I am convinced that one of our grave defects today, is a most serious diminishing of the good old custom of private reading of the Bible. Between the growth of Christian periodicals and books, I have a strong impression that Bibles are not read as much and as carefully as they were two hundred years ago.
Neglect of the Bible, is like disease of the body–it shows itself in the face of a man’s conduct. It tells its own tale. It cannot be hidden.
I fear that many neglect the Bible–because of the enormous ignorance of true religion which everywhere prevails. There are thousands of professing Christians in this country, who know literally nothing about the Gospel. They could not give you the slightest account of its distinctive doctrines. They have no more idea of the true meaning of conversion, grace, faith, justification, and sanctification–than of so many words and names written in Arabic! And can I suppose that such people search the Scriptures? I cannot suppose it. I do not believe they do!
I fear that many neglect the Bible–because of the utter indifference with which they regard false doctrine–as if it did not signify much, and was all the same thing in the long run–whether one was a Roman Catholic, or a Socinian, or a Mormonite, or a Deist, or an Agnostic. And can I suppose that such people search the Scriptures? I cannot suppose it. I do not believe they do!
I fear that many neglect the Bible–because of the readiness with which they receive false teaching. They are led astray by the first false prophet they meet with, who “comes in sheep’s clothing,” and has a pleasant voice, a nice manner, and a gift of eloquent speech! They swallow all that he says without inquiry, and believe him as implicitly as papists believe the Pope! And can I suppose that such people search the Scriptures? I cannot suppose it. I do not believe they do!
I declare my firm conviction, that an idle neglect of the Bible is one cause of the ignorant formal Christianity which is so widely prevalent in these latter days!
Brethren! We are drifting, drifting, drifting–and what the end will be–no man can tell.