As I see the danger that threatens the youth from improper reading I cannot forbear to present still further the warnings given me in regard to this great evil.
The harm that results to the workers from handling matter of an objectionable character is too little realised. Their attention is arrested and their interest aroused by the subject matter with which they are dealing. Sentences are imprinted in the memory. Thoughts are suggested. Almost unconsciously the reader is influenced by the spirit of the writer, and mind and character receive an impress for evil. There are some who have little faith and little power of self-control, and it is difficult for them to banish the thoughts suggested by such literature.
Before accepting the present truth, some had formed the habit of novel reading. Upon uniting with the church, they made an effort to overcome this habit. To place before this class reading similar to that which they have discarded is like offering intoxicants to the inebriate. Yielding to the temptation continually before them, they soon lose their relish for solid reading. They have no interest in Bible study. Their moral power becomes enfeebled. Sin appears less and less repulsive. There is manifest an increasing unfaithfulness, a growing distaste for life's practical duties. As the mind becomes perverted, it is ready to grasp any reading of a stimulating character. Thus the way is open for Satan to bring the soul fully under his domination.
Works that do not so decidedly mislead and corrupt are yet to be shunned if they impart a disrelish for the study of the Bible. This word is the true manna. Let all
repress the desire for reading matter that is not food for the mind. You cannot possibly do the work of God with clear perception while the mind is occupied with this class of reading. Those who are in God's service should spend neither time nor money for light reading. What is the chaff to the wheat?
There is no time for engaging in trifling amusements, the gratification of selfish propensities. It is time that you were occupied with serious thoughts. And you cannot dwell upon the self-denying, self-sacrificing life of the world's Redeemer and find pleasure in joking and jesting and whiling away your time in foolishness. You are greatly in need of a practical experience in the Christian life. You need to train the mind for the work of God. The religious experience is to a great degree determined by the character of the books you read in your leisure moments.
If you love the Scriptures, and search them whenever there is opportunity, that you may come into possession of their rich treasures, then you may be assured that Jesus is drawing you to Himself.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him." Colossians 2:8-10.
We cannot be complete in Christ and yet be ready to grasp those things that come from the so-called great men of the earth, and place their wisdom before the wisdom of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known. To seek knowledge from such sources is represented in the word as seeking to drink from broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Let the truth of God be the subject for contemplation and meditation. Read the Bible, and regard it as the voice of God speaking directly to you. Then will you find inspiration and that wisdom which is divine.
The gathering together of many books for study too often interposes between God and man a mass of knowledge that weakens the mind and makes it incapable of assimilating that which it has already received. The mind becomes dyspeptic. Wisdom is needed, that man may choose aright between these many authors and the word of life, that he may eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God.
My brethren, discard the streams of the lowlands and come to the pure waters of Lebanon. Never can you walk in the light of God while you crowd the mind with a mass of matter which it cannot digest. It is time we resolved to have heaven's help and allow the mind to be impressed with the word of God. Let us close the door to so much reading. Let us pray more and eat the words of life. Unless there is a deeper work of grace in mind and heart, we can never see the face of God.