Of making many books there is no end.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Books. Some are like shops where only remnants are sold. Nothing is complete. You may find what you need, but there is seldom enough of it. You are struck with the endless variety, and wonder how so much could be collected; but after a wearisome search you go away disappointed…
Other books are like shops, where you find an excellent variety already prepared for use. They have something to suit every one. They are full of things that are constantly in demand. You wonder at the variety. You wonder more at the skill and judgment displayed in the fitness of everything. You are pleased because you are profited.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I have many books that I cannot sit down to read; they are indeed, good and sound, but, like halfpence, there goes a great quantity to a small amount; there are silver books, and a very few golden books; but I have one book worth them all, called the Bible.
JOHN WYCLIFFE (1330-1384): Other writings can have worth or authority only so far as their sentiment is derived from the Scriptures.
ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): Books also are infinitely imperfect. The best of books are but sparks from the Bible, mingled with human darkness.
JOHN NEWTON: Again, men teach us by many words; and if they would give us their full views of the subject, require us to read a whole volume, the life and substance of which is perhaps expressed with greater force and greater advantage in the Scripture by a single sentence, which is rather diluted than explained by our feeble expositions. A volume may be easily written upon the grace of humility, and to show the evil and folly of a self-seeking spirit. But if the author should introduce this subject with our Saviour’s words, Even the son of Man came not into the world to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many; whoever was duly impressed with that short introduction, would have no great occasion to read the rest of the book.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Many books in my library are now behind and beneath me. They were good in their way once, and so were the clothes I wore when I was ten years old; but I have outgrown them. Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.
W. T. P. WOLSTON (1840-1917): I do not believe in books, except the Bible.
WILLIAM ROMAINE (1714-1795): In books I converse with men, in the Bible I converse with God.
JOHN NEWTON: I think there is a medium here…I have read too much in times past; yet I do not wholly join with some of our brethren, who would restrain us entirely to the Word of God. Undoubtedly this is the fountain; here we should dwell; but a moderate and judicious perusal of other authors may have its use; and I am glad to be beholden to such helps, either to explain what I do not understand, or to confirm me in what I do.
J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): As the Bible is the best of books, so the next best is that which is most like it, that which teaches the same thing—or explains the Bible.
C. H. SPURGEON: What book can treat of truths one-half so important as those that concern the soul?
GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): Besides the Holy Scriptures, which should be always the Book, the chief Book to us, not merely in theory, but also in practice, such books seem to me the most useful for the growth of the inner man. Yet one has to be cautious in the choice, and to guard against reading too much.
C. H. SPURGEON: Trees are known by their fruit, and books by their effect upon the mind. It is not the elegance of its diction, but the excellence of its influence by which a book is to be estimated.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I am not saying that a Christian should not read; but that, because reading is so valuable for the Christian, the devil is going to pay unusual attention to it. He causes people to read about certain great saints, and when they have done so, he says, “That is Christianity; where are you? That is the way to live the Christian life; where are you?” He comes to a preacher and causes him to read the journals of George Whitefield, and says, “That is preaching; that is the way to be a Christian minister; what about you?” And the poor preacher feels at once that he has never really preached in his life, and that he has done nothing! So the devil takes these excellent means, which are provided by God Himself, and by drawing these comparisons and contrasts he makes us feel that we have made no progress, that we have nothing at all, that we do not understand, that we have never had an experience, that we have never achieved anything of value.
D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Temptations are never so dangerous as when they come to us in religious garb…A man once wanted to sell me a “Book of Wonders.” I took it, and looked it over, and could not find any thing in it about Calvary. What a mistake!—a book of wonders, and the greatest wonder of all left out!
C. H. SPURGEON: I have heard of a certain divine, that he used always to carry about with him a little book. This tiny volume had only three leaves in it; and truth to tell, it contained not a single word. The first was a leaf of black paper, black as jet; the next was a leaf of red paper—scarlet; and the last was a leaf of white paper without spot. Day by day he would look upon this singular book, and at last he told the secret of what it meant. He said, “Here is the black leaf, that is my sin, and the wrath of God which my sin deserves; I look, and look, and think it is not black enough to represent my guilt, though it is as black as black can be. The red leaf reminds me of the atoning sacrifice, and the precious blood; and I delight to look at it, and weep, and look again. The white leaf represents my soul, as it is washed in Jesus’ blood and made white as snow.” The little book was fuller of meaning than many a learned folio.