"Give attention to reading" Part 3
III. IN CONCLUSION, LET ME CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING A DILIGENT USE OF THIS MEANS OF INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL IMPROVEMENT.
1. In the first place, then, reading is a most interesting and pleasant method of occupying your leisure hours.
2. It is a consideration of no small weight that reading furnishes materials for interesting and useful conversation. Those who are ignorant of books must of course have their thoughts confined to very narrow limits. (Joel Hawes, D. D.)
Good literature -- its pleasure and profit: -- And here we come to the first reason why we should give attention to reading. Because --
1. There is so much to be had for so little. This too is true, that truth is cheaper than error, as found in the types to-day. The father of lies knows the appetite for a certain kind of reading which is upon the age. But, ministering to the lower tastes, he makes us pay his printers. He is up to every device, but always with an open eye to profit.
2. Reading is made more and more readable, and especially reading of the best kind. Those who had a taste for philosophy in the days of Plato, for poetry in the days of Chaucer, for history in the days of Gibbon, for natural science in the days of Richelieu, for metaphysics in the time of Locke, for sacred learning in the ages when monasteries had all the books and students -- at what trouble every learner of old time was put to obtain intelligence. But, by contrast, how accessible is every sort of knowledge now.
(1) One should read no more than he takes time to reflect upon. A paragraph or a page mentally masticated and digested is of more service than a whole volume swallowed whole. To get a single truth so at one's service as to handle it as skilfully as David did his sling and stone is more effective than the apparel of Saul's armour. Many a great ease at law, involving precious life and costly property, has been lost or won through the happy knowledge of a single fact.
(2) Read chiefly on the side of ascertained truths. Let us plant ourselves upon the rock, that some things have been settled. There are some facts of religion which can no more be made flux by the slow or the fierce fires of the crucible of criticism, than gold can be melted by the flicker of a fire-fly. It seems no less than an unpardonable concession to admit that everything in this world is uncertain and unstable, and that the least stability and certainty are found in the realm of religion and requirements of faith.
(3) Read for the sake of final character as well as, or even more than, for present culture or professional calling. Is family government becoming feeble? Is the French disease of domestic corruption sickening our most sacred fane, the family? Then it will do it still more unless there shall come on us a holy purpose to purify our homes by raising the quality of the reading there allowed above the merely professional, above the evanescently fashionable, above the utterly ephemeral, up to that high order in which what is read shall sweetly allure to brighter worlds, by making sin of every gilded and grosser sort abominable in this. (J. L. Withrow, D. D.)
(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)