"Give attention to reading" Part 2


"There are many who read a great deal, and yet derive very little advantage from what they read. They make an injudicious choice of books; they read without method and without object, and often without attention and reflection. As a man may be eating all day, and for want of digestion receive no nourishment; so these endless readers may cram themselves with intellectual food, and without real improvement of their minds, for want of digesting it by reflection." It is of great importance, then, not only that we take heed what we read, but how we read.

1. In the first place, then, read with discrimination. The world is full of books; no small portion of which are either worthless or decidedly hurtful in their tendency.

2. Read with attention. Never take up a book merely for amusement, or for the sake of whiling away time. Time thus spent is worse than lost.

3. Read with reflection.

4. Read with confidence. It is often said man does not know his weakness. It is quite as true, he does not know his strength. Multitudes fail to accomplish what they might because they have not due confidence in their powers, and do not know what they are capable of accomplishing. Hence they yield their understandings to the dictation of others, and never think or act for themselves.

The only use they make of reading is to remember and repeat the sentiments of their author. This is an error. When you sit down to the reading of a book believe that you are able to understand the subject on which it treats, and resolve that you will understand it. If it calls you to a severe effort, so much the better. Call no man master. Yield not your minds to the passive impressions which others may please to make upon them.

 5. At the same time, read with humility and candour. We know so little, in comparison with what is to be known, that we have always much more reason to be humbled by our ignorance than puffed up by our knowledge. Real science is ever humble and docile; but pedantry is proud and self-conceited.

It is a happy method to improve by reading, when several persons unite in reading the same book, or on the same subject, and meet occasionally to interchange their thoughts and compare their opinions respecting the authors they have been studying.

7. Read for improvement, and not for show. Recollect that the great object of reading is not to be able to tell what others have thought and said; but to improve your minds in useful knowledge, establish your hearts in virtue, and prepare yourselves for a right performance of the duties of life, and for a joyful acceptance with God on the great day of account.

(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)