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Splendor of God

SPLENDOR OF GOD  by Honore Willsie Morrow

Far from being a new book, “Splendor of God” was first published in 1929, and can no longer be purchased in any book store. However, you will no doubt have very little trouble finding it in any sizable library, and if you haven’t read it I would strongly urge you to do so.

Bent on finding a book which I could whole-heartedly endorse, I remembered reading this book by Morrow, and I read it again. I feel it is quite safe to say that most of those who will take it up will find their attention gripped to the end, and that they will rise from it both instructed and edified; that they will carry away an enduring impression of one of the most remarkable careers in the records of missionary history.

Adoniram Judson and his wife were Congregationalists, and were sent by the Congregational and Presbyterian board of foreign missions to Burma. During five long months of their voyage–“along God’s devious paths”–“every known device of Satan having been used to turn them back”–“their views as to the Scriptural authority for infant baptism were changed and he became the first American Baptist missionary to Burma.

Mrs. Morrow in her book; “Splendor of God” gives us a biographical account of the next 20 years of the Judson’s extraordinary life. It is an absorbing novel of the zeal of two very human, attractive and intelligent young people who were willing to sacrifice their lives and personal comfort and happiness for Christ’s sake. Much of the book is devoted to their spiritual and physical hardships, and a great deal of the Buddhist philosophy is described.

Never in the difficult years of his missionary work does there seem to flicker a shadow of a doubt across Adoniram’s consciousness in regard to his great calling in this land where the Burman King–who sought great pleasure in playing pick-a-back, literally owned everyone of his subjects; they were his to rob, to murder and to torture,–and Buddhism kept them submissive to his will. Conversion of a subject meant, disembowelment or some other horrible death.

The Judsons suffered much persecution during their early life in Burma. Suspected of being an English spy in a war between Burma and England, he was arrested and for two years confined in the loathsome jails of Ava, where he lay bound in fetters and suffered excruciatingly from fever, heat and hunger, and the cruelty of his keepers. By the persistent efforts of Ann, whose fortitude and courage also greatly sustained him, and the intervention of British military authorities, he was finally released to resume his work, laboring at the usual tasks of a missionary, but also translating the Bible into Burmese.

During his stay in prison his mind began to center on that shattering doubt: “Does God care?” Then “bared to the buff” by the death of his beloved Ann he goes into seclusion, striving in vain to look in his own heart upon the splendor of God. The unknowableness of God rocked the foundations of his reason, and it was a long road back to spiritual normality from the terrible carnal house which tragedy, physical suffering and mental strain has plunged him. He had to rise from depths which not many of God’s children are called to sound.

In the end he marries a second time to Sarah Hall Boardman, widow of Dr. George Dada Boardman, a colleague of Dr. Judson. She pointed out the folly and error of his awful struggle to see God’s face, and helped him to understand that he must leave to God the things that are God’s, for that unknowableness is His. Thus at the last we find him possessing peace and happiness once again, even though his life was seared with scars the Cross had worn there.