Vol. 7, No. 11
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Solomon wrote, "Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). I might also add that of the rising cost of books there is no end. But, I love good books anyway. For over twenty-five years, I have been building a religious library. Occasionally I prune it, but it continues to grow with regular additions both old and new. How important are good books? Edwin Percy Whipple wrote, "Good books are the most precious of blessings to a people; bad books are among the worst of curses." Paul wanted his books and parchments (2 Timothy 4:13). I have never wanted a book for the sake of having a book. I have always sought what I feel are good books. Some bad books, saturated with error, are having an adverse effect upon our brotherhood today. Book buying has long been a passion (some would say an occupational hazard) with me. Alice Williams Brotherton said, "Books we must have though we lack bread." Thankfully, I have never had to go begging bread for the sake of a good book. Austin Phelps said, "Wear the old coat and buy the new book." I've been blessed to do both.
Why this attraction to books? Books are a Gospel preacher's tools. Guy N. Woods believed that an effective teacher of the Good Book must be a student of many books. Amos Bronson Alcott wrote, "Books are the most mannerly of companions, accessible at all times, in all moods, frankly declaring the author's mind, without offense." William Ellery Channing said, "It is chiefly through books that we enjoy association with superior minds...In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours." Even in this age of CD-ROMs, books are superior. Today, one can buy the works of Alexander Campbell, Moses Lard, J.W. McGarvey and Barton W. Stone on CD, but I already have most of them in books. If I should ever lose my books in a terrible conflagration, I would have to resort to the new technology because many of the volumes I have are irreplaceable. Until then, give me a book and a lamp anytime.
Books are to be used. John Mason Brown said, "A book for me is something to be read, not kept under glass or in a safe. I want to dog-ear it, to underline it, to annotate it and mark my favorite passages, and make my own index on the blank pages at the back." I used to wonder if I should mark in certain books I have. Then I heard Rex A. Turner, Sr., say, "A book that is too good to write in is too good." I have books written in by previous owners both known and unknown. They are treasured.
In the rapid change of this apostate age, we need to re-read some of the old books by faithful men that once set a straight course for the truth. Eugene Field said, "Women are by nature fickle, and so are men...Not so with books, for books cannot change. A thousand years hence they are what you find them today, speaking the same words, holding forth the same comfort." "Old books are best," said Beverly Chew. Amen!