Reading with Profit

“It has been the error of many ages, and still is of the present age, that to have read much is to be very learned. There is not, I may say, a greater heresy against common sense. Reading is doubtless necessary; and it must be owned, that eminence in knowledge is not to be attained without it. But two things are ever specially to be regarded on this topic, which are these: First, that more depends on the quality of what we read, than on the quantity. Secondly, more depends on the use, which, by reflection, conversation, and composition, we have made of what we read, than upon both the former.” (Professor Campbell, quoted in The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges)

In other words, the act of reading is only a beginning in our stewardship of the life of the mind. Reading must also be done, then, with good material, because it’s not how much but how well we’ve read that matters. So, that good material has to be weighed and considered, thought through and made our own. And some of the best ways to do that is to talk with others and write about the ideas suggested, the questions raised, the points confirmed or objected to, and the light gained from what we have read.

That’s the way to read with profit! Otherwise, Mr. Watts has said, “I do not see what title your head has to true learning above your shelves.”

— Pastor Spencer

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