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DIRECTIONS FOR PROFITABLY READING THE WORD OF GOD

CLAVIS BIBLICA by Adam Clarke
 

Having thus laid down at large the principles of the Christian religion, and

the reasons on which they are founded, and given a general view of that

divine revelation from which they are extracted, it may be necessary to give

a few directions to those who seriously ask the question, How may we

profit most, and grow wise unto salvation, by reading the sacred writings? I

answer:
 

1. Deeply consider that it is your duty and interest to read the Holy

Scriptures.
 

2. When you read, consider that it is Gods Word which you read; and

that his faithfulness is pledged to fulfill both its promises and

threatenings.
 

3. Read the whole Bible, and read it in order; two chapters in the Old

Testament and one in the New, daily if you can possibly spare the time;

and you will have more time than you are aware of; if you retrench all

needless visits, and save the hours spent in useless or unimportant

conversation.
 

4. Think that the eye of God is upon you while you are reading his

word: and read and hear it with that reverence with which you would

hear God speak, were he to address you as he did the prophets and

people of old; for, be assured, that he considers it as much his word

now as he did when he first spoke it.
 

5. Remember that the word of God is not sent to particular persons, as

if by name; and do not think you have no part in it, because you are not

named there. It is not thus sent: it is addressed to particular characters;

to saints, sinners, the worldly minded, the proud, the unclean, the

dishonest, the unfaithful, liars, Sabbath-breakers, the penitent, the

tempted, the persecuted, the afflicted, &.c., &c.
 

6. Therefore examine your own state, and see to which of these

characters you belong, and then apply the word spoken to the character

in question to yourself; for it is as surely spoken to you as if your name

were found printed in the Bible, and placed there by divine inspiration

itself.
 

7. When, in the course of such reading, you meet with a threatening,

and know from your own state that this awful word is spoken against

you, stop, and implore God, for the sake of the sufferings and death of

His Son, to pardon the sin that exposes you to the punishment

threatened.
 

8. In like manner, when you meet with a promise made to the penitent,

tempted, afflicted, &c., having found out your own case, stop, and

implore God to fulfill that promise.
 

9. Should you find, on self-examination, that the threatening has been

averted by your having turned to God; that the promise has been

fulfilled, through your faith in Christ; stop here also, and return God

thanks for having saved you from such sore evils, and brought you into

such a glorious state of salvation. Thus you will constantly find matter

in reading the book of God to excite to repentance, to exercise faith, to

produce confidence and consolation, and to beget gratitude; and

gratitude will never fail to beget obedience. He who reads the Bible in

this way must infallibly profit by it.
 

10. It is always useful to read a portion of the Scriptures before prayer,

whether performed in the family or in the closet. In doing this, mark

some particular passages, that they may become a subject for your

petitions; by attending to this, all formality and sameness in this sacred

duty will be prevented; and you will have an abundance of materials for

petitions, supplications, thanksgiving, &c. And thus your prayers will

never be tedious, unsatisfactory, or unedifying, either to yourself or to

others.
 

11. Remember that in reading, you keep the eye of your mind steadily

fixed upon Him who is the end of the law, and the sum of the gospel;

for even the Holy Scriptures can make you wise unto salvation only

through faith in Christ Jesus. <550315>2 Timothy 3:15.
 

12. Let the Scriptures, therefore, lead you to that Holy Spirit by which

they were inspired: let that Spirit lead you to Jesus Christ, who has

ransomed you by his death. And let this Christ lead you to the Father,

that he may adopt you into the family of [God. FINIS.]
 
 

THE SOUL-WINNER’S SECRET BY SAMUEL LOGAN BRENGLE

(1920 VERSION)

IMPORTANCE AND BENEFITS OF BIBLE STUDY

If someone had written a book so small that it could be carried in the

pocket, and so cheap that the poorest could buy it, and if this book

explained simply how anyone who followed its directions could surely,

without any danger to themselves or others, gain the highest possible

honors, the greatest riches, the supremest joy, all linked with long life, then

I feel sure that everyone would want the book.

If they could not read, they would do their best to learn in order to study

it, and if they were too busy by day, I think they would sit up late at night

or rise early in the morning to read it and commit it to memory. What they

had learned, they would think and talk about through the day. If there were

any parts of it that seemed vitally important and yet hard to understand,

they would not throw the book away or go to careless critics who took

more pleasure in pointing out what they considered errors than in

following what they and everybody acknowledged to be true. Instead, they

would go for instruction to those who had most closely followed the

directions of the book, and most surely gained its prizes. Or, better still,

they would go to the author of the book. The Bible is such a book, except

that in place of worldly honor and riches and joy, it offers heavenly;

instead of long life, it offers eternal life — a life of unutterable blessing and

joy, and that without end.

God is its author. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of

man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

(<610121>2 Peter 1:21.)

It can be bought for twenty-five cents; the New Testament can be had for

five cents, and it can be carried in the pocket. It is so simple that “the

wayfaring man. though a fool,” need “not err therein.” Children can

understand it, though philosophers are often puzzled by it. Like the

cloudy, fiery pillar that went with the Israelites in the wilderness it is light

to those who love and obey God, but gloomy darkness and contradictions

to those who refuse to obey Him.

It marks an easy, straight path for humble souls, but it is a rough and

tangled labyrinth to proud and wayward men. It has no instruction, or

blessing, or comfort for those who despise it, but to those who love it it is

sweeter than honey, and more priceless than gold and precious stones. It

makes plain the way whereby sinners may become holy, and holiness is an

experience which, in turn, makes the Bible plain. It interprets holiness, and

holiness interprets it.

Of course, there are some things in the Bible hard to be understood, but if

we will pay diligent heed the Holy Spirit will make it plain to us as fast as

we are able to understand. The General says that he reads the Bible as he

eats fish, eating what he can, and laying aside the bones; but as the years

go by he often finds that what he once could not understand spiritually has

now become quite plain to him. Things in the Bible, which are hard for you

to understand today, may become as clear as sunlight in years to come.

In studying the Bible it will be found that experience in spiritual things

makes the Book plain to us. A little ten-year-old girl, who had been much

afflicted, prayed to the Lord and found help. Some time later, while alone

reading her Bible, she found this text: “This poor man cried and the Lord

heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” (<193406>Psalm 34:6.) It so

fitted her experience that her heart was made glad, and she pointed it out to

her mother, and had her mother mark it.

A portion of the Bible ought to be read carefully and prayerfully and

lovingly every day. Just as a fire needs fresh fuel, and the body needs new

supplies of food every day so the soul that would be strong and holy

needs something fresh from the Bible each day.
 

1. It is through the Word of God that we get faith. I once heard one of the

mightiest men of God I ever knew say that he used to pray and pray for

faith, but one day he read this text: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing

by the Word of God” (<451017>Romans 10:17), and from that day he began to

read the Bible, fulfilling its conditions and claiming its promises, and his

faith grew wonderfully. Although uneducated in the schools, he became

full of the wisdom of God, and won many thousands of souls to Jesus,

raised up hundreds of workers, inspired thousands more, and had millions

of dollars given to him for the work of God.

I have often heard people insinuate that one rose from the dead to add his

testimony to what the Bible says that they might then believe. But Jesus

denies this. He says, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither

will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” (<421631>Luke 16:31.)

The Bible is that which brings faith and strengthens it, and not seeing

departed spirits, or visions, or raptures of any kind.

When Paul and Silas were driven out of Thessalonica they went to the city

of Berea and preached Jesus there, and Luke tells us that the people of

Berea “were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received

the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether

these things were so.” And then he adds: “Therefore many of them

believed” (<441711>Acts 17:11, 12.) Belief always follows an honest searching of

the Scriptures. If then, you would have strong faith, feed what faith you

have on the Word of God.
 

2. If we are going astray, the Word of God corrects us. A woman, who was

out at service, was always grumbling and complaining in spite of the fact

that she was treated most kindly. One day, when her mistress was out, she

read these words in her Bible: ‘Do all things without murmurings and

disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God

without blemish” (<500214>Philippians 2:14, 15, R V.), and she felt as though the

dear Lord Himself had spoken tender words of rebuke and conviction to

her. She humbled herself, apologized to her mistress and corrected her

ways.

A lady, who had been selfishly seeking her own way instead of God’s

way, and offering the Lord a half-hearted service, was convicted by these

words: “If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the

lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor: will he be

pleased with thee, or accept thy person?” (<390108>Malachi 1:8.)

She saw herself offering to God what no earthly ruler would accept, and it

broke her heart, and led her to a sincere repentance and humble confession

and an utter surrender of herself to the Lord, until she felt His love

flooding her soul. Truly, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and

it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in

righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished

unto all good works.” (<550316>2 Timothy 3:16, 17.)
 

3. If we are ignorant, the Word of God instructs us. David says, “Thou

through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than my enemies. I have

more understanding than all my teachers; for Thy testimonies are my

meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy

precepts.” (<19B998>Psalm 119:98-100.)

Again he says, “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth

understanding to the simple.” (<19B9129>Psalm 119:129.)

Some time ago, out on the plains of Minnesota, I found a humble young

man, who worked on a farm, who seemed to me to be wonderfully wise. I

asked him his secret, and he told me that it was constant study of the

Word of God and prayer. If he had ten minutes to spare at noon-hour, he

did not waste it in foolish talk, or in reading stories or newspapers, but he

digged into his Bible.

People told him that he would get narrow if he did not read other books,

but he found that they were the ones who got narrow, and when they

became confused by the assumptions of evolution, spiritualism, the new

psychology, Dowieism, and the like, he, although not educated in the

schools, had no difficulty in solving all their problems through his

knowledge of the Bible. Like David, he found himself wiser than his

enemies, his teachers, and the elders, through God’s Word.

Jesus said to certain people who were in error about certain doctrines, “Ye

do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” Ignorance of

the Scriptures and of the power of God leaves one exposed to all sorts of

error and cunning craftiness of men, but when we hide God’s Word in our

hearts, and have the genuine experience of holiness, we get filled with His

great thoughts and are truly wise, and if we humbly watch and pray we are

safeguarded from error.
 

4. The Bible gives us great and loving thoughts of God, and makes our

hearts tender toward Him I have read the Bible through many times, but

there are some parts of it that so reveal the love of God in Christ to me

that I can never read them without tears.

A friend went into the quarters of two of our Swedish officers, and found

them sitting at the tables with open Bibles, weeping. He thought they were

in great sorrow, and asked them what was their trouble. They said, “Oh,

we are weeping for joy at the goodness of God! See here what we have

read: ‘The very hairs of your head are all numbered.’ Think how good God

is, and how He cares for us to number the very hairs of our heads.”

I found a dear young friend weeping one day, but they were tears of joy.

“Look here,” he said. “at what the Lord has said to me today: ‘Come unto

Me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take

My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, and ye shall find rest to your souls.’

My father died,” he said, “and my eyes were dry, and my mother died,

and I couldn’t shed a tear. My heart was hard, but God has made my heart

soft, and now I weep for joy as I read His tender, loving words.”

Truly God’s Word fills the humble, believing heart with joy. “Thy words

were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and

rejoicing of my heart,” said Jeremiah.

The truth is, that we love the Lord no better than we love His Word. In

proportion as the Word is precious to us, so is He Himself precious to us.
 

5. Do you want to know Jesus better? Read the Bible. The Bible, under

the Illumination of the Holy Spirit, reveals Him to us. It is there that we

see Him a tender babe, born in a manger, in a stable among the cattle, and

hunted for His life by cruel Herod.

It is there that we find Him humbly toiling at the carpenter’s bench, fasting

and praying, and tempted by the devil in all points like as we are, doing

good, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and of forgiving love, having

compassion on the poor and sorrowful and sinful, preaching the Gospel,

warning men of the judgment to come, declaring both the love and the

wrath, the goodness and the severity of God, and at last laying down His

life a sacrifice for our sins.

It is there that we see the open grave, the risen Savior, the ascending,

glorified Lord, into whose hands is given all power in heaven and earth to

be used in behalf of His holy ones on earth; to be used for their defense,

their guidance, their spiritual education, their deliverance, their support,

their warfare, their uttermost salvation, and their final triumph over all the

power of the enemy, over all earth and hell. Read the Bible to see and

know Jesus.
 

6. Do you want to pray with more faith and power? Read the Bible. It is

there that you will learn God’s will, become acquainted with His mind, and

find His promises to encourage your faith,
 

7. Do you want to speak to the hearts of saints and sinners with more

effect? Read the Bible. It is there that you will get truth that is sharper

than a two-edged sword, that is like a fire and a hammer. It is there that

you will get truth that will comfort mourners, arouse the careless, instruct

the ignorant, enlighten the perplexed, lead the blind, encourage the

fainthearted, rest the weary, steady the young, renew the old, that will

convict and convert and sanctify and fill the heart with perfect assurance.
 

8. Do you want to hold out faithful to the end, and not make shipwreck of

faith?

Read the Bible, and “observe to do according to all that is written therein;

for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have

good success.” (<060108>Joshua 1:8.)

A recent writer has well said, “Of course, it is much easier, and therefore

much more agreeable to our spiritual laziness, to go to a convention or

revival meeting and claim a filling of the Holy Spirit than it is to peg along

day after day, month after month, year after year, digging into the Word of

God. But a ‘filling of the Spirit’ that is not maintained by a persistent

study of the Word, will soon vanish,” just as a fire that does not daily

receive fresh supplies of coal will go out, or a man that is not properly fed

will starve. Oh, the blessings that have been lost because they have not

been renewed day by day by a loving study of God’s blessed Word!

“Search the Scriptures,” said Jesus. Do not think you are too young, or too

ignorant, or too busy. Do your best, and stick to it, and the Holy Spirit

will become your teacher, and you shall become wise unto everlasting life.

(<550315>2 Timothy 3:15-17.)