I fell into the snare, into which so many fall: the reading of religious books in preference to the Bible.
I could no longer read French and German novels, as I had formerly done, to feed my lustful mind; but still, I did not put into the room of those books the best of all books.
I read missionary papers, sermons, and biographies of godly people. Had they been well selected, or had I not read too much of such writings, or had any of them tended particularly to endear the Bible to me, they might have done me much good.
I never had been at any time in my life in the habit of reading the Bible. Before I was fifteen years old, I occasionally read a little of it at school. But afterward, God’s precious book was entirely laid aside, so that I never read one single chapter of it, as far as I remember, until it pleased God to begin working in my heart.
Why Prefer the Bible Over Good Books?
Had I reasoned from what I knew of the Bible, I would have said this to myself:
God himself has condescended to become an author, and I am ignorant about that precious book, which his Holy Spirit has caused to be written through the instrumentality of his servants.
It contains that which I ought to know, and the knowledge of which will lead me to true happiness.
Therefore, I ought to read again and again this most precious book, this book of books, most earnestly, most prayerfully, and with much meditation.
And in this practice, I ought to continue all the days of my life.
Reading the Bible is increasingly delightful.
But instead of being led by my ignorance of the Word of God to study it more, I didn’t care to read it because of my difficulty in understanding it, and the little enjoyment I had in it.
Much prayerful reading of the Word gives not merely more knowledge but increases the delight we have in reading it.
And so, like many believers, I practically preferred, for the first four years of my divine life, the works of uninspired men to the oracles of the living God.
Reading the Bible grows us in true knowledge.
The consequence was that I remained an infant both in knowledge and grace. In knowledge, I say, for all true knowledge must be derived by God’s Spirit from his Word. And as I neglected the Word, I was for nearly four years so ignorant that I did not clearly know even the fundamental points of our holy faith.
Reading the Bible helps us walk in the ways of God.
And this lack of knowledge most sadly kept me back from walking steadily in the ways of God. For it is the truth that makes us free (John 8:31-32) by delivering us from the slavery of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The Word proves it. The experience of other Christians proves it; and also my own experience most decidedly proves it. For when it pleased the Lord to bring me really to the Bible, my life and walk became very different.
And though I have very much fallen short of what I might and ought to be, yet, by the grace of God, I have been enabled to live much nearer to him than before.
Prefer the Bible Over Any Book
If any believers in God read this, who practically prefer other books to the Bible, and who enjoy the writings of men much more than the Word of God, may they be warned by my loss.
I hope—should it please the Lord—to lead some of his people to no longer neglect the Bible, and to give them a reason to prefer it, though they have up until this point preferred the writings of men.
May reading of my experience be the means of leading you to value God’s Word more highly.