The important practical question is, How do we treat the Bible? Do we honour it because it is the word of God? Are we guided by its counsels? Have we proved its sufficiency? Do we, when we read it, meditate on it, and mix faith with it, and realise the personal enjoyment of its soul-comforting ministrations? Do we habitually rely on the Holy Spirit to enable us to discern, receive, and communicate its precious mysteries? He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." (John 3:33.)
Why then do we read the holy scriptures? Because they reveal "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," and are written for our learning and comfort. To neglect them is therefore very serious. The faithful in all ages have been noted for standing for the authority of the sacred writings. Moreover they give us divine assurance as to the eternal future, as well as sure guidance for every step of the way.
How do we read the Bible? is also a searching question. If we approach the imperishable word with the thought of our own competency to discern and understand it, then let it not be surprising if we get nothing from it, or fall into the most grievous errors. (1 Cor. 2:14.) If, on the contrary, the reader takes his true place on opening the sacred volume of utter inability to discern the deep things of God, and waits on God to guide and teach him by the Holy Spirit, then he will never be disappointed, and, mixing faith with the word, will find much profit and blessing.
Again, we may remind the Christian reader of the tendency to read certain favourite chapters or books, instead of "all scripture:" consequently such do not get a grasp of the scope of the written word, and are always uncertain as to what the sacred volume really contains. We are not now speaking of reading the scriptures publicly or in the family, but of reading them privately to honour God, to find food and blessing for our souls, as well as intelligence as to how to walk and please God.
When do we read the word of God? is another important question. With those who have to arise from their beds early, and have much to do, there is often a strong temptation to put off the private reading of the word of truth till later on in the day; the consequence is that other things so engage the mind that such either give up reading, or are unable to apply themselves to the study of the word, and therefore decline in soul. The best things in Israel were devoted to the Lord. Our Lord was found in prayer a great while before day. The manna came down early, and they had to gather it before sunrise; and our Lord said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." Now it is manifest, that if we are to seek God's things first, having to do with Him and His word would precede our having to do with earthly things. We hesitate not to say that such as practically rank earthly things before the heavenly occupation of prayer and reading of the word are not honouring God as they should; and we believe much of the failure even in God's people can be traced to their not giving the things of God the "first," and therefore the "best" place.
It is said, that when Dr. Johnson was told that Mr.— had imbibed infidel notions as to the scriptures, he replied, "He never read the Bible." We believe the same may be said of many a busy sceptic in the present day. The misquotations that some of them make, as well as the egregious errors and misapplications of scripture, leave no doubt as to this; but those who do "search the scriptures," pray over them for divine guidance and teaching in humility and uprightness before God, learn to say with an ancient prophet, "thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart." And further, those who follow on to know the Lord through meditation in faith of the written word, and faithful walk, sooner or later discover that the great testimony of the sacred volume from beginning to end is Christ; and those indeed are blessed who have thus learned that "Christ is all." Happy indeed is the reader, who can truly say, Christ is all my salvation, all my desire, my life, my righteousness, my peace, my hope. All my springs are in Him. Christ is my refuge, my resource, my strength, my food, my Friend, my power for all fruit bearing. So absolutely is He all to me, that without Him I can do nothing, apart from Him I have nothing, and am nothing! In turning then to the sacred pages, may we never forget that they testify of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, and the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God! And looking off unto Jesus where He now is, and waiting for His coming, we can happily sing —
"He's gone within the veil,
For us that place has won;
In Him we stand, a heavenly band,
Where He Himself has gone.
And stayed by joy divine,
As hireling fills his day;
Through scenes of strife, and desert life,
We tread in peace our way.
That way is upward still,
Where life and glory are;
Our rest's above, in perfect love
The glory we shall share.
For ever with the Lord,
For ever like Him then,
And see His face in that blest place,
Our Father's house in heaven."