A Letter On Dealing With Souls.

Cape Town, South Africa,

October 11th.

My dear H-, I was very pleased to get your letter, and hear of the work of the Lord. For surely all real blessing must be His work, although carried on through human channels; and, alas! often spoiled because too much partaking of the channel. With regard to work I feel more and more the need of patience, and, as James says, "The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain." He does not only plow and sow, but waits for the "early and latter rain." It would seem to indicate the absolute need of the Spirit's work between whiles, making good the plowing and the sowing, and so on. The intelligent husbandman knows what he is waiting for. With us, we are often able to discern that the plowing, sowing, and waiting have already been done, and we have only to reap. Other men have laboured, and we enter into their labours. Hasty work bears its character, and very unsatisfactory it always is. The souls themselves are damaged, and never seem to get over it; they carry the marks of it to the end of their days. They are also a great trial to other believers, and no testimony in the gospel; for they never had much plowing up themselves, and consequently make light of that very necessary part of good husbandry. If the preachers had more faith, I believe they would preach shorter and wait longer for the Spirit's work in the soul. Many things may tend to make us hurry souls to confession, but we lose by it in the end. For what do we hurry? The person to decision! What sort of decision? Intellectual! Not but what there may be a real work of God, but beyond that is only intellectual. This damages the soul seriously; and if you knew their subsequent history, you would find that either they continue to be satisfied with a semi-intellectual belief, or they get into darkness through having said more than they subsequently found to be true. Thus preachers are often responsible for very unsatisfactory conversions. This is the result of my own experience and observation as one who has cared for souls somewhat actively for about thirty years. Of course I cannot expect my younger brethren to see as I do, as they have not had the same experience; but I believe it is the experience of all old labourers who are accustomed to see their own work years after. For years I have always exhorted souls to confess to God first, and to man afterwards. I don't think any real soul would say more to God than was true; but in confessing to man they unconsciously say too much, and are unhappy afterwards, or else careless. In all this I see a need of faith in God, and a discerning that only that which is a work of His Spirit is any good. Everything else withers away in time. Young preachers are often much used in blessing which appears, but in this I see the goodness of God, leading them to such places where the Spirit is about to work, and perhaps has already begun. The plowing, the sowing, and waiting have already been done by others, so the newcomer has only the reaping to do. This shows results which the plowing, sowing, and waiting do not. The older servants can be set to that job as having some experience, for they know results come at the end, and not so much at the beginning. Thus we learn to keep the judgment-seat in view, and to talk very soberly about conversions. At the best I think we are poor judges. I dare say you know many old professors of whom you would have to say, I doubt if they were ever converted. I quite agree with you in the desire to be more spiritual; and then we read, "He that is spiritual discerneth all things."

I shall always be glad to hear from you, and news of the work is very cheering.

With much love in the Lord, Yours in Him, G. W. G.