PRC Archives Feature: A.W. Pink Letters to Rev. Robert C. Harbach

The first letter of A.W. Pink to Rev. Robert Harbach – May 16, 1943

Yesterday a very special gift was made to the PRC archives by Phil Harbach, the son of the late Rev. Robert C. Harbach: the personal hand-written letters he received as a young pastor from Arthur W. Pink in the six years spanning 1943-1949.

These letters had been published in pamphlet form by Grandville PRC in 1993 (see above photo), where Rev. Harbach and his wife had their membership at the end of their lives (They were, in fact, charter members of this congregation, as were my wife and I. I well remember Rev. Harbach’s Bible study on the Psalms – so rich in instruction and insight!). Those letters had remained in his possession until his death, and then his dear wife had preserved them, and when she passed into glory, their son Phil kept them safe.

Recently Phil decided that they ought to be given to the PRC archives, so yesterday he brought them along with some other items from Grandville PRC. What a treasure they are for us to have!

The story of this correspondence is recorded in the introduction found in the pamphlet and I embed those images here so that you can read about it. A very special relationship between these two men! And the letters are rich in content.

Letter #15 of Pink to Harbach. Note the other pen markings of Rev. Harbach in the letter.

The scanned images here are difficult to read, but I recommend you obtain the pamphlet (readily available from Grandville PRC or the PRC seminary), where these letters have been typed (transcribed) by the Harbach’s daughter Janice. Above is one other sample. Below is the transcribed and published copy of the first letter found at the head of this post.

27 Lewis Street
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
Scotland
May 16, 1943

Dear Christian friend:

Greetings in the blessed Name of Him who declares, “If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (I Cor. 8:2). This one sentence (and there are scores of others of a similar character) should be sufficient to convince us of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, for surely it is far too humbling, too flesh-withering to have ever originated in any human heart or mind! May it please the Lord to graciously keep each of us, to the end of our course, in that lowly attitude of praying, “that which I see not, teach Thou me” (Job 34:32).
Your welcome letter of March 27 to hand three days ago. I was glad to hear from you again and thankful to know the “Studies” have been of service to you. I trust you will continue to write me from time to time, about your difficulties and problems – either regarding the Word or your work, etc. – for I shall be very pleased (D.V.) to give you what help and counsel I can. These are “evil days” and one who would (by grace) be faithful to his Master is not going to have a smooth path, so that we need all the assistance we can obtain for strengthening our hands.

You are quite correct in concluding that the servant of the Lord is duty bound to “declare all the counsel of God” as opportunity is afforded, and I can assure you it is a life task to learn how to discharge that duty. Many of us are prone to become “hobbyists,” harping all the time on one string, stressing some particular doctrine or aspect of the Truth out of all proportion to other aspects of the Truth equally important and necessary to the Divine glory and the good of souls. Some are constitutionally pugnacious, and when opposed in preaching a certain doctrine, react by determining to preach it all the more. There is such a thing as “a zeal of (for) God” which nevertheless is “not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). Much wisdom from Above (humbly but trustfully sought) is needed in order to really help souls: “babes” are incapable of digesting “meat” – ponder Mark 4:33 and John 16:12.

I am glad to hear you have been able to procure John Brown’s “Exposition of Romans,” and that it gave you help on chapter 7. The “Victorious Life” people are certainly astray on the point you mention. It is most important to see that in Rom. 7:14-25 there are three things (and not only two) to be noted. Take verse 23; there is (1) “the law of my mind” (i.e., the principle of holiness, or “the spirit” or new nature); there is (2) the “law of sin which is in my members” (i.e., indwelling depravity, or “the flesh” or old nature), and (3) the responsible “I” or person: repeated more emphatically in the “I myself” of verse 25. I would strongly recommend you to be on the lookout for any of the same John Brown’s works (published around 1865-80): his 3 Volumes on “Discourses and Sayings of the Lord Jesus,” and his commentaries on Habbakuk (2 Vols.), 1st Peter (2, or in smaller, 3 Vols.), 2 Peter 1 (1 Vol.), Galatians (1 Vol.), are sound, expository and most helpful. That is something I can say of very few writers, for a tremendous lot has been published which it is a waste of time to read. Beware of seeking to build up a large library. A few really worthwhile books will be of far more service to you than hundreds of commonplace ones. Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David” (7 Vols.) on the Psalms, Matthew Henry’s complete commentary on the Bible, I strongly recommend. Also any of the works of Thomas Manton (22 Vols. in all) – most of the Puritans are “heavy”: theological rather than expository.

I thank you for your kind gift, safely to hand. Half of it I am applying to the magazine – I wish you could send me the name and address of someone likely to read and value this year’s issues. The other half I am applying to a 1941 bound volume of the “Studies.” My supply of these was long since exhausted, and if you offered me $20 for a second one, I could not furnish it. But, by a mistake (God’s over-ruling) I duplicated an order to a friend last year, and sent him two instead of one. I have asked him to hold same pending my instructions. I feel God meant it for you! Write a brief note to Mr. W.H.F….enclosing .15c for postage, stating I have asked you to write him for the extra 1941 volume which I sent him by mistake. But do not send me any money for it.

With every good wish,
Yours by Divine Mercy,
Arthur W. Pink

Published in: on December 2, 2021 at 2:05 PM  Comments (1)