Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth by Mark Sweetnam; published by and available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £6.99. (9781907731730)
The Publisher commends this 119-page work in a brief paragraph, one sentence of which aptly summarises its content: "This book tells the fascinating story of how the Scriptures were inspired, preserved and transmitted". Within its twenty-four chapters, the author deals with inspiration, preservation and transmission but also with other important issues that are not always addressed in published materials about the Bible.
Among those matters not always addressed is the canon of Scripture. The word canon, as the author notes, comes into our language from the Greek word for a measuring rod. In a rather technical sense, it is used for the Scriptures as "the rule of faith and of practice." The canon is the list of Books in the two Testaments reckoned as Holy Scripture. The author traces the role of men and councils like the Council of Carthage and rightly concludes that they did not create "the Bible from scratch … [but] were … giving their seal of approval, to books that Christians had long recognised as Scripture." That the attacks of Marcion and his followers failed to undermine the canon of Scripture that Christians recognised, is an evidence of the preserving hand of God.
A valuable historical line runs through Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth. That line runs from Old Testament times to beyond the apostolic era. Key figures like Luther and Calvin, William Tyndale, and James VI of Scotland and 1 of England are encountered, as well as notable leaders of revival like the Wesleys and George Whitefield. Noted too are J N Darby and those who met in Dublin in the 1820s exercised to recover and practise truth that had been neglected for centuries. In all cases, their understanding of the nature and authority of Scripture shaped their thinking.
Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth sets out in concise terms a range of issues with relevance to more than those interested in the chequered careers of defenders of the Bible in past centuries. Many in our day attempt to set aside as irrelevant much of the Bible, while others – the Montanuses of today - seek to place their private "revelations" on the same level as Holy Scripture. Christians of all ages will find helpful Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth.
She Thanked Him by Olive Gardiner; published 2012 by Crimond House Publications and available from John Ritchie Ltd; 258 pages. Price £9.99. (9781908618023)
The substantial subtitle states that She Thanked Him is "A collection of poems, including newly written material as well as all her other previous work from She Praised Him, She Touched Him, She Loved Him, and She Worshipped Him".
This volume has been published thirty-one years after Olive Gardiners first book She Touched Him. The title of this volume She Thanked Him is a fitting reflection of the deep thankfulness in the heart of the author to God. She informs the reader that "Every poem has been rooted in His Word".
The book is divided into various sections, mostly taken from the titles of her earlier books. The first part "She Thanked Him" commences with a poem bearing the title of the book. It is based on Luke 2.36-38 and considers the godly character of Anna.
She is the first of many Bible characters who form the subject of Olive Gardiners poems. Others include: Barabbas, Bartimaeus, David, Hannah, Herod, Matthew, Naomi, Peter, Pilates Wife and Zacchaeus.
Bible incidents are widely used to press home practical points or provide comfort and encouragement to those who require rest and refreshment. "Poured Out" focuses on David and his longing for a drink of water from the well at Bethlehem in 2 Samuel 23.15.
"My strength is nearly gone, my thirst is great,
Oh for the water there, at Bethlehems gate."
Other poems are meditations on the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. These will stimulate praise and adoration in the heart of the reader. "The Hands of Jesus" is one example that focuses our attention on His glorious person and reminds us that:
"Those tender hands have still their ancient power
To heal, forgive and keep us hour by hour."
She Thanked Him proceeds with a consideration of numerous profitable themes such as: "Majesty and Humility"; "In the Midst"; "She Worshipped Him"; and "Under His Wings". There are also two sections that present relevant Christmas and Easter Poems. The book concludes with a helpful "Index of Poems".