Tag Archives: American authors

Review: The Solitary Throne

Rating: ★★★★★

Author: Samuel M. Zwemer was a pioneer missionary among Arabs along the Persian Gulf. His later career was spent writing, teaching and mobilizing for missions among Muslims while he was based in Egypt for many years, and later at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Overview:

As the original cover shows, this book is composed of five addresses given at the Keswick Convention in 1937, “on the glory and uniqueness of the Christian message.” Their actual content is a little less focused than that, but more devotional and less apologetic than the subtitle implies.

Meat:

I have finished only a few of Samuel Zwemer’s books, but I have perused the lot of them enough to know that this may be his very best work. “The Glory of the Impossible”—a title also given to a chapter of Zwemer’s 1911 book The Unoccupied Fields and in an article by Lilias Trotter in the Missionary Review of the World—is a timeless and inspirational theme that resonates especially for apostolic missionaries. “His Ministers a Flame” was an equally compelling chapter on a disturbing but oft-neglected New Testament metaphor.

Zwemer was a voracious reader, and has a marvelous knack for compiling fascinating and rare illustrations and quotations from every imaginable source: history, biography, fiction, hymnology, poetry, and elsewhere. Several of the best are quoted below.

Bones:

The fifth chapter, “The Hinterland of the Soul,” fell a little flat for me because of its imperial language. I am rather certain than when it was written, this language was meant to be mainly spiritual; but here in the 21st century, it resonates more like a call to be united with fallen power structures of this world—an unequal yoke that the crucified Christ never called us to. Nonetheless, if I can take Zwemer’s call to “rule the world for Christ” in a spiritual sense, then I can see its merit.

Quotes:

The Solitary Throne:

Napoleon on St. Helena said: “I know men, and Jesus was no man. Charlemagne, Alexander the Great, and I, founded great empires upon force, and here is One who founded an empire upon love. And now I am alone and forsaken, and there are millions who would die for Him.”

Jean Paul Richter, of Germany, in a wonderful passage, said: “O Thou who art mightiest among the mighty, and the holiest among the holy, Thou with Thy pierced hands, hast lifted empires off their hinges, and turned the tide of human history!”

Jesus Christ is the only religious leader Who came to destroy all race barriers and class hatreds.

His Ministers a Flame:

You cannot keep your wood pile, you cannot keep your coal in the cellar, if you would have a fire on the hearth.

The very presence of Jesus always demands decision.

The Roman Catholic Church believes in Purgatory hereafter. We believe in Purgatory now.

I love to go to the University Library in Princeton. Over the fireplace in the library of that Graduate School there are carved these Latin words from the Vulgate Psalter: “In Meditatione mea exardescet ignis.” “While I sit meditating, the fire burns.”[See Psalm 39:3.]

Once I was to preach a sermon at an anniversary in a Methodist Church; there were a great number of ministers present, and I was greatly honoured to be allowed to preach there. We met in the vestry. And the sexton, whose work it was to take care of the comfort of the preacher, said to me: “Would you like a glass of water in the pulpit?” I said: “No, I would like a bonfire.” He smiled. That is what I felt that day.

Let us often read the Acts of the Apostles. It is a neglected Book amongst those who ought to be leaders of the Church of Christ.

May we never glibly pray the prayer that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Photophobia:

Believe me, the principle of unbelief is not primarily intellectual, but moral.

This groping after the Light was the promise of full enlightenment. It always is, as we missionaries on the foreign field know; and our hearts leap with joy when some Nicodemus comes to us by night, saying: “Sir, we would see Jesus,” whether it be a penitent publican or an irreproachable Pharisee. Those who seek find; to those who knock, the door is opened.

There is no tragedy more real and more moving in all history, and in our own lives, than the deliberate rejection of Christ; because it is due, not to any extraordinary wickedness in the Jews, or the Romans, or the people of New York, or the people of London, but to the ordinary motives of men.

If you are neglecting your morning watch, if you are omitting your daily Bible study, if you are forsaking the assembling together of the saints as the manner of some is, you may be sure that all of these things are early symptoms of photophobia, and will end in spiritual blindness.

The Glory of the Impossible:

In 1923 I spoke on the patience of God in the evangelisation of Mohammedan lands from the text: “Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing. Nevertheless, at Thy word I will let down the nets.”

The history of Missions in every land is the story of the achievement of the impossible.

One of the saintliest of British missionaries, Miss Lilias Trotter, of North Africa, wrote just before her death in Algeria; “We who are engaged in Moslem work live in a land of blighted promises. That is a fact that none of us who love its people best can deny; and the deadly heart-sickness of hope deferred, sometimes makes even the most optimistic of us almost despair of seeing abiding fruitage to the work.”

We need once again to face the glory of this impossible task. . . . There is only one thing that is impossible—it is impossible for God to lie.

It is daybreak, not sunset in the Moslem world.

The Hinterland of the Soul:

In the eighteenth century the future belonged to John Wesley; it did not belong to those influential ecclesiastics who crowded him out of their churches and forced him, against his own inclinations, to preach in the open fields. Now to whom does the future of the twentieth century belong save to those Christians who are already looking beyond the horizon, who can read the signs of the times, and who makes bold adventures for God?

Free Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards

A friend recently asked about a readable edition of Jonathan Edwards’ complete works.

You can download his complete works in PDF format for FREE from archive.org, using the following links—WARNING: the full volumes will have VERY LARGE file sizes:


vol 1vol 2vol 3vol 4
These links are all to the 1879 edition of ‘The Works of President Edwards,’ which is the most recent complete edition available online.


Arranged by topic:

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS:

  1. Memoirs of President Edwards
  2. An Account of the Life of the Rev. David Brainerd
  3. Narrative of Surprising Conversions

SERMONS:

  1. A Farewell Sermon
  2. Six Occasional Sermons
  3. Sermons on Various Important Subjects

WORKS DEFENDING OR PROMOTING CALVINISM:

  1. A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Prevailing Notions of the Freedom of the Will
  2. Miscellaneous Observations concerning the Divine Decree in General and Election in Particular
  3. Concerning the Perseverance of the Saints

OTHER THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINES:

  1. The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended
  2. A History of the Work of Redemption (originally sermons)
  3. Miscellaneous Observations on Important Doctrines
  4. Mysteries of Scripture
  5. Observations upon Particular Passages of Scripture
  6. Theological Questions

CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY:

  1. Dissertation on the Nature of True Virtue
  2. Dissertation on the End for which God Created the World

PRACTICAL THEOLOGY:

  1. The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God
  2. Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, 1740
  3. Inquiry Concerning Qualifications for Communion
  4. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
  5. A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer

POLEMICAL WORK:

  1. Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated, in Reply to the Rev. Solomon Williams
  2. Reasons Against Dr. Watts’ Notion of the Pre-Existence of Christ’s Human Soul

Arranged by volume:

Volume 1:

  1. Memoirs of President Edwards
  2. A Farewell Sermon
  3. Inquiry Concerning Qualifications for Communion
  4. Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated, in Reply to the Rev. Solomon Williams
  5. A History of the Work of Redemption
  6. The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God
  7. Miscellaneous Observations on Important Doctrines
  8. An Account of the Life of the Rev. David Brainerd

Volume 2:

  1. A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Prevailing Notions of the Freedom of the Will
  2. Dissertation on the End for which God Created the World
  3. Dissertation on the Nature of True Virtue
  4. The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended
  5. Miscellaneous Observations concerning the Divine Decree in General and Election in Particular

Volume 3:

  1. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
  2. Narrative of Surprising Conversions
  3. Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, 1740
  4. A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer
  5. Concerning the Perseverance of the Saints
  6. Reasons Against Dr. Watts’ Notion of the Pre-Existence of Christ’s Human Soul
  7. Mysteries of Scripture
  8. Observations upon Particular Passages of Scripture
  9. Theological Questions
  10. Six Occasional Sermons

Volume 4:

  1. Sermons on Various Important Subjects
Affliction by Edith Schaeffer book cover

Review: Affliction (Edith Schaeffer)

Rating: ★★★★★

Who: Edith Schaeffer, co-founder of L’Abri, American missionary to Switzerland with her husband, Francis Schaeffer. Edith and Francis Schaeffer spent many years serving the Presbyterian church in Missouri and in writing children’s materials as missionaries before they stumbled into a mission to reach Europe’s intelligentsia, which became their full-time vocation and lifelong focus. Edith’s books are very different in tone from those of her husband—and they are at least as good, if not better.

Overview: Edith Schaeffer’s book tactfully and compassionately explores human affliction. Rather than presenting a central “theodicy” to explain evil or suffering, Edith focuses on practical, devotional thoughts that are central to biblical thought about suffering.

Meat: The chief insight of Affliction is that we are given a unique role in human history, a role that no one else can fill, and that suffering cannot take that away. The most important ingredients in life, its meaning and destiny, and the chief end of man, are unaffected by suffering.

A central metaphor for Edith Schaeffer is that of the tapestry: God is weaving our lives together into a redemptive history, and every unique story of faithfulness presents a special proof of God’s love and care—whether that faithfulness occurs in plenty or poverty, in joy or suffering.

Bones: I can add no criticism of her book, except that it took me so long to chew on all the material. It is dense with anecdotes, like its twin book, L’Abri.

Quotes: “Our personal afflictions involve the living God; the only way in which Satan can persecute or afflict God us through attacking the people of God.” (p. 27)

“The compassion and the tenderness of our loving heavenly Father will take forever to learn about.”

“Death is not to be taken as a ‘normal, beautiful release’ but as an enemy. It spoils the beautiful creation of God.”

Related: L’Abri.