Boardman’s Higher Christian Life -- By: Jacob J. Abbott

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 017:67 (Jul 1860)
Article: Boardman’s Higher Christian Life
Author: Jacob J. Abbott

Boardman’s Higher Christian Life1

Rev. Jacob J. Abbott

We have, here, a work on Christian experience. Though not yet two years old, it has attained a popularity and influence of no ordinary extent. Of its author we know little^ except what we have learned from the book before us.

The subject treated, if it be Christian experience in general, or the higher stages of it, that growth in grace by which the riper fruits of piety are reached, is one both of unspeakable interest and importance. The Christian world will never be tired of reading of this description. To no human benefactors will they make more grateful acknowledgments than to the Baxters, the Doddridges, the Flavels, the Bunyans, the Ed-wardses, and the Alexanders. Is the author of “The Higher Christian Life “worthy of a place in the church among those greater lights and benefactors? In other words: is “The Higher Christian Life” worthy to take its place by the side of Doddridge’s Rise and Progress, Taylor’s Holy Living and Dying, Pike’s Cases of Conscience, Edwards on Religious Affections, the Alexanders (father and son) on Religious Experience and Consolation addressed to the Suffering People of God, James’s Christian Professor and Christian Progress, and other standard works of that class? So much, and more, has been claimed for this treatise. Having given it a somewhat careful examination, we will proceed to state, as clearly and as fairly as we can, the results of our investigation.

And we remark, at the outset, that the book is a difficult one to analyze satisfactorily, for reasons that will appear as

we proceed. The treatise is, professedly, and in the printing, divided into three Parts — “The Higher Christian Life: What it is; How attained; Progress and Power.” But these three Parts, with some verbal changes, might be bound up in any other order, and the book would read quite as well. Indeed there would be something gained by putting the third Part first; for, in that only, and nearly at the end of it, do you find the definition that entirely relieves your suspense as to the author’s theory — the one idea under which his mind is laboring.

In a word, the book has no method at all; no development, no progress, no “lucidus ordo.” We are not sure it would suffer (with trifling qualifications) by arranging its eighteen chapters in any order different from the present, even if that were by chance.

But to the treatise. What is the subject treated? What does the writer mean by the “higher life?” and by “second conversion?” as its equivalent, or the stepping-st...

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