Welwyn. December 1938.
To Mr. J.H. Gosden.
My dear Mr. Gosden,
There has been an unaccountable constraint upon my mind for several days to write to you, but I have resisted this, knowing the pressure of duties upon your strength and time, and being unwilling to add by needlessly occupying any of that time. But this evening my mind is continually turned toward you, with I trust a prayerful desire on your behalf.
I am afraid the subject of unfulfilled prophecy has not exercised my mind to a great extent. I am not indifferent to it, but I feel that whatever God has designed for the future of the world in general, a saving knowledge of Christ and a living exercise in that knowledge will preserve the soul amidst it all. To be immersed in the study of prophecy and not know the blessing and favour of Him whose decrees are revealed in prophecy, is a condition too dangerous to contemplate. There is a subtle attraction about such a study which makes one fear to speak much of it to the young people here. But if the heart is exercised rightly by the grace of God, a sober, prayerful study will doubtless bring a deeper desire to know the witness of the Holy Spirit that one is born of God. But it appears to me a very narrow line. Revelation 19:10 (“Worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”) seems to provide the best object in such a study.
There has been much exercise in my mind of late concerning the savour and fragrance of the name of Christ in my ministry; that one might be so taught, and led, and helped, that the ministry may really savour of Christ by the unction of His Spirit. This may seem to you an elementary exercise, but to me there seems such difficulty in tracing the effectual application of Christ’s things to the souls of the hearers. I do not think this is entirely absent, but when needy souls are unsatisfied, and those in darkness are not brought out, it brings a concern, which increases as time goes on, as to whether the Holy Ghost really takes of the things of Jesus and makes them as life and savour in the souls of the hearers. If this is not done, I know it is not because of any lack of grace or power in God, but the proof of my commission in the ministry is absent. The Lord has, I trust, been graciously pleased to grant at times a sweet persuasion in my own soul that He has called me to the work of the ministry, and given some outward testimony too; but, Oh, how little effect the continual preaching seems to have! My heart often trembles at the thought of having to preach; and the weight of immortal souls and one’s accountability to God, brings me at times to a stand. Oh, if one could be emptied, searched and taught, so that the glory of God, the honour of His name, the preciousness of Christ, and the power of the Spirit might fill one’s ministry! Sometimes I feel that I could embrace with all my heart the word of John: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3. 30). I feel to come more and more to want a particular experience of particular things.
The Lord Himself strengthen you day by day, and grant you much of His Spirit.