Monday, January 26, 2009

Reading the Word

Search the Scriptures. Do not merely read them — search them; look out the parallel passages; collate them; try to get the meaning of the Spirit upon any one truth by looking to all the texts which refer to it. Read the Bible consecutively: do not merely read a verse here and there-that is not fair. You would never know anything about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress if you opened it every morning and read six lines in any part and then shut it up again; you must read it all through if you want to know anything about it. Get those books, say Mark or John; read Mark right through from beginning to end; do not stop with two or three verses, or a chapter, but try to know what Mark is aiming at. It is not fair to Paul to take his epistle to the Romans and read one chapter: we are obliged to do it in public service; but if you want to get at Paul’s meaning, read the whole epistle through as you would another letter.

Read the Bible in a commonsense way. Do not read it on your knees, as I have known some people do, it is an awkward posture: get into an easy chair: read it comfortably. Pray after you have read it as much as you like, but do not make a penance of what ought to be a pleasure. And when you are reading it, if you come to a knotty point, do not skip it. You have all some Christian friend who knows more than you do; go to him and try to get the thing explained. Above all, when you have read any passage, and do understand it, act it out, and ask the Spirit of God to burn the meaning into your conscience till it is written on the fleshy tables of your heart.

From a sermon entitled "Knowledge Commended," delivered January 15, 1865. Image by rachel_thecat under Creative Commons License.

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