Published in 1877, My King is the first of five “Royal” books by F.R.H., which (she said in her “Prefatory Note” to the fifth one) she regarded as a set. Royal Commandments and Royal Bounty, the second and third, were then published together, also in 1877. The Royal Invitation is the fourth, published in 1878, and then later that same year she published the “answering and completing chord” Loyal Responses. Each book has 31 sections, one for each day of a month; the first four Royal books are mostly prose, and the final one is 31 poems.
My King. “The source of the Kingship of Christ is God Himself in the eternal eternal counsels of His love. . . . Having provided, He appointed and anointed His King.” The sections of this book are taken from Old Testament texts. “Why has God made Jesus King? Because the Lord loved His people. He knows our need of a King.”
Royal Commandments. “Some of His Royal Commandments are made so ‘plain upon tables, that he may run the readeth.’ . . . Some are engraved upon the gems of promise; and as we look closely into the fair colours of each jewel that the hand of faith receives, we find that it is enriched by an unerasable line of precept. But all are royal, and all are ‘from Him,’ our King. And He has said, ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments.’ “
Royal Bounty. “The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure.” (Deuteronomy 28:12) This book describes the gracious provision of our King to His subjects, the benefits of the Christian life, the unsearchable riches of Christ in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. “Faith is the key to this infinite treasury.”
The Royal Invitation. “The human heart within us craves a personal, living rest and refuge. . . . The great word of Invitation, Royal and Divine, is given to us, ‘Come unto Me.’ “ This is the Son of God, mighty to save and ready to save all who come unto Him. In Him are life and peace.
Loyal Responses. These are 31 poems, in which “almost every line has been either directly drawn from Holy Scripture or ‘may be proved thereby.’ May not only our lips but our lives be filled with Loyal Responses to all the words of our King!”
This is part of a letter Frances wrote to Samuel Gillespie Prout, dated September 22, 1877:
Perhaps you would hardly guess how very much what you said about My King delighted and encouraged me. I never expected men to read or care for it,—I did not aim higher than girls of whom I have a considerable following. It is far more than I hoped,—for I am not one of those terrible “strong-minded women,” but I think we have quite “rights” enough in proportion to our powers and position. And I never thought of reaching men by anything I might write; yet you and others are willing to listen to the little things I have to say, and I take it as an extra token for good—the more pleasant, because unsought and unexpected. I am following it up with two new books (now nearly finished printing), Royal Commandments and Royal Bounty. I am inclined to envy your special gift of heart-words to the very far off—it seems so much more like the Master than mine; but still it is very sweet to be allowed to write for our fellow-servants, which is what I most often seem led to do.”
[In “your special gift of heart-words to the very far off,” she was referring to Prout’s book Never Say Die which she later edited and helped to publish; after these first three Royal books, her fourth one was The Royal Invitation, written to ones “very far off,” not yet knowing the Saviour.]
These are excerpts from three letters that Frances wrote just before and as she wrote The Royal Invitation.
(To——) January 25, 1878 I meant to have set to work this morning at my new book, The Royal Invitation, but instead of that, I give the time to prayer, and requests for prayer about it. To-morrow I hope to begin. Now I ask you most earnestly to pray about it, and to pass on the request to any other friends who, though unknown personally, will kindly do me this GREATEST service of “helping together by prayer.” I never felt such need of it. The thing is so on my mind, that I can better understand than ever before, what the old prophets meant by “the burden of the Lord.” I must write it—I must set aside other things for it; and yet, most strangely, I have not two ideas as to what to say! all I know is that the title must be The Royal Invitation, and the keynote must be “COME!” I can’t see beyond that! But I entirely expect that when I sit down to-morrow, the Lord will give me what He means me to say. You see, I have only written for Christians as yet (with the exception of a few leaflets), and so I have not fulfilled the great commission, “Let him that heareth say, Come” in writing, though of course I am often at it in speaking. So now I want to peal out a “COME !” that shall be heard and followed; a “Come” especially to those who are not reached by tracts or little books in paper covers, but who would not reject a pretty gift-book of daily readings, not too long and not too prosy. It will want special tact and power, and all that I have not got, and must therefore look only to the Lord for! The other books have opened a wide door for it; and if I am enabled to do it at all, it will probably go by tens of thousands, and so it is an immense responsibility to dare to write it. I feel as if it were hardly less than preaching to one of Moody’s enormous congregations! Now won’t you and your good friends help me mightily about it? Ask that He would give me EVERY SINGLE WORD from beginning to end, that I may leave nothing unsaid which should be said, and not say one word which is not really from Him. One may as well ask much as little, while one is about it! So please ask that it may be FULL OF POWER—that every chapter may be a channel of converting grace—that it may be more really and definitely blessed to souls than anything I have yet written—that it may be a sort of condensed Mission Week to every reader. Have you faith enough to ask all that? . . . There! Have I asked too much? I don’t mean of the Lord, but of you? What, if this time next year, I am writing to ask you for help in praise for an immense answer. WE SHALL SEE.—Yours in our dear Master.
Later, Frances wrote this:
(To Leonard Bickerstaff.)
February7,1878. I have a request to you, for which yours to me gives opportunity. Will you take it up as a little bit of special praying work during the next few days? I have written twenty-two chapters of my new book, The Royal Invitation; or, Daily Thoughts on coming to Christ, and I do long for very special help for the nine chapters which remain to be written. I want the Lord to give me every word, and not let me write a word without Him, nor a sentence that is not a message from Him. I do so want to win those who have never yet come to Jesus. Will you ask this for me every day till about next Thursday, by which day I shall about finish, please God. Why not join both the Scripture-reading Unions? Ever so many are members of both. Both are good solid bread, but I prefer the whole loaf to the half one, both for myself, and more especially for the sake of the many whom I thus induce to read twice a day, who otherwise would read only once. I have often said to others, “Join Mr. Richardson’s Union for the sake of your personal friends, but join Mr. Boys’ for the sake of work among others.” The one chapter a day is a pleasant link, but the two chapters are a lever to raise those who need raising to fuller feeding on the Word. I myself have joined both. —Yours affectionately in our dear Master.
Later she wrote this:
February 14, 1878. The twelve o ’clock prayer to-day was commuted into thanksgiving for completed work; so I write at once to tell you that the good Lord has given it me all, and fully answered the prayer that it might be done without difficulty or strain. I have now merely to put it straight for the press, fill in the references, and send it off. But the last sentence is written! I shall write no preface; the title is, The Royal Invitation; or, Daily Thoughts on Coming to Christ, and I prefer leaving it to the reader to find out who I am aiming at.
Her next published book of poems was the final “completing chord” of the Royal books, Loyal Responses. She wrote this at the front of Loyal Responses:
A word of explanation. The little series of daily books, My King, Royal Commandments, Royal Bounty, and The Royal Invitation, appeared to need an answering and completing chord. And as these all aim, feebly enough, but earnestly, at calling attention to the Royal utterances of our King, it seemed that Loyal Responses should follow them.
May I be pardoned for asking my readers to accept all I have said in these little books in lieu of letters? For the endeavour to answer their most kindly meant and often very interesting communications is becoming a serious tax upon time and strength, and an increasing hindrance to doing other work.
Should any of my friends wish that nothing previously seen in leaflet form had been included in this little book, they must pardon it for the sake of the known wishes of many others, who would be disappointed not to find here a few already familiar verses, such as the “Consecration Hymn” and “Trusting Jesus.”
As marginal references are not given in this as in the other books of the series, it might be a useful exercise for younger readers to supply them for themselves. For almost every line has been either directly drawn from Holy Scripture, or “may be proved thereby.”
May not only our lips but our lives be filled with Loyal Responses to all the words of our King !
F. R. H.