Meditation: The Food of Your Souls (Brooks)

Psalm 119:15 has been on my mind today:

"I will meditate on Your precepts / And regard Your ways" (NASB).

In preparation for a short sermon series on biblical meditation I’ve come across some very helpful resources on the topic. For the next few weeks I’ll try to remember to share some here. For today, let me share a paragraph on meditation by Thomas Brooks (d. 1680). This is from the introductory matter of Brooks’ book called “The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod.” In this paragraph he’s explaining one way to read Christian books with profit:

Secondly, he that would read to profit must read and meditate. Meditation is the food of your souls, it is the very stomach and natural heat whereby spiritual truths are digested. A man shall as soon live without his heart, as he shall be able to get good by what he reads, without meditation. Prayer, saith Bernard, without meditation, is dry and formal, and reading without meditation is useless and unprofitable. He that would be a wise, a prudent, and an able experienced statesman, must not hastily ramble and run over many cities, countries, customs, laws, and manners of people, without serious musing and pondering upon such things as may make him an expert statesman; so he that would get good by reading, that would complete his knowledge, and perfect his experience in spiritual things, must not slightly and hastily ramble and run over this book or that, but ponder upon what he reads, as Mary pondered the saying of the angel in her heart. Lord! saith Austin, the more I meditate on thee, the sweeter thou art to me; so the more you shall meditate on the following matter, the sweeter it will be to you. They usually thrive best who meditate most. Meditation is a soul-fattening duty; it is a grace-strengthening duty, it is a duty-crowning duty. Gerson calls meditation the nurse of prayer; Jerome calls it his paradise; Basil calls it the treasury where all the graces are locked up; Theophylact calls it the very gate and portal by which we enter into glory; and Aristotle, though a heathen, placeth felicity in the contemplation of the mind. You may read much and hear much, yet without meditation you will never be excellent, you will never be eminent Christians.

Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 291.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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