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Heroes – A Review by Hugh Cartwright

Category Book Reviews
Date August 3, 2010

The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday is the same today and tomorrow’.

Five chapters outline the character, life and work of men whose names are well known and whose lives and labours are represented elsewhere in substantial Banner of Truth volumes: Jonathan Edwards2, George Whitefield3, 4, John Newton5, Thomas Charles, and Charles Spurgeon6, 7. These are not merely brief informative biographical accounts. Generally, the author focuses on a prominent feature of each individual’s life from which lessons of abiding relevance can be drawn. For example, having given a good account of the life, character, trials and preaching of Edwards, Mr Murray concludes that he has left us

an immensely valuable witness to the nature of true Christian experience . . . a framework with which to understand history and the future . . . the truth that Calvinistic orthodoxy cannot advance the gospel and the salvation of men unless it has the power of the Holy Spirit . . . the call to cease looking to men and to live to the honour of God alone.

In Whitefield the author sees exemplified catholicity of spirit and love to all who love the Lord. The ideal is to have and maintain this spirit. However, we suggest that it is necessary also to contend earnestly for the faith and all its implications for doctrine, worship and the government of the Church, though this may sadly necessitate ecclesiastical separation. Revival movements, including those involving Whitefield, may sometimes have obscured this fact.

Lessons of abiding importance for the Christian ministry are drawn from the life and writings of John Newton – such as the need to recognise that ‘grace matures slowly’, the usefulness of books and the importance of wisdom and affection in pastoral counselling. The chapter on Thomas Charles appeared previously in the ‘Biographical Introduction’ to Thomas Charles’ Spiritual Counsels8, a valuable volume drawn from his letters and writings. The concluding chapter considers ‘Spurgeon as an Evangelist’. Having shown that Spurgeon was prepared for gospel ministry by his conversion and the Puritan theology he learned in his youth, the chapter discusses the content of evangelistic preaching and the character of the evangelistic preacher.

Two chapters deal with persons who may be less well known – William Hewitson (from Ayrshire) and Robert Kalley (from Glasgow), whose labours in the Roman-Catholic-dominated Portuguese island of Madeira involved them in what Andrew Bonar described as ‘the greatest happening in modern missions’, and Charles and Mary Colcock Jones, who devoted their lives ‘to the spiritual welfare of the African-American people’.

Considerations of health led Hewitson (1812-1850), later Free Church minister at Dirleton, and Kalley (1809-1888), who had been a medical practitioner in Kilmarnock, to Madeira, though M’Cheyne had desired Hewitson as his assistant and Kalley had planned to go to China. Persecution instigated by Roman Catholic clergy drove them and hundreds of others from the island after a comparatively short time. In these few years, through the blessing of God upon the preaching of the gospel, a network of home-based schools teaching people to read, and the searching of the Scriptures, many were converted and a church was established. When persecution scattered hundreds of the people, they formed churches in the places of their exile, principally Trinidad, Brazil and the United States.

The longest chapter gives an account of the lives of Dr and Mrs Jones. Jones (1804-1863) was a Presbyterian minister, by turns a pastor, professor of theology, secretary to the Presbyterian Board of Domestic Missions and missionary to the slaves on various plantations in Liberty County, Georgia, three of which he owned. The chapter includes a brief discussion of the view of slavery held by reluctant slave owners like Jones. It does not specifically draw lessons from the biography but does present him as one described him:

His chief concern was to please God. He lived and moved under the abiding consciousness that God’s eye was upon him. He had the most exalted ideas of the greatness, majesty, glory and holiness of God . . . In his own sight he was nothing and less than nothing . . . He ardently loved the Saviour, and desired that his name should be known and honoured in all the earth.

While we would qualify an occasional expression we trust that this interesting volume may achieve its avowed purposes.

Notes

    • Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton

      Pastor-Teachers of Old Princeton

      Memorial Addresses for the Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary 1812-1921

      by James M. Garretson


      price £17.00

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

    • Jonathan Edwards

      Jonathan Edwards

      A New Biography

      by Iain H. Murray


      price £15.50
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

    • Image of the 2 Volume biography on George Whitefield by Dallimore

      George Whitefield

      2 Volume Set: Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the 18th Century Revival

      by Arnold Dallimore


      price £48.00
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

    • Life and Times of George Whitefield
      price £10.00

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

    • Life of John Newton
      price £8.00

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

    • Spurgeon

      A Biography

      by Arnold Dallimore


      price £7.00

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

    • C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography

      C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography

      Volume 2: The Full Harvest 1860-1892

      by C. H. Spurgeon


      price £17.00

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

    • Thomas Charles’ Spiritual Counsels

      Selected From His Letters and Papers by Edward Morgan

      by Thomas Charles


      price £12.75
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      The author’s concern is with ‘spiritual, Christian greatness . . . and with the help it can be to see it in others’ and his ‘hope is that these pages 1 may give young Christians a relish for old authors, and encourage younger ministers of the gospel in the assurance that the Saviour of yesterday […]

Taken with permission from The Free Presbyterian Magazine, July 2010. Notes added.

www.fpchurch.org.uk

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