Monday 18 July 2011

Gleanings From The Past

This is the name of a 3 book series now republished in paperback by Scripture Truth Publications, and new to our bookshelves. The editor was Hamilton Smith, not a name widely known outside Brethren circles. His desire was to bring older classic writers 'back to life' by taking their work and producing a cut down form of them, more accessible to the average reader. Now, considering that he did this around the turn of the First World War, he by far anticipated later efforts like Banner of Truth's Puritan Paperbacks, and Grace Publications' Great Christian Classics series. But there is also one very different and unusual way in which he set about his task. He took material and arranged it by subject. Thus there might be sections entitled 'Afflictions,' 'Contentment,' 'Thanksgiving,' 'Warning,' 'Sin and Guilt,' 'Faith,' etc as well as more closely specific ones like 'Giving,' and 'Reading.' This all has the advantage of encouraging people to dip in and be benefited without being baffled or deterred by the typical Puritan writing structure. Of course it does have the downside of shredding and re-setting, which can put material out of context. I have to say, particularly in the case of Thomas Watson, it would have been much more informative to have cited the source of each dollop. It works more easily with Rutherford's sublime letters, although it will not be pleasing to the purist. But that's not the point! Vol 2 on Gurnall is actually the famousm 'Christian in Complete Armour,' albeit given this thematic treatment. I feel these books do have their place and usefulness. A good point is that the authors are quoted without being tampered with - just some obsolete words are explained, and also the Authorised Version is used.
Try them for £6 each, and let me know what you think of the Hamilton Smith treatment!

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