Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Boreham on the Romance of a Dictionary

Typical of F W Boreham’s interest in encouraging people to reflect and discover meaning in everyday things is this article on ‘A Romance of a Dictionary’:

A HUNDRED years ago Noah Webster, the compiler of the famous dictionary, passed away. Descended on his father's side from John Webster, a pioneer governor of Connecticut, and on his mother's side from William Bradford, one of the leaders of the Pilgrim Fathers, Noah Webster was a man of original and outstanding gifts. In the 85 years of his remark able career he was alternately farmer, lawyer, academician, politician and historian, but all through the years his mind was dominated by an insatiable curiosity as to the etymology and significance of words, and every odd moment was devoted to notes and memoranda embodying his latest discoveries. He found it a fascinating and inexhaustible study.

Word Factory
For, after all, the world is an enormous word-factory and its output is prodigious. Every year, almost every week, brings a new crop of words. The vast majority of these words perish almost as soon as they are born. They are coined to fit a certain occasion and, being essentially ephemeral in their purpose and character, are quickly forgotten.

Armory of the Mind
Others, however, appeal to a deeper instinct. They meet an obvious need, describe a certain quality that no dictionary word described so well, captivate the popular imagination, and, as a consequence, they live.

A good dictionary is, as Coleridge said, the armory of the human mind and contains both the trophies of its past, and the weapons of its future, conquests.

Fossilized Poetry
In his classic, On the Study of Words, Archbishop Trench has seven masterly chapters in which he shows that words are fossil poetry and petrified history and embalmed romance, and that all the ages have left the record of their tears and laughter, virtues and vices, passion and pain, in the words they have created.

Astounding Treasure
Did not Ruskin urge his readers to delve in the dictionary like prospectors searching for gold? Just as, on the diggings, the richest nugget may ravish the eyes of the miner when he is turning over the most common clay, so Ruskin held, the most astounding treasure may be found concealed in the heart of the most ordinary words.

Polished Gems
`When I feel inclined to read poetry,' says Oliver Wendell Holmes, `I reach down my dictionary. The poetry of words is quite as beautiful as that of sentences. The author may arrange the gems effectively, but their shape and luster have been given by the attrition of age. Bring me the finest simile from the whole range of imaginative writing, and I will show you a single word which conveys a more profound, a more accurate, and a more elegant analogy.' It will be seen, then, that, properly understood and appreciated, words are jewel cases, treasure chests, strong-rooms; the repositories in which the archives of the ages arc preserved.

Like Mushrooms on a Misty Morning
Language is obviously an evolution. There was a time when even the Encyclopedia Britannica declared that our first parents received it by immediate inspiration. In view of our present knowledge of the coinage and creation of words, however, most people will feel that this can only have been true, at the most, to a very limited extent. With every momentous event in human history new words spring up like mushrooms on a misty morning.

Sound Words
Most of these new words, as Sir Edward Cook once pointed out, are frankly onomatopoeic. They are, that is to say, mere imitations of sounds frequently heard. The deaf and dumb man imitates, by means of gestures, the things that he sees. The man who is not so afflicted imitates, on the same principle, the things that he hears. And these oral imitations crystallize into permanent augmentations of the vocabulary. Philologists assure us that we should be astonished if we were to discover the number of our common words that were originally imitations of sounds heard.

A child's first ventures in articulation are, as Prof. Drummond has pointed out, frankly imitative. He calls the cow a moo-moo, the dog a bow-wow, the duck a quack-quack, the rooster a cock-a-doodle-doo, the clock a tick-tick, the train a puff puff; and so on. Nor does he drop the habit when he emerges from the nursery. In maturer years he still speaks of the hum of the bee, the click of the gate, the whir of machinery, the chirp of the grasshopper, the twitter of the sparrows, the hiss of the snake, the boom of the cannon, the roar of thunder, the tramp of armies, and the rest. He is building up a vocabulary on that onomatopoeic principle to which Sir Edward Cook ascribes so many of the words in the dictionary.

Common Words
Oddly enough most of our words come to us, not from the halls of learning, but from playgrounds and village greens. In her Rustic Speech and Folklore, Mrs. E. M. Wright maintains that it is an egregious mistake to suppose that country people, even when quite unlettered, possess limited vocabularies. She instances one district in which the local dialect contains more than a thousand words for giving a man a thrashing, a thousand words by which one man could tell another that he was a fool, 120 names for the smallest pig of a litter, and hundreds of names for a slut. `And as for dying and getting drunk,' she adds, `there is no number to be put upon the names for them.'

Words, Words, Words!
In view of this facility, possessed by the most ordinary men, it is clear that the task of Noah Webster, a century ago, represented an undertaking of no small magnitude. `Words, words, words!' moaned Hamlet in his dialogue with Polonius, and he said it as though words were things to be regarded with contumely and disdain. But if he, and those who think as he did, were to probe the matter as deeply as Noah Webster had to do, they would discover that, to an imaginative and adventurous mind, the manufacture of words offers a wealthy field for the play of curiosity and research.

Source: F W Boreham, ‘Romance of a Dictionary,’ The Last Milestone (London: The Epworth Press, 1961), 75-77.

Image: Dictionary

Friday, February 16, 2007

F W Boreham on The Queen

It’s the Princess Calling!
On the evening of November 19, 1947, a telephone rang at Westminster Abbey. A voice asked for Canon Elliott; was he on the premises? He was; but who wanted him? `This is Buckingham Palace; and I am ringing on behalf of Princess Elizabeth; she would like to speak to Canon Elliott.'

It turned out that the Princess, who was to be married on the following day, had, with her mother and sister, visited the Abbey to listen to the rehearsal of the music. Chatting it over afterwards, the three royal ladies agreed that the setting of Crimond to the twenty-third Psalm was very different from the setting to which they were accustomed. The bride-elect determined to ring the Abbey.

Canon Fire
`When we are in Scotland,' she explained to the canon on the phone, `Mother and Margaret and I often sing the twenty-third Psalm, sometimes when driving home across the moors; but the setting of Crimond, as it was rendered in the Abbey this afternoon, doesn't seem quite the same as that with which we are familiar. We wondered if it could possibly be altered.'

Royals Singing On the Phone
There was consternation among the officials at the Abbey. The ladies at the Palace sang the Psalm over the phone, the canon, the organist, and the precentor listening, as if for their lives.

Psalms at the Palace Piano
At length the gentlemen at the Abbey begged that they might be permitted to come to the Palace and practise the amended setting of Crimond with the ladies at the piano. And, next day, to the delight of the bride, destined so soon to become a Queen, the Abbey resounded to the music that she had so often enjoyed among the heather.

F W Boreham in his book on this part of the Scriptures that has meant so much to so many remarks, “It is wonderful how people of all kinds and classes capitulate to the charm of the twenty-third Psalm.”

F W Boreham, In Pastures Green (London: The Epworth Press, 1954), 8.

Image: Finding her voice.

Boreham on Noises and Sounds

What Noises Should be Muted?
It is quite conceivable that, as the movement for a quieter world develops, some differences of opinion may emerge as to the particular noises that should be suppressed. To some people the music of a band—particularly a jazz band--is intolerable; and Macaulay, who could never distinguish between one tune and another, could be quoted in their support. Things do not appeal similarly to all tastes and temperaments; one man's food is another man's poison; one man's Paradise is another man's Purgatory.

Incessant Guggles
A well-known statesman used to complain that his nightly drive home from the House of Commons was rendered hideous by the incessant guggle, guggle, guggle of the nightingales! In any outcry against noise there is usually a reference to the crowing of cocks. One is reminded of the agonies endured by Carlyle. Again and again he complains bitterly that `the cocks and hens are as large as ostriches, and scream and crow with the power of a steam whistle.' Yet, by an odd coincidence, whilst the distracted historian was suffering such torture with ill-disguised impatience, his distinguished contemporary, Thoreau, was descanting on the same theme in a very different temper.

Cock Crowing Newer Testament
To Thoreau the crowing of the cock was the bugle-blast of the universe. He called upon all men everywhere to applaud it. 'There is,' he averred, something in a cock-crow that is a Newer Testament—the Gospel according to the Moment. It is an expression of the health and soundness of Nature, a brag for all the world—healthiness as of a spring burst forth. The merit of this bird's strain is its freedom from all plaintiveness. The singer can easily move us to tears or to laughter; but where is he who can excite in us a pure morning joy?'

Sounds of Owners and Neighbors
Over such transports, Carlyle would only groan in uttermost mystification and disgust. Similar varieties of outlook are not uncommon; and, even when the barking of dogs comes in for consideration, we sometimes discern a marked difference between the view of the proud owner of the faithful beast on the one hand and that of his next-door neighbor on the other!

Spirituality of Sound?
There may be a moral and even a spiritual issue at stake. Did the statesman always regard the song of the nightingale as a guggle, guggle, guggle? Was there never a time at which Carlyle discerned something stimulating in the crowing of the cock?

Unmoved Heart and Stolid Eye
In one of her best poems, Mrs. Ella Wheeler Wilcox tells of a young fellow who would go into raptures over a dazzling sunset or a lovely song. But the years went by. Queen Folly held her sway. She fed his flesh and drugged his mind: he trailed his glory in the mire. In the days that followed, neither sunsets nor songs had any charm for him.

The clouds made day a gorgeous bed;
He saw the splendor of the sky
With unmoved heart and stolid eye!
He only knew the West was red!

Then suddenly, a fresh young voice
Rose, bird-like, from some hidden place;
He did not even turn his face,
It struck him simply as a noise!

Dulled to Higher Things
He saw the sunset that once filled him with ecstasy; but he saw it 'with unmoved heart and stolid eye'! He heard the song that once sounded to him like the voice of angels, and 'it struck him simply as a noise’! And, in closing her poem, Mrs. Wilcox exclaims—

O worst of punishments, that brings
A blunting of all finer sense,
A loss of feelings keen, intense,
And dulls us to the higher things.

Sounds and Sensations
This may, in some cases and in some phases of experience, account for our changed attitude towards sounds and sensations. Not always, of course; but sometimes—often enough, at any rate, to make a little heart-searching worthwhile.

F W Boreham, ‘My Scallop-Shell of Quiet’, The Passing of John Broadbanks (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 14-16.

Image: "the bugle-blast of the universe."

Can You Help Publish This F W Boreham Book?

Can you help publish this Boreham Book?

The publishing of F W Boreham’s book, From England to Mosgiel, will cost approximately $2,000. It was first published by Boreham’s local paper, the Courier.

Very few copies of this short book were printed. Chances are you have never seen it, let alone read it.

If you (and others) would contribute sufficient finance so we can get this book republished, not only will your name/s and generosity be acknowledged in the introduction to this Boreham book but you will have a chance to read it, certainly for the first time. Most importantly, you will be setting loose a Boreham book that is currently ‘imprisoned’ in an F W Boreham display cabinet in Australia to give joy to hundreds of other people who enjoy the writings of F W Boreham.

If you can assist with a gift to republish From England to Mosgiel, click on this web site, F W Boreham on Mentoring, for instructions on contacting Michael Dalton and sending your money in the easiest way possible.

I have just finished scanning the first chapter which I am posting below to whet your appetite for publication, one of the earliest from the pen of F W Boreham. It begins with a letter to the editor, which FWB’s copy says, was added by someone else.

To the Editor

Dear Sir—I am writing you in the hope that a few notes by the way, made during my voyage to New Zealand, may be of interest to readers of the Courier.

The following deals with the first half of the voyage, and takes me as far as Cape Town, and I shall hope to complete my story on reaching my destination.

[FWB writes in the margin of his own copy about the above: ‘added to my M.S.S by Editor or Somebody]
It was on the afternoon of Saturday, the 26th of January, that we stood on the deck of the Tainui, about 36 miles off Plymouth, and caught the last glimpse of old England. And the rugged Cornish coast looked very beautiful as it gradually faded from our view. The hilly cliffs towered up in sullen majesty, the thin layer of snow which had fallen the day before still lay in the valleys beneath them, whilst the sun glinting and glistening on them both threw into view at the same time distances of landscape which had otherwise been entirely hidden from us. Standing out in bold relief against the jagged coastline stood Eddystone lighthouse, like a giant stepped down from his home on the hill. And as all this became fainter and more distant, a snowstorm blew up from the west, and tearing along the coast eastward, added to the beauty of the scene. We watched the mass of whiteness as it swept on o’er hill and dale, till in a few moments all had vanished—and England was to us a thing of maps and memory. We frankly confess that our hearts were more sad than glad as the “white walls of old England” disappeared; and the biting wind and driving snow were hardly calculated to inspire a more joyful state of mind. So we went below, had tea, and retired early—partly to dispel the sorrows of “farewell,” and partly to fortify ourselves against the terrors generally reported to await us on the morrow “In the Bay of Biscay O!”

But the Bay of Biscay was on its best behaviour. It was choppy enough to give us an idea of what it could do if it chose; it was sufficiently calm to permit of our sitting on deck, without indulging in morbid speculations as to which particular wave would wash us overboard. We entered it on Saturday evening, and left it very early on Monday morning, finding on rising that the foaming billows had given place to ripples that plashed pleasantly against the sides of the vessel, and seemed in perfect harmony with the soft warm Southern breezes which had displaced the chilling blasts of 36 hours before. Then for three days we scudded on across the waters, the seagulls that had followed us persistently from Plymouth, and a couple of porpoises that sported in the foam, being the only exceptions to the rule of “water, water, everywhere.”

Glad indeed were we, on rising on Thursday morning, to find that we were safely anchored off Teneriffe. And whether it was the reaction from the sense of monotony that had prevailed for the last day or two, or whether it was the beauty of the morning and the softness of the balmy atmosphere, I cannot say, but certain am I that as we stepped on deck that day the air seemed full of romance.

Source: F W Boreham, From England to Mosgiel, Tunbridge Wells: Courier, 1895, 1.

Image: The Eddystone Lighthouse

Trading Boreham: Further F W Boreham Trivia

Who was the Boreham enthusiast who sold his F W Boreham book collection to buy himself a new Subaru?

Click on the link below to discover the answer.

For the answer and the good web site click on:

Image: A Subaru

Boreham and His Protest Against Noise

Writing about Walter Raleigh’s wonderful phrase, F W Boreham says:

My scallop-shell of quiet! The phrase makes an irresistible appeal in view of the movement that I see afoot around me. Humanity is in revolt. It is arming itself against noise. The circumstance is intensely significant. The mere recognition of the fact that noise has become a species of tyranny is itself a healthy sign. For several generations humanity has been so excited over its success in mechanizing everything that it has had no time to notice the inordinate din that it was incidentally creating.

Noise Creeping Up
Yet there it is! 'Noise,' the Engineer observes, 'has crept upon us unawares with the advent of mechanical engineering. We are only vaguely conscious how great it is; only vaguely conscious that it is bad for us; or long ago we should have taken steps to stop it.'

Noise Injurious to our Health
Our doctors are telling us every day that diseases of the nervous system are alarmingly on the increase and that the distracting clamor amidst which our lives are spent has a good deal to do with it. It is of no avail to assure these excellent physicians that we are growing accustomed to the everlasting racket. Motor-cycles go snorting past our windows without our even glancing up. We sleep soundly at night with trams rumbling, horns tooting and railway engines screaming furiously around us. The doctors shake their heads: they are not satisfied. Young people warned by their elders concerning the folly of bolting their food in chunks, laugh at the idea of indigestion. But Nature will not be laughed at; she stands no nonsense; years afterwards the inevitable penalty is paid. And, in the same way, our medical authorities assure us that, in sleeping amidst a babel of noise, we are not enjoying the immunity upon which we plume ourselves. The perfect restfulness of sleep is being unconsciously ruined; there are mental starts and sensations of which we know nothing; the nerves are being imperceptibly frayed and worn down; the whole thing is as bad as bad can be.

Hopeful Signs
The most hopeful sign on the horizon is the declaration by the engineers that mechanization and noise do not of necessity go together. Noise, they say, is bad workmanship. `It is the outward token,' as one expert puts it, `of wasted energy. It can be caused only by vibration. That vibration can be set up by hammering, by shaking or by friction; and these are the three cardinal sins of mechanical engineering.' The hydraulic crane, the rubber tyre, the silencer and all such contrivances, indicate that the tide has turned. The world's best workers are finding their ideal away back on a Syrian hill.

“There was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the temple while it was in building.”

“Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprang.”

The noiseless fabric! There stands the supreme triumph of engineering! And it is altogether to the good that the twentieth century, turning its face wistfully towards that ancient model, is bending every effort to eliminate the crash and the scream and the roar to which we have been martyrs for so long.

Source: F W Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 12-14.

Image: A book on noise in the classroom.

Prof Skinner on F W Boreham

Professor Craig Skinner, was an Australian who taught at the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary for many years. He wrote this preface to the ‘Frank Boreham Treasury’ in which he gives good advice to those learning how to preach:

Golden Preacher
When I introduce my fellow-Australian F. W. Boreham as one of the stars students should study in the History of Preaching course here at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, they tolerate him mostly as an idiosyncratic excess of their professor's own South Pacific genesis. His move to favoritism among many other giants is very swift, however, for most of them.

Belongs to the World
Australian Baptists are naturally proud of the only preacher among them who has gained such international eminence and literary excellence. But he belongs not to Australians alone, nor to New Zealanders, nor to the British, all of whom may lay some claim to a share in his fame. He belongs to the whole world and to the whole evangelical church. Wherever thinking, feeling, and believing Christians live—there Boreham's words remain relevant. His insight, perspicacity, and erudition remain unequaled. His incisive application of the lessons of history and literature as applied to spiritual living and his dynamic relation of these to biblical truths still outshine most others.”

You and I live in a generation where Boreham is largely forgotten. This fine selection of his writings will do much now to fill such a gap.”

Boreham and Billy Graham
When Billy Graham visited England, the man he wanted above all to meet was the saintly Dr. W. E. Sangster. In Melbourne, Australia, his choice was the encouraging Dr. F. W. Boreham. After recounting memories of D. L. Moody for Mr. Graham, Boreham had both of his visitors kneel while "with face uplifted to heaven and his hands on our heads he poured out his great heart in a consecrating prayer which will follow us through the years like the sound of a great Amen."*

Skinner’s Commendation
In this volume many will relate to Frank Boreham so as to hear words and discover thoughts that will become just such an abiding benediction.

If you are a preacher you will discover sermon ideas sprouting like spring wheat from every page. If you are a reader you will savor thoughts expressed in words of such finesse that their quality stands almost unique. If you are Christ's your heart will quicken, your mind will stretch, and your tongue will move to praise Him. That says a lot for the book. It says more about the writer. It says most about the reality of his thoughts and themes.

Professor of Preaching
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary Mill Valley, California

Source: Peter F Gunther, A Frank Boreham Treasury (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), xi-xii.
*F. W. Boreham, The Last Milestone, Introduction (London: Epworth, 1961), 20.

Image: Craig Skinner often did a one man show (now with DVD, on the life of Boreham's seminary principal, C H Spurgeon. I do not know whether or not the photo is of CS dressed up as CHS (it would be a pretty good resemblance) or whether it is one of CHS. Craig died last August at the age of 75 in Atlanta.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

F W Boreham's Scallop Shell of Quietness

My wife and I walked the beach this morning and watched the sun coming up over the Arabian Sea. It was magnific-ent. We had the beach all to our-selves. The air was pure. The view was majestic. Our ears rejoiced in the sound of the waves lapping and the sea birds waking. We breathed in the pure sea air. It was a total experience.

We were the first to see the shells that the waves had hurled onto the beach. As we picked up some shells that had such exquisite patterns, my mind turned to that favorite prayer of F W Boreham’s from which he drew the title of his autobiography:

Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope's true gage,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

The words are those of Sir Walter Raleigh, written on the night before his execution.

F W Boreham comments on this prayer:

"The staff, the scrip, the bottle, the gown—these are the commonplaces of pilgrimage: alike in prose and in poetry we have met them repeatedly. But the scallop-shell of quiet! It strikes a distinctive note. It represents the final up-flaring of the spiritual genius of Sir Walter Raleigh."

Source: F W Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 11-12.

Image: Sun rising this morning over the Arabian Sea.

Boreham on Adoniram Judson

This sermon was first published in F W Boreham's A Temple of Topaz. It is also included in Peter Gunther's Treasury and will appear in the forthcoming book, The Best Essays and Sermons of F W Boreham.

It is one of 125 sermons in F W Boreham's Texts that Made History series, that Warren Wiersbe has called 'one of the most famous and original series in the history of preaching.'


He is a thorough-paced sceptic, this dashing young fellow with the slight and fragile frame, the round and rosy face, the laughing brown eyes, and the rich shock of chestnut hair. There is something defiant about his unbelief. He is the son of a Congregational minister in Massachusetts, who cherishes a fond and secret hope of seeing his brilliant boy following in his own footsteps. But the son knows better than the sire. At school and at college he has swept everything before him. His teachers have stood astonished at the ease and splendour of his triumphs. In every classical contest, Adoniram Judson was first and his rivals nowhere. His phenomenal success has awakened within him a proud and all-absorbing self-consciousness. The conquests that his dazzling intellectual endowments must win for him in the golden future fire his fancy with excited dreams. 'Day and night,' as one of his biographers puts it,' he feeds his ambition with visions of eminence and glory such as no mortal has yet won. Now he is a second Homer, thrilling a nation with heroic lays; now a mighty statesman, guiding, with steady hand, the destinies of his country; but, whatever the dream of the moment, its nucleus is ever his own transcendent greatness.' A minister! He a Congregational minister! He smiles disdainfully at his father's lack of imagination.

This was in 1803 and in1803 the hectic and amazing vogue of Tom Paine was at its very height. In every seat of learning it was considered the correct thing to pooh-pooh Christianity. It is said that, at Yale, every student was an avowed infidel. The graduates even adopted the names of the great French and English atheists, and asked to be addressed by those names in preference to their own. The imperious mind of Judson was swiftly infected by the prevailing epidemic. At Providence College, in the class above his own, was a young fellow named E_____, a youth of rare genius, of sparkling wit, of high culture, and of charming personality. This senior student was powerfully attracted to Judson, and Judson was flattered and fascinated by his friendship. E_____ was, however, one of the leaders of the new philosophy; and, in accepting his companionship and confidence, Judson committed himself irretrievably to an attitude of audacious and aggressive unbelief. In those days his father's dreams of ordination seemed to rest upon a singularly flimsy foundation.

But, as is so often the case, it was the unexpected that happened. Wherever Adoniram Judson went, in the course of his historic and adventurous career, he carried with him, as Dr. Angus says, that evidence of the truth of Christianity which is at once the most portable and the most conclusive—the vivid memory of a startling and sensational conversion.

Our sceptical young student makes up his mind to set out on horseback on a tour of the northern States. He rests one night at a certain wayside inn. The landlord explains apologetically that the only room that he can offer is one that adjoins an apartment in which a young man is lying very ill—dying perhaps. Judson assures the innkeeper that it does not matter; death, he declares, is nothing to him; and, except that he will feel a natural sympathy for the unfortunate sufferer, the circumstance will in no way disturb him.

The partition between the two rooms is, however, terribly thin. In the stillness of the night, Judson lies awake, listening to the groans of the dying man—groans of anguish; groans, he sometimes fancies, of despair. The heartrending sounds powerfully affect him. But he pulls himself together. What would his college companions say if they knew of his weakness? And, above all, what would the clear-minded, highly-intellectual, sparklingly-witty E_____ say? How, after feeling as he had felt, could he look into the face of E_____ again? But it is of no use. The awful sounds in the next room continue, and although he hides his head beneath the blankets, he hears everything—and shudders! At length, however, all is still. He rises at dawn; seeks the innkeeper; and inquires about his neighbour.

`He's dead!' is the blunt reply.
`Dead!' replies Judson. 'And who was he?’
`Oh,' explains the innkeeper languidly, 'he was a student from Providence College; a very fine fellow; his name was E_____!’

Judson is completely stunned. He feels that he cannot continue his tour. He turns his horse's head towards his old home; opens his stricken heart to his father and mother; and begs them to help him to a faith that will stand the test of life and of death, of time and of eternity. Full of the thoughts that his parents suggest to him, he retires to the calm seclusion of Andover, and there, with nothing to distract his attention from the stupendous themes that are pressing upon his mind, he makes a solemn dedication of himself to God. He feels, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he has become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Returning home, he gladdens everybody by announcing his momentous decision; and, in the year that marks his coming-of-age, he becomes a member of his father's Church.

During these memorable days of crisis and of consecration one overwhelming thought has taken possession of his mind. The love of Christ! The love that, in the days of his overweening pride and selfish ambition, had not cast him off; the love that had neither been estranged by his waywardness nor alienated by his blatant and audacious unbelief; the love that had followed him everywhere; the love that would not let him go! Here, on my desk, are three separate accounts of his conversion. In summing up the situation, each writer refers to this factor in the case.

`The love of Christ displaced selfish ambition as the ruling motive of his life,' says the First.
'He became a man of one idea—the love of Christ—and he desired to spend his whole life in demonstrating it' says the Second.
'Having been forgiven much, he loved much,' says the Third.
To comprehend the breadth and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge—this became, at the dawn of his manhood, his one supreme and passionate aspiration. It is the climax of all that has gone before; it is the key of all that follows.

The depth and height of the love of Christ—he knew something of the depths from which it could rescue, and of the heights to which it could raise.

But the breadth and length of the love of Christ—here was a new conception! The breadth and length! It seemed to embrace the whole wide world! And yet the world knew nothing of it! The idea took such a hold upon his mind that he could think of nothing else. He was haunted by the visions of nations dying in the dark. He started in his sleep at the thought of India, of Africa, and of China. The situation so appalled him that he became incapable of study. Then, one-never-to-be-forgotten day, as he was taking a solitary walk in the woods, it seemed to him that the Saviour Himself drew near and said: 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.' His course was clear! Come wind, come weather, he must go!

But how? There was no Mission Board or Missionary Society to which he could apply. He talked it over with his fellow students until half a dozen of them were as eager as himself for such service. They petitioned the heads of the denomination, who, in their perplexity, laid the matter before the Churches. To the surprise of everybody, money poured in, and the newly-formed committee was able to equip the mission-party, advancing each man a whole year's salary. Before leaving his native land, Judson had married. He and his bride sailed from Salem on February 18, 1812; they were welcomed at Calcutta by William Carey four months later; and, after a brief stay, set out for Burma. They reached Rangoon in July 1813. Their first home was a rude hut built on a swamp outside the city wall. Wild beasts prowled around it. Near by, to the left, was the pit into which the offal of the city was poured. Near by, to the right, was the place where the bodies of the dead were burned. The young couple was sickened and disgusted by every sight and smell. On the day of their arrival, poor Mrs. Judson was too ill to walk or ride; she had to be carried to her unalluring home. Yet there was no repining. Both husband and wife smiled at the primitive conditions under which their first home was established; and, with brave hearts, they solemnly engaged to spend their entire lives among their barbarous and inhospitable neighbours.

And they kept their word, although the price they had to pay was terrible beyond words. On one occasion we see Mr. Judson, starved to a skeleton, being driven in chains across the burning desert, until, his back bleeding beneath the lash and his feet blistered by the hot sand, he sinks, utterly exhausted, to the ground and prays for the merciful relief of a speedy death. On another occasion he is imprisoned for nearly two years in a foul and noisome den, his confinement being embittered by every device that a barbarous and malignant brutality could invent. He must have sunk under the fierce ordeal had not Mrs. Judson, often under cover of darkness, crept to the door of his horrid cell and ministered to him. For three weeks, it is true, she absented herself from the prison; but, when she returned, she bore a little child in her arms to explain her delinquency. Shortly afterwards the mission-house was stripped of every comfort; Mrs. Judson is left without even a chair or seat of any kind. To add to her troubles, Mary, her elder child, develops small-pox. Under the terrific strain, the poor mother finds herself unable to nurse her baby, and its pitiful cries intensify her anguish. In sheer desperation, she bribes the jailers to release her husband for an hour or two. And, whilst she applies herself to the little patient who is tossing in the delirium of the dreaded scourge, he carries the baby into the village, begging the nursing-mothers there to pity and to nourish it.

The crisis passed; but passed to be followed by others. It was announced that Mr. Judson's imprisonment was to be terminated by his execution. The exact date and hour were proclaimed; and husband and wife braced themselves for the tragic separation. In the interval, however, he was smuggled away, and the distracted wife had no inkling as to what had become of him. And one of the most pitiful and pathetic pages in the annals of Christian missions is the page that describes the subsequent return of Mr. Hudson to his stricken home. He was scarred, maimed, and emaciated by long suffering; she was so worn and haggard that he could scarcely recognize her. Her glossy black curls had all been shaved from her finely-shaped head. She was dressed in rags—the only garments left her—and everything about her told of extreme wretchedness and privation.

And, before he had been fourteen years in Burma, he had buried his wife and all his children there. Yet, through it all, he never for a moment doubted the reality and richness of the love of Christ.

`The love of Christ!' he says again and again in his letters, 'the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ! If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.'

But there were joys as well as sorrows. That was a great and golden day on which, after six long years of diligent labour, he welcomed his first convert. He never forgot the emotions with which, that day, he and Mrs. Judson took the Communion with a son of the soil who had entered into a deep and transforming realization of the wonder of the love of Christ.

On that day he set before himself two lofty aims. He prayed that he might live to translate the entire Bible into the native language, and to preside over a native Church of at least one hundred members. He more than realized both ambitions. He not only translated the whole Bible into the Burman tongue, but wrote, in addition, many valuable pamphlets in the native language. And, before he had been twenty years in Burma, he had baptized his hundredth convert. After more than thirty years he revisited his native land.

'Behold,' exclaimed the chairman of the great meeting that welcomed him at Richmond, Virginia, 'behold what a change God bath wrought in Burma! The entire Bible has been skilfully translated, carefully revised, accurately printed, and eagerly read. In a land so recently enveloped in darkness and superstition, many vigorous Churches have been planted. Native preachers have been raised up to proclaim, in their own tongue, and among their own people, the unsearchable riches of Christ. The Karens, a simple-hearted and singular people, are turning by hundreds and thousands to the Lord. Among them the gospel has met with a success rarely equalled since the days of the apostles. On Burma the morning light is breaking!'

And, in achieving these notable triumphs, Mr. Judson adhered constantly to his old theme. `Think much on the love of Christ!' he used to say to all his converts and inquirers, 'think much on the love of Christ!' He seemed convinced, as Dr. Wayland says, that the whole world could be converted if only each separate individual could be persuaded that there was a place for him in the divine love.

'Think much on the love of Christ!' It was the keynote of all his days. He returned to his beloved Burma; but he was never quite the same again. His health was shattered and his strength was spent. It was clear that his time was short. But in one respect, at least, he was unchanged. He talked with even greater fervour, frequency, and fondness of the deathless love of his Lord. 'And,' adds his biographer, 'if he found anything clouding his consciousness and enjoyment of the love of Christ, he would go away into the jungle and live there by himself until the sweetness of his faith had been restored to him.'

He died at sea. In the course of that last voyage, undertaken in search of health, he harped continually on the one familiar string. Mr. Thomas Ranney, who accompanied him, says that he kept repeating one text: 'As I have loved you, so ought ye to love one another.' 'As I have loved you,' he would exclaim; `as I have loved you!' and then he would cry ecstatically: 'Oh, the love of Christ! The love of Christ!’

Later, when confined to his berth, he would talk of nothing else. 'Oh, the love of Christ! The love of Christ!' he would murmur, his eye kindling with enthusiasm and the tears chasing each other down his cheeks. 'The love of Christ—its breadth and length and depth and height—we cannot comprehend it now—but what a study for eternity!' And, even after he had lost the power of speech, his lips still framed in silence the familiar syllables: `The love of Christ! The love of Christ! '

A few days before he passed, he spoke, with evident pleasure, of being buried at sea. It gave, he said, a sense of freedom and expansion; it contrasted agreeably with the dark and narrow grave to which he had committed so many whom he loved. The vast blue ocean, into which his body was lowered a day or two later, seemed to his dying fancy a symbol of his Saviour's unfathomable and boundless love—the love that passeth knowledge—the love that knows neither measure nor end, neither sounding nor shore.

F W Boreham, ‘Adoniram Judson’s Text’, A Temple of Topaz (London: The Epworth Press, 1928), 130-141.

Image: Adoniram Judson.

Warren Wiersbe's Rap on F W Boreham

In his Foreword to ‘A Frank Boreham Treasury’ ( sermons from Texts that Made History), compiled by Peter F.Gunther, Warren Wiersbe gives this glowing tribute to F W Boreham:

Surprise in the Pulpit
On Sunday evening, May 21, 1911, the pastor of the Baptist Tabernacle in Hobart, Tasmania, announced a series of sermons that was as much a surprise to him as to the congregation. He had already announced a biweekly series on "The Specters of the Mind" and wanted to encourage the people to attend on the alternate Sundays as well. He found himself announcing a series on "Texts That Made History," with "Martin Luther's Text" as the very first message. (The previous week he had read a new biography of Luther, so the great Reformer was on his mind.) Before the series ended, he preached one hundred and twenty-five sermons. It turned out to be his most popular sermon series.

Famous and Original
The preacher was Dr. Frank W. Boreham, and the series was published in five volumes from 1920 to 1928: A Bunch of Everlastings, A Handful of Stars, A Casket of Cameos, A Faggot of Torches, and A Temple of Topaz . It is perhaps one of the most famous series of sermons in the history of preaching and certainly one of the most original.

F W Boreham: This is Your Life
Frank W. Boreham was born on March 3, 1871, in Tunbridge Wells, England. He became an avid reader at an early age and was encouraged by his father to read the best biographies, a practice Boreham continued all his life. His schooling finished, he worked at various business offices in London, was converted and united with a local Baptist church, began to preach, and then felt a definite call to the ministry.

He was probably the last student that Charles Haddon Spurgeon personally interviewed for entrance into his Pastors' College. After graduation Boreham accepted a call to a church in New Zealand. He began his ministry at the Mosgiel Baptist Church, Dunedin, in March 1895, and quickly won the hearts of the people. He also began to write essays for newspapers as an extension of his ministry and soon became a popular "local writer." Many of these delightful essays were eventually included in the more than forty books that Boreham was to publish during his lifetime, books that I heartily recommend to you. I agree with Dr. John Henry Jowett, who said, "I would advise you to read all the books of F. W. Boreham!"

Borrowing Boreham
Boreham pastored Baptist churches in Hobart, Tasmania, and Melbourne, Australia; and then left the pastoral ministry to devote himself to itinerant preaching and writing. He traveled widely and preached to large and appreciative congregations. He was once introduced as "the man whose name is on all our lips, whose books are on all our shelves, and whose illustrations are in all our sermons." One pastor confessed that he would be ashamed to meet Boreham personally, having "borrowed" so much of his material for his own sermons.

Unhurried yet Purposeful
One of his closest friends wrote of Boreham, "Nobody saw him in a hurry, and nobody saw him idle." He was punctually at his desk each morning at 8:30 and at lunch each afternoon at 1:00. For one hour after lunch he went to bed and slept soundly; then he set out for his afternoon of visitation. He set aside each Thursday afternoon and evening for "an outing" with his wife, and in the midst of pastoral duties he managed to read at least one book a week and publish at least a book a year. His forty-sixth book, The Tide Comes In, was published in 1958. On May 18, 1959, F. W. Boreham was called Home. He was buried at the Kew Cemetery in Melbourne.

Sermon Taster
Some of Boreham's books have been reprinted from time to time, but many of them have become collectors' items. I rejoice that my good friend Peter Gunther has compiled this selection of F. W. Boreham's writings so that a new generation of readers may get acquainted with this remarkable man. Boreham's critics (and every successful preacher has them) called his sermons "homiletical confectionery" because he didn't follow the usual analytical treatment of a text. But Boreham was successful because he avoided theological jargon and rigid homiletical outlines. He got straight to the heart of a passage of Scripture and then imaginatively applied the truth to the hearts of his listeners.

Addicted to Boreham
If you are already addicted to Boreham, this volume will surely warm your heart. If you are not yet acquainted with this remarkable preacher—and Boreham always considered himself a preacher first and a writer second—then you are in for great treat. I'm sure that this collection will whet your appetite appreciative inure, and that you will join the growing host of appreciative readers who are constantly searching out new Boreham titles to add to their library. Happy reading -- and happy hunting!
Associate Teacher
"Back to the Bible Broadcast" Lincoln, Nebraska

Source: Peter F Gunther, A Frank Boreham Treasury Chicago: Moody Press, 1984, vii-ix.

Image: The Boreham home in Munro Street, Armadale.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Boreham Valentine Story Part II

This is a continuation of Frank Boreham’s story on the way his romance with Stella Cottee flowered:

The Knot Tied
Early in the morning of Monday, April 13, 1896, we were married, my bride being eighteen and I five-and-twenty. I was, of course, unconscionably proud of her. I have never ceased to admire her courage in leaving her village home in England at such an age in order to sail, quite unattended, to earth's remotest bound and to live a life every tiniest detail of which was entirely unfamiliar to her.

Relationship of Permanence?
When I left London on that bleak January afternoon, I intended to maintain a decorous and friendly correspondence with my sweetheart, making no faintest reference to my fondest hopes until I had firmly entrenched myself in my New Zealand pastorate. By that time, I argued, I should be in a position to judge as to whether it was the kind of land and the kind of life to which to invite her. This plausible project satisfied me less and less each day.

During the six long weeks at sea, the haunting theme monopolized my mind sleeping and waking. In the process, the most delicate problems presented themselves. I realized that, since she was absolutely uncommitted, and perhaps sublimely unaware of the tumult that she had awakened in my breast, it would be the easiest thing in the world for her to become involved in some other entanglement. Indeed, thinking of her as I naturally thought of her, such a tragedy appeared almost inevitable. Who, seeing her, could be insensible of her attractions? Then, surveying the matter from her standpoint, I was forced to recognize that, by deferring all action until after my arrival in New Zealand, I was laying myself open to the suspicion that I desired to exploit the femininity of that far field before deciding on the importation of a bride.

Permission Requested
Impressed by the cogency of this shipboard reasoning, I therefore resolved upon an immediate overture. When, a few days before reaching my destination, the Tainui called at Hobart in Tasmania—destined to be our future home—I posted a private and confidential letter to her father, apprising him of my sentiments and intentions and leaving it to his own discretion as to whether or not he unfolded my secret to the young lady herself.

Popping the Question
Having posted that fateful letter and again put out to sea, my tortured mind swung to its normal poise and I was able to concentrate on the preparation of my opening sermons in New Zealand. Those sermons—the manuscripts of which I still possess—were preached on March 17, 1895—St. Patrick's Day. In view of the warmth of the welcome that had been accorded me, and the enthusiasm that had marked those opening services, I felt that any delay in the development of my love affair would be absurd. I therefore wrote the very next day begging my lady-love to join me and entreating her to wire her reply. On the third of May that cable reached me and I was the happiest man in either hemisphere.

Romance and the Church
How, I wondered, could I break this glorious news to my people? But old Wullie, my senior deacon, took the matter entirely out of my hands. It chanced that, at about this time, the church found itself in financial difficulties. I do not mean that they had insufficient money: I mean that they had too much. The one paralysing dread of these cautious Scots folk had been lest they should lure a young minister from the distant Homeland and then find themselves unable to support him. This terrifying apprehension, and this alone, had constrained them, through several years, to postpone the realization of old Wullie's darling dream—the calling of a minister.

Flush with Funds
And now that the minister was actually in residence, the fear became still more acute, with the result that the members contributed with frenzied munificence. The money poured in: the exchequer literally overflowed: and poor Tammas, the treasurer, was at his wit's end.
`If the church gets to know that we have all this money,' he exclaimed, aghast, to his fellow-officers in the privacy of the vestry, `the collections will drop off to nothing!' It was generally agreed that, in some way or other, the money must be spent, and each man undertook to think out some means of disposing of it.

But murder will out! At the church meeting held a day or two later, a private member, little dreaming that he was precipitating a crisis of the first magnitude, asked for a financial statement. Tammas rose ponderously, the picture of abject misery. Anguish was stamped upon his face. He could scarcely have looked more forlorn or woebegone had he stood convicted of misappropriating the church funds. He confessed, with the countenance of a culprit, that he had fifty pounds in hand! The position was appalling.

Blushing Boreham
But, at that crucial moment, Wullie, as his custom was, sprang into the breach and saved the situation. He rose deliberately, a sly twinkle in his eye, and quietly asked:
`Would the meenister tell us if he has a lassie?'

I was covered with confusion: the cablegram was in my pocket: and I hid my face to conceal my blushes. I confess that, for a few seconds, I lost control of that meeting. But, happily, my very confusion saved me the necessity of a reply. My secret was out. Wullie was on his feet again.

`Then, Mr. Chairman,' he said, with the gravity of a statesman, `I move that we buy a block of land with that fifty pounds and proceed to build the meenister a manse!'
The motion was carried with enthusiasm. The treasurer looked like a man who had been saved from the very brink of destruction.

Building a Home
The house was built and was for many years my home. It had but one discomfort, and that was the sorrowful reflection that poor Wullie never lived to see either the manse or its mistress. One Saturday afternoon, shortly after his adroit move at the meeting, without a sickness or a struggle, he suddenly passed from us. It seemed incredible. The entire township was in tears. I have seldom seen grief so universal and sincere.

Financée on High Seas
By this time I was absorbed in a whirl of rainbow-tinted plans. On November 14, I received a cablegram telling me that my bride-elect would sail by the Ruapehu in February. And on March 25 she landed at Wellington, the New Zealand capital. Wellington is nearly five hundred miles from Mosgiel; but I was determined to meet her. As to whether or not I did actually meet her has always been a moot point between us. Here are the facts.

Taking a Cold Shower
The Ruapehu was due on March 24. In those days ships had no means of advising ports of their approach. The only way of meeting a vessel was by haunting the wharves till she appeared. At dawn on March 24, I took up my vigil on the pier. It rained—a steady, misty drizzle—all through the day. I was chilled to the bone and soaked to the skin. When, late at night, I was assured that the boat would not venture in until daylight, I returned to the home of the Rev. C. and Mrs. Dallaston—my host and hostess—for a few hours' sleep. At daylight I was again on the rain-swept pier. In the early afternoon, visibility having become poorer than ever, the harbour officials advised me to go home. `No captain in his senses would bring his ship through the heads in this weather!' they said. And, as I was again saturated, I acted accordingly.

On reaching the house, Mrs. Dallaston, good motherly soul, insisted on my changing my clothes. Having no other garments with me, she considerately produced a suit of Mr. Dallaston's. Now my good host was of a distinctly petite build, whilst I was of clumsier proportions. Recognizing the wisdom of Mrs. Dallaston's kindly counsel, however, I contrived with a struggle to encase myself in the diminutive attire placed at my disposal. My own wet clothes were put to dry.

Late for a Date
This transformation had scarcely been completed when, looking from the window, I descried the tops of two tall masts moving above the roofs of the city buildings. I cried to my good hostess to bring me my dripping suit, and, making no attempt to wrestle with the skin-tight clothes I was wearing, I pulled the wet garments over the dry ones and dashed frantically from the house. A city-bound tram was just passing the door, and, catching the driver's eye, I boarded it. At the very first curve, that hideous tram left the rails and shot across the pavement. How I eventually reached the wharf I cannot now remember. I only know that, by the time I hurried breathlessly on to the pier, the Ruapehu had already berthed, and the fond embraces of which I had dreamed a thousand dreams had to be punctuated by laborious explanations and humiliating apologies.

Cooling Off Period
All's well that ends well, however. The laws of New Zealand required that, my lady-love being under age and having no relatives in the Dominion capable of giving legal assent, a delay of three weeks must intervene between her arrival and her wedding. But even three weeks come to an end at last; and, as soon as their tardy course was fully run, we were married. That early morning ceremony, at which exactly half a dozen people, including ourselves, were present, was conducted by the Rev. J. J. Doke.

F W Boreham, My Pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 123-128.

Image: The Ruapehu on which Stella arrived in NZ.

A Boreham Foreword

From time to time I get questions and requests for information relating to the life and writings of F W Boreham. One of the most recent was a request for a book containing the Forewords to F W Boreham’s books. What an interesting request! Who would be bothered reading those?

I picked up the nearest book to me, which happened to be My Pilgrimage, also published as A Pathway of Roses. Here is its foreword. I am sure you will agree that it possesses a wealth of insight and encouragement in just a few words:

Virgin Field
Let nobody imagine, for the thousandth part of a second, that my Autobiography is born of an inflated conception of my own importance. On the contrary, it is born of a delicious consciousness of my own insignificance. The lives of important people are seldom exciting: everybody knows the story before the biographer sets out to tell it. But the lives of the Nobodies and the Nonentities offer a virgin field of novelty and freshness.

The Drama of Reality
Let one of our most brilliant writers, having completed his latest manuscript, put on his hat and step out into the street in quest of the material for his next literary venture. With as much politeness as he can muster, let him intercept the first person whom he happens to meet; and let him break to that astonished individual the sensational intelligence that he is about to write the stranger's biography. It does not matter in the least who that stranger is. It may be a millionaire or it may be an organ-grinder; or, for that matter, it may be the millionaire's mastiff or the organ-grinder's monkey. Such a book, sensibly written, would prove of entrancing interest. The twists and turns of its colorful pageantry, the cunning intricacies of its droll comedy and poignant tragedy, would hold the reader spellbound from the first page to the last. There is no drama like the drama of reality; no lure like the lure of life; no business half as intriguing as other people's business. The man whose biography is not worth writing has never yet been born.

And, after all, every life, however commonplace, has its purple patches, its stupendous thrills, its surges of wild romance, its golden dreams, its excruciating heart­break, its crimson bloodstains and its stream of tears. The gorgeous epic of universal history is reflected, as in an exquisite cameo, in the secret soul of every crossing sweeper.

Grateful and Reverent Witness
I therefore venture. If I achieve nothing else, I shall at least have borne grateful and reverent witness to the goodness and mercy that have followed me all the days of my life, and to the sweetness and splendour of those companionships that have made a pilgrim track glow like a pathway of roses.
Easter, 1940.

Source: F W Boreham, My Pilgrimage London: The Epworth Press, 1940, 7-8.

Image: Pathway of Roses

Boreham in Braille

Hearing the Text
In reviewing the different books of F W Boreham, it is interesting to note the existence of a Sound Recordings Edition for the blind.

The date of publication is 1959 (the year of Boreham’s death) and it appears to have been commissioned by the Christian Blind Mission International in Kew, the suburb where the Borehams retired.

The collection consists of five sound cassettes which are readings of A Bunch of Everlastings, in his popular series, Texts that Made History.

These cassettes can be found at the Christian Blind Mission and they are also available at the National Union Catalogue of Library Materials for People with Disabilities and the Mitchell Library, the State Library of New South Wales, Australia.

The Boreham Touch
FWB’s autobiography, My Pilgrimage, which went into six editions, came out in 1944 in a Braille edition. This was published by the Melbourne Braille Writer’s Association of Victoria, Australia and it consists of four volumes of interline Braille.

Copies of this special edition can be viewed at the National Library of Australia in Canberra and the National Union Catalogue of Library Materials for People with Disabilities.

Geoff Pound

Source: Ian McLaren, Frank William Boreham: A Select Bibliography (Parkville: Whitley College-The University of Melbourne, 1997), 33 -75.

Image: Braille Alphabet.

Frank and Stella Boreham's Valentine Story

In his autobiography, My Pilgrimage, Frank Boreham tells his Valentine story:

In my time the [seminary] students were boarded out in groups of six or eight. The system may not be ideal, yet it has its advantages. It developed personal intimacy, loyal comradeship and, in many cases, laid the foundations of lifelong friendships.

Moreover, it developed in each man the delicate art of harmonizing his own tastes and temperament with those of the men whose room and whose table he daily shared. And it excited a healthy rivalry between the different houses. If a man excelled in classes, in debate, in university examinations or in public life, the glory of his achievement shed a lustre on the house to which he belonged.

For some reason that I have never quite fathomed, the student-pastorates attached to the College were divided among the different houses, and, within the house, were passed on from one student to another in order of seniority. Our house at Durand Gardens, Stockwell, was responsible for two of these student-pastorates-Forest Row in Sussex and Theydon Bois in Essex. Long before I had set foot in either of those charming English villages I seemed to know them thoroughly. And I knew the people who lived in them -at least by name.

For, on Monday evenings, having returned from our various preaching appointments, we pulled ourselves together for another week's work. And, in the process, we naturally compared notes as to our week-end experiences. And as, in the discharge of his duties as student-pastor, one of the men had, of necessity, been to Forest Row and another to Theydon Bois, we all became familiar with the outstanding phenomena of those two places.

The student-pastorate of Forest Row never came my way. I often spent a Sunday there, mainly because it was near to Tunbridge Wells; and, during the College vacations, when I returned to my own home, it was easy for me to slip over to Forest Row to conduct the Sunday services. It was here that I stayed with Old Bessie, the minister's widow, of whom I have written in This is the Day! and other stories.

But the student-pastorate at Theydon Bois, upon which I entered after completing my first year of College life, always interested me. In the course of that Monday evening gossip concerning our week-end adventures, we discussed everything under the sun: the scenery that had charmed us, the homes that had entertained us, the congregations to which we had ministered, and—so human were we!—the young ladies whose acquaintance we had made.

I noticed, from the first, that the conversation invariably took this romantic turn as soon as Theydon Bois came into the picture. I gathered that the student pastor was usually lodged in a home that was adorned by a most attractive garden of girls. All the men in the house, with the exception of myself, had taken the Theydon Bois engagement at some time or other and were therefore in a position to discuss appreciatively the members of this delightful family. I alone was out in the cold, and I confess that their encomiums piqued my curiosity.

At long last, however, my turn came. The student pastor was asked by the authorities to preach elsewhere, and the Theydon Bois appointment automatically devolved upon me as being next in order of seniority. I went: I liked the picturesque little village nestling in the heart of the forest: I liked the chapel perched on the edge of the green: I liked the kindness and cordiality of the people: and, quite frankly, I liked the girls. The only fly in the ointment was that one of the girls was missing. 'What a pity,' some member of the household would remark every now and again, `what a pity that Stella is not here!' Stella, I gathered, both from her sisters and from my fellow-students, possessed attractions peculiarly her own.

A few weeks later, on August 2, 1893, I went to Theydon Bois, not as a mere stop-gap, but to assume the student-pastorate. Stella was there; but, as I was on that occasion entertained at another home, I only met her at the church. The following week, however, I was the guest of her parents. Stella was at the home on my arrival on the Saturday evening. I learned that, after tea, she was walking over to Epping to do some shopping. I saw no sign of any escort: and so, unwilling that she should undertake so lengthy a trudge in solitude, I gallantly craved permission to accompany her. And thus my troubles began. We met with no misadventure on the outward journey. But, walking home through the forest in the moonlight, a vexatious wind sprang up. She chanced to be wearing a very becoming broad-brimmed hat that, buffeted by these untimely gusts, refused to keep its place. It blew from her head again and again. At last I suggested that she should allow me to tie it on with my handkerchief. She demurely submitted, and, as she stood there with the silver moon shining full upon her face, I thought the new arrangement of her millinery even more bewitching than the old. I was thankful that she could not read the daring thought that swept into my mind as, tying the 'kerchief beneath her chin, I looked into her upturned eyes: she would have adjudged her new minister totally unworthy of the nice things that her sisters had said about him. Anyhow, the delicious temptation was successfully resisted and the rapturous moment passed. We saved the hat; but, as we eventually discovered, we lost our hearts. And, since we have neither of us regretted that heavy loss, it seems to follow that the hat must have been a particularly valuable one.

When, on the Monday evening, the conclave of students met in the big general study at the College house to talk over our Sabbatic experiences, I was careful, when my turn came, to raise quite a number of thorny theological questions arising out of my own sermons and out of those of the other men. I was prepared to dilate at great length on the unseasonable weather, on the choice of hymn-tunes, on railway connexions and on autumn tints. On one theme, and on theme only, had I no syllable to say.

In 1894 Mr. Thomas Spurgeon was called from New Zealand to succeed his father in the Tabernacle pastorate. In common with all the other students, I marked this development with deep interest and attended the various services held in connexion with the new minister's induction. I little dreamed, however, that the return of Mr. Thomas Spurgeon from the Antipodes would have the effect of banishing me to the ends of the earth.

On Wednesday, November 14, of that year, however, a strange thing happened. After the morning classes, the entire College assembled, in accordance with the customary routine, for the sermon and its criticism. At the close of this session we sprang to our feet as usual whilst the professors retired, and then gathered up our books and papers preparatory to returning to our various houses. It chanced that my next neighbour on the desk-room benches was F. W. Jarry, who has since won universal admiration by his magnificent lifework in India. Even then his whole heart was set on missionary enterprise and he made no secret of his enthusiasm. On this particular day, instead of rushing out of the hall on the heels of the tutors, Jarry quietly turned and faced me.
`Where,' he inquired, `are you going to settle when you leave?'
Since I had expected to remain in College for at least another year—possibly two—the question took my breath away. As a rule, a man only hears of a possible pastorate a few weeks before he is invited to it. I had scarcely given the matter a thought.
`Suppose,' Jarry persisted, `suppose that the whole wide world were open to you, and you were free to settle in any part of it, where would you go?'
`I would go to New Zealand!' I replied on the instant. I was astonished at my own temerity, for the matter had never exercised my mind. But, regarding the conversation as a purely casual and irresponsible affair, I blurted out my reply with that assumption of confidence that is characteristic of young people generally and of students in particular.
`New Zealand!' echoed Jarry, as startled as I was. `And why New Zealand of all places?'
`Well,' I answered, `I should love to be a missionary in China or Africa; but there's no chance of that. The China Inland Mission has already turned me down, and no other Society would look at me. That door is closed. Seeing, then, that missionary work is not for me, I should like to go where ministers are few and far between, where men are urgently needed, where one would have ample scope and could lay foundations of his own instead of building on foundations laid by others. I imagine that New Zealand would provide just such a field!'
`It probably would,' Jarry replied thoughtfully. `We must pray about it!' And away we went.
The next day, on reaching College, I received a message to the effect that, at the close of the sermon-class, Professor Marchant wished to see me in his room.

`Before leaving New Zealand,' the Professor began, `Mr. Thomas Spurgeon was commissioned by the church at Mosgiel—a church that has never yet had a minister—to send out a suitable man. He has invited the tutors to introduce him to the student whom we should select for the appointment and our unanimous choice has fallen upon you. Will you go? If you are prepared to consider it, Mr. Spurgeon would like to see you as soon as possible.'
I sought out Jarry. `You knew all about this when you asked that question yesterday!' I exclaimed, accusingly.
`My dear fellow!' he replied, `I give you my word of honour that I never heard of it until this moment, and I assure you that I never breathed to a soul the confidence you gave me. It certainly looks as if you are being guided!'

I wrote to my father and mother that afternoon. My mother replied by return of post. `If you go to New Zealand,' she said, `I shall never see you again. I am afraid we could never consent to it!' After posting that letter, however, she remembered her vow at Prebendary Webb-Peploe's meeting eight years earlier. She therefore sat down and wrote a second letter.

`I am sorry I wrote as I did,' she said. `We have talked it over and now feel differently. If you decide to go to New Zealand, it will be a terrible wrench. But it may be God's will for you, and, if so, we shall have nothing to say but a fervent God bless you!'

During the next few days everything seemed to be pointing me to New Zealand. Until that critical fourteenth of November, I had scarcely given New Zealand a thought. Of its history, geography and climatic conditions I knew next to nothing. But now! New Zealand shouted at me from all the hoardings; it figured prominently in all the newspapers: it was the theme of every conversation; I met New Zealand everywhere. Everybody seemed to have brothers there or cousins there, or friends who had just been there or relatives who were just going there. The world appeared to be divided into two hemispheres—New Zealand and The Rest—and, of the two, the former seemed to be by far the more important.

As against all this, however, there was one factor that occasioned me a hurricane of concern. I had fallen in love, although, so far as I knew, I had betrayed my secret to nobody, least of all to the young lady herself. How, until I had brought this vital matter to a satisfactory issue, could I dream of leaving England?

The situation was extremely complicated. On the one hand, she was only just seventeen; she was only fifteen on the night of our fateful struggle with the ill-behaved hat. And, on the other hand, I knew nothing at all of the conditions that would await me on the other side of the world. New Zealand was in its infancy; within living memory it had been a wilderness of virgin bush. Would it be fair to say a single word that would commit a girl of such tender years to a life in such a land? I decided that such a course would be unpardonable.

Yet every hour made my duty more crystal clear. I therefore informed Mr. Spurgeon and the tutors that I was willing to go. On December 3, 1894, at Mr. Spurgeon's request, I delivered a farewell address at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and, on January 24, 1895, I sailed on the Tainui from the Royal Albert Docks. On my way to the ship, Mr. Spurgeon gave me a Birthday Book which I still treasure. I handed it round for signatures and among those who autographed it was my college-companion, Jarry, whose unexpected question had first pointed the finger of destiny. Unlike the others, he added a text to his signature—the text in which Paul claims that he has preached the gospel in places in which he was building on no other man's foundation.

And so I left the dear Homeland. My father and mother came to see me off. So did my brothers and sisters, my college companions and many of the people to whom I had ministered at Theydon Bois. And of course, with her father, my Stella was there. Did she understand? Did she guess? To this day I am not sure. The only hint that I allowed myself to give her—perhaps a broad one—was in the actual moment of leave-taking. With the other young ladies who had come to the ship, I probably shook hands. But, in her case, I deliberately and of malice aforethought yielded to the alluring temptation to which I so nearly succumbed on the night on which I wrestled with her hat.

(To Be Continued)

Source: F W Boreham, My Pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 104-112.

Image: Stella Cottee

We Are Meant to take a 'Boreham Nap'

Mention has been made earlier of the practice of Frank and Stella to undress and get into bed for an hour’s sleep every afternoon. Was this merely a pastor’s luxury, another quaint habit that the Borehams adopted or was there a deeper purpose?

A recent article in the Gulf News says:

“In these times of power lunches, a post-lunch nap would be considered a sacrilege. But, not so, says Dr Gregg D. Jacobs, an American consultant. “Many people feel a mid-afternoon slump in mood and alertness, especially after a poor night sleep. Many believe that this slump is caused by eating a heavy lunch. However, in reality, this occurs because we were meant to have a mid-afternoon nap.”

“Based on varied evidence, including the universal tendency of toddlers and the elderly to nap in the afternoon, sleep researchers have concluded that nature intended that we take a nap in the middle of the day. This biological tendency to fall asleep in mid-afternoon coincides with a slight drop in body temperature and occurs regardless of whether we eat lunch or not.”

“Research on napping suggests that an afternoon nap as short as 10 minutes can enhance alertness, mood, and mental performance, especially after a night of poor sleep.”

So F W Boreham was a man before his time. The Boreham nap with Stella was no luxury! Frank Boreham was no slouch when it came to productivity.

Change your lifestyle.
Institute the Boreham Nap.
Ease into it by reading a chapter of one of Boreham’s books.
You’ll discover, like Frank and Stella, that the 'Boreham Nap' will recharge your batteries.

Source: Shiva Kumar, ‘Is there a Lesson Here?’ Gulf News, Friday Magazine, January 26-February 1, 2007, 19.

Image: A wise baby taking a Boreham Nap.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

One Thing F W Boreham Forgot To Say

One of the things F W Boreham ‘forgot to say’ (in his book of the same name), was a word about the importance of prayer.

He reflects:

“When as little more than a boy, I left my home at Tunbridge Wells and went to London, I fell under the influence of the Rev C Aubrey Price, of Clapham Park, an evangelical clergyman who exercised considerable authority in those days. I treasure some of his letters still...”

Concerning his attempts at prayer, Frank Boreham asked this wise pastor, “How can I prevent my mind from wandering off to business, to pleasure, to the novel I was reading and to a thousand things beside?”

“Take my advice,” the wise pastor replied sympathetically, “always pray aloud.”

Frank Boreham said he found this practice to be so helpful throughout the course of his life. He said, “If I sit in a chair and ponder a theme in silence, my mind wanders repeatedly: if I discuss that theme aloud, my mind never wanders at all.”

Michael Dalton and I, who have been working on the F W Boreham publishing projects, have been exercised recently on the need for us to be praying purposefully and enlisting your support for this important work.

Will you join us, like Boreham encouraged, to draw up a chair and pray aloud now for:

  • Wisdom in the selection of publishing projects

  • Joy in the tedious work of scanning the text

  • Alertness for those undertaking the meticulous job of proof reading

  • Creativity for the woman who design the covers

  • Flair for those who lay out the text

  • Efficiency for the printers as they print our first book on Thursday 22 February

  • Promptness and safety in the shipping of the books

  • Fruitfulness in the distribution, especially by the Ravi Zacharias International Ministry

  • Blessings to old time readers and the discovery of the richness of these books by a new generation of readers.

  • Provision of finance to pay the bills and seed the new publication.

And don’t forget to join in the lines of the prayer that Dr. Boreham enjoyed so much:

“We bless you for our creation, our preservation and all the blessings of life.”

Geoff Pound

Source: F W Boreham, I Forgot to Say, 79.

Image: Albrecht Durer's Praying Hands

Health Benefits of 'The Boreham Nap'

F W Boreham is well known for perfecting and commending the ‘Boreham nap’ and today’s newspapers around the world are reporting the immense value of such a practice.

His biographer seemed to attribute Frank Boreham’s youthfulness to this holy habit:

“At fifty he hardly looked his age. No trace of grey shone from the dark but thinning hair or drooping moustache, although the facial lines were perceptibly deepening. More than ever now he was proving the value of the habit formed in Mosgiel, twenty years back, of deliberately undressing after lunch and going to bed for an hour before facing the afternoon’s engagements. Only imperative demands ever interfered with this almost life-long habit.”

World newspapers from the NZ Herald to the LA Times is offering scientific support to the practice that F W Boreham knew was good for him and all people:

Regular naps are good for your heart, researchers said today.

A six-year study of nearly 24,000 Greek adults found those who regularly took midday naps lowered their risk of dying from heart disease by more than a third.

Those who made it a practice of napping at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes had a 37 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to non-nappers.

The relationship was even stronger among employed men as compared to unemployed men, with nappers apparently relieving some of the work-related stress that was bad for their hearts, researchers at the University of Athens Medical School said.

The same conclusion could not be made for working women because of a limited number of subjects.

"We interpret our findings as indicating that among healthy adults, siesta, possibly on account of stress-releasing consequences, may reduce coronary mortality," lead author Androniki Naska wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Occasional nappers were also less likely to die from heart problems than those who did not nap, but researchers said the benefit was not significant.

Out of 792 men and women who died during the follow-up period, 133 died from heart disease. Roughly half the subjects took naps.

Unlike previous studies that have produced mixed findings on the heart benefits of napping, this study controlled for the effect from smoking, diet and exercise. None of the subjects, who ranged in age from 20 to 86, were ill when the study began.

"This is an important finding because the siesta habit is common in many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean region and Central America," Naska wrote.

Sources: T H Crago, The Story of F W Boreham, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 183.

'Napping is Good for Your Heart', NZ Herald, Reuters

Boreham on Radio

On the Wings of Radio
During his retirement (1930) F W Boreham conducted a short-term ministry at Sydney’s Pitt Street Congregational Church. Howard Crago (Boreham’s biographer) says:

It was from the Pitt Street pulpit that the Doctor's voice was first carried out on the wings of radio. This new medium he revelled in exploiting to the full. In the course of each broadcast he would send "loving greetings to all listening at Kew"-where the family would always be gathered around the radio when their father was on the air. Most touching of all the letters of appreciation which flowed in from listeners was the one from Mosgiel, where members of his old congregation met after their own service-New Zealand time being two hours ahead of Sydney's-to listen to his.

Radio Series
In the year 1934 F W Boreham began a series of fortnightly biographical sketches in the Christian World, under the general title of My Study Chair: A Glance Round My Shelves. This series, alternating with the fortnightly essays, was to continue for the next ten years. Most of them had already appeared as leaders in the Mercury. But each of these literary portraits was carefully re-touched before its second exhibition in other columns. Later, scores of the same articles were to appear, again slightly refashioned, as a fortnightly series in the Melbourne Age Literary Supplement. A selection of them was made this year when the Australian Broadcasting Commission invited their author to broadcast from their Victorian studios a series of literary talks, and he chose Literary Ladies.

Shut the Door!
At the age of eighty F.W.B. acceded to the Australian Broadcasting Commission's request to record six short talks for transmission in its nightly Meditation session: the first of numerous series over the next few years. This whole series, which he entitled My Easy Chair, were recorded in the A.B.C. studios at one sitting.

F.W.B. afterwards chuckled many a time over an incident which occurred on this occasion. The studio control-room technician had signalled that all was ready when, "Shut that door!" shouted the speaker's voice from the monitor. Almost before the next sentence could be uttered, the operator burst into the studio. He was sorry, he said, but Dr. Boreham's command to someone to shut the door had been inadvertently recorded, so he must begin again. The broadcaster then had to explain to the embarrassed operator that the realistically declaimed "Shut that door!" was the opening sentence of his talk on Shutting the Door!

Source: T Howard Crago, The Story of F W Boreham London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1961), 216, 220, 246.

Image: ABC Logo.

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Boreham Book Update

Further information about the distribution of Lover of Life by F W Boreham may be found at the F W Boreham on Mentoring site.

Geoff Pound

Image: Book Front Cover.

Making an F W Boreham Pilgrimage

Tossing Around a Thought
While in Oz and NZ recently I had an idea or dream. In 2009, (just over two years from now), it will be the 50th anniversary of the death of F. W. Boreham. The idea is to stage an F W Boreham Gathering and Pilgrimage, to reflect with gratitude on his life and consider the significance of his ministry.

Melbourne, Australia, would be an ideal place to hold this conference as this city was the base for the longest chapter (31 years) in his life.

What Could We Do?

  • We could listen to addresses and visit some of the places that were pivotal in the life and ministry of F W Boreham.

  • We could spend time at Whitley College, hearing preaching in the chapel from the F W Boreham Pulpit and singing the song that he wrote. It would be fitting to spend time in the library, gazing at photos, leafing through Boreham's own copies of his books and reading his carefully marked scrapbooks.

  • We could do a bus tour (more extensive than the previous tours) of Melbourne city, looking at the Art Gallery which he visited each week, the Melbourne library (where he did all his research for those sermons in the series Texts that Made History, the Botannical Gardens where Frank and Stella retreated every Thursday afternoon and the F. W. Boreham Mission Training Centre, where there is an extensive cabinet of Boreham memorabilia.

  • We could go past the two houses in Armadale where FWB lived and possibly have a tour through the Boreham home ('Wroxton Lodge') in Kew where they lived from 1928. This was the place where Dr Billy Graham visited and we could watch film footage of Billy's visit.

  • We could visit the Armadale Church where FWB was pastor and where his funeral was held. There is another room of Boreham memorabilia here and you could have your photo taken in Boreham's preaching chair.

  • Wouldn't it be great to visit Scot's Church in the inner city (where there is more memorabilia) and worship in this beautiful church, where FWB had such a significant ministry of lunch hour services from 1935 to 1955?

  • We would go to the Kew Church where FWB and his family were members from 1928 and then go to the grave where Frank and Stella are buried (in Australian soil under the English oak).

Anyone Interested (God willing)?

This could be a 3-4 day conference in Melbourne, Australia, possibly in mid June (?) 2009.

It would be a challenge organizing this Boreham pilgrimage from my home in the Middle East, but not an impossibility.

At this stage, without making any commitment to proceed, I thought that I would toss out the idea, 'fly a kite' and judge whether we go further by the interest that I get.

If you are interested in exploring this possibility (this doesn't commit you), please register your interest and desire to receive updates by emailing me at:<> and saying 'I am interested. Keep me posted'.

Geoff Pound

Image: The beautiful (and recently renovated) Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, where FWB did all the research for his most important preaching series, Texts that Made History.

Boreham Entry in the ADB

Readers of this Boreham blog site might be interested to read the following entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, on F W Boreham. It was written by Dr. Ian McLaren, whose contribution was noted in yesterday’s posting.

BOREHAM, FRANK WILLIAM (1871-1959), preacher and writer, was born on 3 March 1871 at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, eldest child of Francis Boreham, solicitor's clerk, and his wife Fanny, née Usher. He was educated and was later a pupil-teacher at Grosvenor United School, Tunbridge Wells. In December 1884 he became junior clerk with a local brickworks where, in a locomotive accident, he lost his right foot, necessitating the life-long use of a stick. Late in 1887 he went to work as a clerk in London, becoming increasingly involved in church, debating and writing activities. Although his family was Anglican, he was baptized at Stockwell Old Baptist Church in 1890; he preached from pavement and pulpit and published Won to Glory in 1891. He was admitted to Spurgeon's College, London, in August 1892, serving as a student-minister at Theydon Bois, Essex, where he met Estella Maud Mary Cottee.

In 1894 Boreham was called to the Scottish community at Mosgiel near Dunedin in New Zealand, and was inducted on 17 March 1895. Stella, then 18, followed to marry him at Kaiapoi on 13 April 1896. Boreham became president of the Baptist Union of New Zealand in 1902, and published The Whisper of God and Other Sermons (London). He wrote editorials for the Otago Daily Times, contributed to theological journals and, as a keen temperance advocate, participated in liquor polls in 1905 and 1907.

In June 1906 Boreham was called to the Baptist Tabernacle, Hobart. He edited the Southern Baptist and later the weekly Australian Baptist and in 1910 became president of the Tasmanian Baptist Union. His George Augustus Selwyn was published in 1911. He wrote a biographical series for the Hobart Mercury, which in 40 years covered 2000 persons; in 1912-59 he contributed 2500 editorials to the Mercury and the Melbourne Age. Boreham's 80 publications, including religious works, homiletic essays and novels, sold over one million copies. Some were written around Mosgiel people, and one character, John Broadbanks, closely resembled the author. The Broadbanks Dispensary in Bengal, India, was established from proceeds of this series. Other writings were woven around everyday problems, with literary references to English writers and Australians such as Marcus Clarke, Henry Lawson and C. J. Dennis; most originated as sermons to responsive congregations. In 1940 he published his autobiography, My Pilgrimage.

In May 1916 Boreham had accepted a call to Armadale Baptist Church in Melbourne. He retired from that charge in 1928 to tour North America and Britain, where his writings were well known. On his return he preached at the Methodist Central Mission, Melbourne, and then at Sydney's Pitt Street Congregational Church. For many years he conducted Wednesday lunch-hour services at Scots Church, Melbourne. In 1936 he made another preaching tour abroad. McMaster University, Canada, had conferred on him a doctorate of divinity in 1928, and, for his 'services to religion and literature as a preacher and essayist', he was appointed O.B.E. in 1954.
Boreham never wore clerical garb. His physical activity was restricted by lameness and he broke his leg and hip several times in falls. He was a devotee of cricket. Friendly and unassuming, he had a gentle, sensitive face, a large drooping moustache, and a 'lingering Kentish flavour' to his voice. He died in Melbourne on 18 May 1959 and was buried in Kew cemetery, survived by his wife, son and three of their four daughters. His estate was sworn for probate at £22,379. He is commemorated by the F. W. Boreham Baptist Hospital in Canterbury.

Select Bibliography
T. H. Crago, The Story of F. W. Boreham (Lond, 1961); Age, 19 May 1959.

Author: Ian F. McLaren

Print Publication Details: Ian F. McLaren, 'Boreham, Frank William (1871 - 1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, p. 349.
Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online.

Image: F W Boreham.