ALOE wrote hymns for specific groups of people, specific occupations, and some longer poems on spiritual subjects. From the preface: “To admit rhymes for ragged children, needlewomen, and paupers into a book of sacred song, may—in the opinion of some critics—deprive it of all claim to the name of poetry. Yet I venture to hope that those who love to labor in God’s vineyard, will not be sorry to bear to their poorer brethren verses intended to meet their peculiar trials, and cheer them under their peculiar sorrows; while the subjects of many of the hymns are such as are of equal interest to the prince as to the peasant.” These hymns are written as poetry.
Margaret Sangster has helpful exhortations for young women to live a Godly life. “Each chapter of this book is a simple and friendly talk . . . and the author’s aim has been to suggest something helpful . . . [for] our happiness and usefulness.” Her advice includes: “If one can but take whatever comes as part of God’s plan, and not as the happening of a blind chance, one will be surer of content. A plan of God in every life, and life joyfully lived in accordance with God’s plan, is a good formula for true happiness.” Also: “One of the most successful recipes for curing the blues, no matter what the source, is to engage actively in some work outside one’s self.”
Drawing on the beatitudes, the experiments of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, and many other Scriptures, Count Gasparin formulated how God gives happiness to people. Gasparin states that happiness is a product of redemption only. Holiness is happiness and sin is misery; therefore, true happiness only starts at conversion because of mankind’s total depravity. From there happiness is lived out through obedience, accomplishing God’s work given to us, as well as prayer and dependence.
“The sole ground of a sinner’s peace with God is ‘the blood of Jesus.’” “The book contains a plain, full, clear, and straightforward statement of the Gospel method of salvation, as laid down in the Word of God; and has the merit of presenting the Gospel in all its freeness and freshness.” “We never do good works until we do them because we are saved, not in order to be so. A lively sense of many sins forgiven will make us love much and show it practically.”
Elizabeth Prentiss wrote 122 poems that “depict some of the deepest experiences of her Christian life . . . they are her tears of joy or of sorrow, her cries of anguish, and her songs of love and triumph.” The epigraph states: “The testimony of one soul is the experience of thousands.” As Harper’s Magazine (1874) wrote: “These poems . . . will give strength to many that feel the weariness, and faint under it, and that need just this cry of a labored trust as a means of conduct to the higher experience of joyous trust.”
John Newton gave two sermons “On searching the Scriptures” as found in John 5:39, with the stated purpose to “engage you to search the Scriptures. Remember it is the command of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is the only appointed way to the knowledge of him, whom to know, so as to love, serve, and to obey him, is both the foundation and the sum of our happiness here and hereafter.” Rev. Newton describes requisites to understanding the scriptures, how the scriptures testify about Christ, and the importance of this testimony of Christ.
Rev. John Newton describes how God’s grace changes a person during the three stages of spiritual maturity found in Mark 4:28, of the Blade, the Ear, and the Full Corn in the Ear. The “Blade’s” characteristic is “desire,” or eagerness in his new life. The “Ear’s” characteristic is “conflict,” with many trials. The “Full corn in the ear’s” characteristic is “contemplation,” drawing upon much experience. Using this outline a believer can identify general states of sanctification to help work out their own salvation, as God works in them.
Horace and his mother Mrs. Cleveland embarked on a journey through dangerous robber infested country. The adventures that followed in a remote cave show how God was at work in those who were held captive. Horace was shackled for ransom; but the robbers were bound by different chains. A.L.O.E. blazes a trail to being set free in Christ. “The Bible was to him as the Father’s letter, treasured in the bosom of the Son; as the charter by which he held all his dearest hopes; as the ‘pardon signed and sealed’ granted to the prisoner by the grace of his King.”
Dr. Cuyler addresses various topics to help a person see the light from God that has been obscured by the world. The 25 chapters are meant to nourish and cheer many souls. “It is according to God’s established economy that we should be exposed to temptations, and often to trials which threaten to drive us to despair. All this is to teach us our dependence upon Him.” “And oh, how often God surprises us after a long day of struggles and discouragements by a glorious outburst of light at evening time!”
Elizabeth Prentiss was a devoted follower of Jesus who wrote down a portion of her life’s accumulated wisdom. The preface states: “These selections were originally made for private use. By permission of Dr. Prentiss they are now published in their present form.” The book is a collection of short but weighty paragraphs of text and poetry.