Words to the Winners of Souls

I (Kristin) stumbled across a little book today by Horatius Bonar entitled Words to the Winners of Souls. I am only part way through it, but I would highly recommend it to pastors and laymen alike. We are all called to be “fishers of men”, and so the words apply equally to us as to our overseers.

I find the book to be convicting as well as inspiring. How easily we get distracted by the cares of this world and forget the real purpose of our lives on earth! How cold is our religion and how we lack zeal! Is it any wonder why our churches are dying?

Here are a couple excellent quotes from the book:

“And who can say how much of the overflowing infidelity of the present day is owing not only to the lack of spiritual instructors, nor to the existence of unfaithful and inconsistent ones, but to the coldness of many who are reputed sound and faithful? Men cannot but feel, that if religion is worth anything, it is worth everything; that if it calls for any measure of zeal and warmth, it will justify the utmost degrees of these; and that there is no consistent medium between reckless atheism and the intensest warmth of religious zeal. Men may dislike and persecute the latter, yet their consciences are all the while silently reminding them that, if there be a God and a Saviour, a heaven and a hell, anything short of such life and love is hypocrisy and perjury!”


“Thus one has written: ‘The language we have been accustomed to adopt is this: We must use the means, and leave the event to God; we can do no more than employ the means: this is our duty, and, having done this, we must leave the rest to Him who is the disposer of all things. Such language sounds well, for it seems to be an acknowledgment of our own nothingness, and to savour of submission to God’s sovereignty; but it is only sound: it has not really any substance in it; for though there is truth stamped on the face of it, there is falsehood at the root of it.

To talk of submission to God’s sovereignty is one thing, but really to submit to it is another, and quite a different thing. Really to submit to God’s sovereign disposal involves the deep renunciation of our own will in the matter concerned; and such a renunciation of the will can never be effected without a soul being brought through very severe and trying exercises of an inward and most humbling nature. Therefore, if, whilst we are quietly satisfied in using the means without obtaining the end, –and this costs us no such painful inward exercises and deep humbling as that alluded to,–we think that we are leaving the affair to God’s disposal, we deceive ourselves, and the truth (in this matter) is not in us.

No; really to give anything to God implies that the will, which is emphatically the heart, has been set on that thing; and if the heart has indeed been set on the salvation of sinners, as the end to be answered by the means we use, we cannot possibly give up that end, without, as was before observed, the heart being severely exercised and deeply pained by the renunciation of the will involved in it. When, therefore, we can be quietly content to use the measn for saving souls without seeing them saved thereby, it is because there is no renunciation of the will–that is, no real giving up to God in the affair. The fact is, the will, the heart, had never really been set upon this end: if it had, it could not possibly give up such an end without being broken by the sacrifice. When we can thus be satisfied to use the means without obtaining the end, and speak of it as though we were submitting to the Lord’s disposal, we use a truth to hide a falsehood…for our ability to leave the matter thus is not, as we imagine, the result of heart-submission to God, but of heart-indifference to the salvation of souls…‘”

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