Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Boreham on Cherishing Differences

F W Boreham, in a sermon on some vital lessons from left-handedness, writes about the way we need to prize individual gifts and different approaches (right and left) to life and faith:

“Towards the end of the eighteenth century, two great literary men were making valuable contributions to the enlightenment of mankind. Jean Buffon was writing his Natural History at Paris; Samuel Johnson was editing his Dictionary in London. Buffon would only work in a room scrupulously clean and tidy, and would wash and dress, as though for a ball, before entering his study. Johnson worked in a room as dusty and untidy as can well be imagined, and the very chair on which he sat was a broken one. But the world has passed over these facts with a smile. It reads Buffon's Natural History, and it consults Johnson's Dictionary; and it pardons the idiosyncrasies of both men. Compared with accuracy and efficiency, method is a small thing.

Lord Peterborough was regarded in military circles as a hopelessly erratic and untrustworthy general. To carry his point he would outrage all the abstract military standards of his time. Lord Galway, on the other hand, was looked upon as a master of the science of generalship. He had the theory of warfare at his fingers' ends; and would rather lose a battle by correct methods than win it by a movement not strictly orthodox. And, whilst Lord Peterborough was the terror of his foes, the Frenchmen made sport of Galway and drove him off the ground. And posterity has decided that, after all, Peterborough was the greater general. Method is, therefore, a secondary consideration.

Now, apply this rule to other departments of life. Do not let the peculiarities of your own individuality or temperament stand between you and the Kingdom of God. It is not necessary that you should he converted in precisely the same way as your next-door neighbor, or as your minister, or as John Bunyan. Come to Christ how you will, so long as you do come to Him. And then serve Him in any way you will, so long as you do serve Him, and dedicate your very best powers to His service. Deal first hand with your conscience, and with God.”

F W Boreham, ‘Left-Handed Warriors’ The Whisper of God and Other Sermons (London: A H Stockwell, 1902), 102-103.

Image: Cover of book about Dr Johnson’s dictionary.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Boreham on the Supplementations of Life

In one of his early sermons F W Boreham is displaying his gift for taking ordinary things and bringing out a deeper truth. In this excerpt, he is speaking about left-handedness. Putting the two hands together he writes about the principle of supplementing one another to achieve a greater good and this truth is then corroborated by an avalanche of other illustrations:

“My right and left hands naturally supplement each other. It often happens that the one is able to perform what the other cannot. It is a principle that runs all through life. As each member of my body holds in charge powers that it is under obligation to exercise for the good of all the other members, and is thus a supplement to them, so each member of society holds in sacred charge gifts and graces which he is under solemn obligation to use for the general good.

And, just as particular members are designed as supplements in a special sense to each other as the two hands, so it is intended that we should supplement, and he supplemented by, those who, by circumstances or by kin, are most nearly related to us.

Those who have studied carefully the story of the Reformation in Germany know how Luther and Melancthon toiled together in this way. Each seemed to supply what the other lacked, and neither was sure of the wisdom of his proposal until the sanction and approval of the other had been obtained.

We arc told, concerning Charles Fox and Sir James Macintosh, that when Fox went to the desk and wrote, and Macintosh went to the platform and spoke, the cause they espoused seemed pitifully impotent. But when Macintosh took the pen and Fox the platform, they brought the country to their feet. The gifts of each exactly supplemented those of the other.

Huber, the celebrated naturalist, was blind. But he had the mental ability to think out his great works, were he only able to see the insects concerning which he wished to write. His wife, on the other hand, had not the power to think out the natural philosophy indicated by the wing of a fly or the head of a bee, but she had sight. And so they laboured together, with what brilliant results the world very well knows.

Darwin tells us of a small frog with which he met in South America. When but one of the tiny amphibians was breaking the stillness of the evening, the sound was distinctly mournful and monotonous; but when a number were together he discovered that each struck a different note, and the combined effect was decidedly pleasing and harmonious.

So is it in every department of life. No man lives to himself. Every faculty with which he is endowed is entrusted to him for the good of all. And only when he devotes those powers to the highest purposes, and allows them to cooperate with the corresponding powers entrusted to others, will they produce the highest possible result. Life is one vast system of supplementations."

F W Boreham, ‘Left-Handed Warriors’ The Whisper of God and Other Sermons (London: A H Stockwell, 1902), 100-102.

Image: “My right and left hands naturally supplement each other.”

Monday, August 27, 2007

Boreham on Deepening One’s Knowledge of People

In an address to a young minister F W Boreham states a qualification and a challenge for all effective communicators.

"The communicator must have a vision of humanity. How little people know of each other!

I watched a postman sorting his mail. How little he knew of the contents of the letters he handled! He saw the envelopes. Here one had a black border that gave a hint at sorrow. There was one with a silver edge that whispered to him of gladness and festivity. There was one marked ‘Urgent’, that told of important business and of anxiety. And another was registered, and he knew that it carried treasure. And that was all he knew.

And that is how we meet people on the street. A smile here, and a tear there, and a quick step or an anxious face yonder give hints of the thoughts that throb in the hearts of people, but that is all. The communicator needs a deeper knowledge of people than this. The communicator cannot afford to see people as trees walking. One must read more than the envelopes."

Frank W Boreham, ‘The Seer’ The Whisper of God (London: Arthur Stockwell, 1902), 51.

Image: “One must read more than the envelopes.”