Monday, October 17, 2005

Reflections on a Book's Life

I just received in the mail a copy of "The Mother at Home" by Rev. John S.C. Abbott. The copy I bought is enscribed "Mrs Thomas Murray, Moorbrock, Carsphairm, 28th December 1889". I would assume that the book is at least that old, but it doesn't look like a book printed in 1889 or before. It looks more like something that would have been printed in the sixties just by the binding and font on the cover, but I am no antiquarian book expert either. It was shipped from England and I paid a grand total of $7.49 for book, shipping, good read, and all.

This book is a gift to my wife, who is about to be a mother for the second time. I mentioned earlier that we have both been reading puritan literature concerning families. We were made aware of this book by Solid Ground Christian Books, a publisher in Birmingham. I had heard of them some years back and purchased "The Works of John Owen" from them for a song. They seem to be specializing right now in puritan family literature (among other things) because a lot of the books they are now re-typing or copying for publication deal in this area of applied theology. At any rate, Marie and I both fell in love with "The Mother at Home" and a children's book titled "The Child at Home".

Marie enjoyed the book so much that I thought she might like to have an early hardbound edition for her library (as most of the the Solid Ground books are paperback). Imagine my surprise to actually finding a copy of it on Ebay!

As I wrote on Marie's card (cause you know, every gift has to come with a card), I began to think about writing and books. I wondered if Mrs. Thomas Murray ever considered that her book would end up in the hands of an American - and an Alabamian at that! I wonder if Rev. John S.C. Abbott every thought that his little book about mothers would still exist some 170 plus years later. The Rev. Abbott died in 1877 at the age of 72. Beyond that bit of factual biography and some knowledge of his theological position I know very little about the man. Yet his pen has been a comfort and when I read his words I feel I have just had a long conversation with a wise grandfather. Good writers do that for me. They take me under their arm and with great joy begin to spill the secret longings of their heart. God is good to have given us books.

Since reading this book and others in this vein, including some work by Cotton Mather, Marie has often remarked at the ability of these men to communicate ideas and biblical truth. Her reaction to this writing was that all other books seem to fall short of the puritans. Now hear me, my wife is no avid reader. Nor is she widely educated in or exposed to puritan writings, but there is a measure of truth to what she is already beginning to suspect. Puritan writers had a way with the pen and the sword. That is, they knew how to write and how to read the scripture. There is very little written today that will have as much meaning and relevance in 100 or 200 years as that of the puritans.

At any rate, this has become a very useless post. I simply want to leave you with this meditation. Here, we are given 80, 90, possibly 100 years of life. Twenty-seven of those years, I have already spent. There is no telling how many words we will speak or write in a day, let alone in a life-time. There is a man that is still speaking to mothers who choose to listen to his sound advice. When time has had its way with you and your mouth and pen cease to move - will you still be speaking?


the jerk enjoying southern said...

how bout you update....lazy

Anonymous said...

You need to stop drop kicking people and update your blog.