Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Boreham on the Prophetic Use of Names

It is very odd, the way in which history and prophecy meet and mingle in the naming of the baby.

A friend of mine has just named his child after John Wesley. He has clearly done so in the fond hope that the august virtues of the great Methodist may be duplicated and revived in a generation that is coming. It is an ingenious device for transferring the moral excellences of the remote past to the dim and distant regions of an unborn future. The phenomenon sometimes becomes positively pathetic.

I remember reading, in the stirring annals of the Melanesian Mission, of a native boy whom Bishop John Selwyn had in training at Norfolk Island. He had been brought from one of the most barbarous of the South Sea peoples, and did not promise particularly well. One day Bishop Selwyn had occasion to rebuke him for his stubborn and refractory behaviour. The boy instantly flew into a passion and struck the Bishop a cruel blow in the face. It was an unheard-of incident, and all who saw it stood aghast. The Bishop said nothing, but turned and walked quietly away. The conduct of the lad continued to be most recalcitrant, and he was at last returned to his own island as incorrigible. There he soon relapsed into all the debasements of a savage and cannibal people.

Many years afterwards a missionary on that island was summoned post-haste to visit a sick man. It proved to be Dr. Selwyn's old student. He was dying, and desired Christian baptism. The missionary asked him by what name he would like to be known. “Call me John Selwyn,” the dying man replied, “because he caught me what Christ was like that day when I struck him.”

F W Boreham, ‘Naming the Baby’, Mushrooms on the Moor (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 253-254.

Image: “Call me John Selwyn.”

Further: F W Boreham wrote a biography on Bishop John Selwyn.