“Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all.” 2 Chronicles 31:1
Suggested Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9-12
There are many books that are to be so esteemed by the Christian man, that they must be cut down like the groves of trees, not because they are bad in themselves, but because there false gods are worshipped. Novel-reading is the rage of the present day. I go to a railway bookstall, and I cannot see a book that I can read, I get one, and it is all trash. I search to find something that would be really valuable, but I am told, “It would not sell here.” The fact is, nothing will sell but that which is light, and frothy, and frivolous; so every traveller is compelled to consume such food as that, unless he carry something better with him. Do I, therefore, say, that the Christian man must condemn all reading of fiction and novels? No, I do not, but I do say, that the mass of popular books published under the name of light literature, is to be eschewed and cut down, for the simple reason that the moral of it is not that of piety and goodness; the tendency of the reading is not to bring the Christian towards heaven, but rather to retard and impede him in his good course. I lift up my axe against many a work that I cannot condemn, if I look at it abstractedly in itself, but which must come down, because I recollect how much of my own precious time I wasted in such trivial reading, how many years in which I might have had fellowship with Christ have been cast away, whilst I have been foolishly indulging a vicious taste for the romantic and the frivolous. No, there are many things which are not wrong in themselves, but which nevertheless must be given up by the true Christian, because they have had, and do have association with things positively wrong. Just as these groves must be cut down—not because there can be a sin in trees, but because the trees have been associated with the worship of idols.
For meditation: 1 Corinthians 10:23. “The best book to read is the Bible ... It will help you on your way”.
Sermon no. 238
13 February (1859)