Home > Bible Study, C. H. Spurgeon, church life > Spurgeon: Reading, and Bible Reading Importance

Spurgeon: Reading, and Bible Reading Importance

In my ongoing chronological reading through Spurgeon sermons, near the end of 1863 comes a sermon  which includes a great quote I recognized – from its inclusion in some free audio recordings of classic Christian books:

Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted; he who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own! Brothers and Sisters, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritan writers, and expositions of the Bible.

The full sermon references Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13, Bring the cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come—and the books, but especially the parchments.”  Spurgeon here notes some interesting points that I had not considered: we do not know what these books were (and books were few and rare in ancient times, unlike our world after the invention of the Printing Press), yet:

Even an apostle must read. He is Inspired, and yet he needs books! He has been preaching for at least 30 years, and yet he needs books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he needs books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he needs books! He had been caught up into the Third Heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he needs books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he needs books!

The apostle here is also not ashamed to confess that he reads books. He has no secrets to keep from young Timothy, and tells Timothy about his books. Paul needs books, and is not ashamed to tell Timothy that he does; and Timothy may go and tell Tychicus and Titus if he likes—Paul does not care.

Furthermore, Paul is in prison, yet here shows himself as industrious. He cannot work a trade, and he cannot preach – so he will read. He is in prison; he cannot preach—what will he do? As he can-not preach, he will read! As we read of the fishermen of old and their boats, the fishermen were out of them. What were they doing? Mending their nets! So if Providence has laid you upon a sick bed, and you cannot teach your class—if you cannot be working for God in public, mend your nets by reading! If one occupation is taken from you, take another, and let the books of the Apostle read you a lesson of industry.  

Especially the parchments: possibly these were scripture parchments, or even some of Paul’s own parchments, his epistles we know as part of the inspired canon of scripture. Here again, great words from Spurgeon affirming the importance of reading the Bible:

 Now, it must be, “Especially the parchments” with all our reading; let it be especially the Bible. Do you attach no weight to this advice? This advice is more needed in England now than almost at any other time, for the number of persons who read the Bible, I believe, is becoming smaller every day. … the Book, the good old Book, the Divine Fountainhead from which all Revelation wells up—this is too often left! You may go to human puddles until you forsake the clear crystal stream which flows from the Throne of God. Read the books, by all means, but especially the parchments! Search human literature, if you will, but especially stand fast by that Book which is Infallible, the Revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

  1. May 29, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

  2. Neil Schoch
    May 29, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Some timely advice here for someone like me who prefers to mainly only read the Bible rather than mans comments and thoughts.
    I assume the Old Testament in Paul’s day was still in the form of a scroll, but could it be that he refers to them as books? Ezra 4:15 refers to “the book of the records,” and there are other references to books in the Old Testament like the references in 1 Chronicles 29:29 to the book of Nathan and Gad, or were they simply scrolls?
    One thing for sure – he would not be reading ones like the smutty novels of today even though the philosophers of his day probably had the same horrible stuff. Some of the pagan temple worship would have been equally horrible as the modern rubbish, and no doubt some of it would have been written out.
    Never too old to learn – the more I learn the more I realize how little I know and how much more there is to look forward to learning.

  3. May 30, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I’ve heard that quote before and I appreciate you sharing it from the context of Spurgeon’s sermon!
    I find the discipline of Christian reading to be a practical means of God’s work in my life to grow and sanctify me.
    Thanks for this!

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