Book Review, Sacrifice: Howard Guinness


Howard Guinness

Wakeman Trust, 2021 (first edition 1936, ISBN: 9781913133177, 83pp)

This popular devotional piece of earlier generations is reissued with a new preface by Dr Peter Masters of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Dr Masters is effusive in lauding the positive influence exerted by Guinness’ book in his own formative days. Also printed in this edition is the 1960 preface by the author himself, relating his doubts then about the value of republishing a tract authored for the youth of the 1930s. Inevitably, some aspects of the text, even with their 1960 updating, do come across as very dated, though the deeper spiritual points made remain timeless and worthwhile.

The principal audience Guinness has in mind seems to be Christian young men, especially those at university (mostly Oxford or Cambridge – mentioned repeatedly) and seriously considering a ministerial or missionary vocation. This is a valuable demographic, though rather narrower than may be implied by the title and blurb. Of five short chapters, one is given over to the topic of rightly approaching marriage in the context of a call to ministry, whilst another relates the author’s own experiences as a missionary doctor and church minister. These are not without interest to a wider audience, but may not give direction on the commonest sort of Christian sacrifices.

The opening chapter on poverty of spirit and financial sacrifice is perhaps the most powerful. It is driven by a cascade of personal vignettes illustrating the difficulty, value, and reward of sacrificial living. These call the reader to close examination of their own habits and attitudes and to a closer participation in the suffering of Christ.

The Guinness family is best known for a certain bitter alcoholic beverage which it pioneered. The junior branch from which the author sprang has a rather nobler heritage of Christian service. Whereas Henry Guinness trained at the Congregationalist New College London, later generations have conformed to the church, his grandson Howard being raised at Christ Church Gypsy Hill and was later ordained, serving as minister of St Barnabas Broadway. Masters’ footnotes acknowledge the past evangelicalism of Howard’s diocese, but touch not on its present faithfulness. Would that books of this quality might serve in reproducing such faithfulness in all the churches, to the glory of God.

Edward Keene, Little Shelford