In complete public worship, there should be the public reading of the Holy Scriptures.  This was, evidently, a part of the service of the Jewish synagogue, as we may learn from what happened at Nazareth and at Antioch in Pisidia (Luke 4.16; Acts 13.15).  We cannot doubt that the Christian church was intended to honor the Bible as much as the Jewish.  To my eye, Paul points to this when he says to Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to the reading” (1 Timothy 4.13).  I do not believe that “reading” in that text means “private study.”  Reason and common sense alike teach the usefulness of the practice of publicly reading the Scriptures.  A visible church will always contain many professing members who either cannot read or have no will or time to read at home.  What safer plan can be devised for the instruction of such people than the regular reading of God’s Word?  A congregation which hears but little of the Bible is always in danger of becoming entirely dependent on its minister.  God should always speak in the assembly of His people as well as man.

(There is nothing in the public worship of the Church of England which I admire so much as the large quantity of Scripture which it orders to be read aloud to its members.  Every Churchman who goes to church twice on Sunday hears two chapters of the Old Testament and two of the New besides the Psalms, the Epistle, and the Gospel.  I doubt if the members of any other church in Christendom hear anything like the same proportion of God’s Word.)

From: Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice by J. C. Ryle (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005), pp. 20-21.  This booklet is excerpted from Ryle’s Knots Untied (1877).

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