Tag Archives: F. W. Boreham (1871-1959)

Review: The Whisper of God

Rating: ★★★★

Author: F. W. Boreham, British pastor and author of more than 50 books. He spent most of his life pastoring in New Zealand and Australia. (See the article “Who Is F. W. Boreham?”)

Genre: Sermons.

Overview:

The Whisper of God (1902) might not include Boreham’s best sermons, but they are very different in style from his other books. Most of Boreham’s books straddle the boundary between essays and sermons; here, there is little doubt that we are dealing with sermons. In spite of the difference of genre, there are some real gems here.

Boreham always excelled at making biblical material accessible and interesting. In the course of his sermons, he brings out a number of fascinating and unusual anecdotes from the lore of Christian biography. He brings out the long-forgotten stories of Girolamo Savonarola, W. C. Burns, Joseph Neesima, and others.

He also quotes, not only from theologians, but from classic novels by Dickens, poems by Dora Greenwell, Washington Gladden, and others.

We can see here the beginnings of the creativity and voracious reading that characterized his career.

The titular sermon, “The Whisper of God”, is one of the best things he ever wrote and worth the price of the book.

God with all His omnipotence at His disposal never wastes anything. He never sends a flood if a shower will do; never sends a fortune if a shilling will do; never sends an army if a man will do. And He never thunders if a whisper will do.

“Left-Handed Warriors” deals with a number of interesting themes that were lifelong favorites with Boreham: unity in diversity, forgetfulness, and “the law of compensation”. (Boreham also wrote about “Being Left-Handed” in The Silver Shadow (1918).)

If you have never read any Boreham, I would recommend starting with one of his more typical books of essays, like The Blue Flame, The Uttermost Star, or Ships of Pearl. But if you are just looking for something a little different from those, you may be blessed by reading The Whisper of God.

Review: Nuggets of Romance

Author: F. W. Boreham, British pastor and author of 49 books and thousands of articles. He spent most of his life pastoring in New Zealand and Australia. (See our article “Who Is F. W. Boreham?”)

Overview:

Nuggets of Romance (2016) is a collection of never-before-published articles by F. W. Boreham. During his lifetime, Boreham published thousands of newspaper articles, many of them biographical. In putting together his books, he focused on drawing together the longer articles and sermonic materials that would be edifying to believers.

The articles here are mostly biographical, not devotional. There is a change in audience; we get to hear Boreham addressing a different crowd than he did on Sundays. Nonetheless, we still have here the classic voice of Boreham—a man keenly interested in bringing eternal truth out the histories and destinies of famous people.

Nuggets of Romance is a relaxing read. The essays are short and cover a litany of famous persons: Samuel Johnson (lexicographer), William Caxton (printing press), Thomas Carlyle (historian), Charles Darwin (naturalist), Edward Gibbon (historian), Christopher Wren (architect), Jules Verne (science fiction novelist), Lord Lister (surgeon, innovator of antiseptics), Victor Hugo (novelist), and many others. My favorites were those about Harriet Beecher Stowe, Victor Hugo, Lord Lister, and William Caxton.

Lord Lister, for instance, practically invented modern medicine by working towards sanitizing operation rooms to prevent infections. Wikipedia says that he “revolutionised surgery throughout the world” and calls him “the father of modern surgery”. Obviously, he eventually received a peerage for his contributions to public health. But this was an honor granted to him after many years of his ideas being generally rejected. Few believed that something invisible or infinitesimal was the cause of post-surgical infections; at the time, there were a variety of incorrect ideas about how these infections occurred and spread. This is an important story with bearing on our present day, seldom mentioned.

Many of the famous people covered here had important contributions all but forgotten by modern readers. Some of them, like Jules Verne or Lord Lister, experienced long periods of failure or obscurity before finally being recognized for their work. Boreham briefly and compellingly brings out these ironies.

A few articles are purely devotional, like “Pastels of Sound,” which was wonderfully reminiscent of the old sermon “The Whisper of God.”

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Review: The Home of the Echoes

Rating: ★★★★★

Who: F. W. Boreham, British pastor and author of more than 50 books. He spent most of his life pastoring in New Zealand and Australia. (See the article “Who Is F. W. Boreham?”)

Genre: On Boreham’s spiritual essays: F. W. Boreham is difficult to place into a genre. A reviewer wrote in Preacher’s Magazine, “There is only one Boreham.” His writing is a mix of essay writing and what I call “literary preaching”—preaching that is intensely informed by both Christian and classic literature. In the main body of his work (“classic Boreham”), some chapters were originally sermons; others were culled from his 3000 biographical essays. In any case, most of his 49 books are a goldmine of suitable (if light) devotional reading. (See my guide to his published works.)

Overview:

The Home of the Echoes is another great book of Boreham sermons, from the period when he was at his prime. My favorites were “The Magic Mirror,” on looking away from self to Christ (see quote below), and “Breaking-Up,” on the end of a school term and separating from treasured friends.

Quotes:

SECOND-HAND THINGS:

“A gregarious religious is essentially a precarious religion. . . . She simply went with the rest; she followed the crowd; her faith was a second-hand faith. . . .
The young prophet had to choose between his own first-hand vision and the elder prophet’s second-hand one.” (loc. 137-141)

“I was hastening on to eternal destruction when the great tremendous God met me like a lion in the way.” (John Haime, Lives of Early Methodist Preachers, qtd. in loc. 156)

THE KINGFISHER:

“What are mountains for but to be climbed? What are oceans for but to be sailed? What are rivers for but to be crossed?” (loc. 204)

“[John Milton’s] only gleam of comfort lay in the fact that he had written, during his last year of eyesight, a pamphlet on the Civil War! ‘He could not foresee,’ his biographer remarks, ‘that in less than ten years his pamphlet would be [obsolete] and only be mentioned because it had been written by the author of Paradise Lost.” (loc. 193)

DOCTOR DIGNITY:

“He had too much respect for his dignity to stand on it.”

THE MAGIC MIRROR:

“[Richard] Baxter is a past-master in the art of self-examination. . . . Writing toward the close of his life, he makes a significant and instructive confession. ‘I was once,’ he says, ‘wont to meditate most on my own heart, and to dwell all at home, and look little higher; I was always poring either on my sins or wants, or examining my sincerity; but now, though I am greatly convinced of the need of heart-acquaintance and employment, yet I see more need of a higher work; and that I should look oftener upon Christ, and God, and heaven, than upon my own heart. At home I can find many distempers to trouble me, and some evidences of my peace, but it is above that I must find matter of delight and joy and love and peace itself. Therefore, I would have one thought at home upon myself and sins, and many thoughts above upon the high and amiable and beautifying things.’” (loc. 1609-1613)


This review was written in November 2015. I wrote this review using the Kindle version of the book.

Review: The Arrows of Desire

Rating: ★★★★★

Who: F. W. Boreham, British pastor and author of more than 50 books. He spent most of his life pastoring in New Zealand and Australia. (See the article “Who Is F. W. Boreham?”)

Genre: On Boreham’s spiritual essays: F. W. Boreham is difficult to place into a genre. A reviewer wrote in Preacher’s Magazine, “There is only one Boreham.” His writing is a mix of essay writing and what I call “literary preaching”—preaching that is intensely informed by both Christian and classic literature. In the main body of his work (“classic Boreham”), some chapters were originally sermons; others were culled from his 3000 biographical essays. In any case, most of his 49 books are a goldmine of suitable (if light) devotional reading. (See my guide to his published works.)

Overview:

This is a sought-after book of essays, and came highly recommended.

After his so-called retirement, many of Boreham’s shorter articles were collected into full volumes. This includes Boulevards of Paradise, The Arrows of Desire, Dreams at Sunset, The Tide Comes In, and The Last Milestone; all of these books consist of somewhat shorter articles than Boreham’s earlier volumes of essays.

Meat:

There are several great adventure and missions stories in this volume. About twenty of the articles were biographical. Sometimes Boreham would repeat biographical anecdotes from famous people; but some of the stories in this book were unique material that clearly required extensive reading and research.

It has been about ten years since I read this book, but I distinctly remember the following essays:

“Flying Fingers” (about Isaac Pitman)

“The Whale’s Tooth” (about missions in Polynesia)

“The Conquest of the Braves” (about John Eliot)

“On the Road to Yemen” (about Ion Keith-Falconer)

All of these are seldom-referenced stories, and in my voluminous reading in Christian biography and missions, I have hardly come across a reference to any of the essays as told above. These are the treasures of Boreham’s great depth and breadth of reading.

Bones:

In Boreham’s short articles, which were often culled from newspaper articles, not all subject matter was spiritual, so a few of the stories are lacking in any spiritual application. That is always a disappointment when you have limited time and are using Boreham’s books as devotional reading. Fortunately, though, the occasional interesting-but-not-so-spiritual essay is the exception and not the rule.

God never sends a man into the world without first preparing the world for his coming. He even gives our parents a few months’ notice so that they may have everything ready.

The quote comes from “Dinna Forget Spurgeon!”, one of the chapters in Ships of Pearl by F. W. Boreham. Find out how you can help us bring this book back to print by visiting our Kickstarter page.

Ships of Pearl: The Signature Edition

This is the first update regarding our first crowdfunded book project, Ships of Pearl by F. W. Boreham. If you haven’t yet, head to the Kickstarter page to see how you can get a copy of F. W. Boreham’s rarest book.


Why F. W. Boreham?

F. W. Boreham has been endorsed by Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham and Ravi Zacharias, but his classic books have fallen out of print, and some of them are impossible to obtain.

Why Ships of Pearl?

Ships of Pearl is not only extremely rare, but it is undoubtedly one of Boreham’s best works. Like The Passing of John Broadbanks, it came at a time when Boreham believed he was nearing the end of his writing career; his work had been perfected, polished, and seasoned with the salt of age.

At the moment, Ships of Pearl is F. W. Boreham’s rarest book—rarer than The Whisper of God or The Blue Flame, which Pioneer Library has already put back into print. Ships of Pearl is not currently in print, and you won’t see it for under $100 on Amazon, Abebooks, eBay, B&N, Alibris—you name it. At time of publication, the only copy for sale online costs $851.90 plus shipping. I believe that this is because someone using tailored software bought the last few copies on the Internet, and is waiting for someone foolish and desperate to make them a cool grand.

What will it look like?

We have prepared a new edition of this classic book, completely re-typeset to match as closely as possible the flavor of the original. We’ve also added 126 footnotes giving Scripture references, sources for quotations, and, occasionally, notes on the author’s dialect.

The new edition will be printed on 60-weight natural paper, which is opaque and easy on the eyes. The hardcover will have a cranberry linen cover with a custom gold foil stamp of the title and the author’s signature, as well as a tough 100-weight dust jacket.

Why Gorham?

We have gone with Gorham Printing, a short-run printer in Centralia, Washington. (Yes, we know! Boreham and Gorham!) Using a short-run printer means that we have to choose how many copies to order up front. Since out-of-print books are often forgotten to start with, we could not justify investing thousands of dollars without first knowing how many serious Boreham fans are out there.

All the books we have printed thus far have been softcover books, perfect-bound, and print-on-demand. This is a great option for affordability; however, the quality of the binding does not compare with that of a book from a print run. This means they don’t last as long. There is also no customizability with the big, outsourced print operations. Gorham allows us a litany of design options, and when we email them a question, we get a response from a human being, usually within a day.

Why Kickstarter?

We decided that Kickstarter was the best way to fund this project for two reasons: First, it is currently the most popular way to crowdsource funding for a business venture. Second, Kickstarter provides accountability. If the project doesn’t make, Kickstarter returns all pledges. And if a project doesn’t follow their guidelines, they can hold the designer responsible.

The thirty-day timeline is also important. We don’t have any warehouse or office space to deal with continual sales. Kickstarter enables us to have a short, focused period to sell these books, and then get back to our day jobs.

What about Amazon?

As much as it is humanly possible at this time, we are breaking up with Amazon. There are basically two reasons for this.

The first reason is erratic management. Because of its size, there is no redress for problems with the Amazon process. I have had multiple F. W. Boreham projects rejected by Amazon for unfounded reasons, but there is no appeal process to get my new books in print. In August 2017, they accepted The Drums of Dawn for Kindle publication, but rejected it for print publication. They did something similar for The Ivory Spires and When the Swans Fly High,. This effectively halted our new Boreham publications, and I have never received any explanation.

The second reason is justice. Amazon has been roundly criticized for employee abuse and monopolizing practices. When ebooks hit the global market, Amazon took a seven-figure hit in its prices, just so that they could crush their only viable competitor, Barnes and Noble. They also bought out their only online competitor, Abebooks. Brick-and-mortar bookstores throughout North America are closing their doors because of Amazon’s ruthless business practices.

How do I get on board?

Go to our Kickstarter page to see how you can contribute to making this book a reality. If our project succeeds, you will get a brand new, hardback copy of Ships of Pearl for only $40, and you can order both print and digital for $50.

Review: When the Swans Fly High

Who: F. W. Boreham, British pastor and author of 49 books. He spent most of his life pastoring in New Zealand and Australia. (See the article “Who Is F. W. Boreham?”)

Genre: On Boreham’s spiritual essays: F. W. Boreham is difficult to place into a genre. A reviewer wrote in Preacher’s Magazine, “There is only one Boreham.” His writing is a mix of essay writing and what I call “literary preaching”—preaching that is intensely informed by both Christian and classic literature. In the main body of his work (“classic Boreham”), some chapters were originally sermons; others were culled from his 3000 biographical essays. In any case, most of his 49 books are a goldmine of suitable (if light) devotional reading. (See my list of his published works.)

Overview: This is a great book of essays, and very hard to obtain. It is definitely one of my favorite volumes from the pen of F. W. Boreham. Thanks to my collaborators, it is now available for Kindle.

“The Order of Melchizedek” illustrates in several ways the meaning of the somewhat enigmatic figure of Melchizedek in Hebrews: “without beginning of days or end of life” (Heb. 7:3).

“Rainbow Gold” compares the human longing for eternity to the search for the gold at the end of the rainbow.

“The Rainbow” speaks of the meaning of the biblical symbol of the rainbow in its several uses (Genesis, Ezekiel, and Revelation), and also tells the fascinating tale of a etiological myth about the rainbow among the Maori where Boreham spent his first pastorate. (On the rainbow, see also this fine passage from missionary Temple Gairdner.)

“A Pair of Spectacles” is about the tendency to see things, not through your own eyes, but through the eyes of the crowd.

Quotes:

“One of the highest forms of courage is cold-blooded courage, four-o’-clock-in-the-morning courage, the kind of courage that is born of no excitement, is witnessed by no spectators and evokes no cheers.”

“In his Areopagitica, John Milton says that a man may hold an orthodox creed and yet be the worst of heretics.”

“God committed to paper the choicest thoughts of His divine heart.”

“‘Come, wander with me,’ she said,
‘Into regions yet untrod;
And read what is still unread
In the manuscripts of God.'” (quoted from Longfellow in “A Midwinter Holiday”)

“Each man’s individuality is itself a message to mankind, a message which he, and he alone can faithfully deliver. And the whole art of life lies in giving such genuine and accurate and rational expression to that unique individuality of mine that, by the things that I do and the way in which I do them, men may receive a message from my Father that could have come to them in no other way.”

“He cares, we feel, for certain things—the making of worlds, the control of the universe, the destinies of mighty empires. But does He care for the individual soul with its individual needs? Does He care for Barbara with her passionate prayer for the boon of a quiet night? Does He care for John Ridd? Is He prepared, not only to steer the planets on their fiery courses, but to guide John’s heart amidst its complicated entanglements? Does He care for ordinary mortals? Does He care for me?” (“The Doll’s House”)

A Detailed Bibliography of F. W. Boreham

This page lists detailed copyright information for the published books of F. W. Boreham (1871-1959), including links to the (United States) Catalogue of Copyright Entries. All UK dates were obtained from Ian F. McLaren’s Frank William Boreham (1871-1959): A Select Bibliography, published by Whitley College in 1997.

  1. The Whisper of God
    UK/NZ 1902
  2. Loose Leaves
    NZ c. 1903 (n.d.)
  3. George Augustus Selwyn
    UK May 1911
  4. The Luggage of Life
    UK September 1912, US September 1918
  5. Mountains in the Mist
    UK January 1914, US May 1919
  6. The Golden Milestone
    UK 1915, US September 1918
  7. Mushrooms on the Moor
    UK June 1915, US 1915
  8. Faces in the Fire
    UK September 1916, US 1920
  9. The Other Side of the Hill
    UK September 1917, US 1917
  10. The Silver Shadow
    UK May 1918, US 1918
  11. The Uttermost Star
    UK October 1919, US 1919
  12. A Reel of Rainbow
    UK October 1920, US 1920
  13. A Bunch of Everlastings
    UK May 1920, US 1920
  14. The Home of the Echoes
    UK September 1921, US 1921
  15. A Handful of Stars
    UK 1922, US 1922
  16. Shadows on the Wall
    UK September 1922, US 1922
  17. Rubble and Roseleaves
    Simultaneous UK/US, September 1 1923
  18. A Casket of Cameos
    Simultaneous UK/US, April 4 1924
  19. Wisps of Wildfire
    US August 1 1924, UK September 1924
  20. The Crystal Pointers
    US August 1 1925, UK September 1925
  21. A Faggot of Torches
    Simultaneous UK/US, March 1 1926, US copyright renewed February 26 1954
  22. A Tuft of Comet’s Hair
    US August 1 1926, UK September 1926
  23. The Nest of Spears
    US August 1 1927, UK September 1927
  24. A Temple of Topaz
    Simultaneous UK/US, March 1 1928
  25. The Fiery Crags
    US August 1 1928, UK September 1928
  26. The Three Half-Moons
    Simultaneous UK/US, August 1 1929
  27. The Blue Flame
    Simultaneous UK/US, August 1 1930
  28. When the Swans Fly High
    Simultaneous UK/US, September 1 1931
  29. A Witch’s Brewing
    Simultaneous UK/US, August 1 1932
  30. The Drums of Dawn
    Simultaneous UK/US, August 1 1933
  31. The Ivory Spires
    Simultaneous UK/US, August 1 1934
  32. The Heavenly Octave
    UK July 1935, US March 23 1936
  33. Ships of Pearl
    Simultaneous UK/US, August 1 1935
  34. The Passing of John Broadbanks
    Simultaneous UK/US, August 1 1936
  35. I Forgot To Say
    US April 28 1939, UK May 1939
  36. My Pilgrimage
    UK April 1940, US 1950
  37. The Prodigal [sermons]
    UK 1941
  38. Boulevards of Paradise [sermons]
    UK August 1944
  39. A Late Lark Singing
    UK December 1945
  40. The Man Who Saved Gandhi
    UK August 1948
  41. Cliffs of Opal
    UK December 1948
  42. The Arrows of Desire
    UK 1951
  43. My Christmas Book [mostly repeated material]
    UK August 20 1953, US October 26 1953
  44. In Pastures Green [sermons]
    UK April 22, 1954
  45. Dreams at Sunset
    UK June 24 1954
  46. The Gospel of Robinson Crusoe
    UK October 1955
  47. The Gospel of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    UK September 1956
  48. The Tide Comes In
    UK January 23 1958
  49. The Last Milestone
    UK July 17 1961

Texts That Made History

The Texts That Made History series is a series of biographical sermons by F. W. Boreham. Each sermon deals with the impact of a single Scripture text in the life of a famous person. We are not surprised to see the impact of the Bible in the lives of reformers, preachers, and pioneer missionaries. However, Boreham broadens his vision to take on explorers, authors, statesmen, and even a few fictional characters.

In the introduction to the fifth volume, the author explains that several years ago he was musing on what to announce for his next teaching series. He had been studying the impact of a single Scripture on the life of Martin Luther—guiding towards the Protestant Reformation—and wondered if he should teach on the Bible’s impact in biographies. Then Boreham tells us he “astonished himself” by announcing that he was commencing a series entitled The Texts That Made History:

At the close of the service, one of my most trusted officers came to me in great delight. ‘That’s a noble idea,’ he explained enthusiastically; ‘it will be the best series that you ever preached!’

It has certainly been the longest, and the most evangelistic, and the most effective. And it has been the series in which I myself have found the most delight.

Boreham wrote over 1500 biographical articles over the course of his life, making him for many decades the most prolific author in Australian history. He read one book every week over the course of most of his long life. It is no wonder, then, that he is well qualified to handle his theme.

Four out of the five books in this series are already available as ebooks, and we hope to put all four of them back into print in the coming months.

Texts That Made History

  1. A Bunch of Everlastings
  2. A Handful of Stars
  3. A Casket of Cameos
  4. A Faggot of Torches (unavailable)
  5. A Temple of Topaz