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Tolle Lege - Take and Read Book Reviews

Here are a few books reviewed, both good and bad.

Give Attention to Reading (1 Tim. 4:13)


Christians are to read. But what will you read? What books are good? Which ones are bad?

Here you will find a collection of brief book critiques for the avid Puritan and Reformed Reader. These are meant to wet your theological whistle…all written by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, or his wife, Therese.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine, in his classic devotional work “The Confessions”, writes of his conversion experience and new found love for God. Augustine had been a vile and wicked man. His life was filled with revelry, drunkenness, and sexual exploits. But the God of heaven used a most curious providence to draw Augustine to Himself. One day, while in the gardens, he heard some children playing, and singing a song with the words “tolle lege, tolle lege” – “…take and read…take and read…” Under great spiritual compulsion and

conviction, he obtained a copy of the Scriptures, and opened it randomly to the book of Romans, chapter 13, verses 13-14. In this passage he read the inspired words of God penned by the Apostle Paul to the church at Rome some 300 years before he was even born, “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” This was a vivid description of Augustine’s life, and the remedy for such a life appeared in the next verse. Jesus Christ was his only answer. His life was transformed in an instant, in the power of regeneration. In his Confessions he writes of his lucid transformation, his salvation through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” After his conversion, Augustine wrote voluminously concerning the Lord Jesus Christ; the Confessions, though, are his most famous work.

Books abound all over the world. There is a book written in almost every language on almost every topic. Solomon rightly stated, “Of the making of books there is no end, and much study is weariness to the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) Even within the Christian community alone, we find every degree of spirituality in the wide range and plethora of “Christian” books on the market. If anyone were to do a serious study of the Bible, it would be evident that many, if not most of the books published today, are superficially shallow though popularly appealing. In such a sea of triviality the Christian must be sure that the books he reads and studies are well worth his time. He ought never to desire to read for the sake of simply passing by pages and information, but that the information he is reading and studying will edify his soul, and enlarge his heart towards Jesus Christ. When he follows the children’s advice to “take and read…take and read” the Christian literature he is reading (whether they are books, pamphlets, tracts, printed sermons and the like) should house the truth of the Gospel and the truth of the Sacred Scriptures. How often it is that Christians buy books because the cover looks nice, or because they are cheap, rather than because the pages inside will cause them to become more enamored with God’s love and grace? True Christian and God-honoring books are what I call “Kingdom Investments” since they are an endowing factor to the spiritual edification of the soul and one direct way in which the Christian’s petition “Thy Kingdom Come” is fulfilled. The Kingdom of grace is enlarged in our hearts each time we are edified and drawn closer to Him who redeemed us by His blood. The Bible, the Sacred Word of God, is the primary agent by which God enlarges grace within us, and fills us with more of His Spirit. It is insipid to state that the Christian is to read the Bible every day. This is a biblical truism and divine command. However, in supplement to the Bible, we are also encouraged to read good books. Even the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” (2 Timothy 4:13). Godly books aid us in the apprehension of divine truth. Through the ages the Christian church has stood on the shoulders of many men blessed by God who have written helpful commentaries, theological works, pastoral directives, devotional and spiritual ameliorations and the like; for many of which we are indebted to them and God. Our souls have been elevated beyond the boundaries of our own mind. Some say we read to know we are not alone. But in every case, for the Christian, we read to know and love the Only Begotten Son of God with greater fervor, zeal and ardor. So then, let us continually do as Augustine was prompted and prodded by the Spirit, “Take and Read.”

Samuel Davies (1723-1761)

One of my favorite quotes of all time is this, “The venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals.” Samuel Davies.

Need Good Books to Read?

Need more books? Paperback? Hardback? Westminster Puritans? How about digital? Go to Puritan Publications for Digital Reformed Books. There are dozens of works by Westminster puritans like Daniel Cawdrey, George Walker, Thomas Watson, Jeremiah Burroughs and many more…

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