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Jonathan Goforth
His Discovery of Finney’s Lectures on Revival

UPON returning to China in the fall of 1901, after having recuperated from the harrowing effects of the Boxer ordeal, I began to experience a growing dissatisfaction with the results of my work. In the early pioneer years I had buoyed myself with the assurance that a seed time must always precede a harvest, and had, therefore, been content to persist in the apparently futile struggle. But now thirteen years had passed, and the harvest seemed, if anything, farther away than ever. I felt sure that there was something larger ahead of me, if I only had the vision to see what it was, and the faith to grasp it. Constantly there would come back to me the words of the Master: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do . . .” And always there would sink deep the painful realization of how little right I had to make out that what I was doing from year to year was equivalent to the “greater works.”

Restless, discontented, I was led to a more intensive study of the Scriptures. Every passage that had any bearing upon the price of, or the road to, the accession of power became life and breath to me. There were a number of books on Revival in my library. These I read over repeatedly. So much did it become an obsession with me that my wife began to fear that my mind would not stand it. Of great inspiration to me were the reports of the Welsh Revival of 1904 and 1905. Plainly, Revival was not a thing of the past. Slowly the realization began to dawn upon me that I had tapped a mine of infinite possibility.

Late in the fall of 1905 Eddy’s little pamphlet, containing selections from “Finney’s Autobiography and Revival Lectures,” was sent to me by a friend in India. It was the final something which set me on fire. On the front page of this pamphlet there was a statement to the effect that a farmer might just as well pray for a temporal harvest without fulfilling the laws of nature, as for Christians to expect a great ingathering of souls by simply asking for it and without bothering to fulfill the laws governing the spiritual harvest. “If Finney is right,” I vowed, “then I’m going to find out what those laws are and obey them, no matter what it costs.” Early in 1906, while on my way to take part in the intensive evangelistic work which our mission conducted yearly at the great idolatrous fair at Hsun Hsien, a brother missionary loaned me the full “Autobiography” of Finney. It is impossible for me to estimate all that that book meant to me. We missionaries read a portion of it daily while we carried on our work at the fair.

His wife, Rosalind’s memories of this experience

“Never can I forget the day and circumstances when this blessed leaflet reached us. We were living in a large ‘barn’ of a room at Tsichou, forty li north of Changte. The children were playing on the great platform bed at one end of the room (it was probably raining or they would have been outside), when Jonathan came t me wit the leaflet opened, saying-”This is a remarkable booklet. It contains selections from Finney’s Lectures on Revival. Just listen to this.” And then he read a portion of the front page of the second part:

“’A revival is a purely philosophical result of the right use of constituted means. It is not a miracle, nor dependent upon a miracle. There has long been an idea prevalent that promoting religion has something very peculiar in it, not to be judged by the ordinary rules of cause and effect. No doctrine is more dangerous than this to the prosperity of the Church. Suppose a man were to go and preach this doctrine among farmers, about their sowing grain. Let him tell them that God is a sovereign and will give them a crop only when it pleases Him, and that for them to plow, and plant, and labor as if they expected to raise a crop, is very wrong, and taking the work out of the hands of god. And suppose the farmers should believe such doctrine. Why, they would starve the world to death. Just such results would follow the Churches’ being persuaded that promoting religion is somehow so mysterious a subject of divine sovereignty, that there is no natural connection between the means and the end. I fully believe, that could facts be known, it would be found that when the appointed means have been rightly used, spiritual blessings have been obtained with greater uniformity than temporal ones.”

“Again and again he read the passage over, dwelling on the parts I have italicized. So evident was his emotion, the children became hushed and gathered about us, sensing something unusual. At last, my husband said, “It simply means this: the spiritual laws governing a spiritual harvest are as real and tangible as the laws governing the natural harvest.” Then, solemnly, almost as if making a vow,-If Finney is right, and I believe he is, I am going to find out what these spiritual laws are and obey them, no matter what the cost may be.” Rosalind Goforth, Goforth of China, p. 178,179

As a result of reading the leaflet, he immediately sent for the following books to study:

A.    J. Gordon: Ministry of the Spirit
B.    S D. Gordon: Talks on Power
C.    Charles Finney: Lectures on Reival
D.    Charles Finney: His Autobiography

Taken from Goforth of China

More From Charles Finney

Charles Finney:
Prevailing Prayer
Charles Finney:
Prevailing Prayer (1847 Series) Part A

Charles Finney:
Prevailing Prayer (1847 Series) Part B
Charles Finney:
Prevailing Prayer (1847 Series) Part C
Charles Finney: Prayer of Faith
Charles Finney: Prevailing Prayer Recollections
Charles Finney: Conditions to Prevailing Prayer and the Holy Spirit
Charles Finney:
Why So Few Revivals
Charles Finney: How to Overcome Sin
Charles Finney: Preaching So As To Convert Nobody
Charles Finney: "On Confession and Being Cleansed From Sin"


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