D A I L Y B R E A D
CALENDAR FOR READING THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD IN A YEAR
by Rev. R. M. M'CHEYNE, M. A.
"Thy Word is very pure; therefore Thy servant loveth it."
MY DEAR FLOCK, -- The approach of another year stirs up within me
new desires for your salvation, and for the growth of those of you who are
saved. "God is my record how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus
Christ." What the coming year is to bring forth who can tell? There is plainly a weight
lying on the spirits of all good men, and a looking for some strange work of judgment upon
this land. There is a need now to ask that solemn question -- "If in the land of peace
wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling
Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence
upon self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must
be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in
the evil day. Then we shall be able to say, like David – “The proud have had me greatly
in derision, yet have I not declined from Thy law.” “Princes have persecuted me without
a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of Thy word.”
It has long been in my mind to prepare a scheme of
Scripture reading, in which as many as were made willing by God might agree, so that
the whole Bible might be read once by you in the year, and all might be feeding in
the same portion of the green pasture at the same time. I am quite aware that such a plan is accompanied with
(1.) Formality. – We are such weak creatures
that any regularly returning duty is apt to degenerate into a lifeless form. The tendency of reading
the Word by a fixed rule may, in some minds, be to create this skeleton religion.
This is to be the peculiar sin of the last days – “Having a form of godliness, but
denying the power thereof.” Guard against this. Let the calendar perish rather
than this rust eat up your souls.
(2.) Self-righteousness. – Some, when they have
devoted their set time to reading of the Word, and accomplished their prescribed portion,
may be tempted to look at themselves with self-complacency. Many, I am persuaded,
are living without any Divine work on their soul – unpardoned and unsanctified,
and ready to perish – who spend their appointed times in secret and family devotion.
This is going to hell with a lie in their right hand.
(3.) Careless reading. – Few tremble
at the Word of God. Few, in reading it, hear the voice of Jehovah, which is full of majesty. Some, by
having so large a portion, may be tempted to weary of it, as Israel
did of the daily manna, saying – “Our soul loatheth this light bread;” and to read it in a slight
and careless manner. This would be fearfully provoking to God. Take heed lest that
word be true of you – “Ye said, also, Behold what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed
at it, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
(4.) A yoke to heavy to bear. – Some may engage
in reading with alacrity for a time, and afterwards feel it a burden, grievous to be borne.
They may find conscience dragging them through the appointed task without any
relish of the heavenly food. If this be the case with any, throw aside the fetter,
and feed at liberty in the sweet garden of God. My desire is not to cast a snare upon you, but to
be a helper of your joy. If there be so many dangers, why propose such a scheme
at all? To this I answer, that the best things are accompanied with danger, as the
fairest flowers are often gathered
in the clefts of some dangerous precipice. Let us weigh
(1.) The whole Bible will be read through in an orderly manner in the course of a year. –
Old Testament once, the New Testament and Psalms twice. I fear many of you never
whole Bible; and yet it is all equally Divine, “All Scripture is given by inspiration
of God, and
is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness,
man of God may be perfect.” If we pass over some parts of Scripture, we shall be
(2.) Time will not be wasted in choosing what portions to read. –
are at a loss to
determine towards which part of the mountains of spices they should bend their steps.
the question will be solved at once in a very simple manner.
(3.) Parents will have a regular subject upon which to examine their children and servants. – It
is much to be desired that family worship were made more instructive than it generally
The mere reading of the chapter is often too like water spilt on the ground. Let
it be read by
every member of the family before-hand, and then the meaning and application drawn
simple question and answer. The calendar will be helpful in this. Friends, also,
meet, will have a subject for profitable conversation in the portions read that
meaning of difficult passages may be inquired from the more judicious and ripe Christians,
and the fragrance of simpler Scriptures spread abroad.
(4.) The pastor will know in what part of the pasture the flock are feeding.
– He will thus be
enabled to speak more suitably to them on the Sabbath; and both pastor and elders
will be able
to drop a word of light and comfort in visiting from house to house, which will
readily responded to.
(5.) The sweet bond of Christian love and unity will be strengthened. – We shall be often led to
think of those dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, here and elsewhere, who agree
to join with
us in reading those portions. We shall oftener be led to agree on earth, touching
shall ask of God. We shall pray over the same promises, mourn over the same confessions,
praise God in the same songs, and be nourished by the same words of eternal life.
Directions for M'Cheyne's
daily Bible reading calendar
- The centre column contains the day of the month. The two first columns contain
the chapter to be read in the family. The two
last columns contain the portions to be read in secret.
- The head of the family
should previously read over the chapter indicated for the family worship and mark two or three of the
most prominent verses upon which he may dwell, asking a few simple questions.
- Frequently the chapter
named in the calendar for family reading might be read more suitably in secret;
in which case the head
of the family should intimate that it be read in private, and the chapter for secret reading may be used
in the family.
- The metrical version
of the Psalms should be read or sung through at least once in the year. It is truly
an admirable translation
from the Hebrew, and is frequently more correct than the prose version. If three verses be sung
at each diet of family worship, the whole Psalms will be sung through in the year.
- Let the conversation
at the family meals frequently turn upon the chapter read; thus every meal will
be a sacrament, being sanctified
by the Word and prayer.
- Let our secret reading
prevent the dawning of the day. Let God's voice be the first we hear in the morning. Mark two or three of
the richest verses and pray over every line and word of them. Let the marks be neatly
done, never as to abuse a copy of the Bible.
- In meeting believers
on the street or elsewhere, when an easy opportunity offers, recur to the chapters read that morning. This
will be a blessed exchange for those idle words which waste the soul and
grieve the Holy Spirit of God. In writing letters to
those at a distance, make use of the provision of the day gathered.
- Above all, use the
Word as a lamp to your feet and a light to your path - your guide in perplexity,
your armour in temptation,
your food in times of faintness. Hear the constant cry of the great Intercessor,
"SANCTIFY THEM THROUGH
THY TRUTH : THY WORD IS TRUTH."
Dundee, 30th Dec. 1842