What do You Read?

Acts 19:18,19
      And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): I find by daily experience more and more, that people who are truly awakened to a sense of the Divine life, cannot bear to read anything trifling, but throw away their useless books, as those did [their] books of divination and curious arts, whose conversion of which we read in Acts 19.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Some will lament for ever that they were taught to read. They never improved so great a talent. Yea, they perverted and abused it. They read books which undermined their principles, defiled their imaginations, and demoralized their lives.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Let me say a word about the subtlety of sin…Think of the clever way in which it insinuates itself into the mind. There are highly respectable men and women who would never dream of committing an act of adultery, but look at the way in which they enjoy sinning in the mind and in the imagination―This is what I mean. You have never been guilty of adultery? All right. Would you then answer me this simple question? Why do you read all the details of divorce cases in the newspapers? Why do you do it? Why is it essential that you should read right through those reports? What is your interest? It is not a legal interest, is it? Or a social one? What is it? There is only one answer: you are enjoying it. You would not dream of doing these things yourself, but you are doing them by proxy. You are sinning in your heart and mind and in your imagination, and you are therefore guilty of adultery. That is what Christ says, Matthew 5:28.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): “There is news in the paper,” says one. That news is often of small importance to our hearts.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Do not read those reports in the newspapers which are suggestive and insinuating and which you know always do you harm. They are of no value to anybody; but alas! the majority like that sort of thing, and you and I by nature like it. Well, then; don’t read it, “pluck out your eye.” The same is true of books, especially novels, and radio programs, television and also the cinema…These things are generally a source of temptation, and when you give time and attention to them you are making provision for the flesh, you are adding a little fuel to the flame, you are feeding the thing you know is wrong. And we must not do so.

WILLIAM SPRAGUE (1795-1876): Who can estimate the amount of evil a bad book is apt to produce?

C. H. SPURGEON: Certain insects assume the colour of the leaves they feed upon; and they are but emblems of a great law of our being: our minds take the hue of the subjects whereon they think. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Readers of trash become trashy; lovers of skeptical books become skeptical; and students of the Bible, who are in real earnest, become biblical, and display the qualities of the Bible.

J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): A man will be as his books.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Some [books] are mere toy-shops. They are full of curious things, but they serve no higher end than that of diversion. The whole reading and observation of some men are for amusement. Such live neither for the good of themselves nor of others.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: How often do men sin by reading novels and biographies―It is sin in the heart; sin in the mind!

C. H. SPURGEON: But you know how it is even with many professing Christian people. They think it would be wicked to read a novel; but if it is written upon a religious subject, it is a very proper thing then―Religious novels! I could not expect to have the Lord Jesus Christ’s company when I am poring over such trash as that…Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Books in which Scripture is reverently regarded as the only rule of faith and practice—books in which Christ and the Holy Ghost have their rightful office—books in which justification, and sanctification, and regeneration, and faith, and grace, and holiness are clearly, distinctly, and accurately delineated…Few things need reviving more than a taste for such books as these among readers.

C. H. SPURGEON: Why, sirs, in Puritanic times, men read solid books like John Owen’s On the Mortification of Sin; they studied such works as Richard Gilpin’s On Satan’s Temptations, or Stephen Charnock on The Divine Attributes. But, in these days, people who ought to be able to read these solid books so as to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, are often wasting their time over poor stuff which only addles the brain, and does the soul no good.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): “I have lost a world of time,” said one, when dying, “if I had another year to live, I would spend it in reading David’s Psalms and Paul’s Epistles.” Oh, be wiser in your Bibles than in your newspaper. What good will all that you ever read in the newspaper do when you are dying?


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