To spend as much time in prayer and private reading as you do in meetings is a good plan. That means at least one hour a day average – longer if possible.

25 July 1934

Mr. G. H. Stuart Price

My dear Stuart,

Thank you for your interesting enquiry; I venture to give you some suggestions as one “having received mercy of the Lord”.

Before considering your immediate question, may I point out the great need of reading scripture itself? To get gain from ministry we must know scripture. To help us in this, with some it is advantageous to stick to one Bible for some minds associate the position in a book with what they, have read and places are found more quickly. Others have not this weakness.


  1. It is good to form the habit of reading regularly through scripture – so many chapters a day. J.N.D. managed 5. I cannot do this but generally try for 3. In this reading I do not trouble so much as to details; but the constant reading acquaints us with the letter of scripture as a whole.
  1. Then from time to time I study a Book, e.g. Psalms, Leviticus, Corinthians, etc. etc. This may happen to coincide with No. 1 but not necessarily. In this form of reading I note all I can – sometimes have written as I read. Sometimes I take the Synopsis (not always) but study it – do it thoroughly – so that the book is familiar to the mind. Take a 3d ‘part’ in your pocket and read it and read it and read it – scribble on it and note all you can. Read every help you can; J.N.D, C.A.C, F.E.R. and anyone sound. Yet pray withal. Ask God to show you new things.
  1. Read devotionally and for enjoyment. Do not work on Lord’s days, but have your ‘sabbath’ of enjoyment and restful reading – meditate – pray – think – enjoy. Get into the company of Christ.
  1. Take up some book of ministry, whatever is in hand, and in reading it turn up all references in your own Bible, i.e., if you do not clearly remember them, and if unfamiliar with the passage generally, read the chapter or the two or three around.




Now as to your enquiry:

1. I suggest first of all keeping in touch with present ministry, especially J T., and act as No. 4 with regard to it. Generally there are only two books in the year.

2.+ The ‘Synopsis‘ is invaluable, but difficult save in parts. Can only be read with Bible in hand (See Preface 6 to Vo1. 1). C.H.M. “notes” are easy reading and happy – not always strictly accurate as to interpretation, but always good and everyone can get help from them – some think Deuteronomy best; I think it poorest as a help to understand but good as a moral tonic.

3. C.A.C.’s Outlines are extremely helpful and should be read ‘Bible in hand’ (as Synopsis). I regard these books as a unique legacy to the Church. His earlier books are excellent ones, especially ‘Spiritual Blessings’.

4. Very profitable reading can be found in J.N.D.’s Collected Writings. Especially Vol. 1 and the following papers. I give volume for reference: –


+ Sufferings of Christ ———————————- (Vol. 7  (Doctrinal 2))

+ A Man in Christ ————————————– (Vol. 7  (Doctrinal 2))

+ Righteousness of God ——————————- (Vol. 7 (Doctrinal 2))

Divine Righteousness ——————————- (Vol. 10 (Doctrinal 3))

What do I learn from Scripture? ——————- (Vol. 23 (Doctrinal 7))

Either in Adam or in Christ ————————- (Vol. 23 (Doctrinal 7))

Thoughts on Romans, Colossians, Ephesians —- (Vol. 23 (Doctrinal 7))

+ Have we a revelation from God? ——————- (Vol. 29 (Doctrinal 8))

Claims of the Church of England Considered —- (Vol. 16 (Eccl. 3))

+ Ecclesiastical Independency ———————— (Vol. 16 (Eccl. 3))

+ Gifts and Offices in the Church ——————– (Vol. 16 (Eccl. 3))

+ Seven Churches ————————————— (Vol. 5 (Prophetic 2))

+ Lectures on Second Coming ———————— (Vol. 10 (Prophetic 4))

(see below)


Expository, Vols. 1,2,3,4,5,6, that is to say, Vols. 19, 30 (not 20), 24, 25, 26, 27, are good, but virtually, and more maturely covered by Synopsis; but many helpful and short papers are in these which are nowhere else.

“Familiar Conversations on Romanism” are very simple and interesting though long. These used to be published separately.

See Volume 28 (1st Conversation, 2nd, i.e., Doctrinal 5

See Volume 22  (3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Conversations, i.e.  Doctrinal 6

See Volume 29 (7th Conversation, i. e. Doctrinal 7

The Evangelical Volumes are sweet, and many an hour I have spent over them – see too the Practical. But if time presses: –

(Read anyway “Before Abraham was, I am”

“Practical Reflections on the Psalms” (can be obtained separately) so too the following obtainable separately: –


Notes on Matthew                                                   + Lectures on Second Coming:

Notes on Mark                                                                          (see above)

Notes on Luke

Notes on John


Every young brother should read:


+ Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus by J.G.B.

+ ‘Acquaintance With Christ’ and ‘Scope of the Truth’ J. B. S.

+ ‘Discipline in the School of God (is a volume which stands alone and is unique) J. B. S.

(You will not he able to read this all at once)



Vol. 2  + ‘Lectures on Colossians’ –

+ Vol. 3 ‘Deliverance and its End’ (Indeed all this Volume)

Vol. 3 ‘Man of Faith’, etc.

+ Vol. 5 ‘Wilderness and Its Lessons’ and ‘Various Names of Christ’.

Vol. 7 ‘God’s Ways’

Vol. 9 ‘Testimony Of the Christ;

Vol. 12  ‘Joseph Type of Christ’ and ‘Landmarks of Grace in Luke’

Vol. 18 (all)

+ Vol. 22 (all) (Eternal Life)

Vol. 23 (all)

Gospel of John,

Two volumes ‘U.S. Readings’ (1898 and 1902)

‘Notes on Daniel’ and ‘Notes on Revelation’ by W. Kelly

‘Lectures Introductory to Historical Books’ (well worth careful study but takes time)

J.G.B. ‘Meditations on Psalms’ (a small book),

I understand your difficulty. The immense mass of really valuable literature creates a difficulty. Those I have crossed (+) I think very good and those underlined especially so. –

I have found it difficult to select – there are so many good. If you know any Greek, J.N.D.’s “Greek article” is very useful.

I doubt if you could read through Collected Writings (since you have a. busy life) in less than six years – i.e., one volume in two months. But if anyone would take the trouble they are well worth tackling, but it means a lot of time.

F.E.R. is much easier and a more simple proposition and well worth attempting – all his could be read through in 2 1/2 years easily and would well repay the labour. They are portable books and can be read in trains. (These remarks stand bearing in mind suggestion No. 1).

So I have run on, scribbling down what I thought. Accept with my love in the Lord. May He help you as all the other dear young men. We older ones may be home in a few years – 10 or 20 – And you will then be in the thick of things if we (the Church) are left here – but Christ is coming soon.

Very affectionately yours in Christ,

Malcolm W. Biggs


Webmaster’s Note:  The following are the names attached to the initials in the above letter:

J.N.D. — John N. Darby

C. H. M. — Charles H. Mackintosh

C. A. C. — Charles A. Coates

J.T. — James Taylor Sr.

J. B. S. — James B. Stoney

J. G. B. — James G. Bellett

F. E. R. — Frederick E. Raven  (The volume numbers in this letter have changed because of a reprint of Mr. Raven’s ministry.  I will be happy to answer any inquiry about the proper volume numbers.)

Also, “Practical Reflections on the Psalms” by J.N.D. is no longer printed as a small volume.  I may reprint this soon as it is a most valuable book!

Also, Mr. Stoney’s book “Discipline in the School of God” is now volume 13 of his collected ministry.  This book may need to be reprinted also as it is very valuable!