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Book Review

Emily Gosse, A Life of Faith and Works by Robert Boyd; published by Olivet Books; 253 pages. Available from John Ritchie Ltd. Was £8.95, Now £3.99. (9780954828301)

The fly-leaf of Emily Gosse, A Life of Faith and Works describes her as "a truly remarkable Christian lady". Like many a godly sister she is best known among subsequent generations as the wife of a prominent man or the mother of a well-known son. She was both. Her husband was a renowned scientist and earnest Christian. Her son sadly appears to have turned his back on his mother and father’s faith. He too was an accomplished scholar and for some ten years librarian of the House of Lords. Emily Gosse however was a woman of worth as the day will declare.

Emily Gosse did not marry until she was 42 and died at only 50 years of age. Yet in that short life and amid social restrictions she shone brightly and worked assiduously in writing gospel tracts and devotional poetry, and in tract distribution and personal witness. The author notes her tracts emphasised "sin, guilt, death and eternity". He notes too how fruitful she was in witness, and writes of a period when within a few weeks she led three young persons to Christ, and of how her tracts were used.

In common with many of that day she was interested in prophecy. The author portrays her as easily influenced in that she had initially followed the teaching of Elliot that "the major part of Revelation had already been fulfilled", then was swayed by Newton, then Darby but eventually turned back to Elliot’s teaching.

Only 65 of the 252 pages of Emily Gosse, A Life of Faith and Works relate the biography of Emily Gosse. The remainder is given to excerpts from her writings, mostly from her poetry. The fly-leaf notes that all her published poetry is included in this volume. As indicated above most of the poetry is devotional and offers some further insights into the yearnings of an effective witness to One whom she was not ashamed to call her Saviour.

The biography of Emily Gosse is worthy of a wide readership. Many will also value her poetry.


Tabernacle in the Wilderness by John Ritchie, new and revised edition, 2003; 125 pages; published by and available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £5.95. (9781904064159)

When books have helped previous generations of believers, their republication is always to be welcomed. John Ritchie wrote Tabernacle in the Wilderness, and its excellent companion volumes, The Feasts of Jehovah and From Egypt to Canaan, in the later years of Queen Victoria’s reign, when many assemblies in the UK were just being established. In his characteristically perceptive way, he saw that young believers especially required an introduction to the rich typical teaching found in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. In this twenty-first century, such reading material is no less valuable.

The publication of this book now makes all three of them available in a language appropriate to the present generation of believers whose reading style and vocabulary are quite different from those of over a hundred years ago. The revision has been done carefully, losing none of the lucid interpretations and applications of the truth given by Mr Ritchie.

Reading Tabernacle in the Wilderness will be a rewarding experience, especially to those who might be unsure of the material and its present relevance. Many parts of that ancient tent structure point to the glory and beauty of Christ in His person and His work. This is one essential aspect of typical teaching, for He is to be seen "in all the Scriptures", and also He must be the prime focus of all our lives. The way of salvation is clearly illustrated, and valuable lessons are given about how we should serve the Lord as individuals and in our assemblies, doing everything according to the "pattern shown" to us in the Word of God. Every detail matters, and our obedience to God’s will matters, now as it did then.

The book contains a few drawings to help clarity. It is perhaps a shortcoming that at least some of these are not in colour to make them more realistic. There is no index, but the contents list is so detailed that it is easy to find the required material for reference at any time. Altogether this is a book which, with the other two in the series, will be an asset to every young believer.



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