Monday, April 26, 2021

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812―1870) is perhaps the 19th century’s best-known novelist. His most celebrated books include: Oliver Twist (1839), A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1850), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1861). He began as a journalist, and took the chance of having his first novel published serially; the success of The Pickwick Papers established his career, and led to all of his novels first appearing in this way.

Dickens in the 1840s wrote The Life of Our Lord, a book to express his faith to his children. In it he expressed his disapproval of Roman Catholicism, 19th century evangelicalism, and populist fads of spiritualism ― all of which he saw as deviations from true Christian teaching. Unfortunately, he was better at critiquing others, than himself. In 1857 he met a young actress with whom he had an affair. He hushed his critics by taking control of the periodicals he was associated with.

Despite his inconsistency, he used his influence to draw attention to the important issues of his day. He was greatly concerned with issues of poverty and exploitation, speaking out against capital punishment, and championing better living and working conditions for the poor, sanitation, housing, education, workplace safety, and trade unions.

The following poem expresses Dickens’ understanding of the gospel.

A Child’s Hymn

Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father,
Ere I lay me down to sleep;
Bid Thy angels, pure and holy,
Round my bed their vigil keep.

My sins are heavy, but Thy mercy
Far outweighs them, every one;
Down before Thy cross I cast them,
Trusting in Thy help alone.

Keep me through this night of peril
Underneath its boundless shade;
Take me to Thy rest, I pray Thee,
When my pilgrimage is made.

None shall measure out Thy patience
By the span of human thought;
None shall bound the tender mercies
Which Thy Holy Son has bought.

Pardon all my past transgressions,
Give me strength for days to come;
Guide and guard me with Thy blessing
Till Thy angels bid me home.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.