Author Archives: Pioneer Library

About Pioneer Library

Go where no one else will go. Do what no one else will do.

Review: Always Enough

Author: Rolland and Heidi Baker are missionaries and itinerant speakers. They have planted churches in the United Kingdom and Mozambique. Heidi is also the CEO of Iris Global, a humanitarian organization they founded for work in developing countries.

Full Title: Always Enough: God’s Miraculous Provision among the Poorest Children on Earth


Always Enough (2003) is the story of Rolland and Heidi Baker, focusing on their experiences in Mozambique as missionaries.

In Africa they experienced not only disaster and poverty on a national level, but national repentance and revival as Mozambicans responded to God. Miracles attended their message and are a major part of their story—especially healing and miraculous provision.

Through the Bakers’ delegation of responsibility and leadership, at least five thousand churches were started in Africa in less than a decade. I thoroughly enjoyed this inspirational book and recommend it highly.

Worship As Testimony (In Spirit and Truth – Part 2)

Christian worship is a way of embodying our personal and corporate testimonies. In song, we express what it means to us that God has saved us, changed us, heard our prayers, and formed us in the glorious likeness of his Son.

Not all worship is congregational worship.

Some of the testimonies we put into song are personal, individual, not suited for use in the congregation. This does not make them meaningless. There are plenty of lines in the Psalms of David that would be quite out of place in a Christian gathering! And even songs that are sung in gatherings are grounded in personal testimony. Psalm 18 begins with a long explanation, historically grounding the song in David’s biography:

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul . . .

Psalm 18:1, NKJV

Personal testimonies become corporate testimonies.

The modern worship song “How He Loves Us” is a great example of the shift from a personal testimony to a corporate testimony. It became a radio hit for David Crowder in 2009, reaching number 8 on the Billboard charts and receiving a nomination for a Dove Award. (The album did win the Dove Award for best worship album.)

But many of us first heard that song in a viral YouTube video from 2005 by John Mark McMillan, who wrote the song. The lyrics are slightly different, the song is several minutes longer, and there is a whole verse about “the day Stephen died”, referring to McMillan’s friend who had died in a car accident. It is an intensely personal story, and the original song doesn’t make sense without knowing that testimony. Crowder repackaged the song for a broader audience—famously scrapping the “sloppy wet kiss”—and in the process transformed the song for corporate worship. Both types of song are indispensable in Christian worship.

Personal songs can be honest about suffering without shame.

The Psalms teach us that the variety of spiritual experience is great. Biblical commentators such as John Calvin have stated that this is practically one of the most important things we can glean about the Psalms as a whole. Christians are not aloof from the whole pageant of human life, ranging from lament to ecstasy.

My soul faints for Your salvation,
But I hope in Your word.

My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

For I have become like a wineskin in smoke,
Yet I do not forget Your statutes.

How many are the days of Your servant?
When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?

Psalm 119:81–84, NKJV

Psalms like Psalm 13 and Psalm 42, along with many passages from the Prophets, show us that the lament is a legitimate form of worship. We miss much by making worship that pretends that Christians are always happy people. Jesus himself prayed to be delivered at Gethsemane, and asked God why he was forsaken at the cross—quoting Psalm 22 in doing so. Astoundingly, God himself fellowships with us in our unanswered prayers, which is in itself better than answering them.

Corporate testimonies become personal testimonies.

Testimonies are not just joyful expressions: they also serve to stoke our memories of God’s goodness when we cannot remember. When we are in a place of joy, corporate testimonies can remind us how to live in lament, and vice versa. We need these memories to rekindle our joy in the Holy Ghost.

When we are least attracted to worship, we are most in need of the collective memories that are preserved for us there. Worship changes our perspective and helps us to reorient our lives around God’s story that is happening all around us every day, even on the days that we do not sense that we are a part of that story.

New Books—and What’s Next (January 2022)

What’s New

There are three new books from Pioneer Library:

Dramatic Stories of Jesus: Filling the Silent Places in the Gospels is (or was) one of the rarest books by Louis Albert Banks, now in print for the first time in 97 years.

The World’s Childhood is a book of sermons on Genesis 1 to 3 by Louis Albert Banks.

Benjamin Needler’s Expository Notes on Genesis 1 to 5 is a classic work from the Puritan era. Needler was an Anglican who was ejected from the Church of England in 1662 due to his views.

What’s Next

Joseph Parker’s monumental series of over 1100 expository sermons, The People’s Bible: Discourses upon Holy Scripture, has been completely re-typeset for a new edition. I ran into some hiccups in the design work, but it should be (re-)released sometime in 2022.

There are several more commentaries on Genesis that are in progress for publication, as I’m chipping away at creating my ultimate list of free Bible commentaries in the search for excellence and thoroughness in biblical studies. I’ve discovered a wealth of new favorites and I am thrilled to share both insights and the books themselves. A few of the books on Genesis that I’ve planned to put back into print are William Hunnis’ A Hyve Full of Hunnye (1584), Lancelot Andrewes’ (d. 1626) sermons on Genesis 1 to 4, and Gervase Babington’s Comfortable Notes upon Genesis and Exodus (1592).

The Branded Foot is an extremely rare novel by Archibald Forder. The story is about Lex, a young and idealistic Christian who gets stranded in the Arabian Peninsula. The plot is based on the author’s experience of rural Arab life; the story also likely includes a dramatisation of certain aspects of Forder’s missionary career that he could not share openly. I don’t have much taste for fiction, but I do look forward to sharing this one with the world.

There are (still!) a number of Louis Albert Banks’ books that will be going into publication in 2022. Among those planned for the future are The Motherhood of God, The Winds of God, The Honeycombs of Life, The Sinner and His Friends, and A Year’s Prayer-Meeting Talks. All of these are in progress and several are completely typeset and proofread; it is just a matter of finishing up the publication work. Banks fans, keep searching Amazon periodically, as there is always more on the docket.

Free Commentaries on Genesis – Quick Links (Ultimate List of Free Bible Commentaries)

This is a shortened version of my ultimate list of free Genesis commentaries, created for quicker reference. Commentaries covering the entire book are in boldface.

Those I especially treasured as thorough and thoughtful were the commentaries of Ainsworth, Babington, Kalisch, Needler, and Patrick, the sermons of Candlish and Fuller, and the Genesis Rabbah, a Jewish midrash. Gibbons also has an absurd number of patristic quotations.

Genesis Commentaries

Alcuin (1–16) | Alford | Ambrose (1–4) | Ambrosiaster (“Pseudo-Augustine”) | Anonymous [“Fidus”] (3) | Babington | Basil the Great (1) | H. Bonar (1–6) | Browne (“Speaker’s Commentary”) | Bunyan (1–10) | Bush | Chapman(?) | Clapham (1–14) | Coghlan | Colman (1–3) | T. Cooper | Cumming[1] | | Delitzsch vol 1 (1–14) / Delitzsch vol 2 (15–50) | de Sola, Lindenthal, & Morris | Driver (“Westminster”) | Franks | Geddes | Genesis Rabbah | Gibbons/Gibbens (1–14) | Gibson | Goodspeed | Groves | P. Henry (1–11) | Hughes | Hunnis | “Ibn Ezra” (Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra) | Jacobus | Jervis | Keil & Delitzsch | Kurtz / alt. ver. | Latch | Lightfoot | Luther vol 1 (1–3) / Luther vol 2 (4–9) | D. MacDonald (1–3) | McCaul (1) | Murphy | Needler (1–5) | W. Paul | Payne Smith [“Ellicott’s”] | Richardson | A. Ross (1–14) | Ryle / alt. ver.| Sibthorp | Simeon / alt. ver. | Skinner | Spurrell | Terry & Newhall [“Whedon’s”] / alt. ver. | Todd | Turner | Victorinus (1–2) | von Gerlach | Walker (1–2) | J. White (1–3) | Willet | I. Williams (1–4) |

Pentateuch Commentaries

Ainsworth | Blunt | “Chizkuni” (Rabbi Hezekiah ben Manoah) | A. Jackson |Kalisch | Kenrick | Kidder | Morison | “Ramban” (Rabbi Moses ben Nahman) | “Sforno” (Ovadiah ben Ya’akov Seforno) | A. Wright |

Whole Bible Commentaries & Study Bibles

Barnes | Benson | Bullinger | Calvin | Constable | Dodd | Gaebelein | Gill | M. Henry / alt. ver. / abridged ver. | Hewlett | Jamieson | Kitto | Kretzmann | Lange | Meyer[4] | Meyer[5] | Patrick | Poole | T. Scott | Sutcliffe | Trapp | T. Williams |

Sermons & Lectures

Andrewes (1–4) / alt. ver. | Banks (1–3) | Boardman (1–2) | Bonnet (3) | Bonus | Bromby (1–5) | Candlish | Close | Crosse (1–23) | Dods (“Expositor’s Bible”) | Fuller | Horne | MacDuff (28) | Mackintosh | MacLaren [“Expositions of Holy Scripture”] | J. Parker [“People’s Bible” vol. 1] | Rollinson (49) | Shute (16) | Thornton

Studies of Biblical Characters

Cumming[2] (1–11) | Cumming[3] (12–36) | Cumming[4] (37–50) | Kelly (12–25) | Meyer[1] (12–25) | Meyer[3] (25–35) | Meyer[3] (37–50) |

Dissertations & Essays

Barrington (3) | Bate (3) | Holden (2–3) | Kennicott (2–4) | Oakes (1–3) | Salkeld (2–3) | Shuckford (1–3) |

There are many more works, especially in Latin, that are available online. If you know of a work I’ve left out that’s freely available online, written in English, and in the public domain, please leave a suggestion in the comments.

Review: Ventures among the Arabs

Ventures among the Arabs recounts the adventures of Archibald Forder, a missionary who worked among Arabs. Forder worked primarily in the lands we know as Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, but also travelled in many other areas, especially where Bedouins are found. He and his wife first went to Kerak, Moab (present-day Jordan) to fill a gap for William and Jane Lethaby while they travelled elsewhere.

Forder travelled alone into northern Najd, an area that was almost wholly untouched by Europeans. Alois Musil is perhaps the only explorer who overlapped closely with Forder in place and time, and they interacted with the same tribes.

Forder is known—like Musil—for adopting native language, dress, and lifestyle as much as possible. He lacked institutional backing and was forced by the Church of England to become independent, but he did not forsake his missionary outpost. He is refreshing for his lack of worldly prestige or ambition; he is simply a man with a message.

He pioneered among the Bedouin in present-day Jordan, and made visits to rural areas all over the northern Arabian Peninsula. Little or no missionary work was being done in most of the areas he visited, so that his accounts and his depictions, for the time in which they were written, were almost wholly unique.
In terms of day-to-day life, Forder did medical work, often aiding wounded Bedouin after tribal skirmishes. He also distributed Scriptures as a colporteur.

In his lifetime, readers of Forder’s books complained that he didn’t supply any personal details about his life, and he tried to remedy this in 1919 when he published In Brigands’ Hands and Turkish Prisons. Later books show how he pioneered a new mission among Palestine’s Bedouin (based in Jerusalem).

Ventures among the Arabs is a fascinating little collection of stories about Forder’s beginnings in his Arabian mission. I highly recommend all of his books for those interested in the history of missions among Arabs.

What Is Worship? (In Spirit and Truth – Part 1)

The fact that our worship underwhelms us is a signal of how much we are in need of true worship. We need true worship to honor the Father rightly. We need true worship to change our perspective.

To worship means to bow.

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:2, NKJV

The word “worship” has come to signify an entire industry of music, often represented by record labels that are not even run by Christians. But even the English word outside of the modern church has little or nothing to do with music. To “worship” originally means to proclaim a person’s worth by bowing to them as an act of love and allegiance. In some biblical contexts, the English word “worship” means the physical act of prostrating oneself before another in expression of obedience (though biblical languages have several words that may be translated “worship”, and not all of them can mean this).

Worship does not depend on where we are.

“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you [Jews] say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

John 4:20–21, NKJV

This may be the clearest New Testament teaching about worship, and yet we often hear mellifluous talk from the pulpit about how great it is to come into “God’s house” to offer worship. We are God’s house, we can offer our worship anywhere, and worship is much larger than the musical portion of our public services. We gather together to learn from each other, to receive teaching, and to remember Christ’s death, not because any institutionally-recognized location is a condition of acceptable worship. In fact, Jesus explicitly denies this idea. It is a Christian distinctive that we can worship God anywhere (see Acts 16:25!); we gather together and sing as one of many acts of worship.

Christian worship usually includes music.

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:26, NKJV

Since the days of Moses, music has been a distinctive element in Judeo-Christian worship. The Muslim may well be perplexed that the Christian reads (rather than recites) his holy book, and sings (rather than performs in ritual) his worship. Music is powerful in its ability to engage the mind, memory, and emotions. Christian worship is not a purely intellectual exercise. It involves our whole soul, and Christian music is a key expression of that fact. The memories of the earliest songs of our childhood show us the formative power of music. Music also has the power of disarming us, allowing us to understand a new perspective without argumentation. This makes it a powerful tool for teaching, for good and for ill.

Worship is more than music.

. . . speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord . . .

Ephesians 5:19, NKJV

Paul and Silas did not only sing songs in prison; they also prayed and spoke and evangelised. Even Christian songs themselves are a form of teaching. Jeremy Riddle writes that we have grossly underestimated the teaching role of Christian worship songs. Our worship leaders and songwriters should not be spiritual novices with thorough musical training; whatever their musical training, they should be theologians, capable of mediating and transferring spiritual truth through both word and song.

Worship may be addressed from us to God, from God to us, or from us to one another.

There are not one but three patterns of Christian worship: praise, prophecy. and exhortation. Some psalms may use two or three of these in turn, signfiied by changes between first, second, and third-person pronouns (“I”, “you”, and “he”). It goes without saying that we may freely address praise to God, directly:

. . . To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.

Psalm 101:1b, NKJV

In addition, a few modern Christian songs include lines that are written from God’s perspective, speaking to us words of encouragement. This may seem overly bold to some, but David’s psalms often included prophecies along with prayers. Worship as prophecy is an established, biblical pattern:

“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the LORD;
“I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”

Psalm 12:5, NKJV

Thirdly, worship can include words of exhortation between believers. Psalm 91, one of the most remarkable and memorable psalms, never addresses God directly. Verses 3 to 13—nearly the entire psalm—are in the second person:

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

Psalm 91:4, NKJV

Worship is about God.

I will sing of mercy and justice.

Psalm 101:1a

Worship, in the end, is not about how happy or despondent we feel, but about God’s wondrous attributes. Worship is an act of grounding our finiteness in God’s infinitude. It is for this reason that it is so important that those who prepare Christian worship of all kinds—whether in song, prayer, prophecy, or exhortation—must be seasoned disciples, trusted teachers, and grateful prophets.

Worship is for everyone.

Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!

Psalm 117:1, NKJV

Worship is not a musical performance put on by a few special saints. It is the prerogative of all Christians. When I write about worship, I don’t want anyone to misconstrue my words as only applying to worship leaders. The condition of our worship will improve when Christians everywhere realise that it is their responsibility to reflect God’s glorious image in their services and sacraments.

Free Books by Arthur C. Custance (COMPLETE)

Arthur C. Custance (1910–1985) was a Canadian scientist and lay theologian. He may remind you of a medieval polymath for his breadth of knowledge. After receiving a M.A. in “Middle Eastern Languages” (the course of study included Greek, Hebrew, and cuneiform) in 1941, he completed a Ph.D. in Anthropology, but was denied graduation after his thesis approval because he believed in a literal Adam and Eve. He later obtained another Ph.D. in Education (1959). You can read more of his fascinating biography here.

Because of his broad interests, Custance’s writings are a wholly unique cocktail of theology, biology, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology. Even though these works are decades old, the quality of his erudition lends lasting value to most of his works. Most were part of “The Doorway Papers” series of monographs (1957–1972). These monographs are collected in loosely related volumes. Those who are studying creationism will find a treasure trove here!

I recommend in particular two books: The Seed of the Woman (his magnum opus) and The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation (“The Trinity in the Old Testament” and “How Did Jesus Die?” are both extremely interesting).

Does Science Transcend Culture? (PhD Thesis)

Evolution or Creation? (Doorway Papers #4)

The Flood: Local or Global? (Doorway Papers #9)

Genesis and Early Man (Doorway Papers #2)

Hidden Things of God’s Revelation (Doorway Papers #7)

Journey out of Time: A Study of the Interval Between Death and the Resurrection of the Body

Man in Adam and in Christ (Doorway Papers #3)

The Mysterious Matter of Mind

Noah’s Three Sons (Doorway Papers #1)

Science and Faith (Doorway Papers #8)

The Seed of the Woman: What God Had To Do To Make Our Salvation Possible

Sovereignty of Grace: A Study of Election and Predestination

Time and Eternity (Doorway Papers #6)

Two Men Called Adam

The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation (Doorway Papers #5)

Without Form and Void: A Study of the Meaning of the Hebrew Words of Genesis 1:1 and 2

For those interested, the ACOL website does list a few short articles that are not available online:

How to Evaluate Commentaries on Genesis (1957) [Wow, this would be cool to have.]
Some Hebrew Word Studies (1972)
When the Earth Was Divided: An Imaginative Reconstruction of Early History (1962)

Tokichi Ishii’s Text

This essay, summarizing the inspirational story of Tokichi Ishii, is one chapter in A Bundle of Torches, coming back to print in January 2022 in the newest addition to the F. W. Boreham Signature Series. The full story of Tokichi Ishii, A Gentleman in Prison (1922) will also be returning to print.  Ishii's remarkable story was first published in Japanese in 1919 under the title 聖徒となれる悪徒: 石井藤吉の懺悔と感想 ("The Scoundrel Who Became a Saint").  Editions followed in English (1922), Danish (1923), German (1924), Dutch (1925), Hungarian (1927), Chinese (1933), and Arabic (1980).


The spiritual pilgrimage of Tokichi Ishii is, Dr. Kelman declares, the strangest story in all the world. It is, he adds, one of our great religious classics. ‘There is in it something of the glamour of the Arabian Nights and something of the hellish nakedness of Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Horror. There is also the most realistic vision I have ever seen of Jesus Christ finding one of the lost. You see, as you read, the matchless tenderness of His eyes and the almighty power of the gentlest hands that ever drew a lost soul out of misery into peace.’

The story was first told in the saloon of the Empress of Russia. The cold winds swept across the sea, having a touch of the northern ice in them, and a group of passengers had gathered in a sheltered spot. They were relating to each other all kinds of experiences with which they had met. But, after a while, every narrative was overshadowed and driven into the oblivion of forgetfulness by the story that was told by Miss Caroline Macdonald, a quiet little Scottish lady. As soon as she had finished her amazing recital, everybody felt that they had been listening to one of the world’s most thrilling and absorbing romances. It is, as Mr. Fujiya Suzuki, M.P., says, just such a story as Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Tokichi Ishii is Jean Valjean over again, but Jean Valjean with a profound spiritual experience. Dr. Kelman, who was of the party on board the Empress of Russia, insisted that the story, which had already been published in Japanese, must be translated into Western tongues. And, as a consequence, here it is! It is worthy, as the publishers claim in their introductory note, to be cherished among the classical prison documents which are among the priceless treasures of the Christian Church. It is entitled A Gentleman in Prison; and he would be of cold blood and sluggish soul who could read it without deep emotion. Nor is its interest merely—or mainly—sentimental. ‘The most striking aspect of the book for many readers will be its psychology.’ Dr. Kelman declares, ‘One can imagine the glee with which Professor William James would have seized upon it and given it world-wide fame. The narrative discloses a true psychologist, full of curiosity about himself and bewildered by the masterless passions of his amazing soul.’ It has, too, a very high apologetic value. If I knew a man who had any doubt about the reality of religion, or about the existence of God, or about the eternal Deity of Jesus Christ, I would rather hand him a copy of A Gentleman in Prison than any volume of argument or of divinity that has ever been published. If A Gentleman in Prison did not scatter his scepticism, nothing would.


The book is dedicated To All in Every Land Who Have Never Had a Chance. Ishii certainly never had. He was born in heathenism; his father was an inveterate drunkard; his mother was the daughter of a Shinto priest. Up to the time of his death, he only knew two Christians; and he met them during the brief period of his last imprisonment, and after he himself had avowed his faith in Christ. At the age of thirteen he had to decide whether he would steal or starve. He resolved the problem in the way in which most of us, similarly situated, would have settled it. He stole. ‘This,’ he says, ‘was the beginning of my life of crime. As I look back now I realize keenly how easily a child is influenced by bad friends and surroundings.’ Stealing quickly led to gambling; gambling led to more stealing; and stealing and gambling together soon plunged him into prison. In prison he consorted with hardened criminals who laid themselves out to make the boy as callous as themselves. ‘The fact of the matter is,’ says Ishii, and he underlines the words, ‘the fact of the matter is that a prison is simply a school for learning crime.’ He was an apt pupil. During the years that followed, he committed one atrocity after another in the most shameless and audacious fashion. He spent most of his time in gaol; and, immediately upon his release, he committed some new felony or murder which once more brought the police upon his trail. And, on the twenty-ninth of April, 1915, his career of crime reached a hideous climax. He murdered the geisha girl who waited upon him at a tea-house near Tokyo. This, the most dastardly and dreadful of all his misdeeds, nevertheless had in it the germ that developed into better things.


Ishii crept away from the tea-house without leaving any clue that could lead to the conviction of the culprit. But, some time afterwards, when he was imprisoned on a later charge, he overheard his fellow-prisoners discussing the tea-house murder. A man named Komori, the lover of the girl, was, they said, being tried for the murder of the geisha. Within the grimy soul of Ishii a knight lay slumbering, and this startling news awoke him. ‘For a moment,’ Ishii says, ‘I could scarcely believe my ears. But upon enquiry I found that the men knew the facts, and that it was actually true that an innocent man—the lover of the dead girl—was on trial for her murder. I began to think. What must be the feeling and the suffering of this innocent Komori? What about his family and relatives? I shuddered to think of the agony that must have been theirs. I kept on thinking; and, at last, I decided to confess my guilt and save the innocent Komori.’

It is this quality in Ishii that led Dr. Kelman to call the book A Gentleman in Prison. ‘At his worst,’ the doctor says, ‘he retains the pride and honour of a gentleman; and, in the supreme test, insists on dying to save an innocent man. Cruel as a tiger, he yet responds, like a charming little child, to any kindness shown him. In the midst of a career of systematic and outrageous vice, he sometimes acts in a spirit which many of the elect might envy.’

During the days that followed his confession, Ishii laboured ceaselessly to establish Komori’s innocence by proving his own guilt. Never in all the calendars of crime did a man work so hard to prove his innocence as Ishii worked to collect evidence that would secure his own conviction. To strengthen his case, he made a clean breast of all his offences; and owned frankly that he was the murderer of several victims whose deaths had been shrouded in impenetrable mystery.

The trial of Ishii for the murder of the geisha girl dragged on for days and months. It was one of the most baffling cases in the criminal records of Japan. At length Ishii was found Not Guilty. ‘I was greatly disheartened about this,’ he says, ‘for I knew that if I were acquitted the innocent Komori would suffer the penalty of the crime. I was so distressed about it that I could not sleep.’ He instructed his lawyer to leave no stone unturned in getting justice done. In accordance with the provisions of Japanese law, he appealed against his acquittal; the case was reheard in the Appeal Court; and Ishii—to his delight—was sentenced to death.


Like everybody else, Miss Macdonald, who lived in Tokyo, was profoundly interested in the strange case, and determined, if possible, to visit Ishii in prison. ‘Early in the morning of New Year’s Day,’ Ishii says, ‘a special meal was brought me instead of the ordinary prison fare; and I was told that two ladies—Miss Macdonald and Miss West—had sent it. Who could these persons be? I had never heard of them before. There was no reason why I should receive anything from people I did not know, and I told the official that I could not accept the gift.’ The gaoler induced him, however, to reconsider his proud decision. ‘The food was sent to me during the first three days of the New Year. A few days later a New Testament was received from the same source; but I put it on the shelf and did not even look at it.’ In the end, however, the monotony of his prison life proved too much for his pride.

‘I took the New Testament down from the shelf,’ he says, ‘and, with no intention of seriously looking at it, I glanced at the beginning and then at the middle. I was casually turning over the pages when I came across a place that looked rather interesting.’ It was the passage that tells how Jesus set His face like a flint to go to Jerusalem, although He knew that it was certain death to do so. The conception appealed to Ishii’s sense of daring, of gallantry, of adventure. He laid the book aside, but he resolved to dip into it again. When next he picked it up, it opened by chance at the story of the man who had a hundred sheep, and who, leaving the ninety and nine in the fold, went out into the mountains to search for that which was lost until he found it. Again Ishii was interested, though not quite as deeply as before. But he promised himself that he would give the little book a third trial. He did.

‘This time I read how Jesus was handed over to Pilate by His enemies, was tried unjustly and put to death by crucifixion. As I read this I began to think. Even I, hardened criminal that I was, thought it a shame that His enemies should have treated Him in that way. I went on, and my attention was next taken by these words: And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. I stopped. I was stabbed to the heart as if pierced by a five-inch nail. What did the verse reveal to me? Shall I call it the love of the heart of Christ? Shall I call it His compassion? I do not know what to call it. I only know that, with an unspeakably grateful heart, I believed. Through that simple sentence I was led into the whole of Christianity.’

On each of the following pages, Ishii harps upon his text. Every time he repeats it, it seems more wonderful to him. ‘The last words that a man utters,’ he says, ‘come from the depths of his soul; he does not die with a lie upon his lips. Jesus’ last words were: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do; and so I cannot but believe that they reveal His true heart.’

‘I wish to speak,’ he says again later, ‘of the greatest favour of all—the power of Christ, which cannot be measured by any of our standards. I have been more than twenty years in prison since I was nineteen years of age, and during that time I have known what it meant to endure suffering. I have passed through all sorts of experiences and have often been urged to repent of my sins. In spite of this, however, I did not repent, but, on the contrary, became more and more hardened. And then, by the power of that one word of Christ’s, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, my unspeakably hardened heart was changed, and I repented of all my crimes. Such power is not in man.’


What was it in that dying prayer that so affected Ishii? He was impressed by the possibilities of a cry from the Cross. And, indeed, those possibilities are appalling. Jesus was still the Son of God, and the hands that were nailed to the tree were the creators of both nails and tree. He could have asked His Father and immediately have received more than twelve legions of angels. When they taunted Him on His inability to save himself, He could have left the Cross in an instant, and, with angelic bands for His escort and heavenly music ringing in His ears, could have returned to His Father, leaving the world to its inevitable doom.

Or, without forsaking the work which He had set Himself to do, He might have called down fire from heaven upon His murderers. He might have cried ‘Father, destroy them!’ and withered them where they stood.

Or, without in any way acting inconsistently with His divine nature, He might have cried ‘Father, judge them: vengeance is Thine; do Thou repay!’

But, no! Father, forgive them, he prays, for they know not what they do. Did he scan those murderous faces, listen to their oaths and jests, and wonder what plea He could justly urge in extenuation of their awful deed? There was only one thing to be said on their behalf, and He discovered and presented that one plea. So skilful and masterly an Advocate is He who ever liveth to intercede for us! Forgive them, for they know not what they do! The plea in that prayer broke the heart of Ishii. It went to his soul, he says, like a five-inch nail.


The New Testament of Ishii’s contains a striking statement which, during his last imprisonment, he may have noticed and pondered. It is to the effect that he that is in Christ Jesus is a new creation. It is the only phrase that can possibly convey an impression of the transformation that overcame Ishii. He became literally and actually, a new creation in Christ Jesus. He was made all over again. And, from his point of view, it seemed as if the world about him had been made all over again. ‘It was only after I came to prison,’ he says, ‘that I came to believe that man really has a soul. I will tell you how I came to see this. In the prison yard chrysanthemums have been planted to please the eyes of the inmates. When the season comes, they bear beautiful flowers, but in the winter they are nipped by the frost, and wither. Our outer eye tells us that the flowers are dead, but this is not the real truth. When the season returns the buds sprout once more and the beautiful flowers bloom again. And so I cannot but believe that if God in His mercy does not allow even the flowers to die, there surely is a soul in man which He intends shall live for ever.’ Here was fresh vision vouchsafed to the eyes of this new creation; and, in keeping with it, there was a new and radiant joy in his heart.
‘Today,’ he writes, in that wonderful journal that he kept all through his last imprisonment, ‘today I am sitting in my cell with no liberty to come and go, and yet I am far more contented than in the days of my freedom. In prison, with only poor coarse food to eat, I am more thankful than I ever was out in the world when I could get whatever food I wanted. In this narrow cell, nine feet by six, I am happier than if I were living in the largest house I ever saw. The joy of each day is very great. These things are all due to the grace and favour of Jesus.’ The Governor of the prison, Mr. Shirosuke Arima, heard of Ishii’s extraordinary bearing, and decided to visit him. ‘One day,’ he tells us, ‘I went to see Ishii in his cell and found him sitting bolt upright and looking very serious. My first glance showed him to be a powerfully built fellow, with heavy bushy eyebrows and a large flat nose. I could not help thinking that, if his heart were as rough as his exterior, one would have every right to fear him. But his eyes told a different story. They shone with a quiet beautiful light; his cheeks were clear and healthy looking, and his spirit was brimming over with gentleness. My heart went out to him with a great tenderness.’

Miss Macdonald was Ishii’s last visitor. ‘We both knew,’ she says, ‘that it might be the last time. I read to him words that were penned centuries ago; but as I stood there in a tiny cubby-hole, and talked to him across a passageway and through a wire screen, it seemed impossible to believe that they were not written for the very conditions that we faced there in that Japanese prison-house. “I have finished all my writing,” Ishii told me, “and my work is done. I am just waiting now to lay down this body of sin and go to Him.” I looked at him and his eyes were glowing with joy.’ He had not long to wait.

‘This morning,’ wrote the Buddhist chaplain, in sending Miss Macdonald Ishii’s journal and effects, ‘this morning Tokichi Ishii was executed at Tokyo prison. He faced death rejoicing greatly in the grace of God and with steadiness and quietness of heart. His last request was that you be told of his going, and be thanked for your many kindnesses. He has left his books and his manuscripts to you, and you will receive them at the prison office. His last words, which are in the form of a poem, he asked me to send to you. They are as follows:

My name is defiled,
My body dies in prison,
But my soul, purified,
Today returns to the City of God!

‘Ishii seemed to see nothing but the glory of the heavenly world to which he was going. Among the officials who stood by and saw the clear colour of his face and the courage with which he bore himself, there was no one but involuntarily paid him respect and honour.’ The Gentleman in Prison, released from the cage of his early conditions, and released from the prison bars that hedged him in in later years, was gloriously free at last!

Free Books by F. B. Meyer (60+)

Frederick Brotherton Meyer (8 April 1847 – 28 March 1929), a contemporary and friend of D. L. Moody and A. C. Dixon, was a Baptist pastor and evangelist in England involved in ministry and inner city mission work on both sides of the Atlantic. Author of numerous religious books and articles, many of which remain in print today, he was described in an obituary as The Archbishop of the Free Churches.” (Wikipedia)

Meyer was extremely prolific, and his works listed here include a complete chapter-by-chapter exposition of the Bible (Through the Bible Day by Day, originally 7 volumes, shared on BibleHub) as well as daily homilies covering the entire Bible (Our Daily Homily, 4 volumes).

  1. Abraham; or, the Obedience of Faith
  2. Back to Bethel: Separation from Sin and Fellowship with God (1901?)
  3. The Bells of Is; or, Voices of Human Need and Sorrow; Echoes from My Early Pastorate (1894)
  4. Blessed Are Ye: Talks on the Beatitudes (1898)
  5. Calvary to Pentecost (1894)
  6. A Castaway, and Other Addresses (1897)
  7. Cheer for Life’s Pilgrimages (1897)
  8. Christ in Isaiah (1911)
  9. Christian Living (1890)
  10. The Creed of Creeds: A Series of Short Expositions of the Apostles’ Creed (1906)
  11. David: Shepherd, Psalmist, King (1910)
  12. The Directory of the Devout Life: Meditations on the Sermon on the Mount (1904) [reprinted as Inherit the Kingdom]
  13. Elijah and the Secret of His Power
  14. The Epistle to the Philippians: A Devotional Commentary [possibly overlapping material from Through the Bible Day by Day?]
  15. The Exalted Christ
  16. The Future Tenses of the Blessed Life (1892)
  17. The Glorious Lord
  18. A Good Start (1897)
  19. In Defense of the Faith: The Old Better Than the New (1907)
  20. I Promise (1899)
  21. Israel, a Prince with God
  22. Jeremiah, Priest and Prophet (1894)
  23. John the Baptist
  24. Joseph—Beloved, Hated, Exalted (1910)
  25. Joshua and the Land of Promise (1893)
  26. Jottings and Hints for Lay Preachers (1903)
  27. The Life and Light of Men: Expositions of John 1–12 (1892)
  28. Life and the Way Through (1913)
  29. Light on Life’s Duties
  30. Lovers Always
  31. Love to the Uttermost: Expositions of John 13–21
  32. Meet for the Master’s Use
  33. Memorials of Cecil Robertson of Sianfu, Medical Missionary (1916)
  34. Moses, the Servant of God (1909)
  35. Our Daily Homily, vol. 1: Genesis–Ruth (1898)
  36. Our Daily Homily, vol. 2: 1 Samuel–Job (1898)
  37. Our Daily Homily, vol. 3: Psalms–Canticles
  38. Our Daily Homily, vol. 4: Isaiah–Malachi (1898)
  39. Our Daily Homily, vol. 5: Matthew–Revelation (1898)
  40. Paul, a Servant of God
  41. Peace, Perfect Peace: A Portion for the Sorrowing (1897)
  42. Peter: Fisherman, Disciple, Apostle (1894?)
  43. Prayers for Heart and Home: Morning and Evening Devotions for a Month (1894)
  44. The Present Tenses of the Blessed Life (1892)
  45. The Prophet of Hope: Studies in Zechariah (1900)
  46. Reveries and Realities; or, Life and Work in London (c.1890) [US only]
  47. Samuel the Prophet (1902)
  48. Saved and Kept: Counsels to Young Believers (1897)
  49. The Secret of Guidance (1896)
  50. The Shepherd Psalm (1889)
  51. Steps into the Blessed Life (1896)
  52. The Soul’s Ascent: A Connected Series of Missions Addresses (1904)
  53. Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, Vol. 1. Genesis–Joshua [no primary source found]
  54. Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, Vol. 2. Judges–2 Chronicles [no primary source found]
  55. Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, Vol. 3. Job–Ecclesiastes [no primary source found]
  56. Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, Vol. 4. Ezra–Malachi [no primary source found]
  57. Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, Vol. 5. Matthew–John [no primary source found]
  58. Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, Vol. 6. Acts–Ephesians [no primary source found]
  59. Through the Bible Day by Day: A Deviotional Commentary, Vol. 7. Philippians–Revelation
  60. Through Fire and Flood (1896)
  61. Tried by Fire: Expositions of the First Epistle of Peter
  62. The Way into the Holiest: Expositions of the Epistle to the Hebrews (c.1893)
  63. The Wideness of God’s Mercy (1906)
  64. Winter in South Africa (1908) [US only]


There are also a few shorter works (under 70 pages), which are listed here.

  1. The Modern Craze of Spiritualism [US only]
  2. Religion and Race-Regeneration [US only]
  3. Words of Help

Free Books by G. D. Watson

G. D. (George Douglas) Watson (1845–1924) was a holiness preacher in the eastern United States. He was raised in a Methodist home, and called to preach at a tender age.

I was born in Accomac County, Virginia, March 26, 1845. My father and mother, grandfather and grandmother, were Methodists. I was raised up in family prayer, attended Sabbath-school and went through many revivals of religion. I suppose I was the black sheep of the flock; the worst boy of the whole six. . . . My earliest convictions were when I was five or six years old. Father and Mother went to church and left us children alone, the eldest being twelve or thirteen years of age. We sang “Rock of Ages,” and all got under conviction. I prayed and cried, but did not know what ailed me. At that early, age I was called to preach. When I was twelve or thirteen I sought religion, and after that was at the altar at every revival . . .

Autobiography of G. D. Watson

Watson’s books often deal with holiness, sanctification, and the inner work of the Holy Spirit. Our Own God and Soul Food come highly recommended. Of 18 books, 14 are freely available online; two more are in paperback; only two (The Divine Love Song and A Holiness Manual) are not available anywhere (though I’ve added links to, where you can see which libraries hold copies).

  1. The Bridehood Saints: Treating of the Saints Who Are the “Selection from the Selection”—Those Saints Who Are to Make Up the Bride of Christ (1910?)
  2. Coals of Fire: Being Expositions of Scripture on the Doctrine, Experience, and Practice of Christian Holiness (1886)
  3. The Divine Love Song: An Exposition of the Song of Solomon (1909) [out of print; not available online]
  4. God’s Eagles: or, Complete Testing of the Saints (1927) [posthumous? not available online; only available in ppb]
  5. God’s First Words: Studies in Genesis, Historic, Prophetic, and Experimental (1900) [not available online; available in ppb]
  6. A Holiness Manual (1882) [out of print; not available online]
  7. The Heavenly Life and Type of the Holy Spirit (1900?)
  8. Love Abounding, and Other Expositions on the Spiritual Life (1891) [ppb]
  9. Our Own God (1904) [ppb]
  10. A Pot of Oil; or, The Anointed Life as Applied to Prayer, the Mental Faculties, the Affections and Christian Service (1900) [ppb]
  11. Pure Gold (1898) [ppb]
  12. The Secret of Spiritual Power [HTML format; n.d.]
  13. The Seven Overcomeths and Other Expositions from the Revelation (1889; US access only?)
  14. Soul Food: Being Chapters on the Interior Life with Passages of Personal Experience (1896) [ppb]
  15. Spiritual Feasts (1904)
  16. Spiritual Ships: An Allegory of Religious Characters and Experiences (1902)
  17. Steps to the Throne (1898)
    [Tribulation Worketh = compilation from other works]
  18. White Robes; or, Garments of Salvation (1883) [ppb]

There are a few other works that appear to be single sermons or pamphlets (here links are to, which were possibly incorporated into later books:

  1. Fruit of Canaan: Notes of Personal Experiences (57 pages)
  2. Out of Egypt into Canaan: Experiences of Geo. D. Watson (21 pages)