…which is to say, “so many books, so little time.”
I found the following quote afixed to a bulletin board at a local Bible college. I located the source on the internet, Sermon #542, preached by Charles H. Spurgeon on 29 November, 1863. He [the Apostle Paul] is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself 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. Brethren, 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 Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”—join in the cry.
The following quote from 12th century theologian John of Salisbury illustrates the benefit we derive from exploring the wisdom of our fathers preserved by the written word: We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.
Providentially, my evening devotion from Spurgeon provided this caveat to acquiring knowledge, which he applied to his own writing: We are very concerned that our little book of “Evening Readings” should not be fruitless, and therefore we pray that readers may not be readers only, but doers, of the word. The practice of truth is the most profitable reading of it. Should the reader be impressed with any duty while perusing these pages, let him hasten to fulfil it before the holy glow has departed from his soul…Do not give place to the devil by delay!
Father, how gracious You have been to not only give us the inspired Scriptures for our instruction but also the thoughts and wisdom of those who have been called by Your Name. May we glean from our readings much knowledge, searching the Scriptures always to verify its truth, and led by Your Spirit, may we practice what we have learned. Let us not become puffed up with knowledge but rather, be humbled by it. May all that we say and do be pleasing to You, this day, and every day. O God, grant this for Jesus’ sake, for it is in His Name that we pray. Amen.