Two Companion Books on the Christian Life by Joseph B. Stratton

New Jersey-born Joseph Buck Stratton, Sr. (1815-1903), after graduating Princeton and practicing law for three years, spent the next five decades in the pastoral ministry in Natchez, Mississippi. A prolific writer, two companion volumes published by him in the 1880’s show the warmth of his pastoral ministry. Both volumes were written as aids to those within the scope of his local pastorate, but have a wider and long-lasting sphere of influence.

The first is Confessing Christ: A Manual for Inquirers in Religion (1880). This is a work designed to persuade men to come to Christ, to profess his name and to embrace the life of a true believer. Also, he addresses matters which can be stumbling-blocks to the new believer, such as the tendency to fall into the pit of unnecessary theological controversies early in the Christian walk or “to ‘look back’ after you have been led to ‘put your hand to the plough,’” thus proving oneself unfit for the kingdom of God. It is a work of great practical value and encouragement to take up one’s cross and confess Christ.

The second is Following Christ: A Manual for Church-Members (1884). In this volume, Stratton helps those who have confessed the name of Christ to come to understand the necessity of joining with the local body of believers, and following the rules of Christian community, including worship in the public, family and private spheres, as well as what it means to live a religious life outside the church. Again, this is a work of practical value coming from a writer with decades of experience in the pastoral ministry.

These two books were appreciated by Stratton’s original audience, and they are worthy of study and consideration by a 21st century audience as well. Take time to download them and ponder the wisdom of a 19th century under-shepherd who had a heart for his flock to lead them in confessing and following the Great Shepherd.