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CHAPTER FIFTEENTH, THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE OF READING

The next great help is reading; the general rules for it are these:

First, that the books of God must not be not laid aside and neglected. Rather, they must read as often as possible; otherwise, much unfavorableness, unquietness, unfruitfulness, and uncheerfulness will follow even in the best.

That all filthy, lewd and wanton books, yea, needless and unprofitable books be avoided.

When reading the Scriptures, read through an entire book – not a chapter here and there. When reading other books, read well and deeply – not merely many things with slight attention.

How to Read

Now as concerning the manner of reading:

It must be with hearty good will to learn and profit by it, desiring God to prepare us with reverence.

We must settle ourselves for the time to be attention, and so to abandon the wandering of the heart as much as may be.

We must be careful to apply that which we read wisely to ourselves; persuading ourselves that all duties are commanded us and all sins forbidden us all and all promises to be believed by us. Likewise, we must look that all exhortations and admonitions quicken us; all reprehensions check us; and all threats cause us to fear.

If reading be thus used, it will in many ways appease the conscience, enlighten the judgment, enlarge the heart, relieve the memory, move the affections, and in a word, draw the whole man unto God. And therefore, along with the other helps, reading will be a particularly useful means to further a godly and Christian life.