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Memoir of Sukey Harley

November 2009 | Review by Digby James
  • Publisher: Triangle Publisher
  • ISBN: 978-1583391310
  • Pages: 78
  • Price: £34.00
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Book Review

This is a reprint of an account first published in 1881. Those who have read J. H. Alexander’s More than notion will be familiar with the subject of this book and those associated with her. It is the testimony of Sukey Harley, one of sixteen children, who moved to the Shropshire hamlet of Pulverbatch, south-west of Shrewsbury.

Of lowly birth and circumstances, she here relates how she heard the gospel and came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This stimulated within her a desire to know God in Christ better through his Word and thus she learned to read.

We read of the ups and downs of her life, her failures through ignorance, her instruction from the Word, the piercings of conscience and fresh joys of knowing forgiveness in Christ in spite of such failings.

It made this reviewer wonder how patient we might be with the newly converted when they do not immediately fall in with our evangelical attitudes and practices, and yet display clear evidence of joy in the Lord.

This book is about the work of grace in the heart growing throughout Sukey’s life to her quiet death, forty years after her conversion. Here was a woman who knew God and knew that God loved her in spite of her sin.

Though not theologically educated she could see the errors of Methodist Arminianism and perfectionism from God’s dealings with her own heart. Anyone reading this will find their hearts stirred and be led to pray that they might know the same blessings.

Unsurprisingly, the publishers, who are Baptists, take issue with some of her negative comments about the Baptists that she encountered. She felt they were more concerned with baptism in water than being baptised of the Spirit (which she understood to be conversion).

At the book’s front is an Ordinance Survey route planning map of the region around Pulverbatch; at the back, a map of the area. A useful addition would have been a detailed description of how to find the places mentioned.

For those wishing to visit, most of the events took place at Church Pulverbatch, not Pulverbatch; and Sukey Harley’s grave will be found in the graveyard of the parish church. A map of the grave’s location will be found in the porch and it is evident that it is frequently visited.

I wonder whether my life will have godliness enough to lead to anyone bothering to visit my grave 100 years after my death!

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