Volume. XXX, No. 29
Sunday, 17 January 2016

A Book Review & Letter of Thanks

Book Title: “The Young Lady’s Guide to the Harmonious Development of Christian Character” by Harvey Newcomb

Harvey Newcomb (1803-1863) was an American pastor and author. ‘The Young Lady’s Guide” was originally written in 1839 for the author’s sister. It is addressed to young Christian ladies, but much of the contents are relevant to Christians of any age and gender. 

I chose to read this book because I was attracted to the title and was curious what it meant to develop our Christian character in a “harmonious” way. It was a good book to read. I learnt a lot and enjoyed the author’s style. He is very detailed in his exploration of the topic and approached it from many different angles. He has many helpful practical ideas and I will share a few of these here with you.

The main theme of the book is Christian growth. Newcomb begins by emphasising the importance of character development and describes Christian character by referring to the fruit of the Spirit, with a special emphasis on LOVE, “the queen of all the graces”. He explains that “though you may not possess great personal charms, superior accomplishments, or great powers of mind, yet, if you as but put on love, you will, like the blessed Saviour, grow in favour with both God and man.”

Following this, Newcomb devotes an entire chapter to the importance of harmony of Christian character development. I hadn’t really thought much about this before but he explained that it is quite possible to develop our character in an unbalanced way. For example, a new believer may be so focused on “spiritual duties” that she uses these as an excuse to neglect daily responsibilities. Alternatively, another Christian may focus almost exclusively on developing her already strong “natural” character traits while neglecting her weaker points. The author explains that the “beauty of the Christian character greatly depends on its symmetrical proportions”.

The next chapter, “Reading and Studying of the Holy Scriptures”, was filled with ideas for different approaches to personal Bible reading and study. I had planned on sharing one of the ideas here but there are just so many. I was a bit overwhelmed the first time I read this chapter, as it seemed impossible to fit so much into my own Bible study time. However, the author explained that he did not expect that everything recommended could be accomplished within a single year, rather he was giving ideas which might furnish a lifetime of study.

Elsewhere in the book, Newcomb discusses such areas as temptation, self-denial, public worship, health, mental cultivation, improvement of time, dress, marriage and self-examination.  One of my favourite parts of the book was about Sunday School teaching. I find teaching fun, but challenging, and I am always keen to look at ways to improve. One point the author made struck me particularly, and that was about the necessity of kindness in our teaching. He explains that “this disposition adorns with peculiar grace the female character” (Proverbs 31) and that with it “you can reach the heart…where otherwise you would be repulsed.” “Children”, the author advises, “cannot be won without kindness”.

Admittedly some things have changed since the author wrote this book in 1839. For example, in the chapter on dress he devotes a section to the health hazards of the girdle (not an item of clothing most of us would wear nowadays). Also I laughed while reading parts of the chapter on bodily health, and not because the author was intending to be humorous. Our understanding of science and medicine really has changed quite a bit in the past few hundred years. These points aside, I really did like the book and found it quite readable and relevant.

By Sis Sarah Carpenter

Letter by IBPFM
Dear Hope Church brethren,

“I entreat, O most merciful Father, that thou wilt not suffer the remnant of my short life to be wasted in such endless wanderings, in quest of thee and thy Son Jesus, as a great part of my past days have been; but let my sincere endeavors to know thee, in all the ways whereby thou hast discovered thyself in thy word, be crowned with such abundant success, that my soul being established in every needful truth by thy Holy Spirit, I may spend my remaining life according to the rules of thy Gospel, and may, with all the holy and happy creations, ascribe glory and honor, wisdom and power to Thee, who sittest upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

The words above are from the pen of Sir Isaac Watts. The closing paragraph of this particular work caught my attention as I considered the beginning of another year. Watts prayed that the remainder of his time on earth would be fruitful in his spiritual growth and service to his Lord and Saviour. And that is exactly what should be upon each of our hearts. May 2016 be the beginning of a renewed zeal for missions: praying, giving and possibly even going.

Yet what also piqued my interest was Watts’ statement that a portion of his life was “wasted in such endless wandering in quest of thee…” Isaac Watts saw the difference between daily living a religious life and living daily with the Lord; he desired the latter. I often thought how easy it is to go to church, carry a Bible, pray before we go to bed, and yet have no quality relationship with the Sovereign of the Universe. We search the Christian book stores for some “how-to” best seller than will give us a short cut on the best spiritual life; yet all for naught. When all along it was right in front of us; the prophet wrote: “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12, 13).

May I personally thank you for your gracious gift of $1,832.85 in support of the IBPFM, along with the generous personal gift to both missionaries and staff. The ministry of The Independent Board strives not for religion, but a close, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our missionaries are on the field sowing the precious seed of the pure Gospel to those who are lost and dying in sin. If they are privileged to see that seed spring forth into newness of life, our missionaries are there to nurture these young ones in the faith, training them in the areas of spiritual growth. By your sacrificial contribution, you have an essential part in that ministry. Your receipt will be mailed shortly.

Yours for Missions,
Rev. Keith Coleman
Executive Director

More Lively Hope



*Kitchen Roster -  Helpers today: Bro Houston & Sis Jen Xin Li, & Sis Jun Lin. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Kevin & Sis Kristy Low, & Sis Natalie Cheng.
*Anyone seeking Baptism, Re-Affirmation of Faith or Membership Transfer please see Elder Michael D Lee. If Membership Transfer is from a sister B-P church there is no requirement to do Basic Bible Knowledge.
*All Bible Study groups & fellowship activities will commence first week of Feb. Let us make a commitment to learn God’s Word & partake in God’s work.

Praise & Thanksgiving

  1. Journey mercies: all arriving safely at their destinations.
  2. Visitors & new worshippers.
  3. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
  4. Sunday School Graduates

Prayer Items

  1. Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore) & George van Buuren; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; & others in affliction.
  2. Special Prayer for healing.
  3. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
  4. Cambodia Missions.
  5. Other Missions: IBPFM & PMU: Board members & missionaries all over the world. 
  6. New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.
  7. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.
  8. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
  9. Journey mercies: all those who are travelling during the summer vacation.
  10. Safe labour & delivery.
  11. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
  12. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.
  13. Persecuted believers in Islamic countries & Communist countries (N Korea, China & Vietnam).
  14. God’s guidance & provision of new church property for worship, office & fellowship activities.
  15. Australia: People in this nation to turn to God. Wisdom and guidance for our political leaders.
  16. Hopefuls working away.



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