Mining for Gold in the Caves of Good Books

For Lord’s Day, June 22, 2014

Dear Saints,

I was blessed to observe so many of you pick up on the suggestion to get a copy of Jeremiah Borroughs’ The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (available here for free online or here for purchase) after the recent evening sermon, Discontent Will Destroy You.  It is a great encouragement to see such a spontaneous spiritual response like that in God’s people to the preaching. I want to encourage you to begin reading it if you haven’t yet, and to take advantage of our library, from which I have borrowed my copy.  I have been rejoicing in the gems found in this jewel of a book (which I have not yet finished), and that it was, as I suspected, to be found waiting in our fabulous library!  Mr. Delgado recently expressed excitement over an amazing four-volume book about the Scottish Covenanters that will keep him busy for a while, which he found in our library after getting interested from his presentation to us last Sabbath Class on Oliver Cromwell, for which he also used many great books lingering in our library! Thank you Mrs. Bivens (and Miss Rachel Van Leuven and Miss Olivia Van Leuven) for your work keeping our library in order!

Preparing for other sermons coming up, I have briefly switched to another gem I found in our library (the spill over in my office), God’s Way of Holiness, by Horatius Bonar.  I have been incredibly blessed by the nuggets I’m already gleaning (some I’ll likely share with you soon), including some translations of shimmering illustrations and insights from letters by Luther and Melancthon.  As well, I recently found in the mountainous used bookstore of San Diego’s new Downtown Library (you HAVE to go there!), Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness that I can’t wait to open up (50 cents!: the Dutchman in me within the context of the Scottish heritage of our Standards has me very excited about that!).

Now, Ecclesiastes 12:12 warns about the vanity of too many books and too much study that can make one weary.  However, good Christian books make excellent picks and shovels with which to mine for gold in God’s Word, as the Proverbs instruct us to do with the promise of rich rewards:

  • The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. (Psalm 119:72)
  • Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. (Psalm 119:127)
  • The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  (Psalm 19:9-10)
  • How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!  (Proverb 16:16)

Beloved, take a new look at our library along with the other great Reformed, Puritan, and Presbyterian resources out there for your own library. And read with new vigor to unearth and polish up things that will gleam in your eyes and make your heart and feet skip anew.  “There’s gold in them thar hills!”  To encourage you to do so, I share here what you are sure to happily experience as Garrison Keillor describes upon the back of the dust jacket cover of one of his books that I picked up a while back in the Bonita Library used bookstore*:

A silken photo of the author leaning on a porch should occupy this space along with a few roundhouse tributes from newspapers but why not instead a few lines about the great and ancient invention you hold in your hand, the Book itself.  Slow to hatch, as durable as a turtle, light and shapely as befits a descendant of the tree. Closed, the objet d’book resembles a board.  Open, its pale wings brush the fingertips, the spore of fresh ink and pulp excites the nose, the spine lies easily in the hand.  A handsome useful object begotten by the passion for truth.  The apostle Paul was not the host of a talk show, or else we’d be worshipping famous people on Sunday mornings; he wrote books, a Christian thing to do.  The faith of Jews and Christians rests on God’s sacred word, not on magic or music, and so technology burst forward into publishing, Gutenberg and Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer making books similar to ours in the fifteenth century.  Ages before the loudspeaker and the camera, came this lovely thing, this portable garden, which survives television, computers, censorship, lousy schools, and rotten authors.  Along with the Constitution, the blues, and baseball, the democracy of letters is a common glory in our midst, visible in every library and bookstore.  These stacks of boards contain our common life and keep it against the miserable days when meanness operates with a free hand and save it for the day when the lonesome reader opens the cover and the word is resurrected.  The day can come next month or a hundred years from now, a book will wait.  — from, We Are Still Married

What are you reading right now besides your Bible, beloved? What are you waiting for? Something hidden but glorious is waiting for you to find it and be deeply blessed.  Study to show thyself approved (2 Timothy 2:15) and to be nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6) by becoming rich in wisdom as you dig for it with proper tools. May the personal libraries of your homes and of your minds be full of well-worn good books. Be avid Christian readers, For In the house of the righteous is much treasure … (Proverb 15:6).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

* I must make this disclaimer that I cannot fully condone or commend Mr. Keillor’s books. He is the kind of writer, like Mark Twain, that I like to study to try and learn by osmosis some of his way with keen observation, insights, and turns of phrases. But sadly, too often, unnecessary crassness creeps in and stains his otherwise very enjoyable pages.