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Retrospect And Prospect

In reflective mood the other day I took from the bookshelf volume number 1 of Needed Truth and turned over its leaves. The magazine began its history in 1888. It was issued as a quarterly until 1892 when it became a monthly periodical and as such has continued without interruption until the present day. For the period 1909-1913 the title was changed to Wholesome Words but the original designation Needed Truth was restored in 1914. First issues are often much sought after for their historical value. I suspect that if this one was auctioned at Sotheby's it would attract few, if any, bids! But if judged by literary connoisseurs to be unworthy of notice, none the less, in spiritual currency, it is above price. This 'first issue' records the early beginnings of a theme of Scripture exposition which has lost none of its lustre throughout the ninety-one years Needed Truth has maintained its witness.

The names of the first editors of the magazine appear on the title page of volume 1(1888/9). Then follows their 'apologia', relating the purpose of their enterprise and the circumstances that impelled them to embark upon it. It is abundantly clear that there was no sudden impulse to rush into an "already crowded field". Although the need for such a publication had been mooted for many years, one gets the impression from the preface that had there been freedom to pursue in existing periodicals "important and most needed lines of truth that have been given by revelation of God" Needed Truth would never have been brought to the birth. These men rose to the challenge and ensured adequate exposition of truths that stirred many hearts in those days. "We propose in this magazine", they wrote, "to offer help, and to give to fellow workers opportunity of offering help, on points that have been neglected, and on subjects that have been by many but little considered". Then, "Thus as we embark upon our enterprise we cast us upon our God, seeking His favour and His help, asking from our fellows only that they will read before they judge, and seek to understand before they venture to condemn". In that same spirit present editors carry on the enterprise initiated nearly a century ago. We are persuaded that the distinctive truths those early pioneers held so dear should continue to be presented to fellow believers for God-fearing consideration. At the same time we endeavour to hold the balance by encouraging contributors to explore and defend those other cardinal doctrines of Holy Scripture which are under constant attack in these decadent times.

One of the original editors whose names, appeared on the title page of the first issue of Needed Truth was Dr C.M. Luxmoore. He remained an editor of the magazine from its inception until his lamented death at 64 years of age in 1922. It was the privilege of the present writer to come under the influence of this gifted servant of the Lord during the period 1920-1922. (For a brief appreciation of his life and work, see our January 1976 issue, page 2). I have recently been re-reading the first article from his pen (1888) entitled, "Let them make Me a sanctuary", and have been impressed afresh with its insight into what is without doubt a mainline, although much neglected, doctrine of the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. For orderly marshalling of material, clarity of exposition, and fidelity to Scripture the article bears all the marks of a competent workman rightly dividing the word of truth.

The foregoing reminiscences were awakened while editing the valuable series of six articles by co-editor Dr J.D. Terrell, entitled, "The Principles of a People of God", the third of which appears in our present issue. These follow and develop that distinctive line of truth consistently set forth in the magazine since its initiation by the early pioneers to which we have referred. In recent years Needed Truth has had an expanding circulation. We specially draw to the attention of new readers the expositions in Dr Terrell's series of articles. They are worthy of more than cursory notice.

Also in this issue is the third of a four-part article by J. Rodgers, "Overseers and their work", a subject on which there is much diversity of mind among believers. This too is commended for study by serious students of the Word.