William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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Useful Directions For Reading and Searching the Scriptures.


by Thomas Boston


1. Follow a regular plan in reading of them, that you may be acquainted with the
whole; and make this reading a part of your private devotions. Not that you
should confine yourselves only to a set plan, so as never to read by choice, but
ordinarily this tends most to edification. Some parts of the Bible are more
difficult, some may seem very barren for an ordinary reader; but if you would
look on it all as God's word, not to be scorned, and read it with faith and
reverence, no doubt you would find advantage.

2. Set a special mark, however you find convenient, on those passages you read,
which you find most suitable to your case, condition, or temptations; or such as
you have found to move your hearts more than other passages. And it will be
profitable often to review these.

3. Compare one Scripture with another, the more obscure with that which is more
plain, 2 Pet. 1:20. This is an excellent means to find out the sense of the
Scriptures; and to this good use serve the marginal notes on Bibles. And keep
Christ in your eye, for to him the scriptures of the Old Testament look (in its
genealogies, types, and sacrifices), as well as those of the New.

4. Read with a holy attention, arising from the consideration of the majesty of
God, and the reverence due to him. This must be done with attention, first, to
the words; second, to the sense; and, third, to the divine authority of the
Scripture, and the obligation it lays on the conscience for obedience, 1 Thess.
2:13, "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you
received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the
word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively
works in you who believe."

5. Let your main purpose in reading the Scriptures be practice, and not bare
knowledge, James 1:22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only,
deceiving yourselves." Read that you may learn and do, and that without any
limitation or distinction, but that whatever you see God requires, you may study
to practice.

6. Beg of God and look to him for his Spirit. For it is the Spirit that inspired
it, that it must be savingly understood by, 1 Cor 2:11, "For what man knows the
things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one
knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." And therefore before you
read, it is highly reasonable you beg a blessing on what you are to read.

7. Beware of a worldly, fleshly mind: for fleshly sins blind the mind from the
things of God; and the worldly heart cannot favour them. In an eclipse of the
moon, the earth comes between the sun and the moon, and so keeps the light of
the sun from it. So the world, in the heart, coming between you and the light of
the word, keeps its divine light from you.

8. Labour to be disciplined toward godliness, and to observe your spiritual
circumstances. For a disciplined attitude helps mightily to understand the
scriptures. Such a Christian will find his circumstances in the word, and the
word will give light to his circumstances, and his circumstances light into the
word.

9. Whatever you learn from the word, labour to put it into practice. For to him
that has, shall be given. No wonder those people get little insight into the
Bible, who make no effort to practice what they know. But while the stream runs
into a holy life, the fountain will be the freer.

 

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