I came across this quote from Charles Hodge in my sermon preparation last week. The quote is embedded within a larger section where he is discussing the means of grace. I wanted to share it with you as a way of encouraging you to read the scriptures daily and to listen to sound Bible teaching regularly. The spiritual health of the church and our lives individually is connected to how much we know of God’s Word.
“Christianity nourishes just in proportion to the degree in which the Bible is known, and its truths are diffused among the people. During the apostolic age the messengers of Christ went everywhere preaching his Gospel, in season and out of season; proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; requiring those to whom they preached to search the Scriptures; exhorting younger ministers to preach the Word; to hold forth the Word of life; to give attendance to reading, exhortation, and doctrine; to meditate upon these things and to give themselves wholly to them. During this period the Gospel made more rapid progress, and perhaps brought forth more abundant fruits than during any equally long period of its history. When, however, the truth began to be more and more corrupted by the speculations of philosophy, and by the introduction of the Jewish doctrines concerning ceremonies and the priesthood; when “reserve” in preaching came into vogue, and it was held to be both lawful and wise to conceal the truth, and awaken reverence and secure obedience by other means; and when Christian worship was encumbered by heathen rites, and the trust of the people turned away from God and Christ, to the virgin and saints, then the shades of night overspread the Church, and the darkness became more and more intense, until the truth or light was almost entirely obscured. At the Reformation, when the chained Bible was brought from the cloisters, given to the press, and scattered over Europe, it was like the bright rising of the sun: the darkness was dissipated; the Church arose from the dust, and put on her beautiful garments, for the glory of God had arisen upon her. Wherever the reading and preaching of the Word was unrestricted, there light, liberty, and true religion prevailed, in a proportionate degree. Wherever the Bible was suppressed and the preaching of its truths was forbidden, there the darkness continued and still abides.”
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology – Volume 3, Pages 469-470