Tag Archives: British authors

Review: The Innocence of Father Brown

Rating: ★★★

Author: G. K. Chesterton was a devoutly Catholic journalist, poet and novelist of the early 20th century. His most apt nickname is “The Prince of Paradox.”

Series: The “Father Brown” series of short stories was collected into five books:

  1. The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
  2. The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
  3. The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926)
  4. The Secret of Father Brown (1927)
  5. The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)

One additional story, “The Mask of Midas” (1936), was not included. (The author died in 1936.)

Overview:

Father Brown epitomizes one key of Chestertonian thought: the triumph of common sense over intellect. While Sherlock Holmes—especially in modern interpretations—glorifies uncommon intellect, Father Brown glorifies the common man. Here is how he is introduced in “The Blue Cross”:

The little priest had a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling; he had eyes as empty as the North Sea; he had several brown paper parcels, which he was quite incapable of collecting.

He is no Sherlock Holmes. In many places in the stories, he summarizes his method of solving crimes, and it is inductive rather than deductive. He solves crimes mainly by his intuitive, priestly knowledge of people, not a knowledge of facts.

“‘How do you know all this?’ he cried. ‘Are you a devil?’
“‘I am a man,’ answered Father Brown gravely; ‘and therefore have all devils in my heart.'” (p. 140)

The above quote summarizes the message of Father Brown. The “Father Brown” corpus carries an intrinsically personal vision of life on earth, and in that way it acts as a weighty supplement to Chesterton’s other writings.

Meat:

My favorite stories from this collection were “The Blue Cross,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Honour of Israel Gow,” “The Hammer of God,” and “The Three Tools of Death.”

In 1910, “The Blue Cross” became the first “Father Brown” story to be published, and in many ways it exemplifies his humble character, and has less violence than many of the others. “The Hammer of God” is also classic Chesterton as well as a thrilling mystery.

Chesterton masterfully utilizes the Scottish castle setting in “The Honour of Israel Gow,” to set the tone of a horror story. In general, I really enjoyed his use of setting. The modern BBC series ties Father Brown down to the Cotswolds (SW England), but this book alone has numerous and varied settings.

Bones:

Although I know it is par for the field, I did not like that nearly all of the stories involved a murder. I felt that Chesterton displayed his unique cleverness whenever there was no violence in the story at all, as in “The Blue Cross,” or Father Brown’s whimsical prelude, The Club of Queer Trades. I wanted more variety.

Quotes:

“Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down.” (p. 65)

“I never said it was always wrong to enter fairyland. I only said it was always dangerous.” (p. 111)

“‘How do you know all this?’ he cried. ‘Are you a devil?’
“‘I am a man,’ answered Father Brown gravely; ‘and therefore have all devils in my heart.'” (p. 140)

“There is this about such evil, that it opens door after door in hell, and always into smaller and smaller chambers. This is the real case against crime, that a man does not become wilder and wilder, but only meaner and meaner.” (p. 167)

“Even the most murderous blunders don’t poison life like sins.” (p. 183)

Read (free): Internet Archive (pdf), LibriVox (audio), Project Gutenberg (epub/mobi/html)

Review: Notes on the Psalms

Rating: ★★★

Author: G. Campbell Morgan was a British Congregational preacher, active from 1883 to 1943, mostly at Westminster Chapel in London. Nicknamed “the Prince of Expositors,” Morgan’s accessible expository preaching gained him a wide audience on both sides of the Atlantic. During his long life of ministry, he published more than 60 books, many of which were sermons.

Overview:

The first edition of Morgan’s Notes on the Psalms (1947; posthumous) contains brief notes on all 150 psalms, as well as the full English text of the Psalms (in a metrical layout, two columns). I believe the Bible version used is the American Standard Version. For each psalm, Morgan gives a kind of outline or summary, with a few devotional comments. Most psalms have only one or two paragraphs, meant to give you the core of the psalm. Where needed, he sometimes adds brief notes related to translation problems.

Meat:

I really liked the way this book was laid out. Including the full text of the Psalms, while unusual, made the book extremely useful as devotional reading. I was amazed how much poignant historical and textual information he was able to fit in such a short book. I also felt that his summaries of each psalm were weighty. I did not feel—as I often feel in reading a modern Bible with headings—that the heading given to each psalm was overly modern and fell short of the author’s intended theme.

Bones:

Probably the most distracting thing about this book (for me) is the charts that divided the psalms into sections or “books”. Morgan himself admits in his preface that attempts to classify the psalms are “arbitrary,” but I felt that the book divisions in particular did not provide any helpful index to interpreting the individual psalms within them. There are differences in authorship and perhaps linguistic differences, but thematic differences were just too broad to detect over as many as 30 or 40 psalms. It distracts the reader from the fact that each of them has a unique origin, and even the traditional grouping and ordering was probably, to some extent, arbitrary.

For this reason, in my own summary of the Psalms, I recommend a variety of methods of classifying the Psalms, the best of which was the one I found on Dennis Bratcher’s website.

Read: At the time of writing, this book is freely available in PDF format here.

Review: Hosea: The Heart and Holiness of God

Rating: ★★★★★

Author: G. Campbell Morgan was a British Congregational preacher, active from 1883 to 1943, mostly at Westminster Chapel in London. Nicknamed “the Prince of Expositors,” Morgan’s accessible expository preaching gained him a wide audience on both sides of the Atlantic. During his long life of ministry, he published more than 60 books, many of which were sermons.

Overview:

Hosea: The Heart and Holiness of God (1934) is a masterful exposition of the prophecy of Hosea. Morgan’s style of exposition is not verse-by-verse, but rather utilizes thematic verses that summarize the key points of a chapter.

As implied in the title, his summary of Hosea is that it is about the union of God’s compassion and his holiness. G. Campbell Morgan is able to paint such a beautiful picture of God because he learns the brushstrokes from the Bible itself. In this book he will stretch your heart and stretch your theology as you see the suffering heart of God, longing to see his redeemed people walking in holiness, walking with him. But as always he exposits the Word with reverence and simplicity.

The first couple of sermons deal with Hosea’s suffering as prophet. There are many in the middle dealing with the defection of the people and its causes and course. The last few sermons were in my opinion the best as he talks about the love of God for his people, how he cannot give them up to a life without Him, but sent His missionary Son to pursue His straying lover, His prodigal son—His people.

Meat:

Morgan’s sermons are almost always simple, readable, applicable, and committed to the biblical text.

In much of his exposition, Morgan dwells long on the themes of God’s grief in Hosea, a prominent topic that is often shied away from because of its doctrinal difficulties. See for instance, the chapter entitled “The Difficulty of God”, on Hosea 6:4; while such language entangles systematic theologians in a thicket of complications, Morgan resolutely and simply discusses its meaning as it stands. He also does so without making God sound spineless or desperate. It illustrates Morgan’s commitment to the text, and vindicates him as an important preacher and writer for those interested in doing practical, biblical theology (as opposed to “systematics”).

Bones:

Morgan’s strength is how he deals with the text, but if he has a weakness, it would be in spiritualizing what were meant to be historical events in the text.

Author Guide: F. W. Boreham

This is a guide to where to find the many books of F. W. Boreham, prolific English writer who ministered for three decades down under, in New Zealand, Tasmania, and Australia. His writing can be broken up into the following four eras: The Early Days, Finding His Voice, The Texts That Made History, Writing Ministry, and After Retirement.

Of his 49 books, only 15 of them have clearly outlined themes. For that reason, I’ve attempted to give brief summaries here, with a little info about where to find hard copies.

1. The Early Days

When F. B. Meyer wrote a foreword for “Won to Glory,” Boreham started to win the attention of publishers. In this period, The Whisper of God most closely resembles Boreham’s classic style; George Augustus Selwyn is also notable for being the only full-length biography written by Boreham, despite his lifelong preoccupation with the genre.

Won to Glory
A sermon on Boreham’s testimony in relation to Genesis 25. Extremely rare.

Loose Leaves (Our Review: ★★★)
A travelogue of a trip around the world. Boreham mostly comments on historical incidents, scenery, and tourist anecdotes. Mildly interesting, but it has almost no spiritual content.
Reprinted by John Broadbanks Publishing, $10.00

From England to Mosgiel
Boreham’s second travelogue.
Reprinted by John Broadbanks Publishing, $9.00.

The Whisper of God (Our Review: ★★★★)
His first full book of sermons. The titular sermon is excellent, and was a foreshadowing of the style Boreham would take up in future works. This book carries the flavor of the pulpit with it; it has a very different tone and style than Boreham’s other books, and for that reason it is worth reading.
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $11.99.

George Augustus Selwyn (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Biography of the first Anglican bishop of New Zealand. This biography, in the fast-paced style of the popular writing of the day, is an inspiring story of preparation, calling, and discipleship. Selwyn had a great chance to pioneer in not only New Zealand, but all of Melanesia as well, due to a clerical mistake that made him bishop of the South Seas. Although there are many biographies of Selwyn, Boreham’s is a classic and a downright fun read.
Reprinted by GraveRobber Publishing, $5.99.

2. Finding His Voice

At this time, Boreham began in earnest to publish the style of essays that would mark his career. These earlier books are a little bit more of a ramble; he may take a while to get to his point, and he is usually not expositing Scripture. He takes anything as his text, from luggage to linoleum. But he is working out his voice, and in the process, he is becoming a master of illustration.

The Luggage of Life
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $12.99.

Mountains in the Mist (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $12.99.

The Golden Milestone (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Reprint coming, March 1, 2018.

Mushrooms on the Moor
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $12.99.

Faces in the Fire (Our Review: ★★★)
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $12.99.

The Other Side of the Hill
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $14.99.

The Silver Shadow
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $14.99.

The Uttermost Star (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $14.99.

3. The Texts That Made History

Boreham began a sermon series on “Texts That Made History,” apparently on a whim. But it turned out to be, as he wrote, “his most popular and most evangelistic sermon series.” Boreham was always a student of biography, but this period was characterized by intense biographical research.

A Bunch of Everlastings (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The first of the Texts That Made History.
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $14.99.
Listen along on LibriVox.

A Reel of Rainbow
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $9.99 until June 30.

The Home of the Echoes
Reprint coming soon, 2018.

A Handful of Stars
The second of the Texts That Made History.
Reprint coming soon.
Listen along on LibriVox.

Shadows on the Wall
Reprint coming soon, 2018.

Rubble and Roseleaves
Includes “The Fish-Pens.”
Reprint coming soon, 2018.

A Casket of Cameos (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The third of the Texts That Made History.
Reprint coming, December 1, 2017.

Wisps of Wildfire (Our Review: ★★★★)
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $14.99.

The Crystal Pointers
Reprint planned.

A Faggot of Torches
The fourth of the Texts That Made History. This is the only volume of Texts that is out of print because of its copyright status.

A Tuft of Comet’s Hair
Reprint planned.

The Nest of Spears
Reprint planned.

A Temple of Topaz (Our Review: ★★★★★)
The fifth and final of the Texts That Made History. Masterfully researched, engagingly written.
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $14.99.

4. Writing Ministry

Boreham’s writing at this point in his life has became very refined. In our opinion, this is when he produced several of his best books.

The Fiery Crags
Reprint planned.

The Three Half Moons (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Includes “On Sowing Hopeseed.”
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $9.99.

The Blue Flame (Our Review: ★★★★★)
One of Boreham’s longest and best books of essays.
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, $14.99.

When the Swans Fly High
Reprint planned.

A Witch’s Brewing
Reprint planned. Rare.

The Drums of Dawn (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Reprinted by Pioneer Library, available only on Lulu.com, $12.45.

The Ivory Spires
Reprint planned.

The Heavenly Octave
Essays on the Beatitudes. No reprint available.

Ships of Pearl
Reprint planned, 2020.

The Passing of John Broadbanks (Our Review: ★★★★★)
“With the passing of John Broadbanks, I myself must pass.” Thus Boreham introduces the book he intended to be his last. Most of the essays are themed on “the road” in some way.
Reprint planned.

5. After Retirement

After “notionally retiring” in 1936, Boreham actually published fifteen more books—but there is a big difference in these later volumes. Aside from I Forgot to Say, the books that follow are compilations of shorter articles that were not yet published in book form, books compiled on themes that he loved,

I Forgot to Say
The first of fifteen books published after Boreham’s notional retirement. Includes “Wet Paint.”

My Pilgrimage
Boreham’s autobiography.
No reprint available.

The Prodigal
Exposition of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, one of Boreham’s favorite themes.
No reprint available.

Boulevards of Paradise
Short articles. Very rare.
No reprint available.

A Late Lark Singing
Short articles.
No reprint available.

Cliffs of Opal
No reprint available.

Lover of Life (Man Who Saved Gandhi) (Our Review: ★★★★★)
A short biography of Rev. J. J. Doke. (First printed as The Man Who Saved Gandhi.) Doke was a great encouragement to Boreham in his early pastorate, and eventually gave his life as a pioneer missionary.
John Broadbanks Publishing, $7.00.

Arrows of Desire (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Short articles.
No reprint available.

My Christmas Book (Our Review: ★★★★★)
Twelve short Christmas devotions. About half of these are taken from previous books, under different titles. But they are attractively edited to make a perfect Christmas devotional, wisely themed not only around the holiday, but around “the Word became flesh”—the mystery of God incarnate in Christ.
Reprinted by John Broadbanks Publishing, $7.00. (Hardbacks run around $15.)

Dreams at Sunset
Short articles. Includes “The Ideal Congregation.”
No reprint available. Hardbacks run $15.

In Pastures Green
An exposition of Psalm 23. We are grateful to John Broadbanks Publishing for cheaply reprinting this short and valuable work.
Reprinted by John Broadbanks Publishing, $10.00.

The Gospel of Robinson Crusoe
Essays from the classic adventure novel, Robinson Crusoe.
Reprinted as a 2-in-1 by John Broadbanks Publishing, $8.00.

The Gospel of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Essays from the classic anti-slavery story, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Reprinted as a 2-in-1 by John Broadbanks Publishing, $8.00.

The Tide Comes In
A very rare book of short articles, some only one or two pages. Includes the essay “God.”

The Last Milestone
Short articles, published posthumously with a lovely biographical introduction.

6. Post-humous (not including compilations)

Slices of Infinity
Previously unpublished articles.
Published by John Broadbanks Publishing, $8.00.

Nuggets of Romance
Previously unpublished articles. Mostly biographical articles about literary figures, some overlap with Texts That Made History. Very few of the essays are devotional in any traditional sense, but the book will prove very enjoyable to lovers of Boreham’s biographical style.
Published by John Broadbanks Publishing, $8.00.

 

Many thanks to Michael Dalton, Geoff Pound and Jeff Cranston for their work in making F. W. Boreham’s creative classics available to a new generation of believers.

Herbert Lockyer

Who Is Herbert Lockyer?

Dr. Herbert Lockyer (1886-1984) is one of the most quoted Bible expositors of the 20th century. His 21-volume All series takes a comprehensive look at thousands of biblical topics, with full volumes on such unexpected topics as All the Kings and Queens of the Bible and All the Trades and Occupations of the Bible. The series is a landmark in Bible study; volumes such as All the Miracles, All the Promises, and All the Messianic Prophecies have a wealth of devotional content to explore, in addition to their informative value.

But no one has written a biography of Herbert Lockyer. In fact, one can hardly find a scrap of anecdote about his life story. His Wikipedia page, which I created, is the result of hours of Internet searches—and all the information there comes from two publishers’ websites, one of which no longer exists. But I’ve learned some more about Lockyer since, and here’s what I can piece together:

Herbert Lockyer began as an orator. He studied “voice culture” and eventually published two books on the topic. (1) He even wanted to pursue a career as an actor—but the Lord redirected his steps, and he chose to be a pastor. After training at Glasgow Bible Institute, he held several pastorates in both England and Scotland, ministering for twenty-five years. (2)

He was influential in the Keswick Higher Life movement. Whitaker House’s author page (2) says that Dr. Lockyer gained influence in the movement while pastoring in Bradford, England. His sermons published in the 1930s are still inspiring, biblical, and concise. Evidently, he was ministering intermittently on both sides of the Atlantic, until he was called to minister in the United States.

A turning point came to his ministry in 1936. As a leader at Keswick, he must have received some invitations to minister in the United States, because in 1935 he began publishing sermons in Chicago. Dr. Lockyer was invited to speak at Moody Bible Institute’s 50th anniversary in 1936. From that time, other major evangelical publishers picked him up; within that year alone he published five books of sermons with Eerdman’s, and at least a dozen pamphlets with Zondervan and Moody. Within a couple of years, he was publishing even more compilations of sermons. These sermons—most of them were topical—formed the groundwork for his most influential ministry: his comprehensive topical Bible studies, better known as the All series.

From 1936, Dr. Lockyer mostly ministered and published in the United States, where he became even more well known than he had been in England. Around 1955, he returned to England. He published many books during the 1950s, but as his speaking ministry waned, his writing ministry eventually gave him an even wider influence. The gifted orator had turned writer.

In his later years, his ministry focused almost exclusively on writing. As his gift and influence as a writer became evident, he focused more and more on his writing projects. After crossing the Atlantic yet again to live in Colorado Springs, Dr. Lockyer spent years painstakingly studying the Scriptures, so that others could benefit from his comprehensive topical studies. These studies resulted in the All series, published between 1958 and 1976. His son, also a minister, acted as his editor during that time. As his corpus grew, many of these later books expanded on his earlier works and gave his writing more polish. All about God in Christ, for example, takes most of its material from his 1942 book of sermons, The Christ of Christmas, but the content is edited and expanded considerably, and it is a little easier to read. (3)

Dr. Lockyer may be one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century. He had an unbelievably long ministry and writing career—he passed away in 1984, just a couple years shy of becoming a centenarian. Even while writing this article, I have found a full-length book of his that I had never heard of. It is difficult to ascertain how much original work he actually published, since so many works were re-titled, and others are impossible to find. His solo-authored volumes, on both sides of the Atlantic, number around 85 volumes. (This does not include books that changed titles or short works such as pamphlets.)

Billy Graham wrote, “Dr. Lockyer was unquestionably one of the spiritual giants of our century, and his prolific writings will continue to make an impact on countless Christians for generations to come if our Lord tarries.”


(1) Voice Culture for Speakers and Students (Parry Jackman, 1955), and The Art of Praying and Speaking in Public: Practical Hints for Christians Who Desire to Witness (Parry Jackman, 1955).

(2) https://www.whitakerhouse.com/DeskTop.aspx?page=AuthorInfo&author=399. Accessed August 12, 2017.

(3)  Some of Dr. Lockyer’s works were also published under new titles to fit with the All series. All the Teachings of Jesus was first titled Everything Jesus Taught and What Jesus Taught About —All the 3s in the Bible is a repackaging of the three-volume Triple Truths of Scripture. This, in turn, drew from earlier material, all the way back to his 1936 sermons, The Three Crosses on Calvary’s Hill, Triads in Scripture, and The Trinity in the Scriptures. In this way, one can see how the All series was compiled laboriously over the course of many years. It is the capstone of four decades of study and ministry.

Herbert Lockyer

Author Guide: Herbert Lockyer

Herbert Lockyer was an astoundingly prolific writer and a thorough student of the Bible. A few years ago I stumbled on two Herbert Lockyer pamphlets while digging through the top shelf of an antique store. After I made both available for Kindle, I began to discover how many pamphlets and sermon collections Herbert Lockyer has to his name. The list turns out to be well over a hundred!

I’ve republished eight full-length books of his writings, listed below. My favorite works by him are in this collection of sermons, which is exclusively published by Pioneer Library.

The Christ of Christmas
The Gospel in the Pentateuch
A Lump of Clay & Other Sermons (exclusively from Pioneer Library)
Roses in December and Other Sermons
Sorrows and Stars 
The Swan Song of Paul: Studies in Second Timothy
When God Died 
When Revival Comes (previously titled The Mulberry Trees)

Keep scrolling to see the full list of his publications.

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