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John Keble on the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent

December 13, 2019

Continuing to think about the readings for the Second Sunday in Advent, here is an excerpt from John Keble on the Collect:

This prayer cannot be well said without due consideration, what Holy Scripture is. The Bible is now become a very cheap and common book; and the most part of us are apt to take it in hand too lightly. But here we are put in mind what it is: it is that which God Himself has caused to be written. This is a great, and an aweful thought. We are told concerning people in the East, whether Christians or unbelievers, that, on their receiving a letter from their sovereign lord, they reverently kiss the seal, and hold the letter to their forehead, in token of deep veneration and respect. So, and much more, ought we to mind well what we are about in our dealings with the message of the great God of heaven and earth. His message, His word, is Scripture. Every one of our Bibles, however we use it, is as truly and really His especial gift to us, as if, like the two Tables given by Moses, it were graven on stone by the very finger of God, and reached out unto us from the cloud on the top of Sinai. Did you ever really consider this? Did you ever look at your own Bible with this thought?

Observe the deep and earnest way in which Moses, in the Book of Exodus, speaks of those two Tables of the law. “The tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.” (Ex. xxxii. 16.) Just the same may we say of every Bible, however ill-used or neglected: it is the work of God, and its contents are the writing of God. You know how you would hold your breath and hearken, if your Lord were to speak from heaven: well, you have His very words in that Book: it is the same, as if He really did speak to you from heaven. In our too familiar use of our Bibles, we are sadly apt to forget this. We take them as matters of course, as being what every body has. Yet three quarters of mankind never saw or heard of a Bible; and for you and me to have the use of one is indeed a mark of God’s distinguishing favour. If we neglect or abuse it, woe unto us!

We really should regard the Bible as a precious gift to us, and endeavor to “hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the Scriptures.

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