Besides your set times of reading the holy Scriptures, you will do well to take some of your free time to read God’s book and the good books of men.
How to read profitably.
When you read any part of the word of God, you must differentiate between it and the best writings of men, preferring it far before them.
Consider it in its properties and excellencies. No word is of like absolute authority, holiness, truth, wisdom, power, and eternity. Ps 19:7-11
Consider this word in its ends and good effects. No book aims at God’s glory, John 5:39, 2 Cor 3:18, and the salvation of man’s soul, Romans 15:4, James 1:21, like this; none concerns you like God’s book does.
- It discovers your misery by sin, together with the perfect remedy, Rom 3:23-24.
- It proposes perfect happiness to you, Isa 55:1-3, affording means to work it out in you, and for you, Rom 1:16, I Thess 2:13.
- It is mighty, through God to prepare you for grace, 2 Cor 10:4-5.
- It is the immortal seed to beget you unto Christ, 1 Peter 1:23.
- It is the milk and stronger meat to nourish you up in Christ, 1 Peter 2:2, Heb 5:13-14.
- It is the only soul-physic (through Christ) to recover you, 2 Tim 1:13, and to free you of all spiritual evils.
- By it Christ gives spiritual sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, strength to the weak, health to the sick: yes, by it he does cast out devils, and raise men from the death of sin (through faith) as certainly as he did all those things for the bodies of men by the word of his power, while he lived on the earth, John 5:25.
- This book of God does contain those many rich legacies bequeathed to you in that last will and testament of God, sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, Heb 9:15-18.
- It is the magna charta, and statute-book of the kingdom of heaven, Isa 8:20.
- It is the book of privileges and immunities of God’s children, Rom 6:14-22, 1 John 5:13.
- It is the word of grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance amongst all them that are sanctified, Acts 20:32.
- It will make you wise to salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus, making you perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, 2 Tim 3:15-17.
Whenever therefore you hear this word preached, and when at any time you read it, you must receive it not as the word of man, but (as it is in truth) the word of God, then it will work effectually in you that believe, I Thess 2:13.
When you read this word, lift up the heart in prayer to God for the spirit of understanding and wisdom, Ps 119:18, that your mind may be more and more enlightened, and your heart more and more strengthened with grace by it. For this word is spiritual, containing the great counsels of God for man’s salvation, and which is as a book sealed up, Isa 29:11-12, in respect of discovery of the things of God in it, I Cor 2:10-11, to all that have not the help of God’s Spirit; so that none can know the inward and spiritual meaning thereof, powerfully, and savingly, but by the Spirit of God.
Read the word with a hunger and thirst after knowledge and growth in grace by it, 1 Peter 2:2, with a reverent, humble teachable, and honest heart, Luke 8:15; believing all that you read; trembling at the threatenings and judgments against sinners; rejoicing in the promises made unto, and the favor bestowed upon the penitent, and the godly; willing and resolving to obey all the commandments.
Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk in holy Security and Peace. Phila, Presbyterian Board, nd. pp98-99. [edited, abridged, and possibly linguistically modernized by SML]