the simple annals of a Methodist girl, under the name of "The Dairyman's Daughter,” and it would‘ be interesting to know into how many languages this tract has been translated, and how it has been made of God a power for the spread of the truth.

The same book on “Practical Christianity" went down into a secluded parish in Scotland, found there a young minister who was preaching a gospel he did not understand, and instructed him in the way of God more perfectly, so that he came forth a champion valiant for the truth until all Scotland rang with the eloquence of Thomas Chalmers. Look at it! Not a flaw in the chain—Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, Philip Doddridge, William Wilberforce, Legh Richmond and Thomas Chalmers.

—Rev. A. W. Reinhard, in 'The American Messenger.'"

Notice in this version:
  • Richard Sibbes' book is identified as his famous "Bruised Reed."
  • Thomas Chalmers read Wilberforce's "Practical Christianity" instead of the "Dairyman's Daughter."

Precious Chain of Books #1

Ernest C. Reisinger (1919-2004) was a pastor and writer who wrote Every Christian A Publisher (http://www.chapellibrary.org/files/1813/7643/3199/ecap.pdf) where he states "The ministry of books can be used to evangelize, teach, train and expel ignorance as it has done in the past."

Also "A book by Richard Sibbes, one of the choicest of the Puritan writers, was read by Richard Baxter, who was greatly blessed by it. Baxter then wrote his Call To The Unconverted which deeply influenced Philip Doddridge, who in turn wrote The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. This brought the young William Wilberforce, subsequent English statesman and foe of slavery, to serious thoughts of eternity.
Wilberforce wrote his Practical Book of Christianity which fired the soul of Leigh Richmond. Richmond, in turn, wrote The Dairyman's Daughter, a book that brought thousands to the Lord, helping Thomas Chalmers the great preacher, among others."

This same, or almost the same, mysterious passage shows up every once in a while in Christian literature. I hope to track down the source in future blog articles.

Circulate Religious Books

In 1823 it was said: “If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, then error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”
Daniel Webster, US Senator and Secretary of State.

JESSICA'S MOTHER by Hesba Stretton

Quick take:
The sequel to Jessica's First Prayer. Daniel, Jessica and the minister were at the church as a tragedy unfolded. Afterwards, Jessica’s mother is discovered on Daniel’s doorstep and demands Jessica. Daniel grows spiritually closer to God as he seeks to know how Jesus might respond.
My impression:
The story challenges one to evaluate how to treat a person in need when confronted in your own home.
Excerpt:
"'Couldn’t we pray to God,' suggested Jessica, again, 'now, before we go on any farther?'
'Maybe it would be the best thing to do,' agreed Daniel, rising from his chair and kneeling down with Jessica beside him. At first he attempted to pray like some of the church-members at the weekly prayer meeting, in set and formal phrases; but he felt that if he wished to obtain any real blessing he must ask for it in simple and childlike words, as if speaking face to face with his Heavenly Father; and this was the prayer he made, after freeing himself from the ceremonial etiquette of the prayer meetings:
'Lord, thou knowest that Jessica’s mother is come back, and what a drunken and disorderly woman she is, and we don’t know what to do with her, and the minister cannot give us his advice. Sometimes I’m afraid I love my money too much yet, but, Lord, if it’s that, or anything else that’s hard in my heart, so as to hinder me from doing what the Savior, Jesus Christ, would do if he was in my place, I pray thee to take it away, and make me see clearly what my Christian duty is. Dear Lord, I beseech thee keep both me and Jessica from evil.'"
   
JESSICA'S MOTHER by Hesba Stretton - Paperback - $5.95

JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER by Hesba Stretton

Quick take:
Jessica, an inquisitive barefoot girl, took an interest in the coffee stall run by Daniel. Following Daniel into a strange building she began an adventure that will change her life. One of Hesba Stretton’s most popular tales, this heartwarming story was first published in 1867.
My impression:
A very touching story suitable for young children but interesting for any age. The story brings up moral issues such as showing favoritism, love of money, and turning from sin to trust Jesus for forgiveness.
Excerpt:
“Little girl,” said the elder child, in a composed and demure voice, “we don’t mean to be unkind to you; but what do you come here for, and why do you hide yourself behind the door?”
“I like to hear the music,” answered Jessica, “and I want to find out what pray is, and the minister, and God. I know it’s only for ladies and gentlemen, and fine children like you; but I’d like to go inside just for once, and see what you do.”
“You shall come with us into our pew,” cried Winny, in an eager and impulsive tone; but Jane laid her hand upon her out¬stretched arm, with a glance at Jessica’s ragged clothes and matted hair. It was a question difficult enough to perplex them. The little outcast was plainly too dirty and neglected for them to invite her to sit side by side with them in their crimson-lined pew, and no poor people attended the chapel with whom she could have a seat. But Winny, with flushed cheeks and indignant eyes, looked reproachfully at her elder sister.

JESSICA'S FIRST PRAYER by Hesba Stretton - Paperback - $6.95.

A MAN OF HIS WORD by Hesba Stretton

Quick take:
Christmas Williams was well respected in his town. He cared nothing for the new prayer meetings and the talk of God and Savior. When Christmas’ daughter, Easter, took up belief of Jesus as her Savior he threw her out of the house. She became married and had a son, but he kept his word and did not speak to them. The story progresses and “keeping his word” becomes hypocritical. In the end, much is learned about God.
My impression:
As usual Stretton gives much to think about. This is one of her shorter stories, but interesting. Issues involved are pride, reputation, overcoming stubbornness, and being true to your belief system.
Excerpt:

“‘A man can't be true,’ says Christmas, ‘until he is true towards God. I prided myself upon being a man of my word, and meaning all I said, though I spoke a lie every time I said, “I believe.” I didn't believe in God, nor in Jesus Christ our Lord, nor in having any sins to be forgiven. A man must be made true in the darkest corners of his heart before he can be a man of his word.’”

A MAN OF HIS WORD by Hesba Stretton - $4.95.