James Waddel Alexander's Directions for Reading the Bible

James Waddel Alexander, the oldest son of Archibald Alexander, cared deeply that God's people - even children - read the Bible. But he knew that they needed help to learn how to read it with greater skill and insight. To that end, he wrote an amazing little book: Uncle Austin and His Nephews, or, The Scripture Guide: Being a Familiar Introduction to the Study of the Bible (1838). Written in dialogue form, this book introduces the Bible to those who know little about it - but even those who have studied it for some time will benefit from Alexander's wisdom. As just one example, consider these 31 directions for reading the Bible (from pages 204ff.):

1. In all your reading of the Bible, bear in mind that it is the word of God.
2. Pray for divine aid and illumination.
3. Read with patience and self-denial.
4. Read with unbroken attention.
5. Endeavour to learn something new from every verse, before you leave it.
6. Exercise faith on all that you read.
7. Read with a willing and obedient mind.
8. Let all that you read be applied to yourselves, in the way of self-examination.
9. Seek to have your affections stirred up while you read.
10. Set apart a special time for devotional reading.
11. Keep the Lord Jesus in view, in all that you read.
12. Read the Bible more than anything else.
13. Read the Bible daily.
14. Read in regular course.
15. Neglect no part of Scripture.
16. Let your daily portion be of proper length; neither too much nor too little.
17. Read for yourself; impartially, and without prejudice.
18. In every passage, try to have before your mind the whole scene, and all the circumstances.
19. Compare passage with passage.
20. Pay special attention to the connexion and scope of every passage.
21. Make a judicious use of commentaries.
22. Read the text abundantly.
23. Remember that this book is to be the study of your life.
24. Cherish ardent love for the Scriptures.
25. Charge your memory with all that you read.
26. Commit to memory some portion of Scripture every day.
27. Examine yourself on what you have read.
28. Make what you have read the subject of meditation.
29. Frequently converse about what you have been reading.
30. Turn what you read into prayer.
31. In all your reading, remember that it is for the salvation of your soul.

May the Lord enable us to read in these ways, for His glory and our good!

Want to know how to view the Bible? Read John Holt Rice's 1824 Inaugural Address on II Timothy 3:16.

John Holt Rice was the first professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary. On what was his theology founded? In his inaugural address he lays out his presuppositions:

1. The sacred Scriptures are the source from which the preacher of the gospel is to derive all that doctrine, which has authority to bind the consciences, and regulate the conduct of men.

2. That the Scriptures afford the only information on which we can rely, in answer to the all-important question, "What must we do to be saved?”

3. That the Scriptures contain the most perfect system of morals, that has ever been presented to the understanding, or urged on the conscience of man. 

May the Lord continue to grant seminary professors, and the pastors they train, these convictions about the word of God.