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Book review – Frances Ridley Havergal’s Opened Treasures

January 1 – ‘For ye have not passed this way heretofore.’ (Joshua 3:4) We have not passed this way heretofore, but the Lord Jesus has… He knows all about it, and leads us according as we are able to endure… And He does not only know, with that sort of up-on-the-shelf knowledge which is often guilty of want of thought among ourselves, but He remembereth that we are dust.

Thus begins ‘Frances Ridley Havergal’s Opened Treasures – A Daily Devotional Reader’, compiled by William J. Pell. Despite its somewhat wordy title and out-of-date cover, this book really is rightly named. First published in 1962, and reprinted a number of times since, this little volume was given to me by friends when I was fifteen. I like to alternate daily reading books each year, but this one remains a firm favourite – so much so, that the binding is beginning to suffer from overuse!

Frances Ridley Havergal, writer of hymns such as ‘Take my life and let it be’ and ‘I gave My life for thee’, was a lady of deep spiritual exercise, who knew and loved the Lord Jesus Christ. This shines through in her writings, with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His death and sacrifice being the subject of many of the devotionals. Other topics touched on include the gospel, consecration, obedience and evangelism, not to mention the fact that there is a good sprinkling of biblical encouragement throughout. It would be hard to read even a few of these short sections and not find something to cheer, convict or encourage. Many of her writings are timeless and even more up to date than when she wrote them, like this excerpt from 5th January:

‘What is that in thine hand?’ (Exodus 4:2) Let us examine honestly whether it is something which He can use for His glory or not. If not, do not let us hesitate an instant about dropping it…


Personally, I’ve never read any other devotional where, on so many occasions, it seemed as if I was the person the author had in mind when she was writing, so appropriate was that day’s reading to my situation.

While each devotional is short (three readings are spread over two pages), the writing and vocabulary reflects the Victorian era in which the author lived. This shouldn’t put the modern-day reader off, as her thoughts are usually clear. At times, I wouldn’t agree with the author on every point of doctrine, but this is almost to be expected with the wide range of topics.

I thoroughly recommend this book as a daily devotional. Spending a few minutes each day with the Opened Treasures of this godly lady is sure to be time well spent in 2019, DV.

My copy of Frances Ridley Havergal’s Opened Treasures – A Daily Devotional Read, compiled by William J. Pell, was published by Gospel Folio Press. It’s available in store and online at various Christian book retailers for around £10.99.

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